My time in the shrine: Monster Hunter Rise demo impressions

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As a series, Monster Hunter is divisive. To half of its players, it remains a monotonous cycle of endless grinding. To the other half, it’s… Well, it’s the same, but they actually enjoy it.[prebreak]1[/prebreak] Since joining series in 2011 with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, I’ve sunk hundreds upon hundreds of hours into each game. I’ve adapted to underwater combat, I’ve survived my fair share of invisible monsters, and I’ve revelled in each new generational improvement as it presented itself. From the vaulting and mounting monsters in 4 Ultimate to the open maps of World, each game brings with it something fresh and unique, and Rise is no different. Having spent a good amount of time in the Shrine Ruins, I wanted to share my experiences in hopes that, if nothing else, a few more people will check out the demo while it’s still available. It’s free, there’s really nothing to lose.

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All 14 weapons are available for your idle choosing.

Coming into the demo with any monster hunting experience you’ll feel largely at home, but I do encourage you to try the tutorial missions all the same. While you do have a play limit of 30 total missions, these tutorials don’t count towards it. The basic controls are as they’ve been for generations, but most closely resemble that of World. Many combos will be familiar to you if you’ve spent any time with Iceborne, myself being able to pick up Long Sword again as if I’d played Rise for months. It’s not to say every weapon remains the same, with some standout changes really propelling a choice few weapons to newfound stardom, but there’s an appropriate degree of familiarity. Many of World’s small quality of life changes still stand strong too. You can still move while drinking a potion, which might be an odd thing to hear somebody celebrating if all you’ve experienced of the series is World. Whetstones remain infinite, and you also have the handy radial menu for quick access to your most used items. It feels like World on the go, minus the clutch claw.

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Of course, in the clutch claw’s place is something entirely new. Wirebugs are insane. Each weapon features two unique wirebug skills, requiring either one or two charged wirebugs to utilise. On top of these, you can use one charge for a quick burst of horizontal or vertical movement, but my favourite use has to be the fast recoveries wirebugs enable. You see, after getting hit by an attack, you’d usually get staggered or knocked down. It’s a problem if you’re trying to beat down a monster. In the past, we’ve had skills that negate knockback from small attacks, and we’ve had whole gameplay styles revolving around skilfully dodging attacks for satisfying payoffs. We’ve never quite had something with the same risk and reward ratio as in Rise. You see, when you get knocked back, you can use a wirebug to propel yourself in a given direction to quickly recover. On one hand, you can see this as a means of running away to heal in a pinch, but if you’re particularly brazen, this can be used offensively to tremendous effect. The best use case I’ve found is with a Great Sword. You can run in, take a hit, and use the wirebug recovery to get in a fully charged airborne slash to the monster’s face before it even has a chance to recover from its attack. The Valor style of Generations Ultimate had a sense of risk and reward to it, but never quite to this extent.

In my time with the demo, I’ve been playing it safe, sticking to the weapons I’ve come to know and love over the years. Between the Long Sword, Great Sword, and Dual Blades, I’m the kind of person that really just likes to go in and smack things until they die; I’m a simple fellow. Like I mentioned before, Long Sword really does feel just as it did in Iceborne, complete with special sheathe and the fun combos you can get cycling through that and the spirit blade routine. The wirebug attacks are also incredibly fun, one effectively being the helmsmasher, and the other being a counter with as much of an opening as Sephiroth’s counter in Smash Ultimate. Both attacks suit the Long Sword well, and it’s a weapon I can see myself using in the long term. The Great Sword is as the Great Sword always is, which is about as much as you can ask. It’s slow, it’s methodical, but it does damn good damage. Where it really stands out for me is in what I mentioned earlier; jumping attacks out of taking damage is brilliant. Having said that, I do have to question the longevity of such a thing at the more difficult end of the hunting scale. Even if you’re not intentionally taking damage though, it’s a handy way to get back into action if you just messed up your prime charged slash on a monster’s head. The wirebug attacks here offer a nice range of defense and offense; one gives you a dodge akin to Absolute Evasion of Generations, and the other is a jumping slash. The jumping slash is something I’ve not quite managed to master, it propelling you an incredible amount forwards, but I’m sure there’s some wild tricks you can pull off with it.

