Monster Hunter Rise is about to reach its apex with Sunbreak, and it could make it the best Monster Hunter title so far.
Monster Hunter World may have marked a brave new shift for the long-running franchise, bringing it back to home consoles and streamlining its core systems, but for our money, Monster Hunter Rise is the best way to get on board with the series.
That left some players undoubtedly concerned about a lack of endgame, and it’d be fair to say that while the campaign’s shorter, easier missions give way to much more challenging hub quests, many fans were banking on the arrival of Master Rank.
Sunbreak, like World’s Iceborne expansion before it, duly obliges, but it’s not just the monsters that are tougher this time around — Hunters gain new skills to make encounters more epic than ever which ensures Sunbreak feels less like DLC and closer to Rise 2.0.
I will (Sun)break you
For someone that’s never played a Monster Hunter game, or bounced off because of the franchise’s opaque nature, then Sunbreak isn’t likely to change your mind. You’re still loading up on weapons and items, heading out to fight huge beasts, before bringing back their various parts to make better armor to go after the next monster. It’s one of gaming’s most satisfying loops, though, and Sunbreak doesn’t fix what isn’t broken.
We jumped right in at the deep end, taking our trusty Insect Glaive to the game’s new Citadel location to tangle with Three Lords Lunagaron. While many of Rise’s new monsters were inspired by Japanese folklore, Capcom tells us that there’s more of a western flavor here, and this initial battle against a werewolf-like “Ice Wolf Dragon” is tough.
Lunagaron is able to wield ice, but also unleash an aggressive slashing attack that gets deadlier as the fight goes on. In fact, it’s so deadly that we couldn’t quite put it down, and that’s a rivalry we’re looking forward to reviving when Sunbreak drops.
Aside from the gorgeous monster design, though, the new Citadel location is incredibly striking. Moving between day and night during a hunt, it’s full of varied locations that feel like they’d have been cordoned off behind loading screens in prior installments in the franchise.
There’s a swampy area, a lush forest, and the huge, dilapidated castle that’s been shown in trailers. While hunting during the day, it feels familiar and therefore a little safer, but once the magenta tones light up the sky there’s a real feeling that you’re in grave danger.
You’ve got a friend in me
Adding a tougher level of hunts is one thing, but Capcom has given Hunters a few extra tricks and tools to use. For example, Wirebugs were introduced in Monster Hunter Rise, but now there are ruby versions that increase the damage dealt when using a Mounter Punisher, while the Gold Wirebug increases the number of drops when riding monsters.
Perhaps the biggest shift, aside from the usual ensemble of tweaked and new weapon attacks, is the Switch Skill Swap. When entering a hunt, players can now choose to take up to eight Switch Skills into battle, and switch between each quartet.
That means you can mix things up for variety’s sake, or switch to different roles when playing with friends. It takes a second or two to switch, but with a well-timed button press, players are able to dodge during the swap to keep on the attack. It’s another added wrinkle to a game that makes players appreciate the little details.
One of the largest changes, though, is the addition of Follower Quests. These single-player quests partner you with an AI companion and task you with hunting a monster together. Each partner has their own combat style and weapon of choice, and in our preview, we teamed up with new character Master Arlow to take on Seregios, the “thousand-edged dragon” that made its debut in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.
Capable of firing off razor-sharp shards to inflict bleed damage, we did manage to defeat the beast this time, but we’d have struggled without Arlow. Not only did we manage to kite the dragon towards another monster or two for big damage, but when the chips were down, Arlow rode in on another beast, “Leroy Jenkins” style, and helped overpower it so we could heal.
It’s the kind of completely unscripted madness fans of the franchise have been evangelizing for years, but follower quests could be a great new addition for relative newcomers that haven’t stepped foot into Master Rank before.
Despite the number of times our character was knocked out, pummelled, thrown across the map, and crushed in our short time with Monster Hunter: Sunbreak, we kept coming back for more. Master Rank will be a true test of coordination and camaraderie, or the ultimate masochism when playing solo, but we’ve never been more excited about the future of the Monster Hunter franchise.
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak feels primed to take the base game to the next level, while also offering enough additions for those who are playing the game for the first time to build their own skill sets on. That’s a tough balance to strike, but we can’t wait for launch — and we’re coming for you, Lunagaron.
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak launches on June 30, 2022, for Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam.
For more previews of upcoming releases, be sure to check out the following: