Massively on the Go: Monster Hunter Rise’s demo is merely a less pretty taste of Monster Hunter World

    
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I have to admit, from the demo, Monster Hunter Rise isn’t what I was expecting. Having played Monster Hunter World on both PS4 and on PC, as well as having cross-culture experience with the series, I have certain expectations. I’m not saying I’m the best at the game, nor the most engaged, just that I have broad experience on this topic.

So when I first played MHW on PS4, I felt like Capcom had really created something special. I’ll still argue that MHW on PS4 is the most accessible, most intuitive, and perhaps the most social Monster Hunter game ever released. Rise thus far feels like a step back in terms of accessibility, but a step forward in, as our own Chris “Wolfy” Neal put it, “adding a little more skill ceiling” to the series.

The visuals

I know I don’t usually say much about graphics, but almost immediately when I started up the game I noticed the graphics on offer here. World certainly spoiled me. The grass art feels like merely a fuller version of what we had in Monster Hunter 4 for the Nintendo 3DS. The environmental colors are quite drab, though I saw a few lesser creatures with some nice coloring. Overall, though, the visuals made me feel as if I was trying an older game when playing on my TV screen. Admittedly, playing in the handheld mode invoked a sense of nostalgia, but I feel like that once again brings up the comparison to MH4, which wasn’t a bad game, but that’s hardly a compliment after what we got from MHW.

It’s not just the graphics that are dated; it’s also the design choices. While harvestables are obvious (monster parts glaringly so, looking almost like flares), control pop-ups are awkward. For example, while going through my inventory, I kept getting a pop-up about how to use items. I received this pop-up not just while scrolling but using items. I’m still unsure as to why the pop-up occurred and why following this did not cause it to disappear, but that was that. On the other-hand, using the wirebug, one of the game’s newest features, created just one pop-up. I went through the tutorial to help get me through all the new additions at least once, but there’s so very, very much to learn that proper pop-ups would really be helpful.

The game also did away with the scout flies, which helped bring the player’s attention to useable environmental affects as well as pointed out where the monster you were tracking is. Instead, Rise just uses a big, immersion-shattering arrow.

New features

While we did get some new features, one that I really miss is the series staple of* mounting. We’ve gone from combat-while-mounted to mounted combat. The former was key when you could use an arial attack to get ontop of a monster to attack it. This could be especially useful for tail cutters like me, as we could safely unload a barrage of targetted damage to ensure breaks. It was also pretty cool.

The new Wyvern Riding mechanic is… not that. While there are creatures that can help make mounting easier, the only way to usually get to this state is to wear down a monster until the game signals that you can mount the creature. At this point, you can force it to move, use weak or strong attacks, launch it at a wall to deal damage to your mount (and a creature if you hit it), or unleash a special attack.

While it sounds cool in theory, it’s actually quite rough. In terms of realism, it makes sense, as the creature is trying to throw you off. However, you’re basically using special insect silk to make creatures into a virtual puppet. It’s odd to say the least, and it’s part of that new skill ceiling Chris hinted at in our discussions on the game.

In fact, I’d argue many of the new adjustments come from the wirebug. MHW‘s clutch claw had a bit of adjustment needed as well, but I felt that players received plenty of hints on how to use it, both in terms of UI (pop-ups, glows, hints to use it) and intuitiveness (seeing a branch and trying to swing from it). Maybe we’ll see more of this in the full game, but aside from the single pop-up I previously mentioned, I felt like most of what I learned about the wire-bug came from the tutorial. MH games are notoriously difficult, but I often overestimate my skills as a veteran.

While I’m often amazed at how my fingers know when to dodge and barely get me out of harm’s way when I’ve encountered a brand-new monster, the wire-bug initially made me feel as if I was trying to control a greased brick. Normal running and dodging is what one might expect, but then the wire-bug movement suddenly makes me feel as if my character’s been kicked forward on ice. The movement is slick, but not really in a good way.

Chris suggested to me that things like the wire-bug will eventually become intuitive to players, and I agree to an extent. While I may overshoot my target still, I’m still zipping in-and-out of range. It vaguely reminds me of the Attack on Titan’s 3-D maneuvering gear in the way I use it, especially to recover from knockdown attacks or get out of monster’s combos. The thing is, I have seen plenty of people fail to use it, most notably in the demo’s intermediate monster battle, mizutsune.

