Monster Hunter Rise might not look it, but it’s the next evolution of the massively popular formula laid down by Monster Hunter World. The two games have very different art styles — with Rise harkening back to the popular mobile games that came before its more photorealistic predecessor. Many watchful players have assumed this means it’ll be a return to the harder, less approachable days of the series.
The recently-released demo proved otherwise. The game sports many quality-of-life changes from MHW. Not to mention the various weapons — which each play like entirely different action games living side by side — play nearly identical to their previous counterparts. If anything, Rise feels a little more approachable. Healing is more forgiving and various critters in every beast hunt provide long-term bonuses.
Capcom Japan Producer Ryozo Tsujimoto and Capcom Japan Director Yasunori Ichinose had a lot to say about this. They sat down to speak with Fanbyte about the upcoming Nintendo Switch game as we transition into the next era of Monster Hunter.
The “next era” doesn’t just mean the next game, either. Speaking through a translator, the two explained that every new Monster Hunter comes with “a new concept. “In the case of Rise, we focused very much on portability — on being able to pick up and play whenever you want,” they added. “Every title is its own thing.”
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Monster Hunter has been portable in the past, but usually to the detriment of graphics and controls. The Switch doesn’t have quite the same limitations. It’s a damn sight more powerful than the 3DS or PSP and has those crucial dual analog sticks. Capcom also “set out to make a game for the Switch,” and so “were aware of its shortcomings and abilities.” Ichinose and Tsujimoto alleged that no dream feature or major new addition wound up on “the cutting room floor” as a result of the portable.
And while it’s not as dense or lush as MHW, Rise does play fast and fluidly. It would easily feel at home on more powerful hardware. Which is exactly what the duo confirmed at the end of our interview. Rise is coming to PC in early 2022. Though it’s “still very much in development.”
Odds are Rise will look even better there. Though I’m in agreement that its clean art style looks great on Switch (I especially like the inky, sumi-e style monster portraits). The whole game has a more traditional Japanese look. It’s a nice surprise after the international success of the more western fantasy on display in MHW.
“The simple reason is that Ichinose likes Japanese style visuals,” Tsujimoto said. “He thought it was time we got another one after [Monster Hunter] Portable 3rd.”
That’s one of the aforementioned PSP games. North American players never got a chance to play it, as it was a Japan-only release. Which should make the new locale of Kamura Village stand out to the massive influx of players Monster Hunter has enjoyed since 2018.
The village just might be the crux of the most interesting new features in Rise, too. A recent Nintendo Direct finally showed off a long-teased new mission type called “Rampages.” We now know this is a horde of monsters that attack the village en masse. Players defend it with siege weaponry — like a faster-paced version of Zorah Magdaros and Lao-Shan Lung in past games. Kamura villagers also help out in these segments. Though the team was tightlipped about their specific involvement.
At the head of each horde is an “apex” monster. The devs said this is different from apex creatures in Monster Hunter 4. They borrow the name, and feature some special abilities, but aren’t related to the virus which created those creatures in the 3DS game. Instead they’re just “the strongest creature and the last ones you face” in each Rampage.
It’s not some mystical, magical battle against evil, however.
“Of course the monsters are very important to us as well, despite the fact that you have to fight them,” they added. “Neither side is good or evil. The monsters aren’t necessarily bad or good. It’s all about keeping the ecosystem balanced.”
But between the owl scouts, canyne companions, and Palico sidekicks, there’s quite a lot of love for animal friends more generally in Monster Hunter. I asked the team how it squares that affection with beating beasts senseless in every game. The simple response was that, at the end of the day, ”The monsters are pretty much the main characters of these games.”
“We love our monsters,” Ichinose insisted. “Don’t worry about that!”
Even so, Rise won’t just be about the animals this time. It all comes back to Kamura. One unique tidbit the team let slip was that, in this game, you aren’t just some random hunter from parts unknown. The story casts you as a citizen of the village — having grown up there with personal stakes, ties, and relationships. That’s part of why it’s so important to protect the area.
It’s also the lore reason for why characters have real names. Your character is supposed to know everyone else by name. In short, “They should feel like family.” The sentiment adds concrete reasoning behind those themes of attachment and protectiveness. Which is another significant shift from the aggressive, semi-colonial tone of the “New World” in MHW.
It’s quite a comforting mix: old traditions and new, intentionally intimate personality. As the series returns to portability, it also grounds itself deeper with a particular place. That sounds great from any game right about now, much less one with the pitch perfect action of Monster Hunter Rise. We’ll all be able to enjoy it together, on the go, from our couches, or lazing in bed, when it hits Switch on March 26.