While it's become pretty clear that Monster Hunter Rise was one of 2021's top titles, there's no denying that being a Nintendo Switch exclusive limits the game in certain places. Don't get me wrong, the ability to play on-the-go is great, but at the same time, being tied to a console with generally less powerful core hardware limits the experience you can have quite significantly. This is precisely why the PC launch of Rise is such an exciting one, as Capcom has taken a game of already critical acclaim and removed a lot of the hardware constraints the Switch places upon it. I've been checking out the PC version of Rise for a while now, and while I can safely say this is the optimal way to experience this game, it isn't perfect.
Just to be clear as well, since we reviewed Monster Hunter Rise back in March 2021, I won't be talking all that much about the storyline and game design per se in this review, rather my focus will be on the performance of the PC version and how it compares to the Switch. If you are looking for a more comprehensive look at Rise as a whole, be sure to read our original review here.
Back to business. First of all, let's talk about the elephant in the room when it comes to performance: how a game looks and plays. On Switch, Monster Hunter Rise was already one of the finest examples of what the console can offer, displaying crisp, vibrant visuals and gameplay that felt fluid, even at 30fps for the most part. On PC, there's quite the jump, assuming you are using top-of-the-line hardware, as I am. In the spirit of transparency, my PC has an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 and a 11th Gen i9 processor under the hood, with 64GBs of RAM to boot, so going from the Switch to PC is quite the leap when it comes to core hardware, and needless to say, this jump is massively noticeable in Rise as well.
As you'd expect, the visuals are far clearer. Alike the Switch version, on PC the world is still vibrant and packed with colour, but the difference comes in how much clearer the world is. Whether you're just checking out the finer details of the buildings and vendors in Kamura village or instead seeing how the light bounces off the armoured scales of a Magnamalo, every part of the game looks vastly better and more defined. And while the visuals are of course a major highlight, for me, it's the jump from 30fps to an uncapped frame rate that is the real home run here. Being able to play Rise at two, three, four times the Switch's frame rate means that the combat and the gameplay looks far more fluid in every sense. Animations flow better, shifting the camera around is a far smoother and seamless motion, and as you would expect, it's an improvement at every turn, but it does open your eyes to some other areas that maybe get masked a little on Switch.
What I'm talking about is the gameplay and the combat in general. When you're playing on a small screen at 30fps, Rise stands up as a well-rounded title, but when you significantly improve the performance, you can start to see the cracks in Rise's gameplay. The combat, for example, feels sluggish and slow and it can be a massive challenge to respond to the attacks of monsters, who use their size and power to throw you around like a ragdoll.
In my opinion, this is something that is highlighted even further by the gear you choose to wield. The heavier items, like Great Swords and Hammers feel exhausting and stiff to use, especially when you're attempting to fight more agile creatures. It might sound like a silly criticism, but when you're playing a version of the game that is far more responsive, using tools that limit your opportunity to react are difficult to get behind. The Dual Blades and faster gear alleviate this problem significantly, but neither are helped by the mouse and keyboard controls.
Capcom managed to make Rise work in a manageable and plausible way on Joy-Cons, which have a limited number of inputs, and for some reason, on PC it seems like Capcom has looked at the many, many more input options available and decided to space the controls out as best as they possibly can. While you can understand the logic behind this, the result is a game where you feel like you have to remember 30 different buttons to be able to stand a chance, a lot alike a PC MMO. Yes, the option to keybind is there, but at the same time, it's abundantly clear that this game is meant for a controller, and that becomes even more obvious when you hook up a controller to your PC to slay out some beasts, as everything just feels far more natural.
After sinking a bunch of hours into Monster Hunter Rise on PC and Switch, I do stand by the belief that the PC version is, generally, the better version of the game, assuming you have the gear and tech to be able to push it to its boundaries. It's not just the better visuals and frame rates that serve as the baseline for this understanding, but it's also the near instantaneous loading times and the ability to play the game with a controller of your choice that elevate the experience significantly.
What I will say however, is that Rise on the Switch is still a great version of this game, one that is far more accessible and reasonable to experience at its best. We all know even the most modern Switch model (OLED) is a far more plausible gaming platform than a lot of the top-of-the-line PC hardware in this current climate, and in my opinion that needs to be taken into account. But if you do have a capable PC, one that can run Rise at its best, then you should absolutely choose the PC version over Switch, just make sure to play it with a controller to save yourself from a headache or two.