The Monster Hunter Rise endgame is a bit thinner than you might imagine. At least at launch. The “ending” is currently a massive cliffhanger that sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise perfectly polished game. It’s so jarring, in fact, that for hours I simply thought I was missing something.
I won’t get into specific spoilers here. Suffice it to say that Monster Hunter Rise plays out much like you would expect for a few dozen hours. You battle progressively more difficult monsters, unlock higher rank missions, and craft successively better gear. Said gear is perhaps a bit thinner than in past games. There’s only one set of armor per monster — instead of the Gunner/Blademaster or Alpha/Beta variants from past games. It’s also missing cosmetics. You can change equipment colors, but the Layered Armor “transmog” system from past games isn’t unlocked from the start.
Beyond that, though? This is a damn fine Monster Hunter game. The new creatures are outstanding (the fruit throwing monkey-bat, Bishaten, is a personal favorite of mine) and the Wirebug eventually feels so natural that I have a hard time imagining future games without it. Mechanically, Monster Hunter Rise is pitch perfect.
Then it just sort of ends.
Your typical Monster Hunter endgame involves Elder Dragons. These high-level creatures add unique mechanics, such as deadly new status effects, as well as powerful weapons and armor to craft. The last main game in the series, Monster Hunter World, included seven Elder Dragons at launch. Plus “Tempered” versions of them and every other beast that dropped randomized endgame upgrades for truly dedicated players.
Monster Hunter Rise has just two Elder Dragons — the series’ smallest launch number to date. Neither beast adds those endgame items to chase, either, such as augmentations from the previous game. Nor are there Tempered or “Hyper” monster equivalents. Beyond the incredible combat, this is a pretty stripped-down Monster Hunter experience.
Only a brief cutscene plays when you beat both Elder Dragons. It serves to establish that this is not the end of the story. From there on out, every NPC describes how you’ll need to face some new, mysterious foe soon. You’re even told what’s causing this upcoming monster to, ahem, rise. Except no objective markers, which up to that point always appear at the top of the screen, indicate what to do about it. Neither do any credits play. Everyone keeps on talking about some big, looming danger. You just have nowhere to go and nothing to do about it.
Other, smaller signs add to the general sense that Monster Hunter Rise is somewhat unfinished. The weapon section at the smithy shows blocked off areas with a question mark, for instance, indicating there should be more to unlock. But the strangest thing I’ve noticed thus far is Handicraft. This longstanding Monster Hunter skill claims it can rise as high as Level 5. That’s how it was in the last game. But all the armor that features Handicraft put together only adds up to Level 4. You can craft Jewels and Charms in Monster Hunter Rise to supplement skill numbers, sure, but Handicraft isn’t one of them. It appears mathematically impossible to reach this promised level cap at launch.
These little details convinced me I must have been missing something. Secret objectives aren’t unheard of in Monster Hunter. Past games had unmarked “Key Quests” needed to progress your rank to finish the story. Monster Hunter Rise also includes Key Quests (though they’re actually marked this time). MHW, by contrast, doles out powerful items that only appear when you finish certain unexplained requirements.
I assumed something similar was happening here. I played another 15 hours past the launch game ending, ticking off as many arbitrary requirements as I could think up. I hunted Low Rank and High Rank versions of every monster. I finished missions from the new Rampage mode on all available maps. I defeated both Elder Dragons multiple times. Eventually I exhausted all NPC dialogue, started sending my automated Meowcenaries to scout every possible region, and started ticking off every optional High Rank mission I hadn’t completed yet.
It wasn’t until about 65 hours into my save that I saw a single line from a developer Q&A hinting at the situation. Director Yasunori Ichinose, who I also interviewed recently, mentions very early in the video that the game’s second Title Update will include “the conclusion to the story.” Many players took this to mean an epilogue. Having seen the full game now, it doesn’t feel that way. Instead the game feels unfinished. By Monster Hunter standards, of course.
As I mentioned above, what’s here at launch feels as good as Monster Hunter ever has. Not to mention it took me roughly 50 hours to reach the end. I’ve still got plenty more side quests to do, too. Most players will probably take longer (one reason the abrupt ending confused me so much was because I couldn’t find any other players in the press as far as me). There’s a lot of delicious meat on this bone.
It’s just against expectations. I played MHW for literally thousands of hours and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate for a few hundred more. Much of that time was spent farming endgame items that simply don’t exist in Monster Hunter Rise. Yet, anyway.
Capcom has already noted that more monsters, including the Elder Dragon Chameleos, are arriving a month after launch. At the time I thought that seemed like a quick turnaround. Now it feels like the team polishing off content intended for the main game, which might have been delayed due to COVID-19 and cut before launch to meet quarterly financials. But I’m just speculating at this point.
Speaking of speculation: I trust that Monster Hunter Rise will eventually feel much more complete. The DLC and updates for MHW set the gold standard for every other AAA game on the market in my eyes. I have a lot of faith in this series as a result. The game is also coming to PC sometime next year, so clearly Capcom has long-term plans for its flagship series yet again. The lack of a real endgame at launch is just a bit deflating for a game I expected to consume me for months.