In 2021, we received not one but two Monster Hunter titles, but only one of them made the cut for our game of the year list. The title we're talking about is, of course, Monster Hunter Rise, a core mainline RPG exclusive to the Nintendo Switch (on consoles). Anyone feeling sour that World never landed on the hybrid system would have likely been appeased by this one, as its filled with meaningful additions that the series would feel lost without moving forwards. Rise might not reach the heights that World did in 2018, but it's still a solid title that has only been bolstered by its post-launch events and DLC.
A real game-changer introduced by Rise was the Wire Bug, a grappling hook-like device that can be used to either propel you forward or vertically. The Wire Bug proved to be a massively useful tool during combat, as it could be used to avoid enemy attacks and perform devastating leaping slashes. Using the device, you could also mount other monsters and slam into the one that you're hunting to dish out some beastly damage. Riding on these monsters makes you feel like a complete badass, and it's a great alternative to battling on foot if you're out of healing items.
Another meaningful addition was the ridable Palamute companion. This canine buddy made getting from A to B so much faster and consumables could be more quickly used on its back. One thing we particularly liked about the Palamute is that it made braving it alone in single player seem less daunting. When playing solo in Rise, both your Palamute and Palico can assist you on the battlefield, so you're only one member short of a full party.
Rise also welcomed in several new creatures that quickly become favourites amongst fans. Two personal favourites of ours were Goss Harag, an abominable snowman-like beast that has two ice swords as arms, and Bishaten, a monster that is a bat, monkey, and cobra hybrid. Of the nine new creatures, none felt like filler, and we can see some making a return in future entries. Along with these newcomers, many old favourites like Rathian and Tigrex made a return and their AI was reworked to better react to the newer mechanics.
The post-launch support for Rise has also been excellent, with Capcom hosting a variety of cross-over events over the past year. These events were accessible to everybody, and for competing them, players could unlock costumes inspired by some of the developer's most iconic series. Some of the franchises to crossover into the RPG were Okami, Street Fighter, and Ghosts 'n Goblins. Surprisingly, the game even hosted a 30th anniversary event for Sonic the Hedgehog. Be warned before looking, though, it's pure nightmare fuel!
Following its explosion in popularity with World, it was great to see Monster Hunter series return back to a Nintendo console with another solid outing. The new selection of monsters here are flawless, and the Wire Bug and Palamute companion help to add a new wrinkle to its challenging action-based combat. The future still looks bright for Rise too, as an enhanced PC port is landing in January, and its set to receive its first major expansion, Sunbreak, next summer.