Monster Hunter Rise comes with a variety of voice acting options — and many players will likely wonder if they should use English or Japanese. The reason being that this is the first game in the series where your hunter really talks. They don’t speak in cutscenes, mind you. But they do drop voice lines here and there in combat. At least by default. Not to mention the rest of your compatriots do speak quite a lot over the course of the story, just like they did in Monster Hunter World. So we return to the question: English or Japanese?
Honestly, both options have their merits in very unexpected ways. And your decision will of course be influenced by which languages you actually speak. The reason being that, for those who don’t speak Japanese, English voice acting (or whichever VO is easiest for you to understand) has some important gameplay benefits.
Monsters throughout the Monster Hunter franchise have long had certain unmarked super attacks. These can range from a simple series of tail swipes that will kill unprepared players, to massive explosions that require incredibly specific preparation to handle. At least the launch roster for Monster Hunter Rise is relatively forgiving in this regard. There are no Lunastra Supernovas or Alatreon Escaton Judgments. But the attacks can still be quite devastating.
Luckily, your newly chatty hunter will actually give you extra warnings when a super attack is on the way. They’ll desperately shout “here it comes,” or something similar just before the move executes. The specifics depend on your chosen voice. However, if you play with voice acting you don’t understand, it’s harder to use this tip to your advantage.
Playing without these audio cues isn’t game-breaking, either. Monsters always have visual cues and even some audio warnings, like different music, when a special attack is incoming. This can be helpful for new players or just those who have difficulty parsing the subtler indications for whatever reason. Given that it seems like a totally harmless, awfully useful feature. Assuming you also don’t mind the cheesy performances.
Monster Hunter Rise has that very strange, stop-and-start quality to its English dub that many fans might recognize from anime. It makes perfect sense. The voice actors are matching their cadence to different animations and even facial expressions that were designed with a different set of words and context in mind. How much that actually bothers you may vary. Personally, I prefer to use the Japanese voice acting. It’s hard for me to tell if it’s actually any good, but the cadence is at least less distracting.
There’s one other major difference: monster intros. Every major creature in Monster Hunter Rise gets its own, introductory cutscene the first time you choose to hunt them. These are very clearly meant to evoke early Japanese cinema — with film grain and desaturated colors.
The scenes also come with spoken poems meant to evoke the overall vibe of each monster. The English VO presents this in a very somber, neutral American tone. It’s very serious — like a chiding warning to the player. The Japanese performance provides a completely different take. It presents them with a more singsong patter, which reminds me of kabuki or noh theatre. These seems very intentional. Monster Hunter Rise specifically evokes a more traditional Japanese style in its architecture and creature design. It’s one other reason I personally prefer the Japanese voices. They feel more consistent with the rest of the game.
Whether you choose English or Japanese voice acting in Monster Hunter Rise, though, you can’t go wrong! It’s mostly a matter of which matters more to you: the tone or the gameplay benefits. It’s an absolutely fantastic game either way.