Soapbox features enable our individual writers to voice their own opinions on hot topics, opinions that may not necessarily be the voice of the site. Today, Kerry looks at how Capcom’s latest Monster Hunter game empowered her for the first time to feel adequately skilled when it comes to hunting big ol’ monsters…
I have been terrible at Monster Hunter for so long I was a millstone around the neck of any online team back when the now-respected series was just one weird import-only PlayStation 2 game. So many years have passed since that shameful start, I’ve had enough time to raise a kid who is somehow instantly better at any entry in the series he touches than I have ever been, at all of them combined.
I’ve always kept up with new entries because I like the idea of perhaps not being awful at just one of them (any one, please). Still, I always knew before I’d even decided on the colour of my soon-to-be-fainted character’s underwear that I was in for another round of quietly messing around with baby-level wyverns and struggling to keep up with the series’ deep well of clever strategies and expansive weapon mechanics.
My time with Rise was going to be different: because I didn’t want to be outdone again by someone younger than the series they’d become a casual master of; because that limited edition Switch wasn’t cheap; because it was about time I stopped being the only person in the world who got nervous tackling anything bigger than a Kulu-Ya-Ku. Because… just because.
I play Rise now and I’m amazed every time my character auto-crafts a potion from a single herb as I charge by on the back of a large armoured dog towards the wyvern I can see on the map at all times as if I’m slurping down classic-style Monster Hunter psychoserum from a beer hat.
I didn’t expect adjusting to this brave new world to be easy: I was still stuck in classic Monster Hunter mode; the games where I’d spend more time gathering items from a farm run by talking cats — unable to interact with any rich veins of mineable ore I’d come across because I’d forgotten to bring enough pickaxes — than fighting gigantic muscular knots of teeth and flame.
I play Rise now and I’m amazed every time my character auto-crafts a potion from a single herb as I charge by on the back of a large armoured dog towards the wyvern I can see on the map at all times as if I’m slurping down classic-style Monster Hunter psychoserum from a beer hat. Between this and the wirebugs and the everything else Rise should feel like too much all at once (again), but instead this latest Switch exclusive is effortlessly charming and welcoming; Kamura village is small and homely, and all the people within are pleasant, interesting, or both.
And so I began Rise with an entire village cheering me on and a teenaged hunting expert by my side; energised, but carrying worries — of holding him back, of being the first and only one to fall, of finding myself the one who contributed nothing to the local co-op party — that being part of a team brings. It was fantastic. Rise was exciting, tense, and so enthralling we both decided we’d rather hastily scramble for charging cables and Switch docks mid-hunt when the low battery warnings started to appear than take a break.
I couldn’t have wished for a better start. Everyone in Kamura has a tirelessly can-do attitude to hunting, and it was thanks to their encouragement, as well as my son’s bafflingly casual attitude to questing, that I got to see for myself that I really could just go kill a weird new monster that spat poison or threw things, that a good enough strategy was “Keep out of the way and attack when it’s safe to do so” with little idea of combos, resistances, or the skill to consistently attack softer body parts. It started to feel like quests were set up just so I could knock them down, and those one-star, two-star, three-star quests I used to fruitlessly throw myself against all kept falling, first time (co-op and solo).
It felt, well, weird. I shouldn’t be doing this. I shouldn’t be this goo- OK, I realise clearing a three-star quest isn’t all that far above “Well done, you know how to hold a controller” but… this isn’t how Monster Hunter games usually go for me. The only logical conclusion is that I’m not any better than I’ve always been and instead Rise must be Monster Hunter: Let’s Make Rubbish Players Feel Good About Themselves Edition. So, I ask my son — the teen who effortlessly kills bosses I’ll never see in other Monster Hunter games just to pass the time — if Rise is easy. It’s got to be easy, hasn’t it?
“I think it’s about the same as Monster Hunter World.”
This, to me, is like hearing about Super Mario Bros. cloud-bush shenanigans all over again. I was bad at World, so bad I couldn’t even get the PC version of the game to recognise my normally reliable Xbox One controller, and I’m supposed to believe it’s roughly as difficult as Rise? But… but that would mean I could’ve been carving and crafting my way through these games years ago and I just… didn’t?!
At least Magnamalo, the extremely violent entity believed to be responsible for the early “rampages” that threaten Kamura and a watershed moment in the game, would set things straight and definitively end this bizarre lucky streak I’ve blundered my way into. I almost prove myself right as the fight goes right down to the wire and finishes on a real action movie moment — with no retries remaining, dwindling supplies, and a charging Magnamalo, it really did all depend on one perfect shot.
I could’ve cried. I think I did, actually. Almost two decades of mediocrity swept away in an instant and replaced with certified mild competence and a bundle of fresh quests
I’ve never seen Monster Hunter’s credit sequence outside of somebody else’s YouTube video before now — I could’ve cried. I think I did, actually. Almost two decades of mediocrity swept away in an instant and replaced with certified mild competence and a bundle of fresh quests. At that point I finally stopped worrying about being good or bad or how Rise compares to its peers and just carried on: at the time of writing I’ve run out of single player quests to unlock and in multiplayer I’m one productive half of an unstoppable Monster Huntin’ family duo; I think the last time I felt this utterly content in a team I was playing Phantasy Star Online.
Is Rise easier or more streamlined than the vast expanses of Generations Ultimate or World that came before it? Maybe. Have I experienced more of Rise than any other Monster Hunter game ever and finally found the one version of the game I will happily play until my thumbs drop off? Definitely.
And if I can do all this, then I know you — perhaps another interested-but-nervous monster hunter in the making — can do it, too.
Are you getting battered by Bombadgys or are you mangling Mizutsunes and wrestling with Rathalos? Let us know in the comments below!