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Finally, we have Dual Blades. I’ll be honest, I really miss the clutch claw. Dual Blades feel entirely new to me. In World, my primary damage dealer used the claw to perform an uppercut. What’s left for me here? As a weapon, they remain incredibly easy to pick up and play with, but unlike the others, my familiarity is down the drain. This is largely my own fault for becoming overly reliant on a single combo, but I’ll be damned if that combo wasn’t fun to use on loop. Having said all of that though, they are still fun, and the wirebug attacks again suit them well. One is a dodge that turns into an attack if you happen to get hit while in motion, essentially mimicking the Adept style of Generations. The other is a small jab that, if you don’t look at the controls, you may mistake for doing very little. In actuality, it causes an explosion, the damage of which increasing dependant on how many hits you deal to the monster within a set amount of time after landing the attack. And with how fast you can dish out attacks with the Dual Blades, you get some satisfying damage numbers on screen.

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These three weapons are of course not all that’s available. With 14 total weapons on show, there will more than likely be something to suit your own play style. Of course, there’s more to the wirebug than just its weaponised applications. Exploration has always been a great part of the hunting experience, and this has been taken to a new level here. Where in World the environments made a point of their seamless connectedness, a first for the series, Rise feels like a different setup entirely. It’s almost as if there’s an intentional sense of detachment, where you really and genuinely have to go out of your way to see all that’s there to be seen, and it’s in this design you’re encouraged to be creative. To jump and throw yourself off your Palamute, to chain together wirebug after wirebug to reach a height you thought unreachable. Area 5 is my favourite example of this, the entire zone to the best of my knowledge requiring you to utilise a wirebug to even begin exploring. And it’s brilliant. There’s old houses nestled in the mountain, and a plateau I expect many a fine hunt to end on. The map is littered with small things outside of this to find, often rewarding you with a temporary power up for your troubles. I had a great deal of fun just running around spotting run-down shrines and collecting what collectables I could see in the limited reach of the demo.

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Before wrapping up, I just want to profess my love for the new companions, Palamutes. First, they're dogs. That's a big check in my book, but being able to ride them opens up so many possibilities. You can jump and dismount, giving you significant air time to perform any kind of attack without using up a precious wirebug. Perhaps more notably though, you can consume items while riding. This means that, in a pinch, you no longer need to run half a mile from the monster just to sharpen your weapon. You can actually be mobile while doing this now, a series first. Again, it's one of those things that doesn't sound like it'd have so much of an impact, but finding time for a five or so second animation amidst the chaos of battle isn't always easy. I can't wait to see what Palamutes can really do when the main game launches, but that's just something I'll have to wait for.

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As much as I love to spill everything I enjoy about Monster Hunter, the game is something best experienced to see whether it’s for you. This demo allowing for online play, I cannot encourage you enough to give it a go while it’s still available. At worst, you’ll waste an hour of your life, but the best case? You discover a whole new world, one where you’ll waste far more than a single hour of your life. You may yet fall victim to the joy and addiction of hunting, and find yourself as I am, rather impatiently waiting for the game’s release just a few months away, deleting your save data after every 30 hunts to just play that bit more.
 
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Xzi

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Same, I've played Tri and played most of World and GU and they all just kinda...don't click with me very well. I just can't get behind the whole "slow clunky "precise commitment!" kind of combat style the series has.

I get the idea behind it, you're swinging around big fat weapons wearing big fat clunky armor against big fat monsters that are obviously more powerful than you are, so of course everything isn't going to be all smooth and fast paced like every other action game, but man does it really just not...feel all that good to me :lol:

I'll probably try Rise when it launches though, give it another try I guess.
I have mixed feelings about Monster Hunter for similar reasons. The fact that attack animations and combat in general are kind of clunky doesn't bother me too much, I was able to adapt to Dark Souls games after all, but what does bother me is that there is no real progression where the gameplay itself is concerned. The various elemental effects, gear, and monsters all get bigger and more grandiose, sure, but at the end of the day you're still spending 20+ minutes pressing the same buttons in the same order for every mission. It doesn't have the flair and speed of Devil May Cry, and it doesn't come with the same challenge and satisfaction of defeating a Soulsborne boss.

