Monster Hunter Rise for Switch Looks Like a Bridge Between Generations

Monster Hunter Rise gets a release date. We get images of this good Palamute.

It was hardly a secret that Capcom would announce a new Monster Hunter Switch game today, following in the footsteps of Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate before it. That game is Monster Hunter Rise. And while it looks a lot like the older games in the series, it has as much in common with Monster Hunter World as the aged Nintendo iterations. It seems very much like a true bridge between two different generations of lizard-lashing.

Nintendo promoted the “Monster Hunter Direct,” which showed off Rise and its Pokemon-like cousin, Monster Hunter Stories 2. The video package mentioned things like seamless hunting grounds, turf wars, and riding animal companions. Except these pals are puppers called Palamutes. They can help you in combat, using things like umbrella shields. I would die for them. I will kill for them. Mark my words.

These features (or things very close to them) were all introduced in MHW and its Iceborne expansion. As were creatures like Tobi-Kadachi. The electric flying squirrel… thing… makes an appearance in the trailer, alongside “old school” opponent Arzuros. Yet the lower-fidelity graphics and wider variety of beasts leaned decidedly closer to the previous Monster Hunter generation than the PlayStation 4, Xbox, and PC game.

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Less definition usually means less expensive. That’s how MHGU brought hundreds of monsters and their variants into a single game on Switch last year. Though it also carried the baggage of even older tech. Generations Ultimate was built on the aching back of a 3DS game, Monster Hunter Generations, which still sported load times between locales in a single region. Quality-of-life features — like consuming items on the move and more limited equipment durability — were also locked behind the big kid consoles. The Direct dig into this sort of minutiae as much a nerd like me would like. But it’s easy to glean some of the QoL that’s been retrofitted from MHW.

My chief concern was that Rise would actually be “Monster Hunter Lite.” The lack of a number or the World branding had me picture a scaled-back spin-off. But that doesn’t seem like the case, either. A new feature called the Wirebug lets players Spider-Man around the map and climb mountains, Breath of the Wild style. More than that, though, you can incorporate this organic grappling hook into your arsenal. It seems like a new wrinkle to combat in the same vein as the Clutch Claw from Iceborne, or the Hunter Arts and Styles from Generations and Generations Ultimate. In other words: it seems like a step forward, not a completely different style of game.

All of which is to say this seems like a fully fledged Monster Hunter. If I’m lucky, it will be exactly the sort of fully fledged Monster Hunter game I’ve wanted since 2018: one with the breadth and depth of older games, plus the smart changes made for modern sensibilities.

monster hunter rise release date

Monster Hunter Rise hasn’t been announced for anything but Nintendo Switch yet. But on that less powerful hardware, it’s easier to get away with the low-resolution graphics that let the series’ deep bench run rampant. I’m pretty sure I saw a Nerscylla in there… That’s like a big spider that wears other dead monsters on its back as armor. It was also impossible to include in MHW, because of the cost associated with working new “skeletons” into that game. Most of the monsters you saw in World used one of just a few underlying frames — covered up with unique skins and abilities. A huge murder-bug wouldn’t really fit that mold.

We also saw altogether new beasts. The “flagship” for Monster Hunter Rise is Magnamalo. It looks a bit like a Chinese guardian lion, if such a thing shot purple energy from its mouth like a Recoome Eraser Gun. Combined with the Wirebugs and Palamutes, the new adversaries make this seem like a true next generation of Monster Hunter game. If the pattern holds, it will in turn be further mined for good ideas to bolt onto Monster Hunter World 2 (or whatever the PlayStation and Xbox sequel game is called).

If I may make a suggestion, Capcom: keep the dog with an umbrella in its mouth. That looks pretty cool.

More broadly, this sort of experimentation and iteration feels like a healthy way to keep a series moving forward. Monster Hunter needed a refresh. It got it with MHW. Now the series is way more popular and way more playable than ever. It needs to build out from that foundation, as its predecessors did before it. Doing so with cheaper assets on less powerful hardware — where experimentation isn’t as risky — is an encouraging move. Even if it doesn’t fit into the deeply linear franchise cycle we’re used to seeing in games.

It doesn’t that I get to hunt even more on the go when Monster Hunter Rise launches on March 26, 2021. That’s just a little treat, for me.