Monster Hunter Rise feels a lot more organic than its predecessor — up to and including making your own competitive multiplayer mode with friends. The series is well-known for its cooperative play, of course. The new game improves and smooths out that experience even more. I just don’t that Capcom could have predicted how fun making your own PVP monster fights could be.
Thanks to Wyvern Riding (a new feature that basically combines mounting attacks and the Clutch Claw from previous games), hunters can hop aboard monsters and take them for a spin. Sometimes literally. A successful ride gives you several seconds of control over the monster in question. You can order them to attack, which often includes 360 degree tail swipes and other, even flashier moves like poison blasts or water beams. That’s perfectly appropriate, since Wyvern Riding on its own is a blast to perform.
I was skeptical of the new system at first. I worried the bombastic thrashing would take away from the more technical combat I know and love. And it does, if only for a few seconds. But since it effectively replaces the Clutch Claw from Monster Hunter World — which also allowed massive bursts of damage but felt much more rote over time — it’s not a huge change in flow.
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Instead it lends more of that “organic” feel. You need to stay on your toes and know your foes while Wyvern Riding. Letting your mount get flinched by an opposing target will impede your damage output, after all. So you need to read your opponent and respond in that pseudo-fighting game style Monster Hunter does so well. The Clutch Claw only asked you to count to three and press R2.
My favorite bit of hidden depth is bonking monsters together. Launching one creature into another leaves the opposite one in a ridable state while blasting you off your original steed. Whereas attacking normally will knock it down without leaving it open for a subsequent ride. This makes it very, very hard for two hunters to ride monsters in the same place at the same time. But there are lots of other ways to lasso a beast.
However it happened, my fellow hunter, merritt, and I managed to grab both an Aknosom and Pukei-Pukei together. They’re not the toughest monsters. Maybe that’s why they were easy to topple. That didn’t make it any less satisfying to pit them against each other with an impromptu PVP battle. Since each monster has unique moves and animations, there was even a bit of strategy to the back and forth, even if my “opponent” and I were technically on the same side.
I got absolutely destroyed (merritt is better than me at real fighting games, too). That was probably for the best. The bout left Pukei-Pukei worn out and stunned, just waiting for the final blow that ended our hunt. You can see the results for yourself in the video above.
Besides looking and feeling cool as hell (not to mention dealing good damage) it really drove home how dynamic Monster Hunter Rise feels. I adore and sorely miss the high fidelity of MHW — a game I’m not afraid to call a modern classic — but it could feel mechanical at times. Monsters can take this many bashes with a Clutch Claw before falling. Turf Wars will always trigger over there and deal that much damage. These new systems feel messier, and therefore more exciting. There’s more danger of being bucked off before you get exactly what you want. And Monster Hunter monsters should feel dangerous. Not like simple math problems.