Maybe the series needs to go fully open-world, maybe it just needs some more non-combat activities in it, or maybe they need to let you hotswap between two or more weapons during combat. I'm not exactly sure what is, but I feel like there's a puzzle piece missing to make the games feel truly complete and drive up player engagement.

I spent about 80 hours in MH: World before I fell off it hard, so I certainly don't hate the game, but I also don't have any desire to return to it. I'll check out Rise when it eventually comes to PC though, perhaps it's just different enough to keep my interest for longer.
 
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Nix_Lon

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"The basic controls are as they’ve been for generations,"

So you're saying the game still controls like PSP trash and should be avoided if you enjoy good action combat

I shall oblige.

One day they'll actually learn how to make a good combat system and this will actually be a 10/10 series. I'm fine with the idea of weighty combat, I prefer it to spammy action games but there's a difference between weighty, committed attacks and the clunky trash they currently employ. The games are always very easy except fighting the combat system itself to make it difficult.

The only time I've dealt with clunky ass combat in MH might be the pre-MH4/pre-MHX games, but the difference between them are just small QoL changes.
Unfortunately, I've became too used to it :(

I still won't come back to PSP MH because of the untuitive "claw" control scheme which've gave me hand cramps.
 
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D34DL1N3R

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I'm with the "I've tried playing several MH games (including this demo) and they just aren't for me." club. Edit: For mostly the same reason. The combat just feels terribly clunky to me. Overly so.
 
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godreborn

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Dude the EXACT same thing happened to me. I only had done 2 chapter 4s though. I managed to recover my nand though so I might get back into it

my system was legit, so I sent it to Nintendo. they apologized about not being able to recover the saves, and sent me a refurbished system. that system is hackable without a modchip, but I chose not to hack it.
 
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seseiSeki

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So you're saying the game still controls like PSP trash and should be avoided if you enjoy good action combat
Hm... Not quite "controls like PSP trash" Since nowadays, Monster Hunter games are on consoles that have two analogue sticks and you no longer need to kill your hand to move the camera with the d-pad while walking with an analogue... "thing."

One day they'll actually learn how to make a good combat system and this will actually be a 10/10 series. I'm fine with the idea of weighty combat, I prefer it to spammy action games but there's a difference between weighty, committed attacks and the clunky trash they currently employ. The games are always very easy except fighting the combat system itself to make it difficult.
I hope I don't sound like a fanboy desperately trying to defend one of his favorite game series, but I'd like to know what people don't like about Monster Hunter. So, uhh... Which games do you prefer over Monster Hunter for their good combat system? And is clunkiness the only thing Monster Hunter does wrong?
 

FAST6191

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Re: what I don't like about Monster Hunter.
I often have a hard time properly pinning that one down.

On paper as mentioned several times over the years it should be everything I want in a game (give or take also with the option to fly around in space).

Watch me play just about any open world RPG and I will be throwing myself headlong into hard enemies to see if I can do it (possibly nerfing myself to make it harder if that is what it takes), usually ignoring any story* to explore the edges of the world once the tutorial zone is sorted (sometimes even glitching myself or abusing mechanics to get there), but not before I spend hours plumbing the depths of whatever goes for a crafting system (I also play straight up dedicated crafting/running a shop type games too, and if there is one style of game you don't want to be a fan of it you don't speak Japanese it is such) or combinatorial magic system.

*playing Skyrim for the first time I literally ignored the story from the start and never saw a dragon beyond the opening sequence (which also means never earned a shout). Still had about a hundred hours in it though and saw much of the world. Did the same in Oblivion and Morrowind. I usually do something similar with most such games and have for years (still remember the time I only stumbled on the story of Might and Magic 7 because I had done literally every other quest on the thing, seen all the provinces and was going by where it was). Don't even get me started on my time with Final Fantasy 12 (which I am the kind of freak that actually likes that game).

