Video Game Review: Monster Hunt Rise

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MISHAWAKA – Monster Hunter Rise released on March 26, and it provides plenty of new content for fans of the series to enjoy. 

I will be the first to say I have not followed the Monster Hunter series with too much care. As far as I knew, it was a game for people who like weapons that are too large and who enjoy tracking down virtual monsters, which sounds like Pokémon, but with more blood and less Pikachu. However, Monster Hunter is a bit more than that, as I’ve learned. 

The core of the series’ gameplay is printed on the box. Hunting different types of beasts across a sprawling landscape with friends and companion characters sounds like peak JRPG, which, to be fair, is because numerous recent JRPG’s have followed that formula to a T: Final Fantasy XV, Xenoblade, DragonQuest, the list goes on. However, those games really only use it as a means to an end, whereas Monster Hunter really gets dug in on its combat, world-building and monster design. 

First off, no game about hunting would be any fun if the tools used were boring. Monster Hunter brings plenty of unique weapons and weapon classes into your hunting journeys. Longswords, longbows, great swords, hammers, axes, dual short swords and rapid firing bows that are practically guns are only scratching the surface of the armaments available to combat your foes. By hunting monsters and collecting the materials they provide, players will gain access to stronger, rarer weapons.  

In addition, no Hunter will ever be alone, thanks to their Palamutes and Palicos. Though Palamutes are a new mechanic to the series, Palicos have been around for a while. Palamutes are wolf-like mounts that Hunters can use to ride around the world and gain extra mobility in a fight, or Hunters can turn them loose and have them focus on their target.  

Palicos are small, cat-like companions that can grant a Hunter a number of buffs, provide assistance in battle or scout around the environment and bring any materials back to the Hunter. Both the Palicos and Palamutes are as customizable as the player character, but all three must be made before the game proper can begin, so strap in for a hefty character creation period. 

As fun as fighting monsters is, you will have to find them first, which means traversing the beautifully crafted region of Kamura Village. The village is nested in the mountains and is home to a number of Hunters and Hunter-helpful businesses, like weapon and armor-smiths. The area surrounding Kamura Village is heavily wooded, but deep within the forests lie enormous and dangerous caves. Further out are plateaus and rocky mountain peaks, and those are nowhere near the extent of different biomes available. 

Finally, there are your quarries, themselves: the monsters. All the dozens of unique monsters you’ll be hunting are based off ancient Japanese history. Several of these kaiju-like creatures can be tracked across the region, some small, some large, some too large, but all of them will yield a decent payout if you can handle them. Foremost among these monsters, according to community response, is the Goss Harag, a massive yeti-type monster that can transform its arms into giant ice swords. The beast itself hits like a truck attached to the arm of a giant yeti, and it has more spikes than a volleyball court, not to mention its absolutely lethal frost-breath. The long and short of it is that the monsters of the game are not to be taken lightly and can turn you into a smear on the ground faster than you can figure out which end of the thing is its head. 

To reiterate, I’ve not been too into Monster Hunter in the past, but this installment is one that I will be following and seeing a lot of, even if I might not purchase the game for myself. Monster Hunter fans are a dedicated bunch, and their games are infrequently as mainline as this one has become, so I am happy for that community to have their time in the spotlight. 

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