The monster is constantly throwing out bubbles in all directions and heights and will combine that with a kind of high-blast water attack. While you may not need to use the wire-bug in the battle, it certainly seems to speed things up, which is important because hunts once again last 50 minutes max before auto-failing you. I often suspect I can tell how new a player is by how she uses the wire bug to battle mizutsune. Not using it is a sign of newness, over and under launching suggests a learner (that’s me!), and then there are the people who are all over the battlefield, clearly masters.

To note, the creature isn’t new to the series, so hardcore veterans should have some exposure to it, though I admit I skipped the game it appeared in. That being said, I’ve seen a few discussions about its changes, and one of the things people have noted is that players may just not be used to the wire-bug. With its speed, various height attacks, 360(+?) hose attack, and more, the mizutsune encounter does seem like a skill check.

And sadly, it’s one I already see English speaking fans failing at. Nearly all of my group play has been to hunt the beast. No one seems interested in the beginner hunt. The players mostly seem like veterans too, as I’ve been with many that took out veteran monster rathian with few issues, even demonstrating that they could use lifepowder to heal the group.

While I’m no master hunter, I did solo mizutsune so I could learn the basics and was able to sever its tail and break its head. I also learned about its bubble blight effect, which makes your character’s movement feel even more slippery than when you’re trying to master the wire-bug. So the fact that nearly all of my groups failed was disheartening. Admittedly, the demo’s a new game and people are still learning.

In my frustration, I also (wrongly) wondered if perhaps the Nintendo Switch audience attracts a more casual player. But nope. The game allows you to choose to group with players from your language group or any language. Communication in the demo is restricted mostly to “stamps” (visual) and phrases (pre-set), and the default is your language group. The very first time I switched it off, I was grouped with several Japanese players. They were not perfect (someone nearly got blown up with a barrel bomb and a trap got wasted), but the kill was clean.

Obviously, I’m not arguing that Japanese people innately are better at the game. The series is just bigger in Japan, and thus people are more familiar with the series. It also helps that, as I noted previously, Japanese players in MHW favored groups, while even our own readers admitted there were times they’d just solo because of the lack of common MH etiquette among western fans.

And that was why I felt my non-English speaking groups did better. For newcomers: Hammer users (and other blunt weapons) stand at the front because they can “dizzy” monsters for a bit by whacking their heads. Long, sharp weapons hit the tail most of the time because they can sever it. These two roles aren’t interchangeable (switch-axes can’t “dizzy” a monster and hammers can’t cut tails). Western players I met didn’t follow this rule, among others (like using wide-spreading attacks that can knock-over your fellow hunters). While it can be fun to experiment with ideas, given that the demo is limited to 30 group quest attempts online, maybe try thinking about working together.

I do want to end on a positive feature though: the palamute. The MH series has long been obsessed with cats. Our dog companions, while unable to grant us support such as heals the palico cats can, still attack, but they also act as mounts. They function so intuitively and so seamlessly that I honestly wish mounts in other games were more like them. They attack with you, emote with you, allow you to mount them while you’re running, follow you, and allow you to leap from them to start an airborne attack.

In all, the Monster Hunter Rise demo makes the next MH series entry feel as if it’s aimed more at veteran hunters than trying to welcome new players, but it’s not all bad. It’s a good reminder that the series does tend to have a bit of a learning curve, but already it seems that the game rewards those who invest in it.

*2/6 Update: I misspoke about mounting being a series staple. I was lumping in encounters like Tri‘s Jhen Moran encounter. As for much of the other “criticism”/stanning in the comment section, I’ll personally leave it, but I also know many of it comes from 4chan users proving my point about the negative aspects of the western community.

Massively OP’s Andrew Ross is an admitted Pokemon geek and expert ARG-watcher. Nobody knows Niantic and Nintendo like he does! His Massively on the Go column covers Pokemon Go as well as other mobile MMOs and augmented reality titles!
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Damon Anderson
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Damon Anderson

Thanks, I have been playing MHW for, about 2 weeks, single player and really enjoying it. I have only heard of MHR but didn’t know anything about it so thanks for the review and info. I’ll probably be playing MHW for some time and there’s the expansion for that, but cool to know there’s a sequel.

