Monster Hunter Rise is one of the best games in the series. We knew that much from the title's Nintendo Switch launch back in 2021. It may lack some of the depth and breadth of Monster Hunter World, but this more stylized, easier-to-understand follow-up to the game that broke these games into the mainstream is still a fantastic evolution for the series, and absolutely worth your time on PC, too.
For what it's worth, I've already spent over 100 hours in Monster Hunter Rise on the Nintendo Switch. Playing with a Pro Controller (naturally) and often docked to my TV, the Switch version of the game was good... but the PC version is great.
The PC version of the game scratches all the itches the Switch version did – fluid, responsive combat; a compelling gameplay loop; some really well-realised set pieces; a wonderful roster of monsters – but does it all with so much more technial proficiency, it's making it real hard to go back to the Switch version (where my fully kitted-out Hunter lives with all their lovely trophies).
The most notable upgrades are, of course, in the viusals. If you've got a machine capable of running the game with the graphics options turned all the way up, and with a framerate sitting anywhere above 60FPS, it's night and day how much better the experience is compared to doing it in 30FPS at 756p docked/540p undocked.
Take the first big landmark fight you do in the game (a fight that you can play in the Monster Hunter Rise PC demo) that sees you butt heads with the aggressive, incessant Magnamalo. Rise's 'cover monster' exemplifies why the game is so good; it shows off how robust Capcom's animation suite is in the game, and requires you to think on your feet and respond to a wealth of prompts from both environment and your quarry in order to come out on top.
Seeing Magnamalo writhe and twist and leap, uninhibitied by framerate caps and casting dynamic shadows as it charges around the arena... it's so much more imposing and impressive than it was on Switch.
The soft and anime-inspired art direction Rise takes did a lot of work for the Switch version of the game; softening edges and making the shaders work in low-res was a smart move for the engineers behind the RE Engine. But on PC, that already-gorgeous art style hums even louder. When the light hits just right and you see a monster's shadow cast on the ground as rays of light illuminate it's pissed-off face as it stalks towards you, it's hard not to just ogle the whole damn thing and risk getting your face sliced off in a flurry of claws and teeth.
The practical side of this? You're better at the game. Of course you are! You can see what's going on more clearly. You can read a monster's body language better before it side-swipes you. You can more readily twitch-respond to a tail whip and dive out of the way with your health and dignity (just about) intact.
Monster Hunter has long traded on these little moments of superhero-like finesse and savoir faire to make you feel like a bad-ass, and having the oppertunity to better realise your potential because your Switch isn't slowing down or your JoyCon isn't eating your input just makes the whole experience even better. Slicing off a Rathalos' tail in a few clean hits as the smoke from the magma underfoot obscures its vision and your mates pelt it with guinfire from a vantage point you can clearly make out in the distance? I didn't realise I was missing all that so badly after coming off the Switch version of the game.
I've not managed to clear the High Rank missions in the Hub yet, so I don't want to make this a proper, scored review for the PC version of the game. But I will say this: I think I'm going to have to play the Sunbreak expansion on PC when it launches. As nice as it is having the game in my pocket on Switch, I just can't face putting down the 4K/60FPS+ version of the game now that I've whet my appetite for the game rendered in this quality.
It's a shame; I fell in love with Monster Hunter Rise on Switch. But no native voice chat support, poorer performance and (loathe as I am to say it) no achievements just make the idea of doing a whole new expansion on inferior hardware an unattractive prospect.
Monster Hunter Rise comes to PC on January 12, 2022, so sharpen that switch axe, quaff that energy drink, and get ready to carve up a storm.