The latest entry in the Monster Hunter franchise is less than two months away and is coming exclusively to Nintendo Switch. To build up the excitement for the release of Monster Hunter Rise, Capcom has released a free demo that can be downloaded from the Nintendo eShop from now until Feb. 1. After spending some time with the demo, I have some mixed thoughts about the experience.
For starters, I am not a Monster Hunter veteran. I’ve yet to find a Monster Hunter game that lured me in, and trapped me in for more than a few hours of gameplay. However, as a fan of the Switch, and as someone who is open to liking a game like Monster Hunter, I’m coming into Monster Hunter Rise with a fresh set of eyes hoping to be enthralled. As of right now though with Rise, I can’t entirely say that I’m there yet.
The demo offers four quests for you to take on, a basic training tutorial, a tutorial for the new Wyvern Riding mechanic, a beginner level hunt, and an intermediate level hunt. You can play the two tutorials as many times as you want, but the hunts can only be done 30 times total across the two.
The Basic Training Quest goes over all the basics from how to attack and loot monsters, to using the new Wirebug tool.
Now, I don’t expect to master the game in the run of an hour or two long demo, but that being said, even with the tutorials I found figuring out the basic controls to be a bit of a challenge. There is a lot to learn in this game and I don’t think the tutorial is clear enough in teaching it to someone unfamiliar with the series.
The Wyvern Riding Training Quest further reiterates the Wirebug mechanic for the veteran players who may have skipped out on the basic tutorial. It also goes into all the details on the new Wyvern Riding mechanic, and was a solid summary of the new feature, though I found myself forgetting a few details and needing to replay the tutorial for a refresher.
Finally, both the Slay a Great Izuchi Beginner Quest, and the Slay a Mizutsune Intermediate Quest let you take full control of the game with no tutorials, as you go on your very first hunts.
You have the option to choose from any of the game’s 14 weapons for each of the four quests. I tried out most of the weapons to get a good feel as to what I enjoy and to the level in which the weapon changes up your gameplay style, and I have to say, each weapon felt quite unique.
The Hammer and GreatSword are both extremely slow, but deal massive damage, the Dual Blades are fast-paced and agile, and the Bow is a great long-range weapon and probably my favorite out of the ones I tried as it has a good mix of power and speed, and can offer a bit of distance between you and the monster you’re hunting.
I had a lot of frustration with the Gunlance; as cool as it was, I could not for the life of me figure out how to reload it –like I said, the game is complicated for newcomers.
In particular, I really disliked the game’s control scheme and there are little to no options to change it. Having the X and A buttons serve as your main attack commands felt so unnatural to me as most games I’ve played with similar gameplay uses the classic Y/X attack scheme.
As I played on, I did get used to the controls, but I constantly felt like I had to tell my brain what to do instead of it feeling like a natural process. The Y button is used to sheathe your weapon, but when your weapon is already sheathed, it uses your selected item, such as a potion.
The whole process of sheathing and unsheathing your weapon is a bit clunky –I highly recommend turning off the Automatic Sheathing option as I found it only ever got in the way.
Your weapon also automatically sheathes when you run, which is very annoying when trying to run towards a monster and pressing the attack button, only to realize your weapon is sheathed, ruining the flow of battle.
Riding both the Palamute and the Wyverns was very satisfying, though again, I felt as if the Wyvern Riding was a little needlessly complicated. In order to move while riding a Wyvern, you need to hold down the R button, which is normally just the run command.
If you do not hold the R button, you will not move forward and will only be able to pivot one way or another. I just didn’t understand the reasoning for this, as opposed to just using the control stick to move like you do with both the player and the Palamute.
However, it is really fun to zip around with the Wirebug and to climb up cliffs to what feels like places you should not be able to reach –it’s not exactly Spider-man levels of exploration, but traversing the world in this game is a joy.
I really like the concept of the Endemic Life you find aiding you in your quest. Along your run you will find creatures like the Petalace and Clothflies, which give you different stat boosts when you come across them.
These buffs only last for the duration of the quest but are extremely helpful and worth stopping for. In a game all about savaging and crafting for improved armor and weapons, having Endemic Life offer buffs is a nice way to reinforce the theme of using your environment to your advantage.
Speaking of the environment, the game gorgeous. This may be one of, if not the best looking games on the Switch, where the world, characters, and monsters are all well detailed and pretty.
I was surprised to see how well the game ran considering the graphical quality. I can’t say for sure that you won’t see a few frame drops in some of the more intense battles later in the game, but for my experience with the demo, I had no issues.
I really wasn’t having the best time when I started the demo. Part of that was due to the slow nature of the two tutorials, and part of it was due to the weird control scheme and seemingly overwhelming amount to learn.
However, after doing the two hunts a couple of times I started to feel like I had the hang of the game a bit better –of course, I was switching weapons every time so that didn’t help, but I did feel a bit better about my control and understanding of the game.
I should note I didn’t get the chance to try the multiplayer option, but perhaps I would have had a better experience with the game if I did.
I can see myself having a good time with the game when it comes out but I won’t be lining up to purchase it day one –not to say its a bad game, in fact, it looks like a great entry for fans of the series, but the demo didn’t convince me to become one of them. So for me personally, I’ll have to wait and see.
For newcomers to the series like myself, expect to learn a lot –and perhaps not enough, from the demo. The learning curve is high, but if you are up for the grind then this could be a great game for you.
Regardless of my thoughts on the Monster Hunter Rise demo, there is no reason you shouldn’t download it if you are at all interested in the game. It is free, it is only a 1.6 GB download, and it is available for the rest of this month.
Monster Hunter Rise releases on Nintendo Switch on March 26, 2021.
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