I've been on a "Monster Hunter World" kick lately. It's been fun to revisit its lands — and years later, the gameplay still holds up.
That addiction was on my mind when I started playing "Monster Hunter Rise" on the Nintendo Switch. With "Rise," Capcom did exactly what it needed to do, capturing all the fun of the Monster Hunter universe in a package that's simultaneously more bite-sized and just as expansive as anything you've come to expect.
As usual with a Monster Hunter title, the story is thin. You play as a Hunter in Kamura Village, and you must be ready to defend the village against all manner of monsters. It's a simple tale told in a series of cutscenes, with a Japanese aesthetic and sound as backdrop. But "Rise" doesn't spend a ton of time developing the story. I spent most of the game walking up to NPCs and clicking past anything they might say to get to the good stuff: gear and quests.
"Rise" prefers to throw you headlong into the action and teach you the mechanics, which is fine, since you're here for the monsters. The game quickly finds its rhythm, letting you operate in a world that seems thoughtfully built for the Nintendo Switch, a unique console built to be equal parts easy-to-play on the go and beautiful and dynamic when linked to your big-screen TV.
This is still best played with friends, but the game sets you up to play by yourself, as well, giving you two assistants: A Palamute dog, which can fight alongside you, joins your standard Palico. You'll spend less time searching for monsters and more time battling them, a welcome tweak.
You traverse areas via the Wirebug, zipping from place to place in a way that feels slightly like Spiderman. Suddenly, areas have a new sense of verticality, and chasing monsters draws a bit more depth.
And oh, those monsters are a joy, from the Bishaten, which looks like a mutated Wyvern of sorts, to the bird-dragon Aknoson. If "Godzilla vs. King Kong" ever needs a new monster, this is the place to look. As you go from quest to quest, the game becomes a satisfying loop, complete with a hub world that allows for significant weapon upgrades.
It all adds up to one of the deepest gaming experiences on the Switch.
Monster Hunter Rise
Platform: Nintendo Switch.