Relief. This is probably the word that best describes my experience with Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak. After an exit from rise lackluster last year, covid obliges, the basic game had caught up through multiple updates which were essential to say the least, as the product we had in our hands on March 26 did not seem complete . The story wasn’t even finished on release day, so to speak. That is to say the problems to which Capcom had to face, not to mention the theft of data that the publisher had to suffer a few months before. This expansion Sunbreak was therefore fertile ground for many promises and improvements. The least that can be said is that certain radical choices have been made: cuts, additions, adjustments have come to polish the rough diamond that is monster hunter rise to reveal a product much better chiselled than the base it rests on. We couldn’t ask for less.
When NPC no longer rhymes with Japanese
I mentioned it in the introduction, relief is the feeling that went through me while playing Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak. One of the most contributing factors to this feeling is undoubtedly the story and the overall context of Sunbreak. Let it be said frankly: the narration has never been one of the strong points of the franchise of Capcom. There are, however, certain limits to the credibility and scale that this universe can have which, in my opinion, have been crossed in monster hunter rise. If the atmosphere inspired by feudal Japan, assisted by an absolutely divine soundtrack, had its small effect at the beginning, arrived at the end of the adventure I felt a certain discomfort. The hindsight taken since the release of the game has allowed me to see more clearly, especially by thinking back to Yukumo (although I only got a brief glimpse of it in Generations).
This decorum actually got me disgusted by its artificiality and the story that took place in it failed to exploit it intelligently while being quite confused and disjointed, even for monster hunter. The whole, inhabited by characters who give the impression of having to fulfill the specifications of the perfect little game with a Japanese anime atmosphere, left me with a slightly acrid taste. If I have no doubt that the covid must have greatly disrupted the development of rise, this fault remained heavy in my eyes and affected the immersion that I could feel, despite an almost irreproachable technique and a combat system more pleasant than ever, although lacking a little spice. But we will come back to that.
It truly felt like coming home to visit Elgado and follow this story, after monster hunter ventured into an atmosphere that was too cliché for its own good. Without reaching the level of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, the narration was able to catch me and keep me until the end, not to mention the infinitely less boring atmosphere of Elgado compared to Kamura. An attraction that I did not suspect is in fact the Paragon Quest system. The latter, by allowing us to take NPCs hunting alongside us, give a little more insight into their respective personalities, which helps a lot to appreciate all this little world when visiting the outpost.
It’s also a great way to easily farm most large monsters. Indeed, the game does not have a hub dedicated to multiplayer like rise. It is therefore up to the system to Monster Hunter World in which there is no longer any separation between village and main hall (the game always adjusts monster stats to the number of players). To avoid spoiling anything, we can eventually unlock the weapons and armor of our favorite characters to use them ourselves. And since we’re talking about it…
Did you say Calamity?
…and a lot of big changes have been made to the balance of gear. Exit the Calamity talents (and even the Calamity quests as well, to boot)hello to Calamity Jewels which only grant one talent per weapon in a special slot provided for this purpose. Other changes come with the jewels, especially those of rank 4. Introduced in Icebornethe extension of Monster Hunter World, the latter allow you to obtain up to two levels of talent instead of only one in a single jewel. The main difference in Sunbreakis that’there is no longer a gem granting two different talentsprobably due to the fact that the random part of the equipment has been reduced to talismans, and no longer to jewels as in World. This was arguably one of the best design choices of monster hunter rise.
Rank 4 jewels also appear versions granting 3 to 5 points very basic talents: Bastion, Quick Sharpening, Steel Skull etc. are all talents that can be activated to their full potential in various ways now. The diversity of choices which is left to us come out stronger, making it easier to adjust talents to the needs imposed by each piece of armor. The weapons are also entitled to a final improvement thanks to the post-game, which makes it possible to make many more of them perfectly viable at very high level. But we’ll come back to that when we talk about monsters.
