Nintendo Switch fans may have been left in the dark when it came to Monster Hunter: World, but it seems like Capcom has been keen to make amends. It was revealed just last month that Switch would be getting a double helping of Monster Hunter content in 2021 with the release of Rise and Stories 2. Monster Hunter Rise is the more traditional entry of the two and is named after its new grapple hook-like mechanic known as the Wirebug. Ahead of launch, I was able to speak to Producer Ryozo Tsujimoto and Director Yasunori Ichinose to learn more about the project and its various new additions.
The story of Monster Hunter Rise unfolds in a new setting called Kamura Village which suffers an attack from a number of monsters in an event called 'The Rampage.' This same event shook the village 50 years prior with an impact proved to be devastating. The story will see the player and the villagers work together to manage this newfound threat and uncover the secret behind the event itself. Taking centre stage within the narrative is Mangnamalo, a fierce-looking fanged wyvern that serves as the newfound title's poster boy.
Perhaps the most pivotal new addition within Rise is the Wirebug, which allows players to scale heights in ways that they haven't been able to do before. The Wirebug can be used up to three times to pull the player up into the air, which is perfect for scaling the sides of cliffs or making jumps across drops that would otherwise prove fatal. Players start with two at the beginning of a hunt but have the chance to find one more by exploring. This new ability can also be used within combat situations, as the Wirebug can be used to pull the player up when downed and can be used to chain with weapon attacks to string together combos.
Rise features a mix of both new and returning monsters with the most prominently featured, of course, being the aforementioned Mangnamalo which stars on the box art. Besides Mangnamalo, three other new eye-catching monsters have already been announced for Rise and these are Tetranadon, Aknosom, and Great Izuchi. Tetranadon was the one that stood out to me from the footage released so far. It's a moss-covered amphibian that tries to damage the player by flailing its front legs and slamming its oversized belly into the ground.
I was told by Yasunori that the new monsters have been designed from scratch to be able to contend with the hunter's new combat abilities. He also told us: "Even for the returning monsters we redesigned their AI patterns as if we didn't have the existing monsters AI adapted to the new systems, as then it might be too easy just to cheese the Wirebug." He later added: "Even if you're flying around with the Wirebug, the monsters, for example, might be able to understand that you are flying through the air and will try and take you down or get out of your way." It's fair to say then that even the existing monsters will have a few tricks up their sleeves for players even if they have battled against them many times before.
A new companion that Rise introduces is the Palamute, which Director Yasunori Ichinose told us was implemented as players had been craving a canine equivalent to the Palico for years. He added: "We thought we could have a more active companion so the Palamute was added to fill that role, and it more directly supports the player not only in terms of being able to ride it and move around without using up stamina, but it will also be able to help you directly attack the monsters." Further to this, you can use the Palamute to run up specific areas in the environment, and you can use items without pausing when roaming on its back.
Rise is the first title in the series to be built for the Nintendo Switch and utilises some of the platform's exclusive features such as its handheld mode and Amiibo support. Released alongside Rise are Amiibos for Palico, Malamute, and Mangnamalo, each of which can be used in conjunction with the console to unlock a special-layered armour. It can also be used to enter a special gameplay feature like a lucky dip where players can earn a new item daily. The title can also be played in local co-op with four players at once, which is perfect if you have a group of friends around and want to group together and hunt in handheld mode.
We can see Monster Hunter: Rise being a catalyst for many to grab a Switch when the title launches next March. By looking to speed up traversal tenfold, and with some fun new changes to the combat, with the new Wirebug weapon combos and Palamute companion, it also looks to take advantage of Switch hardware in fun ways with its Amiibo and local co-op support. Be sure to check back and read our full thoughts when Monster Hunter: Rise launches on Nintendo Switch on March 26, 2021.