Greetings. I am James, and I will be reviewing Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak. Before I begin, I would like to explain what Monster Hunter is and why it has such a long name. Monster Hunter is a game with the goal of hunting Monsters. You begin the game with weak weapons and armour and hunting basic creatures. Once you succeed in your first hunt, you can craft and upgrade gear much stronger than what you own. Then the cycle repeats with stronger monsters which grant even stronger gear, and you continue this cycle until you reach the top and have hunted everything in the game. It sounds tedious, but there’s a catch to each hunt. Every Monster in the game you face will be different and unique, so the difficulty can spike up or down depending on how you react to how each Monster fights. Monster Hunter was created by Capcom, a Japanese Video Game company with many game releases, making it a franchise. Their first game was released in 2004 on the PS2, and it became a massive hit in Japan as time passed.
Monster Hunter didn’t become as popular in the United States until Monster Hunter: World, which was released back in January 2018. It aimed to appeal to the western audience and was successful, with almost 12 million sales at the end of the year. That was definitely a big moment for Capcom and the Monster Hunter community. There is one last thing I will mention: almost every Monster Hunter game gets an “Ultimate” version 1-2 years after the base game’s release, and that’s where Sunbreak comes in for Monster Hunter Rise. In the past, before World, they would re-release the whole game again with an expansion adding a new difficulty rank, monsters, and a brand new story. Monster Hunter World did not release a new game; instead, they chose to make it a DLC expansion called Iceborne which makes much more sense than re-releasing the same game. Monster Hunter Rise did the same thing with Sunbreak, and usually, these expansions aim to fix and improve the base game elements creating a fresh new experience to play again. Now that you know some history of Monster Hunter, let’s review Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak.
Gameplay: Since Sunbreak is the expansion for Rise, this means that many improvements were made. Combat, for example, has a faster pace in Rise compared to older games, and Sunbreak makes it even faster, with monsters attacking more often than expected. However, I am not a huge fan of the faster pace though it is still fun and keeps the momentum moving with the demand to react and read your opponent accordingly. Many of the monsters added in Sunbreak were mostly returning fan favorites remastered in the new engine. There were several new monsters as well. Three I can think of are Garangolm, Lunagaron, and Malzeno. In the story, they call them the Three Lords as they are apexes of their respected area on a new map called The Citadel. Malzeno, the flagship, is a fantastic addition to the expanding roster of monsters in the franchise. Its move set, music, and mechanics create an exciting hunt.
One unique way of hunting that Capcom added was the introduction of Followers. Followers are NPC Hunters you meet throughout the story and can bring along hunts. This is a really cool way to engage with the characters, and it helps a lot when solo hunting at endgame as quests get more challenging. You could already bring out Palico’s and the newly added Palamute’s (from Rise), as it is a staple feature in all Monster Hunter games.
Mechanics: As far as mechanics go, Rise and Sunbreak combined have some fascinating mechanics. Monster Hunter Tri, for example, features the ability to hunt underwater. Monster Hunter World introduced slingers, a mini crossbow that you can use to shoot down giant boulders and many other environmental aids. These mechanics generally stay in the game they are introduced in, but sometimes if the developers like the idea, they keep it in future games. Rise introduce Wirebugs. These are bugs that you use to traverse the maps with ease, and they also include special attacks called Switch Skills, which you use the Wirebug to help you attack, making flashy moves. Sunbreak added Switch Skill Scrolls. This allows the player to have two sets of Switch Skills, creating unique play styles and speeding up combat. These two mechanics make the game feel more arcade than a traditional Monster Hunter Game.
Story: The story in Monster Hunter games tend to be not the greatest because of how simple they are. Sunbreak’s story continues after Rise’s story and does a slightly better job than Rise’s. First, Rise’s story felt pretty dry and seemed like it was trying too hard to showcase the people of Kamura Village. The characters’ personalities ended up closer to a cliché anime character with no growth rather than someone who lives in the world of Monster Hunter and interacts with your hunter and builds this connection that leaves a better impression by visible change. Sunbreak makes more of an effort to do this. One character with you for most of the story gets wounded and is unavailable for the portion of the story by Malzeno. Following up, she was joining you as a follower on many of the key quests.
Flagship Monsters have a significant role in the stories, and Sunbreak does a better job than Rise. Rise’s flagship is Magnamalo; he isn’t shown for most of the story. He only gets one cutscene, and then later in the story, they say, “we found Magnamalo. Go hunt it, please.” Malzeno shows up later in the story and stays as it builds up to the fight.
Replayability: As far as replayability, Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak does a good job, as most Monster Hunter games do. However, one of the issues I find for Sunbreak is that the game has this high demand to put time into it and comes off as too grindy compared to other Monster Hunter titles. This is fine, but when you don’t have much time in the day to play, it can drag on forever, trying to reach that next rank.
Total Rating: 3/5 Stars
Written by James Schwartz, Lethbridge College
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