I have a certain fondness for "send in the hardnut to clear a room" type games (think modern ninja gaiden, bayonetta, ninety nine nights, less fond of dynasty warriors). Plenty of those pull off the "whittle health down whilst dodging attacks, reading enemy patterns and after a boss/seemingly endless wave of enemies you will likely be physically as well as mentally feeling it for doing that much concentration and precise inputs lest you die type play". Indeed if I have an older save I might drop my game there and replay such a section.
At the same time then years earlier I was the rare Phantasy Star Online and classic Phantasy Star combined fan so can also deal with a clunky setup if I have to.

The reality though... every version of Monster hunter I attempted to play (and that includes cheats, watching late stage playthroughs, going with walkthroughs/play guides, having saves from said same) utterly fails to click or become something I care to do, even getting to the point of being deeply unsatisfying to play. This is actually quite impressive when I think about it for I also still actively play older games (it is not just local co-op that means Dungeon Lords still rattles around in my head) and those clunky European open world games too (Two Worlds 2, had a great time. Risen, not even 2 and the console version at that, give me more. Venetica, though that might not quite reach open world status, was not even a guilty pleasure but outright a game I really like, look at my game collection and there will be loads more).
Every time I get someone saying "this time it is nice to play" and every time I walk away disappointed once more. Usually a bit less than last time (some of the PSP ones got worse, though many said that and that such titles were mostly for people that rinsed the previous versions as they basically bundled a bunch of extra nonsense in to amuse those people without much care) but still nothing close to something I want to play.
 

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Played a lot of mh so I'm used to it and know I like them, but honestly world has spoiled me and made the demo a bit underwhelming. They always introduce a new combat gimmick, but it was the world building and visual representation of world that blew me away. The jungle actually felt like one and you could get lost and find cool hidden areas.

Honestly rise looks ok for a streamed open world on switch, but the areas look like dressed up arenas again to me. I'm sure I'll enjoy it again for the gameplay and lack of loading zones, especially if it has easy drop in multiplayer, but I look forward a lot more to whatever comes after world.

Also as an amiibo collector in Europe, I hate Nintendo for only selling the new amiibo through myNintendo. I still don't know when, how much, shipping fees and probably creditcard only.
 

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Played a lot of mh so I'm used to it and know I like them, but honestly world has spoiled me and made the demo a bit underwhelming. They always introduce a new combat gimmick, but it was the world building and visual representation of world that blew me away. The jungle actually felt like one and you could get lost and find cool hidden areas.

Honestly rise looks ok for a streamed open world on switch, but the areas look like dressed up arenas again to me. I'm sure I'll enjoy it again for the gameplay and lack of loading zones, especially if it has easy drop in multiplayer, but I look forward a lot more to whatever comes after world.

Also as an amiibo collector in Europe, I hate Nintendo for only selling the new amiibo through myNintendo. I still don't know when, how much, shipping fees and probably creditcard only.
Most people didn't like wasting time fumbling through World's forest though, or some.
 
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@Scarlet
Something I didn't see mentioned after a quick skim or a ctrl-f:
Are there loading zones splitting up the different areas between monsters? I remember trying Tri on the Wii and loading between zones absolutely killed it for me. Playing World where the area maps are seamless was game changing.
 
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Scarlet

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@Scarlet
Something I didn't see mentioned after a quick skim or a ctrl-f:
Are there loading zones splitting up the different areas between monsters? I remember trying Tri on the Wii and loading between zones absolutely killed it for me. Playing World where the area maps are seamless was game changing.
Seamless. I do mention it briefly, but from the small bit that's available, it feels different to World. It feels kinda broken, where you need to go out of your way to see everything. I really like it.
 
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Scarlet

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How are you feeling about the game now that it's been released?
I'm working on a review actually! Should be out in a week or so. Overall, I think it has the potential to be the best MH game to date, but it feels like whether that potential is realised will come down to its support and updates over time.
 
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