Monster Hunter Rise

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: Jan. 12, 2022


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Switch/PC Preview - 'Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak'

by Adam Pavlacka on June 2, 2022 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

In Monster Hunter Rise players will possess the ability to rise above the world, using special creatures to scale cliffs and vault high above the magnificent terrain around them.

It's less than a month until Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak drops for players on the Nintendo Switch and PC. A hefty expansion to the base game, Sunbreak adds new abilities, characters, monsters, and a new town, but it's not for casual fans.

If you haven't made it through the base game, you'll want to hold off on buying the expansion because you can't even fire it up until you've completed the main quest line in Monster Hunter Rise.

Sunbreak is designed to provide a challenge to experienced Monster Hunter Rise players, but it doesn't throw you into the river without a paddle. Your new home base, Elgado Outpost, provides everything you need to prepare for a hunt.

Elgado Outpost is a seaport that looks like it was inspired by medieval castle design with a light steampunk aesthetic. There's a shop to buy necessary items, a smithy who can help upgrade your gear, and a tea shop where you can buy the all-important dango to buff your stats before heading out on a hunt. You can select up to three different dango to mix and match.

When you're ready for the hunt, you can meet up with other players before heading out or partner up with an AI for one of the new follower quests.

Our demo started with a traditional multiplayer hunt. We prepared our hunters and started tracking a Lunagaron, also known as an ice wolf dragon. After finding it in a cave, I initially thought it was going to be an easy kill. After all, all four of us were wearing some of the best armor available, and I also had the advantage of playing with three Capcom employees. How could we lose?

Dear reader, let's say that overconfidence was the first mistake.

It doesn't matter how well you think you know Monster Hunter Rise. If you want to do well in Sunbreak, you're going to have to assume you know nothing and start from scratch. This means paying attention, anticipating the pattern, and working together as a team. Otherwise, a handful of solid hits from your prey, and that's all she wrote.

After getting the Lunagaron out into the open, one of my teammates was able to use the new Ruby and Gold wirebugs to easily take control of another local monster and initiate Wyvern Riding. Hopping on the back of a monster and using it to attack your prey is tons of fun, so the addition of two new wirebugs to make it easier is a big plus. If you didn't bother with Wyvern Riding in the base game, you'll want to give it another go with Sunbreak. It'll likely be a key element of your hunts, especially against the stronger monsters.

Another new bit of local fauna to be on the lookout for is the Marionette Spider. If you can collect this blue bug, you can use its thread to jerk a target in a certain direction. This can be used to force your prey into a waiting trap, assuming you line things up correctly.

Because the monsters are more of a challenge this time around (this isn't a joke; there are new Master Rank quests that are more difficult than the seven-star hunts), Sunbreak adds the Switch Skill Swap ability. This allows you to have two different Switch Skills at the ready and switch between them on the fly. Swapping does double duty as an evade, which can be extremely handy, especially when you're fighting in close quarters.

Once we finished with Lunagaron (or more accurately, Lunagaron finished with us), I decided to try one of the Follower Quests. This meant I no longer had the benefit of Capcom experts in my hunting party, but I did have an AI buddy. Having played many games with AI buddies in the past, I wasn't expecting much, so when we finally came face-to-face with Seregios, Master Arlow impressed the hell out of me.

Far from a useless AI that I had to babysit, Arlow felt more like an actual partner. Attacking, parrying, coming to my aid, Arlow did it all. Granted, I only played for a short while, so it's possible that some AI limitations will become obvious over time, but my first impression was that the development team did a great job in making an AI partner that feels useful.

One bit I am curious about, since I only got to see Arlow in action, is how different (or similar) the different partners will end up being. It would be great if each one has a distinctly different style, so each one provides a different experience while hunting and not just a different skin.

For the last segment of the demo, I passed the controller back to one of the Capcom experts and watched him give it a go with Arlow. Even with an experienced player at the helm, Arlow still provided solid backup and held his own in combat. Even if your AI partner messes up and falls victim to the monster, it doesn't count against you. Unlike playing with human players, where the whole party has a limit on the number of times you can get knocked out, if an AI partner faints, it's not counted toward the failure condition. This means there is no real downside to attempting a Follower Quest. They can help you out, but you'll never have to risk failing a quest because of the AI.

Despite none of my Sunbreak hunts being successful, my time with the game was enjoyable. I'm not a Monster Hunter expert, and I still have plenty to learn in the Monster Hunter Rise base game, but it seemed obvious that the expansion enhancements were tailor-made to take the endgame to the next level. If you're a Monster Hunter Rise veteran, keep Sunbreak on your radar.

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