Friday, 20 May 2022

Monster Hunter Rise is the same great game on PC, but still looks like a Switch game

Monster Hunter Rise is one of the best games on Nintendo Switch, but it doesn’t command the same respect on PC.

Like Monster Hunter World before it, Monster Hunter Rise had about 10 months of console exclusivity, a time when players like me could intimately get to know its systems, maps, and monsters. For Rise specifically, this Switch exclusivity window gave Capcom time to add in the game’s ending — which was unfinished at launch — and a handful of fan-favorite beasts.

But with Monster Hunter Rise getting a barely noticeable visual upgrade on PC, I found myself disappointed by what this re-release could’ve been: a more impressive version of an already excellent game.

Where World was a sprawling adventure on a new continent, Rise offers a more compact game, taking place in a Japanese-inspired village called Kamura. Players spend dozens of hours hunting beasts in an attempt to unravel the mystery of why monsters are going into a rage and attacking their hometown — something the creatures haven’t done since the elders of the village were young.

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Monster Hunter Rise is missing one of my favorite parts of Monster Hunter: World

The new Wirebug mechanic in Rise makes it the most mobile and accessible game in a series known for being inaccessible — and helped land it on Polygon’s best games of 2021 list. It’s filled with interesting choices, like the bizarre tower defense mode that’s surprisingly fun to puzzle out, or the musical Japanese intros for each monster. And with the Switch’s ability to swap between TV and handheld play, it felt like something I could play for hours on a flight, or dedicate weeks to on my couch after a major update.

Of course, all of this is present in Rise’s PC version (the portability being the exception). But it doesn’t feel enhanced for the more powerful system. It may have an uncapped framerate and high graphics settings — the latter of which my PC cleared easily — but at the end of the day, it still looks like a Nintendo Switch game.

Image: Capcom

Monster Hunter Rise looks great on the Switch, especially in handheld mode. It was extremely impressive on Nintendo’s less powerful hardware, implementing the wide open maps of Monster Hunter World rather than the segmented ones from the previous handheld titles. It was only easy to notice the game’s faults or lack of detail in a screenshot, or when I was idling in town. But it’s much easier to see those imperfections on more impressive hardware.

I see the blurriness in Monster Hunter Rise constantly on my PC, inherent to an art style originally designed for Switch. The game’s opening cutscene just looks fuzzy, even on the highest setting, and the look continues into the actual gameplay. And when I’m running around Kamura village or hunting down a monster, I’m often easily distracted by a flat-looking rock or a smooth wall. You don’t notice how fuzzy a PlayStation 2 game looks when you’re playing on a TV from the 2000s; you all but feel the whiplash when playing a PS2 game on an HD monitor. Jumping from Switch to PC with Rise is reminiscent of that feeling.

But in venturing out on hunts in the game’s first two biomes, I didn’t run into any performance issues. I was also able to train and upgrade my gear without any problems — on PC, the game runs very well. The issue isn’t that this is a bad version of Monster Hunter Rise, it’s that it’s the same exact experience as it was in 2021. It may be on a more powerful platform now, but Rise can’t shake its history on Switch.

For PC-only players who’ve been dying to play since last March, Rise on PC will still show you a good time. In fact, with all of the post-game updates already out for the PC version and an expansion coming to both platforms this summer, you’ll likely have a better first year with Rise than Switch players did.

Image: Capcom

Everything I originally loved about Rise is still here — the monsters, the world, the atmosphere — and it’s bound to get a well-deserved second life on Steam. Patient Monster Hunter fans who never bought a Switch will finally be able to dive into their favorite series, tackling some new monsters and discovering different systems. Far more importantly, this PC launch is an opportunity to introduce new players to the franchise with Rise’s friendlier mechanics.

But it’s because of this influx of new players that I wish the PC version would’ve improved on the excellent framework Capcom built on Switch. Without cross-save between the Switch and PC, or visuals that improve on what players already have on a handheld system, it’s hard to see why anyone who’s already sunk hundreds of hours into Rise would jump ship for Steam.

Monster Hunter Rise on PC is just a different way to play a fantastic game. And while that’s great news for PC players who’ve never bought into Nintendo’s ecosystem, its graphics fail to impress, even on the most impressive of hardware.

Monster Hunter Rise will release Jan. 12 on Windows PC. The game was reviewed using a Steam code provided by Capcom. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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