It’s common to associate the Capcom brand with IP like Mega Man, Resident Evil swear Street Fighter, but the series that’s arguably paving the way for the Japanese video game giant moving forward is Monster Hunter. It has shot to fame in less than 20 years and is now the second highest-selling Capcom franchise – with the 2018 title Monster Hunter World holding the current record as the best-selling Capcom game of all-time. Wow!
This brings us to the sixth mainline entry in the action RPG series, Monster Hunter Rise. If you weren’t already aware, this title first arrived on the scene in 2021 as a Nintendo Switch console exclusive. It’s already proven to be a massive success for Capcom – shifting more than 11 million copies worldwide – and has been mostly well-received by critics and fans alike. So, how does this experience carry across from the Switch, and even the Steam version of the game, to Xbox? Well, part of it is going to depend on your own history with the Monster Hunter series. If you’re a newcomer, Rise is a friendlier entry point into the franchise than previous iterations.
The game is set within the ninja-inspired land of Kamura Village, where a calamity ensues. From here, it’s over to you, the hunter, to solve the village’s problems by going out on quests, collecting important materials, slaying all sorts of terrifying beasts and saving the day. More advanced features like weapon and armor forging/upgrades and crafting may take a bit more time to grasp, but outside of this there are enough tutorials to help anyone who is new to the series’ gameplay loop. This includes a training area, where you can also go to learn about the new mechanics specific to this entry. For first-timers, the general process of the series is to pick a class (ranging from classics like a Sword and Shield to a Light Bowgun), pick a quest, hunt down and take down your target, craft and then go back and do it all again against bigger monsters, with your improved weapons and armor. The class you pick will also impact how you approach battles and how they unfold, and generally, each hunt sees you having to track down a specific beast and unleash hell until they’re defeated. Once you get the hang of it, it can become an addictive cycle.
For returning Monster Hunter players, Rise brings back the familiar grind you know and love, and adds new mechanics such as Wyvern Riding, where you’ll temporarily tame wild monsters to battle other monsters. You’ve got new buddies like the Palamute canine companion who makes traveling a lot easier on maps and can also join in on the battle. And then there are the Wirebugs – a new feature that allows the player to traverse all levels of the terrain, and perform aerial attacks in battle as well as “Silkbind Attacks”, which are essentially some powerful moves paired with your weapon of choice. “Switch Skills” add another layer to the combat, allowing you to swap moves in your weapon class to better match your style of play. Bringing all of this and the story together are The Rampages – scenarios where your stronghold is under threat, and you and your friends must defend it against the onslaughts of monsters with cannons, bombs and more. All of this combined is more than enough reason to return to the hunt.
If you’ve already played Rise, you’re no doubt wondering if this latest version on Xbox is worth it, and it depends on how invested you are in this new entry. Based solely on performance and resolution, Rise is a better console experience on next-generation platforms. On Xbox Series X, players can expect 4K at 60fps or 1080p at 120fps. It’s a massive step up compared to the original Switch build running at just 30fps and a lower resolution, although don’t expect jaw-dropping visuals even from the graphics mode on Xbox, as it’s still essentially a port of the Switch title. Some enhancements that have carried over from the Steam (PC) version include the ability to adjust the image quality, turn high-resolution textures on and off, set texture filters, ambient occlusion, dynamic shadows on and off, and much more. You also get a number of additional filters like film grain effects.
One downside is the lack of wide-ranging cross-play and cross-progression support. Xbox users are exclusively paired with other Microsoft users (Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and Windows PC). Unfortunately, veteran hunters won’t be able to team up with their mates on PlayStation, Nintendo or even the Steam platform, so there’ll be no cross-platform hunting taking place there. What’s perhaps even more frustrating is that Capcom has no system that allows players to transfer their progress and saves from earlier releases. So, if you are coming across from Switch, it means you’ve got to start from scratch — and to top it off, the Sunbreak DLC isn’t even out yet on Xbox! It is a tad disappointing Capcom was unable to deliver some sort of cross-play and progression update in the end as it could have enhanced the overall experience.
Monster Hunter Rise is another amazing mainline release in Capcom’s ever-expanding action-RPG series. It brings enough new ideas and mechanics to keep the hunt feeling fresh, and is even better with friends. The setback here is for original players, with no cross-progression features to carry over existing save files from the likes of Switch and Steam. As mentioned, there’s also limited cross-play, meaning you can’t team up with your friends on rival platforms. Still, what’s here is a great game, and if you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss is about, Rise is a great entry point into the Monster Hunter franchise.