'Monster Hunter Rise' Feels Like Having a New Job

Beloved by millions, but too complicated by half

Key Takeaways

  • You either love Monster Hunter games or you have no use for them. Monster Hunter Rise is no exception.
  • Rise continues the series's evolution from 2018's Monster Hunter: World, though it's still mostly rough edges.
  • It's got a steep learning curve and throws a lot at you right from the start.
Monster Hunter Rise palico cats serving food


Monster Hunter Rise is weirdly inaccessible and unnecessarily complicated, just like Monster Hunter: World, but at least this one gives me a giant pet dog I can ride around.

Rise might be one of the best co-op games on the Switch, but it's the sort of game you need a mentor for, if not a full 101-level college course. From the jump, Rise is a nest of menus, sub-menus, radial menus, incessant tutorials, and rules on top of rules, with each new weapon, mechanic, and monster presenting a new set of fun facts to know and tell. It's amazing that a series this popular is also this hard to get into.

If you've got a crew of friends to roll with, a few days to get over the learning curve, and an immense amount of patience, Rise eventually develops into a rewarding, open-ended experience. "Eventually" is doing a lot of work in that sentence, though.

The Part of This Story That's Always the Same

In Monster Hunter Rise, you’re once again a novice Hunter in the Guild. This time, you're protecting your hometown, the rural village of Kamura, from an imminent stampede of monsters known as the Rampage. Your job is initially to help reinforce Kamura's defenses and build up its supplies in anticipation of the coming swarm, then to gain enough experience and firepower so you're able to help repel it.

Monster Hunter Rise character looking through their item storage


There's next to no urgency, though. Rise is mostly about putting you down in a massive wilderness sandbox full of monsters to hunt, bugs to catch, secrets to find, mountains to climb, and plants to harvest, then letting you progress at your own pace. Moving from stage to stage in the main story is a question of finishing whichever quests you like, whenever you want to do them. In its way, it can be a remarkably chill experience.

The subtle genius of Monster Hunter has always been that it takes a game mechanic that's usually a sideshow—gathering materials and reagents for weapons and armor crafting—and puts it on center stage. It's a fantasy safari at heart, with new weapons to master, monsters to hunt, and a friendly dog buddy who serves as both a mount and combat companion.

You Look Like My Next New Hat

Rise, in its defense, moves a lot faster than its predecessor, 2017's Monster Hunter World. That game felt like it was actively fighting you all the way through its opening and tutorial. By comparison, Rise gets you into the action and on your own in a little under 45 minutes.

That doesn't mean it teaches you anywhere near everything you’d want to know. Nothing in Rise works like you'd think it would, whether it's weapon styles, item crafting, item use, joining a friend in their game, inviting a friend to join you in your game, or getting into combat. It's determined to operate by its own consistent but idiosyncratic rules, and you should expect to play the first few hours of the game with a browser tab open.

My first defeat in Rise came because I was frantically skipping through several different menus in the heat of combat trying to remember what button my healing potion was assigned to. Then a giant lizard-bear kicked my hairstyle in.

What's slowly turned me around on Rise was playing with a friend who was a veteran of the series, who was able to walk me through the game’s roughest spots. With a crew at your back, learning how to play Rise becomes an achievable challenge. After that, it slowly becomes actual fun.

At that point, it opens up dramatically. The monsters get bigger, your goals take shape, and you gradually get to a point where you feel like a powerful hunter. You can relax by riding around the wilderness picking flowers and climbing mountains, or challenge yourself by taking down increasingly massive monsters, up to and including actual dragons.

Monster Hunter Rise character riding their mount and exploring


That learning curve is steep, though. I’d go so far as to say it’s not worth trying to play Rise on your own. You need a co-op crew, and ideally, a buddy who’s played a lot of either this Monster Hunter or the one before it. 

Rise may not be as hard to get into as World was, but it’s still one of the single least accessible video games I’ve ever played, and it makes it really hard to seriously recommend.

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