A Morning of Monsters
I woke up early today. Very early. Too early. I thought Monster Hunter Rise went live at 5am my time — it didn’t; it was 6am. Still, I had a fairly pleasant time. It gave me time to shake the cobwebs out of my head by way of coffee and review some more weapon guide videos. First sign of launch-time woes though and I was pretty sure I was going to put myself straight back to bed, coffee or no.
Fortunately, it ran smooth as butter. Not a single hiccup to be seen. Granted, this isn’t an MMO. It’s primarily a single-player game with lobby based co-op available, but still. The PC launch issues of Monster Hunter World with the frequent online disconnections and trouble establishing connections in the first place is something I remember well.
After loading up, first order of business was to create my character.
Monster Hunter Rise features a pretty wide array of preset designs and customisation options, but as I so often do, I sketched a roughly acceptable outline of a character and called it a day. I essentially gave the mental equivalent of a shrug thinking, ‘I’ll be in armour in no time anyway’, locked in my name and hit next.
I was not prepared for what came next. Probably should’ve been though. I remember in World customising my Palico, after all. But this time, next up was customising my Palamute. Monster Hunter’s goodest of boys. I spent way longer customising the appearance of my Palamute, Valdan, than I did myself.
After being led by the hand around Kamura village1 before leaving on even a single mission, I had an important order of business to attend to.
Work out what on earth I was actually going to carry in my hands in order to whittle down the monster population of this new game. I hoped writing it down yesterday might provide some additional insight or clarity.
It did not.
I could have very easily fallen back to default of Long Sword as a result save for Frostilyte’s comment giving just that little extra push I needed to put side my natural inclination to headlong rush forward and just take some time out in the training area (which is greatly improved over World’s training area, I must say) and get comfortable with something else.
I gave Hunting Horn, both Light and Heavy Bowguns, Sword and Shield, and Bow a try. Giving these a go quickly convinced me that I wasn’t in any position to pick-up and try Charge Blade or Switch Axe just yet. I had a lot of rust to shake off just generally speaking without adding a new, and rather complex weapon into the mix.
Eventually I settled on giving both Sword and Shield and Bow a go out in the wild. I still have a long way to go in become proficient with them. Out in the world, my careful practiced combo sequences fall apart with the first sign of monster aggression pointed my direction. And just forget about positioning considerations and the plans to get better at staying to the side of the monster’s head.
This hasn’t stopped me from being successful, I just happen to look like a flailing madman in the process.
It is very reminiscent of my experience learning Long Sword in Monster Hunter World. Defeating a Great Jagras after spinning around it, missing at least as often as I hit, running in a panic after being charged and knocked down with poor armor — it must’ve been quite the thing to watch.
I’ve started leaning a little more into the Bow though now. My stamina management game certainly isn’t on point yet but nor do I have any of the helpful armor skills to support in this area yet. After learning that the silkbind that makes me jump backwards has a rapid stamina regeneration component after landing in the crouch has certainly helped though.
As for my impressions of Rise more generally — it’s way too early to reach any definitive conclusions. Between hours in the training room and trying an array of weapons I’ve hardly pushed ahead with the hunts or monster ranks at all.
From these early impressions though I can say that I do like the streamlining they’ve done with Rise over World. It shows up in a lot of small ways, e.g., the ability to pick-up bounties from the main quest givers and in some fairly big ways like the fact you can jump seamlessly into co-op without having had to launch into a mission, view all its cutscenes, then SOS Flare or otherwise jump out and restart the mission to get people in. You just… join and go.
It almost feels like a modern game now, in that respect.
Less positively, there are some areas where the Switch legacy shows through painfully as active downgrades from World. Lobby sizes, for example, cap out at just 4 players. The zones (that I’ve seen so far, at least) are tiny. Rather ironically given the inclusion of the wirebug mechanics, I think there has been a significant loss of verticality in the level design too. Monster models and textures look great — if you didn’t know, you’d never guess the game started out for the Switch. To such an extent I’m really impressed actually. But then at other moments, human character’s skin has this waxy, almost plastic appearance.
None of those negatives are doing anything to dim my enthusiasm, though. The multiplayer joining improvements buys an incredible amount of goodwill from me.
We’ll see where I land after I’ve done a little more than just barely reach two-star rank missions. ;)