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Dan Reeves

As for comparing it to world I completely disagree with this, also moaning about the popups and other stuff like that (You can mine and gather everything from one action this is amazing and makes gather quest so much easier), of course, it not going to be amazing it is a demo the full release will be a lot better in explaining things. I myself have been playing since the first and while it took 3 – 4 hunts to properly adjust to the wire bug and new mechanics after that I was zipping all over the place and I love the new recovery mechanic where you can use a wire bug to go straight back into the action.

I think you need to look at Rise without comparing it to world, you would have a better comparison comparing it to GU and when you mention about the clutch claw, this in my opinion in Iceborne I do not like as it is too integral to dealing good damage and hunts always start the same was, Rocksteady -> Clutch to weaken and then wall bang. Whereas in Rise I sometimes found my self not using wire bug moves for the entire hunt and not once did I feel that I was doing the hunt slower that if I were to use them.

You are completely entitled to your opinion about Rise but I beg you when the full game is released please do not compare it to world as there is no point, yet the quality of life improvements are there but other than that the game is completely different mechanic wise

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treskatay

“the Monster Hunter Rise demo makes the next MH series entry feel as if it’s aimed more at veteran hunters than trying to welcome new players” …good? MHW still exists and is still getting updates. There’s no reason you can’t play it instead. Rise is an acknowledgment of the preexisting player base. It’s meant to be a little different than World, and that’s a good thing.

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Patrick Burkett

I’m glad everyone has time and a household yo dedicate a space for them personally to play on a high console or PC. As a Dad with demanding job I have absolutely no problem losing graphical fidelity to be able to play on the go at my lunch break and in bed after the kids are down for sleep.

I absolutely hated how claustrophobic some of the zones were in World and I absolutely hated the the loading times on my PS4 Pro when I did get some TV time. The game felt like it didn’t care about the players time at all. Especially with the horrible decision to tie decorations to drops instead creation from parts like it use to be (I hope Rise goes back to the old system). Also really disliked that events were timed and I felt held hostage by them to hurry and play. I never got to true Master Rank Iceborne. I just stopped caring about World all together and went back to MHGU and 4U.

Cannot wait to play Rise with my son who is getting old enough to play with me on our Switchs together.

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Adam Coppage

Hardcore fans are the only ones that will know Mizutsune? That thing was introduced the game that came out before World. Technically two games if you wanna differentiate between Generations and Generations Ultimate. I don’t like the term hardcore fan, but if I had to describe it, I’d say since the 2nd generation or sooner, maybe even the 3rd. Definately not 3/4 of the way into the lifespan of the 4th generation. For perspective, with Rise, we’re entering the latter half of the 5th generation.

And the graphics are an issue, it’s a switch, it never could have lived up to World on the ps4. Go play generations ultimate on the switch and do a side by side. While World was absolutely breathtaking with its graphics, monster hunter never got by because of graphics, but by its superb gameplay.

Another thing, mounting being gone isn’t entirely true. Mounting has changed in every title (not including expansion titles) it has been in. In 4, your teammates had to wait while you knocked it down or else they’d knock you off the monster. In generations, they helped fill the gauge if they attacked it. In World, they couldn’t do much to help, but now you could move around while on the monster and target specific areas. The wyvern ride is just this games version of it, and it’ll likely change again whenever the next game happens. Considering this game’s focus on airborne techniques via Wirebugs, they had to do something different or mounting would either be worthless or too strong. Rise’s combat style simply didn’t allow for an in-between here. Leaving it as easy as it is currently would make it way too spammable with the wirebug mechanics, but making it a lot harder to pull off (like the difficulty of getting 2 wyvern rides on the same monster) would just make it pretty bad because the payoff would be incredibly low by comparison to how it is in Rise.

The game is basically a mix of World and Generations. I agree it feels more classic in nature than World, but I definately would suggest that it isn’t a step backwards. This game is a spin-off title, but not in the traditional sense spinoff just meaning wacky title with nothing to do with the others. They put the same amount of quality work in it, but they take their spinoff titles into more odd areas. Generations and it’s styles and arts come to mind, as it is the only other “spinoff” (not counting the expansion title) to date. While they said that they are no longer going to number their titles, I think we’re still gonna be able to tell when a title is technically the next in the franchise or just a branching path. The recent ransom leaks kinda confirm that idea (if you believe it), having MH 6 among the leaked titles. So I’m personally not gonna complain about them exploring different and odd avenues with their spinoffs, because I have faith that the mainline titles will reel things back into normal(ish) levels without feeling like a step backwards. World did, despite lacking arts or styles like the previous game did. Of course the feeling of a step back or not is subjective, but personally I felt World went further than any title has before despite the things it lacked, and I think Rise is gonna further that by blending parts of World with Generations Ultimate.

