Monster slaying is back. Returning with its light-hearted humour, refreshed visuals supported by the RE Engine from Capcom alongside two new features, Monster Hunter Rise is a wonderful return – as far as first impressions go – to one of the developer’s best-selling action RPGs. At My Nintendo News, we were lucky enough to get our hands on an early access demo to experience what the latest in the series has to offer – and it hasn’t disappointed.
I’ll be one of the first to admit that I haven’t stepped into the Monster Hunter series since 2016, following the launch of Monster Hunter Generations on the 3DS. I am rusty. Forgetting that the series (and arguably this demo) is notoriously unhelpful to those new to the franchise, despite having a training mission to get used to the basics, it took me several hours to get to grips with the gameplay. Thankfully, the two solo tutorial missions available – ‘Training’ and ‘Wyvern Riding’ – enables new (and rusty) players unlimited attempts to try out all 14 weapon types available in the game. A nice starting ground to find your favourite weapon.
For newcomers and veterans, these two solo missions are a great way to discover, learn and adapt to using the two new features in the game: Canyne companions known as ‘Palamutes’ and the Wirebug mechanic. While there is a Zelda-inspired feel to both features (via Wolf Link from Twilight Princess and the Hookshot tool), they fit so wonderfully into the Monster Hunter world that I’m surprised they haven’t been implemented until now. With the inclusion of fast gathering and zero map loadings screens taken from Monster Hunter World, riding on your Palamute and scaling cliffsides to reach higher locations is incredibly fun. For those who enjoy exploring, discovering secret areas and gathering unique items for quests, palamute riding will make gathering much swifter and deliver a more flexible and entertaining hunt.
For ultimate flexibility on gathering quests, the Wirebug mechanic is the perfect tool for hard-to-reach areas. By combining your stamina gauge with the Wirebug, hunters can easily scale cliffsides, while moving horizontally and vertically across the field. Of course, mastering the controls can take a bit of time, as with any new Monster Hunter feature, but it’s entirely worth the effort. Since the Wirebug can be used in battle (and works differently depending on the weapon type used), the potential depth to this ability seems quite staggering. Plus, when used to capture monsters as part of the Wyvern Rider mode during missions, the Wirebug becomes a highly useful addition to taking down larger and much more difficult monsters.
Speaking of large monsters, the demo contains two main missions which can be attempted a limited number of times in solo, local or online multiplayer before the demo trial period ends on 31st January. These missions pit you against a Great Izuchi, which is ideal for beginners, and a Mizutsune for those well-versed in hunting. For the record, the Mizutsune mission is incredibly challenging for players that have spent almost a year on their Animal Crossing islands instead – yes, that includes me. However, it presents a great Monster Hunter Rise experience for veterans who want to team up with their friends online. And while we haven’t had the chance to fully experience the online multiplayer mode yet, we’re excited to find out how it pans out in the public demo.
As far as first impressions go, Monster Hunter Rise seems to be scaling new heights. While playing in handheld is still the most comfortable to reflect a ‘true’ Monster Hunter experience from days gone by, playing in docked mode with the beautiful visuals is a great spectacle, especially when a Mizutsune dances and duels within its bubbles so elegantly. So, will you be rising to the challenge this month?
The demo for Monster Hunter Rise is available to download from the Nintendo eshop on 7th January in the US and 8th January in Europe until the 31st January. An early access demo of the game was provided to My Nintendo News by Nintendo UK.