The review embargo for Monster Hunter Rise has lifted, and while I’ve been having a heck of a good time battling beasts with my AI dog and cat friends, online play is still a couple of days away. And everybody knows Monster Hunter is more fun with other people.
The majority of the several days I’ve had with the currently multiplayer-free release version of Monster Hunter Rise on the Switch have been spent killing critters and crafting armour, as a monster hunter does, but also getting used to the new features introduced in this sixth mainline instalment of the series. The series’ newfound verticality, thanks to the doglike ridable Palamutes, and the air-grappling wirebugs, delight and perplex me. I’ll be exploring a map, getting frustrated over seemingly out-of-reach quest objectives, and then suddenly remember that I can scale walls and swing through the air. I will admit to having to reference Capcom’s handy “Wirebug 101″ video from time-to-time.
I’m also still getting used to the game’s Wyvern Riding, which allows players to take control of certain monsters on the field and use them to attack other creatures or even hurt themselves. Nothing livens up your average Monster Hunter battle like suddenly being in control of a giant ridable critter.
I love Monster Hunter Rise’s style. The music is lovely. The characters and creatures are gorgeous, and there’s something about all the oranges and purples in the game’s colour palette that just do it for me. The visuals are a little fuzzy, as the Switch is working extra-hard to make the game look good. Really makes me wonder what the eventual PC version is going to look like. For now, I’m content that my character looks damn great.
All that’s missing for me is other people, one of the most important aspects of any Monster Hunter game. I joined Capcom’s review program after the multiplayer servers were cut-off, so I’ve yet to play with others outside of the free demo. Other people give me the confidence to experiment with different weapons instead of clinging to my dual blades. They open up strategic options beyond hitting the thing until it is dead. They’re the fulfillment of the game’s hunting party fantasy, and until that feature opens up on March 25, I’m just a solo double-axe swinger looking for group.