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raine go

Agree to all the points except the spin off thing

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technogrift

I want to point out that many things, like the red arrow, will not be in the actual release. Guidance arrows and stuff are normal for the demos. The new marker system will be your owl, replacing both the old paintballs and new scoutflies.

(Also mounting is bad and not fun. Worlds mounting especially was honestly horrible. I’m really glad they replaced it with something more interesting and with more options.)

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Elyika

heard rumors that its coming out on pc with re-keybind-ability in the fall so gonna wait on that b4 buying it for switch if the switch version is gonna be a laggy mess.

itll be huge in Japan though

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Nova_Bushido

The demo hasn’t been a mess, it runs perfectly fine on the switch. The game will be massive seller everywhere.

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EpiKuro

Mizutsune is still a relatively new monster btw.

And regarding graphics, I’d also much rather this was the dedicated handheld entry of the gen, like they used to do.
I think they’re trying to find a way to still have MH be pretty much a series split between handheld (since PSP) and console (or PC), but also cater to the new players, that came in with MHW, by releasing the handheld games (which Rise clearly is) on PC (and maybe PS/Xbox as well)
It’s a weird approach and bound to make people bitch about the graphics, but at least you can choose wether you want to play the game or not without buying a Switch.

Don’t expect consistency from MH, by now they always do something different with each gen and only sometimes new features will carry over into the next, like mounting for example, and sometimes they don’t, like the godawful underwater combat.
Don’t expect things from MHW to carry over into the next gen, they might get rid of stuff, they might keep stuff, who knows.
I don’t even want to imagine the sea of tears we’d drown in, if they made a game like Tri now after MHW.

I swear, my favorite entry was MH4 and I didn’t complain nearly as much when they got to MHW (only thing I hated were the lazy ass weapon designs) as the MHW people are complaining now about Rise.
I really hope they’re going to make MHW a seperate series (as in, MHW2 for next entry) and still keep more traditional entries going on handheld.

PS, you can turn the arrow off and just go by map

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Brendan Botts

Weapons used to have roles but Monster Hunter World conditioned players to always go for the head since it tends to be a high damage weak point.

Also, I agree that World’s graphical fidelity is better. However, I still think Rise looks amazing, not only as a switch game, but especially compared to GU. I very much welcome the return of more fantastical armor and weapon designs because World’s were generally very bland and not exciting to look at compared to the older games.

I don’t care for the wire bug, but I also didn’t care for the clutch claw added in IB so it’s just something I need to get used to.

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EpiKuro

Yeah right? I’ve picked up MHGU again (which, granted, was based on a 3DS entry) to prepare for MHR (which is now biting me in the ass, since the gameplay is more compareable with MHW and I got too used to Hunter Styles), and when I started up the Rise demo I was AMAZED at the graphics they got out of the Switch, especially coming off of MHGU.
And now you see these MHW newcomers, crying about things like “specs”, on a Monster Hunter game of all things xD

I also freaking love the weapon designs we’ve seen so far, MHW dropped the ball so hard on that I pretty much felt offended, like Capcom thought western audiences can’t handle creativity.

agemyth 😩
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agemyth 😩

Other than the obvious giant market of Switch players and its unique appeal to the Japanese market in particular, the choice to make this horizontal and slightly backward movement with the Monster Hunter franchise after World was Capcom’s biggest game ever seemed so strange to me.

Maybe this is just being made by a Monster Hunter B-team and helps them make more money off all the original work they put into MHW while another team is making MHW2 or whatever.

Grappling hooks are fun though and being able to magically grapple anywhere with the help of the wirebug looks neat.

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Jd C

One thing that isn’t fully known by a lot, including me until i looked it up, is in fact that MH is ran by 2 teams, essentially the main game A team and the spin off B team. World and some numbered games were made with the A team, while Generations and some of the ultimate versions were by the b team. They do this to give new experiences as soon as possible, but also to have new focuses, like how world was made for newer audiences, but games like generations and rise are more for a singular audience and focus more on smaller mechanics and a one of a kind experience. I think it was Gaijinhunter who explains it well

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Charlie Branson

This is the next generation of monster hunter. It was done by the a team.