[On the Demo Floor] Monster Hunter Rise

First Look Video

Introducing: Monster Hunter Rise (Demo)

So, here we are. The Switch finally gets a new and fresh instalment of the Monster Hunter series after long time fans were left with tears welling up in their eyes upon learning that Monster Hunter World would not be ported to their favourite console. (Thanks for that, Sony!)
But, hey, let’s not dwell in misery but look on the bright side and delve deep into our first contact with the freshly released demo. So, join us (Abbi and Joachim) on our quests to find out if it’s right to be hyped up or if we should pelt the game with dungbombs.

The quests

Let’s start with the contents of the demo itself. There are four different quests:
Basic Training which, not surprisingly, teaches you the bare necessities of being a successful hunter. From moving around to riding your Palamute to new concepts like using Wirebugs to levitate around and carving after a successful hunt, this quest shows you the ropes.

Wyvern Riding Training let’s you train the completely new way of hunting monsters: Use Wirebugs or spiders to hinder their movements, then mount and ride on them. Make them run into rocks or walls for massive damage or control them to fight other monsters. This is way more interesting than the mounting mechanic introduced in Monster Hunter 4 and further developed in Monster Hunter Generations. It’s a lot of fun and gives the Wirebugs additional purpose.

Slay a Great Izuchi is your beginner’s quest to try out all the stuff you learned during your training. It’s you against a typical beginner’s monster supported by two smaller monsters from its pack. Here’s the first time the changes from previous iterations of the hunting game become noticeable. The maps are no longer divided into different areas with a tiny loading time while you move from one to the other. Now, the area of your quest is one big map that you can move in freely. The Shrine Ruin’s jungle, where this quest leads you, is vibrant with life, colourful and huge. Simply sublime. Oh, and take care on your hunt, because your target is not the only big monster around. There’s an Azuros roaming the ruins as well.
But, worry not, you can’t miss your real target. A big red arrow hovers in front of you leading the way. Once you open your map, you can track the monster’s movements there, too. Before you’ve encountered it, it is represented by a question mark. Afterwards you’ll notice its symbol. Speaking of the map, it has gotten incredibly detailed!

Slay a Mizutsune is your intermediate quest against a larger quick monster with some soapy bubbles up its sleeve. This time, a Great Izuchi and a Rathian are around, too. In case they meet each other, which will inevitably happen, stand back and enjoy the show. Oh, and don’t forget to use your newly trained riding skills on the Mizutsune once one of the other monsters has roughed it up a bit. Naturally, this quest is harder than the previous one, but with all what’s going on it’s a great hunt. It takes place in the Shrine Ruin, as well, sadly. We would have loved to visit another one of the new environments.

So, how is it?

Well, it’s complicated. First, the two training sessions cram a lot of information into an unsuspecting player’s brain. Sure, the demo explains more than any other Monster Hunter demo before, but it is still too much in too little time. All those controls should be split into separate tutorials, because if you aren’t at least familiar with the key concepts of a game like this you will be overwhelmed. First by the controls then by the monsters. We can imagine newbie hunters being turned away from the game because of this.

Even if you played previous games, you can run into problems. Perhaps you played the games so often that part of the controls are now muscle memory. Be prepared to retrain as some concepts and controls have changed! Getting your fingers accustomed to the layouts is a challenge, but that’s exactly what Monster Hunter is famous for. Rise up to the occasion and “Get gut!”

Let’s look at the technical side!

Afraid that the Switch can’t run the game? Fear not! The Switch can! Even though the maps are bigger than before, even though the environments are more detailed, even though there’s more going on, and even though everything looks and sounds fantastic: The Switch delivers. No framedrops, no stutters. We’re delighted. They should have given us more than one location, though.

The grain of salt

Yes, there is one. We sincerely hope that the full game’s tutorial quests will be better. It’s understandable that a demo should show the full potential of a game. Still, it should also make sure not to turn away potential players by overwhelming them. While it is nice that you can choose from all 14 weapon types at the beginning of each quest for example, a short introduction into them would make a lot of sense, especially as you only have 30 times to start the quests in solo games and only up to the beginning of February for the multiplayer experience of the demo.

The veteran’s take (Joachim)

All in all, if you take the time to practice in the tutorial quests (luckily they don’t count towards the 30 quests limit) you’ll persevere and are ready for the real game. And if that looks and sound like the demo promises, it will be a wild, but pleasant ride!

The newbie’s take (Abbi)

I’ve never played a Monster Hunter game before, and honestly, that won’t be changing after playing the demo. Yes, it looks like it could be a fun game, but I can quickly see single-player mode becoming very boring. I’m very reluctant to pay top whack for a raid-style game when the demo offers no indication of whether there’s a story as, if there’s no story, I won’t be playing it on my own. If you’ve got an internet connection and friends to play with then it could be a good time (e.g. I’ve played Dauntless quite a bit with my friends, but not once have I fired it up solo) but I can’t say the game is worth the price if you’re missing either of those.
From a gameplay perspective, someone really needs to have a talk with the demo designers about enticing new players. The Training sections throw an enormous amount of information at you in a very short amount of time, and it isn’t exactly simple. If anything, I’d call it intimidating, which is not a good thing. Particularly for the first proper entry on a new console, especially one that’s developed such an expansive market, a demo should interest and intrigue potential players, not scare them away!
Personally, I’ll be skipping Monster Hunter Rise. There is so much potential in it, as both a game and as the first release on a new console, which will make it accessible to many more players. However, the demo is poorly paced and doesn’t generate that hype that would convince me to part with £50 for a title I’ve no real experience with – and really, that’s the point of a demo. I’ll keep an eye on it, and see what the reviews say, but will not be jumping in “blind”.

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