Monster Hunter Rise: Can a Handheld Game Ensure an Authentic Console Experience?

Monster Hunter Rise: Can a Handheld Game Ensure an Authentic Console Experience?

Monster Hunter Rise

Monster Hunter is finally back on Nintendo Switch with Monster Hunter Rise, a whole new chapter that many count among the best of the series. This is the first 3D experience built on the powerful RE Engine to arrive on Nintendo's hybrid console and shows what can be done with that graphics engine on notoriously more limited hardware. This new incarnation of Monster Hunter combines some of the elements that made portable episodes of the past famous with some of the innovations introduced by the excellent World. The trade-offs are obvious but the results are impressive.

The series first appeared on the PlayStation 2 and found its biggest hit on the PSP before moving on to Nintendo platforms such as Wii, Wii U and 3DS but it has always maintained a 'segmented' game world approach: until the arrival of Monster Hunter World, each area of ​​the map was divided into smaller and numbered portions. During the fight the monsters could move between one zone and another and the player had to follow them after seeing a short loading screen. It was an intelligent solution but it was certainly dictated by the limitations of the reference hardware: for this reason the arrival of World represented a radical change in design. Since the game would land on PS4, Xbox One and PC, Capcom was able to develop a more ambitious game in which arenas were no longer broken by uploads and appeared as a single seamless world. Obviously the villages were still located in separate places but, once inside the hunting area, the exploration took place without any interruption.

All of this brings us to the recent release of Monster Hunter Rise. From the outset it seems clear that a simple port of World has never been an option: Rise uses the new RE Engine instead of the classic MT Framework. This means that we are faced with an experience built from scratch specifically for Nintendo Switch but maintaining the open world seen in the previous iteration of the brand. The environments continue to be large and articulated while the new mechanics of the 'Bugs-Thread' allows you to navigate the maps in a more fluid and faster than ever.

The video analysis of the new Monster Hunter Rise for Nintendo Switch .

Watch on YouTube. The overall level of detail obviously remains lower than in Monster Hunter World and it's easy to notice some `` flat textured surfaces '' in different areas due to limited foliage coverage but it's a presentation that works, overall. The Kamura village area is much smaller and is certainly one of the most beautiful places in the game thanks to a splendid use of backgrounds which gives what is a simple gaming hub a wonderful aesthetic. It is also good to consider that this goal has been achieved despite some features of the RE Engine have been used in a limited way. The bokeh effect, for example, would have been too resource intensive during gameplay but it appears in in-engine footage.

Image quality is all in all acceptable but is quite different from what we are used to to see on the market these days as the title completely ignores any kind of anti-aliasing to deliver a sharper but more 'fuzzy' look. In docked mode connected to the TV, Monster Hunter Rise is rendered at a resolution set at 1344x756 pixels while in portability it drops to 960x540, slightly less than the native resolution of the PS Vita screens. Either way it's a nice game to watch: nothing amazing if we think of modern standards but it's still a well packaged product for the reference platform and that's the most important thing.

Of course, trade-offs are inevitable , starting with the animation department. Since its origins, the Monster Hunter saga has always emphasized the importance of animations: when you perform an attack, you must wait for the end of the previous movement before you can chain new ones. This makes it essential to time your hits during the toughest battles to avoid taking massive damage from enemy counter moves. The fact is, while we appreciate this type of design, something has always seemed slightly out of place in the animations, particularly the locomotion. Walking up a hill it is possible to see the character's feet penetrate the environment, which is not the case in Monster Hunter World. There is also a sense of extra weight to the walking movement in World due to additional accessories that hang from the Hunter model. Thankfully, the rest of the animations are familiar - the attacking moves, for example, appear to be taken directly from Monster Hunter World. So overall, the animations look faithful to the previous game with just a few minor changes.

The defects are therefore present but it is the price that we pay for a Monster Hunter handheld game that retains the major advancements made by World. From our point of view, the goal was to build a game that retains the sense of scale and open design of Monster Hunter World but to roll it out for a system that is arguably more difficult to work with. Capcom designers have been successful in this regard - the cuts made all make sense and do not affect the game significantly. Overall, Monster Hunter Rise is a great game. Between that and the excellent Ghosts' n Goblins Resurrection, the RE Engine made a great debut on the Switch and appears to be a fairly scalable engine. In addition to the graphics, Rise also offers a full 5.1 surround mix, a feature often omitted in titles for the Nintendo platform.

So can we say that Capcom's new work has paid off? What we ideally would like to see as a result of all these changes is a solid level of performance - basically this is one area where Monster Hunter World has proved particularly frustrating. While the previous installment of the series looks smooth on the latest consoles, frame-rate has always been unlocked and unstable on the original last-gen systems. We were hoping for a 30fps throttling option to stabilize the experience but it was never available. However, I was worried that this new Switch game might follow this trend - after all, 3DS games were unlocked too. Thankfully, Capcom made the right decision for the Switch hardware and limited the maximum frame-rate to 30 fps. Based on our testing in the first two main areas, we can safely say that the frame-rate goal is achieved most of the time - it's almost always a constant 30fps experience with only small frame-pacing phenomena. inconsistent. In portable mode the situation is basically the same and features a stable 30fps with occasional slight interruptions in fluidity.

A look back at Monster Hunter World's appearance at launch. Backward compatibility with Xbox Series X | S and PS5 helped the previous episode of the series a lot.

Watch on YouTube. After thoroughly testing the game, we can say that Rise is the best Monster Hunter portable experience ever thanks to rather short loading times. The screens separating the village from the hunting areas and vice versa last about 13 seconds and, once you arrive in the chosen area, even the quick trips to the camps are practically instantaneous.

Ultimately Capcom has done a job commendable in the creation of this latest incarnation of the Monster Hunter brand. The RE Engine scales effectively, and the developers have found the right balance to offer gamers a visually pleasing game without impacting too much on the performance of the Tegra X1 processor. The cuts made are tolerable and the title looks nice in general although some sections may seem a bit flat. The arrival of the game on PC scheduled for next year could guarantee more room for maneuver for the powerful RE Engine but, at present, Monster Hunter Rise is a must-have title for Switch owners.

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