Monster Hunter Rise Review (PS5)

Monster Hunter Rise is finally headed to more consoles beyond the humble Nintendo Switch, after nearly two years of console exclusivity there. With new maps, monsters, gear, and even some new traversal methods available, this is an ambitious entry in the long-running franchise. The time certainly feels right to set about in a new land during this New Year season.

Not the prettiest monster

Monster Hunter Rise originally released on the Nintendo Switch, and it shows. It’s surprising to know that the RE Engine is used here, because this looks nowhere close to the same graphical fidelity as the recent Resident Evil games.

Of course, this is a much different kind of game, but it seems not much attention was paid to giving this port a shiny current-gen coat of paint. At least load times are nearly non-existent, as missions load within just a few seconds. Adaptive triggers are also used, but beyond that, there’s not much utilization of the PS5’s unique features, which is probably expected in a port.

While Monster Hunter Rise does allow for co-op with up to four players, the entire game can be played through solo. The missions designed for squads are at a higher difficulty level than regular missions, however, so often times it is best to take a friend or three along to complete these. There is a story, though it’s rather light fare, and the main campaign should take most hunters around 20 hours to complete. Advancing major plot points usually occurs by completing so-called Urgent missions, which despite such a label can be completed whenever you are able/ready to.

A couple of standout features make their debut in Monster Hunter Rise. First up are two new methods of traversal: Wirebugs and Palamutes. Wirebugs are these white insects that the player can utilize kind of like Spider-Man’s web slinging ability, however by default only two are active and need a cooldown after use. Players can find extras throughout the landscape, which can be helpful especially against boss monsters.

Palamutes, meanwhile, are a canine-like species of companion animals that will fight alongside you much like the cat-like Palico species. Unlike those felines, though, Palamutes can be mounted and ridden like a small horse. This allows for quickly moving about the area while using none of the player’s stamina. Considering the larger size of most of Rise’s maps, this feature is appreciated. You can also attack while on this animal, though the attacks are limited in order to encourage more traditional combat.

What’re ya crafting?

Speaking of combat, Monster Hunter Rise excels in giving players a plethora of gear options. There are fourteen different types of weapons, for starters, from swords and spears to bows and something called an insect glaive. While all weapons can interface with these insects in some fashion, the insect glaive uses special beetle-looking Kinsects, which opens up a more airborne-centric fighting style. It’s easy to play with this weapon, but to play well with it will require some dedication.

Weapons and armor can be crafted for players and companions alike. Oftentimes, you’ll need parts from larger monsters in order to craft newer and better stuff. A large weapon tree shows off dozens of options, along with the path to create some of the game’s most powerful weapons. There is a grind in this part of Rise, but then that’s something anyone playing any Monster Hunter game should expect at this point.

The core game loop in Rise is pretty simple, but since it has worked so well in the past, why fix what ain’t broke? You start out as a freshly-minted hunter at the guild for the Kamura village, with low-level everything. After a few successful hunts, you can use the loot dropped from monsters to craft better and better gear until you’re taking on massive beasts with relative ease, all the while accompanied by some combination of friends and companions. While the map may change, the gameplay does not, and as such, it can feel a little repetitive at times.

Rampage Against the Monsters

That’s where Rise’s new game mode, Rampage, comes in to break up the monotony. Early on in the campaign, the player will unlock the ability to go out on Rampage missions. Something called the Calamity is raging on outside the safety of Kamura village, and the player can choose to help out the cause by defending the gates of the town from an encroaching horde of monsters.

Rampage is essentially a real-time tower defense mode, where the player can set up various stations along a path that monsters will take. Some of these stations can be manned by NPCs, controlled by the player, or spawn a super-powerful character from the story to help out for a while. Rampage is perfect to play when you’re tired of traditional hunts but still want to keep playing Monster Hunter.

You should also expect to spend a not insignificant amount of time managing inventory. With dozens of different resources to manage (and even two currencies to earn) and a limited inventory, oftentimes the most important work you’ll do is preparing your loadout for the next mission. Will you use one of your precious bag slots for a trap, knowing you can only carry one of that type? Or will you use that slot for more healing items, since you’re going on an Urgent, tough mission? The choice is yours and usually boils down to how you play.

Kinda slow to the draw…

Monster Hunter Rise can be played in almost any style. There are plenty of melee weapons, but also some longer-ranged options such as bowguns for those who don’t like to be so easily smacked around. Rise can be a little frustrating as most animations cannot be interrupted while fighting, and for all but a few weapons fighting is a slow affair. Even drinking healing potions feels like it takes a little too long, though perhaps this is by design as you have to time your healing and be away from any danger so as to not interrupt your drinking animation.

Monster Hunter Rise is a solid RPG that will require dedication to conquer. Once you figure out your play style and get comfortable with the game’s many systems, it’s fun to gear up, grab some food, and proceed to take on as many missions as you have the time for. Combat may feel sluggish, and there are certainly better-looking games out there. But few games let you mount a canine into battle against a dragon, while your feline companion grows a healing fruit tree in the midst of all the chaos. If for nothing else, play Monster Hunter Rise for the fun of doing just that.

  • You can RIDE the doggies
  • Lots of things to craft
  • Weapons for nearly every play style
  • Graphically underwhelming
  • Combat usually very slow