Monster Hunter has been a popular game series for some time now, starting in Japan after its beginnings on the PlayStation 2 in 2004 and eventually becoming more and more popular in the West as time went on. And what’s not to love about a game that tasks you with hunting down dangerous monsters with oversized swords and axes, along with an assortment of tools and potions at your disposal? It wasn’t until very recently that I could say I finally began to see the level of enjoyment to be had in Monster Hunter after it failed to sink its claws into me in several previous attempts.
My first experience with Monster Hunter was on the 3DS. Shortly after trading in my original, “fat” Nintendo DS towards a 3DS XL, the newest iteration at the time, I happened to look through the eShop and decided to download the demo for Monster Hunter IV: Ultimate. I had known of the MH games for quite a few years, primarily from seeing the original PS2 as well as Monster Hunter Tri on the Nintendo Wii, but had never attempted to play any of them. I remember playing a few of the quests in the MHIV demo and having a fair amount of fun, but there was definitely a learning curve there. My initial perception of the series was an interesting game that seemed to require a certain level of commitment to fully grasp the game mechanics…along with other friends to play the game with. The fact it contained an overwhelming amount of items and resources that were difficult to access due to the game’s UI and inventory system feeling a tad on the counter-intuitive side(for me, at least).
A few years later, Monster Hunter: World was released and after hearing the amount of praise for series’ newest release, I decided to make another attempt to run around and hunt some monsters. Unfortunately, the same learning curve hindered most of my progress in the game. I had a difficult time getting the hang of the game’s slow, deliberate movement and controls, along with the crossbar inventory that still felt very difficult to navigate while avoiding ferocious monsters. Compounding this was the fact the matchmaking in the game is likely the most obtuse, counterintuitive process I’ve seen in a modern video game. Most of the time spent playing the game with my brother was simply trying to get paired up in the same quest. I did play MH:World a few times by myself and felt like I made some very slight headway, but still felt like I didn’t “get” the game yet…or if I ever would.
Earlier this year, I spent a fair amount of time watching a few bloggers within the WordPress community play Monster Hunter: World on Twitch(shoutout to Frostilyte and DanamesX) and had hoped to learn a thing or two. I had also been paying loose attention to Capcom’s updates after announcing Monster Hunter: Rise, which was to be released as a timed-exclusive for the Nintendo Switch(a PC port is expected early 2022). A release date for Monster Hunter: Rise was set for March 26, with Capcom releasing a demo on the eShop a couple weeks prior. Once again, I decided to download the demo and see if something would finally click – it didn’t. The Rise demo played well enough, but it still felt in many ways, like the intimidating wall of weapon sharpening, traps, and endemic life previous games had been.
Monster Hunter: Rise received a great deal of praise after its release and was one of the most-played/talked about games on Twitch and Twitter. I don’t know whether it was a greater amount of sheer determination or FOMO, but I decided to give MH yet another chance and picked up a copy of the game. Due to it being a little more streamlined than previous entries, I kept hearing Rise was the most accessible and best point of entry into the series. I had already been toying with the idea of playing it, when my brother happened to buy two copies of the game and give one to me with the intent(again) of playing some co-op Monster Hunter. You ever have a game that it seems like you just wake up and inexplicably feel like playing? That’s all it really took this time around…
I’m don’t know precisely what it is about MH:Rise that finally started to make sense of the series for me. It might be the fact that the game has been scaled down in size, making it a little less of a daunting task to play through, or the in-game tutorials seemed a little clearer than they had in the past(?). Another possibility is that I simply exercised a bit of patience and restraint in not charging into every monster encounter so….recklessly, which I could point to playing through Bloodborne a few months back as an example of learning not only what to attack, but WHEN to do so…
It only took me a few hours of playing and I started to feel as if I could confidently take down every menacing behemoth in the game all by myself, as I learned some of the ins-and-outs of not only the general combat, but utilizing the endemic life around the area for attribute buffs, along with your Wirebug maneuvers and the array of tools and traps any competent hunter has in their repertoire. Since first playing it a mere month ago, Monster Hunter: Rise has been the game in which I’ve spent the most time. The game credits roll upon finishing up the five-star quest “Comeuppance” which finds you facing off against the storied Magnamalo, which destroyed Kamura Village during a Rampage fifty years prior to the main story. The past few Saturdays have mostly been spent playing Monster Hunter, with one particular Saturday being spent doing little else as I worked toward completing the five and six-star Village Quests before I’d consider myself having “beat” the game.
