Monster Hunter Rise Sunbreak (Nintendo Switch) - Review

If you've followed us for a while, you should be aware that Monster Hunter is a series that gets sporadic coverage on our site. Unfortunately, Monster Hunter has always been seen as a niche series, and isn't as popular in the Animal Crossing fandom such as more mainlines franchises, including Pokemon and Zelda. Monster Hunter didn't receive a tonne of popularity in the west until World released on the PS4 back in 2018. Fortunately, the initial release of Monster Hunter Rise helped bridge the gap between Japan and the west, so it's finally time to gush about the series (albeit late), to try expand the series into new horizons.

NB: This review was written before the release of the first title update.

Monster Hunter is a game where you hunt Monsters. It has an addictive gameplay loop, and once it clicks with you, you'll damn well struggle to put the game down. The additions in the Sunbreak DLC only add to this addiction and further streamline the gameplay to make it more enjoyable. Whilst Monster Hunter Rise focused on a more traditional Japanese vibe, Sunbreak flips that on it's head and presents the game with a more western look. Instead of introducing more Monsters based on Japanese Yokai, Monsters that western folk are more familiar with, such as Frankenstein, Dracula, and Werewolves become the main focus - and they're brilliant!

To go with these new Monster designs, two new maps are added to the game, a brand new one called the Citadel, and a reimagined map from the second generation titles, the Jungle. The Citadel has three different "sections"; a ruined castle, an icy tundra, and a muddy swamp. Even though these three may not mesh well on paper, the game manages to blend the three environments together perfectly, that it feels completely natural. The Jungle is a redesign of an already beloved map, and the translation into the new world games only improves upon it. From a breath-taking waterfall that produces a rainbow, to some mysterious ruins hidden deep underground, the Jungle has plenty to see, and it's worth taking the time to simply explore the map to see what it has to offer. Most of the new Monsters you'll be hunting in Sunbreak will appear on these maps, but don't forget to take a moment to appreciate how breathtakingly beautiful these maps really are.

The series has always been a very heavy multiplayer game, but with each new addition in the latest entries, a number of measures have been added to help enhance the single player experience. Sunbreak adds Follower Quests and Support Surveys, which allows the player to go out and hunt with the local NPC's of Elgado and Kamura. Doing these quests will allow the player to craft weapons and armour unique to the characters in the game, and also give the player more insight to the relationships between characters. It's a nice touch that gives the game more personality, and finally brings them in on the action after all these years. Whenever I've wanted a more relaxed time playing Sunbreak, and to move away from the online bustle and hustle, I've found these quests to be the change I was looking for.

The Palicoes and Palamutes also return, with many upgrades that only further improve their utility. In Rise, other than faster transport, having a Palamute on your party was nowhere near as good as having a Palico. Thankfully the team have helped balance this out, by adding a Palamute pouch to give the player more storage, and some extra attack options to the Palamute, which can dish out some serious damage if used correctly! The Palicoes also gained some additions, and whilst I personally prefer the Palico to the Palamute, the additions to the Palamute certainly don't go to waste.

The Monsters, the maps, the characters, everything, just fits together so perfectly. Elgado is the new hub area, which is a lot more confined than the spaced out Kamura, but feels very homely. The story has you investigating a mysterious creature named the Qurio, which lead you to some very interesting hunts along the way. Monster Hunter has never been known for it's story, but with the latest titles, the story really is improving, and Sunbreak is certainly the best it's ever been!

Though a personal gripe, the biggest let down with the game would be the lack of subspecies. Subspecies act as revamps to existing monsters, having them usually take on a new element or ailment, and provide a new way to hunt an already existing Monster. Sunbreak only includes four new subspecies Monsters, and a couple of Variant Monsters. Whilst it is a shame to not include some of these monsters, being able to hunt the Monster subspecies introduced in Monster Hunter World: Iceborne would have been great, in this instance, quality triumphs over quantity, and every single new addition is a brand new and unique experience.

If you're interested in the series, there is a demo available on the eShop right now. If you still think the game and lore is cool, but have a hard time getting into it, you could always check out the RPG spin-off Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin, which we reviewed last year.

Special thanks to Capcom for providing us a review code for Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak. As always, if you haven't already, be sure to follow us over on Twitter and TumblrFeel free to join our discord server too. We know things have been slow on the site recently, but we're very active on Twitter if you're looking to receive regular updates.  

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