The fight, for its part, does not change radically, but relies on the bases laid by rise to metamorphose into what is arguably the closest thing to an MMORPG frontier that we will never see in the main saga. Everything goes very fast, almost all weapons have a shot allowing to counterattack and Changing Substitute Talents turns out to be a discreet but devilishly effective addition. I haven’t had the opportunity to test more than one weapon yet, given the gargantuan content of the game (and my sick need for equipment optimization)but it turned out to be more than suitable for my morpho-axe.
It’s a weapon I was already familiar with, but had never walked through the main story of a game with. monster hunter until now. Here, the existence of two modes takes on its full meaning. Once the weapon is loaded, it is much more interesting to use the zero shock to cling to the monster, associated with the rising wyvern blade to deliver a well-felt blow in stride. Once unloaded, using the invincible tactic is great for getting close to the monster while cutting through its attacks, while the compound elemental attack deals high damage and charges the weapon quickly.
Monsters finally at the level and a soundtrack always successful
If on the hunter’s side, things move little but well, what about the monsters? The least we can say is that the difference with rise is immediately noticeable. The difficulty here is not the fact of endlessly boosted statistics in event quests, but of a More seasoned AI and D’increased overall speed to help our dear critters keep up with the Filoptera. We are not at the Fatalis level of Iceborne who, himself, resorted to these two processes at the same time, but the progress is definitely there, and it feels a lot of good. The new monsters introduced, just like the old ones whose moves have been modified, have more tools to take the player by surprise and inflict unexpected knockouts.
It will not be enough to rush into the heap and to come back into the fray with a filochute this time, you have to observe and learn, which is still somewhat the basis of the franchise. The line is deliberately enlarged (the Superior Monsters were still a more than substantial challenge in Rise), but you get the idea. Finally, the game hasan effective post-game system to the challenge well taken up. Without giving too much away, regular mobs are in a so-called “afflicted” state which primarily increases their HP and overall speed, improving their reactions. As I mentioned above, hunting afflicted monsters allows you toupgrade a weapon beyond its maximum limit thanks to special materials, which greatly increases the possible diversity of sets and mixes thanks to many viable weapons, even in the late game.
Beyond the purely playful aspect, the new creatures have as always been the object of the greatest attention of the designers of Capcom. The monsters, both old and new, are still a little more varied than before and have quite convincing renderings for this fifth generation. Unfortunately, we have as always with extensions one or two subspecies whose interest is quite questionable. The sound was one of the strengths of monster hunter rise, Sunbreak continues on this path. The revisited theme of the Jungle is given a new section that is particularly pleasant to listen to, while the Citadel is entitled to an original composition whose refrain recalls that of Val Putride from Monster Hunter World, without however equaling it. I’m not even talking about the Elgado theme, which is quite simply an auditory comforter that you never tire of listening to. The music is sometimes more discreet with less vocalizations in all directions, but this sobriety is also good, especially for this last theme.
Arguably one of Monster Hunter’s best expansions
One of the best Monster Hunter expansions – 95%
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak quite simply fulfills its role of extension to perfection. Listening to the community, Capcom heard the criticisms but implemented its own game design solutions to successfully address them. The rambling narrative and contrived atmosphere of rise have given way to a more interesting story, both in terms of lore and characters thanks to consistency in progression and the Paragon quest system. The strengths of rise were able to be preserved, and its shortcomings adjusted or eliminated. The game does not hesitate to make cuts where necessary to clarify its formula without watering it down. The rather disappointing difficulty of rise at its release is here enhanced intelligently without falling into the trap of inflating stupid and nasty statistics, all the more thanks to a well-built post-game system. There is no doubt that the various updates will further increase the challenge in dantesque confrontations. In any case, they will be the icing on a cake which, this time, really gives the impression of a finished product that is self-sufficient.
- Much more compelling and less contrived atmosphere and narrative
- The combat system more enjoyable than ever
- An increased difficulty
- Paragon quests are a nice surprise
- A real post-game system
- Still strong performance on Switch
- A still magical soundtrack
- Saving options (hello the automatic wall run) and the new local fauna
- No weapon skins right out (you have to quibble a bit)
- The menuing and management of objects still perfectible for neophytes
- Some subspecies lack interest
Note from readers:
What is your feeling about this?