There’s something incredibly satisfying about hunting and slaying(or capturing) the giant predators terrorizing the lands surrounding Kamura Village, especially when utilizing all the weapons and tools at your disposal. I’ve spent most of my time using the Switch Axe, which opened up a lot of combos to inflict maximum damage once I got familiarized with switching between axe and greatsword form while attacking. Monster Hunter as a series has historically had a greater depth than…let’s face it, a lot of the game I play and love. I’ve put 30+ hours into the game thus far and feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface as there’s many other weapon/armor combinations to try out from here. I want to experiment with some of the other available weapons, such as the Bowgun(s) or Hunting Horn.
My experience with Monster Hunter had always felt like it was bound to be hampered by the fact I have typically spent 99% of my time gaming by myself. I never really had many friends to play games wit other than a younger brother, and any progress playing Monster Hunter: World was greatly affected by the game’s baffling matchmaking setup. I had always had the perception of MH games being closer to an MMO where it’s certainly possible to play the game solo, but the optimal enjoyment comes from playing with others.
I don’t know if I’d attribute it more to a lessened learning curve and greater understanding of the mechanics or sheer stubbornness, either I’ve been loving my time with Monster Hunter: Rise and it has become one of my favorite games I’ve played this year. Some games, regardless of complex gameplay may not resonate immediately, and others may never. I’ve mentioned in the past that it wasn’t until Ocarina of Time that I felt like I finally began to “get” the Legend of Zelda games, but I’ve loved them ever since. Sometimes, all a game needs to finally click is the right time and place…
Thanks for reading!
7 thoughts on “Monster Hunter: Rise – Understanding The Hunt”
Glad you were finally able to break through the hurdle and enjoy a Monster Hunter game. They’re always bogged down by a bunch of unintuitive bullshit that makes getting to the core experience difficult. Once you cut through the crap though there’s a lot to love.
Depending on which streams of mine you caught you’ll already know I really like the hunting horn. Based on the demo for Rise they streamlined it to the point where it is super easy to play so it should be an easy weapon to pick up lol
Also, regardless of how much Capcom wants you to play with others you can absolutely play these games solo.
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Yeah, Rise seemed a lot less daunting and more streamlined than other Monster Hunter games I’ve played. Even the main village/hub feels a lot easier to navigate as it’s only on the surface level and not quite as spread out as in World.
I remember you talking about the Hunting Horn while you were streaming and it sounded like an interesting choice, I was also toying with the idea of trying out one of ranged weapons to contrast my default choice in every other game being short-range melee weapons.
I was pleasantly surprised at how NOT impossible doing the quests solo were, given how I’d always perceived the game as closer to an MMO(for some reason).
Glad you managed to break through the crust of a MH game and stop bouncing off ’em! 😀 MHW was my first attempt at playing one and, while very different to be sure, I credit my Dark Souls experience with not bouncing off it straight away as well.
I’m looking forward to Rise as well, but have decided to hold off for the PC release, so next year sometime. 🙂
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Thank you! There’s been a few games I’ve played over the past couple years that have definitely come off as an acquired taste, but have found myself really enjoying. If nothing else, it can be potential blog fodder… 😉
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Monster Hunter Rise did a really good job of actually teaching new players how to play instead of just hiding everything behind the hunter’s manual. I hope future games in the series stick with this type of teaching since it works well.
Once you get familiar with monster behaviors and the weapons you like using, much of the learning comes from field experience and building your experience. I though I was hot stuff throughout the game until the Magnamalo put me back in my place during our first encounter. It goes to show that challenges still exist even for those who have played for a while.
I’m glad you were able to enjoy it after giving it a chance multiple times. This game focuses a lot on solo play, but I will never turn down an offer for a group hunt.
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Definitely. The tutorials and hunter’s manual didn’t feel as overwhelming as they had seemed in previous games.
Same here, pretty much. I had thought I was just cruising through the quest lists until I got to the Magnamalo and just barely scraped it out. Then, there’s the 6 star quests that have you taking out a Rathalos and a Tigrex…
I had mostly forgotten about the Hub quests until much later and did a couple of the starter ones before jumping to the license quests. I’ve really enjoyed the Ramage quests too…which I completely overlooked mentioning in my post .
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