The Monster Hunter Rise demo surpasses expectations

A closer look at the demo before the release of our Monster Hunter Rise review

Monster Hunter: World introduced a huge number of fans to the series back in 2018, when it returned to PlayStation after a decade’s absence (in the west, at least) and arrived on Xbox for the first time. Now, Capcom is gearing up to release Monster Hunter Rise, which marks a return to Nintendo hardware, and the first in the series to release exclusively for the Switch.

You’d be forgiven for assuming that Rise would be a step backwards for the franchise due to the Switch’s comparative lack of power,  however, you could not be more wrong. This preview is based on the demo, ahead of our full Monster Hunter Rise review in March.

For the new fans out there, the first three Monster Hunter titles received amazing enhanced editions for the PSP, and Monster Hunter 4 released solely on the Nintendo 3DS, meaning Capcom is well-versed in crafting these games for portable hardware. Monster Hunter Rise is built from the ground up with the Switch in mind, and the demo suggests it will surpass the expectations of fans both new and old.

Monster Hunter Rise is all about tracking down deadly beasts and taking them down as one of 14 unique classes to harvest their pelts and other goodies. The demo lets you try out both the single and multiplayer modes, hunt down two different monsters as any of the available classes, learn how to ride a wyvern, or just brush up on your skills with a tutorial of the basics.

Over the weekend I got a chance to dive into the demo to see what all the fuss is about. I began with the beginner’s hunt, which saw me chasing down the Great Izuchi. I chose the Dual Blades as my weapon of choice and went on my merry way. As I ventured towards my goal I found loads of endemic life to interact with which gave me stat boosts for the upcoming fight.

The formidable Mizutsune from Monster Hunter Rise

Combat was just as expected: I chipped away at the monster and its minions to eventually defeat it and receive my spoils. The fluid nature of the fight lived up to Monster Hunter: World and exceeded the expectations I held with some fun new mechanics, like using a Wirebug to tie the enemy down and deal extra damage.

Next on the agenda was an intermediate hunt for the Mizutsune. This monster was absolutely stunning and the combat felt unique from the Great Izuchi. Mizutsune blows different coloured bubbles around the area that cause damage on impact. It also hits extremely hard. It’s been a while since I played a Monster Hunter, so this fight took me a few tries. Luckily, the demo gives you 30 chances, so if you don’t succeed the first time, be sure you give it another go.

Riding a wyvern in Monster Hunter Rise

The last mode I tried gave me an in-depth tutorial on how to ride a Wyvern. This new aspect is game-changing. I had way too much fun leaping atop a grizzly bear-esque creature and using it in combat, I can only imagine how this new feature will assist in taking down even more formidable monsters during the main game.

Two new additions to Monster Hunter Rise made traversing the landscape easier than it’s ever been. The Palamute, a dog companion you can ride on to get to different areas quickly, and the Wirebug, which allows you to fly through the sky, made tracking the monsters a breeze. You can also use both in combat, making me wonder how I ever got by without them.

Along with the precious Palamute, adorable Palicos also return. Much to my delight, I found you can pat, shake hands, and give treats to both of your buddies. This aspect made me feel like I was building a closer relationship with them, and I was glad they had my back in battle.

The hours I spent with the demo gave me great insight into what to expect from Monster Hunter Rise. The gorgeous graphics were hindered by the occasional framerate drop, but it held up incredibly well next to its PS4 counterpart. I very much look forward to customising my character and animal companions when I get the chance to play the full version of Monster Hunter Rise when it drops on March 26.

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