For my money, Monster Hunter Rise was the best game of 2021 and one that I happily poured over 100 hours into, so there’s a delight knowing that PC gamers will essentially have their first contender of Game of the Year to kickstart 2022. This may have been a title built specifically for the underpowered Switch with a snappier and more accessible pace to get into those signature monster hunts quicker, but it translates brilliantly on PC, with all the extra bells and whistles you should expect from juicier hardware.
Not that you’ll necessarily need the latest rig to get amazing results. I play PC games with a Razer laptop with an Nvidia RTX 2080 – it’s no slouch but if I try to connect it to a 4K TV then the performance tops out at 30FPS for your typical AAA game. Rise however is one of the only games I’ve tried where I can easily get the game running at 4K resolution and 60FPS on the big screen with all settings at max, along with the new detailed monster textures. That’s likely because it was made for Switch first, on raw specs Rise isn’t as graphically demanding as its predecessor Monster Hunter World, but it still looks like a million zenny thanks to its much more distinctive monster designs and Japanese folklore aesthetics.
Of course, even if you don’t have the fanciest display such as an ultra-wide monitor (which is also supported), playing Rise on PC is still going to, well, rise above the Switch version. The new Wirebug mechanic already allows you to effortlessly zip around the environment or unleash a dazzling repertoire of monster hunting skills with your weapons of choice but it’s even faster with unlocked frame rates. It’s also great that it has in-game voice chat even though most PC gamers are comfortable with Discord or any other VOIP of choice. Either way, that’s more than you can say on Switch, which didn’t even make use of Nintendo’s underwhelming paid-for online service.
One minor gripe is that this port doesn’t include gyro-aiming support despite being compatible with the Switch pro controller and PS5’s DualSense controller and giving you the option to display their respective button symbols. I don’t see it affecting people who seem averse to motion controls but as someone who found it more instinctive to tilt the controller to course-correct my Wirebug while in mid-air or handling the ballistas and cannons against hordes of monsters during the game’s tower defence-style Rampage missions, it did take a while having to get used to just relying on solely the right stick again.
But as elite-tier as this version of Rise is, there’s going to be one sticking point if you happen to be a Switch owner. Capcom has sadly confirmed that it’s unable to implement cross-save or cross-play for both Rise and its upcoming expansion Sunbreak. So if like me, you’ve already invested hours into decimating the virtual monster population for all kinds of shiny weapons and gear, then I’m afraid you’ll have to do that all over again. Getting the best performing version of the game but without carrying over progress – a true monkey’s paw dilemma.
For the fraction of the hours I’ve put into the PC version of Rise, it’s still been a terrific time. I’ve had a ball squaring of against fiends like Magnamalo again with far humbler equipment than I’ve been used to along with my trusty cat and dog helpers, the latter making catching up with monsters a breeze so you never stray from a hunt for long. The solo-only Village quests essentially acts as a fun campaign-length tutorial where there’s not even much pressure to upgrade your gear all that much but still have a fighting chance against a fairly formidable roster before you work your way up to the proper meat of the game in high-rank in the more multiplayer-oriented Hub quests.
But it’s when the high-rank monsters open up and really test your mettle that you start thinking of the number of hunts you’ll need to repeat, all those elusive monster parts you’ll need to fashion this weapon or another with different elemental properties that’s more effective against another monster – suddenly the prospect of replaying that grind becomes a burden. I’m no stranger to replaying games from scratch – hell, I even replayed Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade over the holidays – but that’s usually for the enjoyment of the story. For a game like Monster Hunter where it’s solely about the grind (arguably the best design of grind in the business, may I add) it’s much more of a psychological hill to climb, not to mention a matter of time when there’s so many other games vying for your attention, if you’re not already being guilt-tripped by your backlog.
Enough of my sob story as a Switch player who’s had the pleasure of playing Rise for almost a whole year beforehand though. Because if you’re a PC-only gamer or just someone who’s held fast to the belief that the best things come to those who wait, then you’re going to have an absolutely roaring time. Besides all those technical enhancements, this is the full fat version of the game (at least until Sunbreak arrives this summer, which launches simultaneously on Switch and PC). Whereas the Switch version saw the proper ending to its story delayed until a couple of post-launch updates, you’ll be able to blitz through it all without waiting.
This is also the case with all of Rise’s post-release content, which come in the form of even tougher apex monster variants as well as special event quests for unlocking costumes like Okami’s Amaterasu for your dog or so that your hunter can dress up like Sonic the Hedgehog. There’s something particularly fun about being able to unlock the latter when you’re still climbing the ranks rather than as endgame novelties released months later that lure you back and only use for a few minutes.
For me however, I’ll be sticking with the Switch version and not feel too left out because ultimately Rise remains a technical marvel on that platform, especially compared to turn-based RPG spin-off Monster Hunter Stories 2 where framerate issues were rampant on Switch. Who knows, if enough conflicted Switch and PC owners also restrain their wallets from what should have been an easy double-dip, it might just persuade Capcom to find a solution to cross-save further down the line. For those yet to embark on Kamura and all the rich wild lands around it, get ready to fill your hunter’s boots.
Monster Hunter Rise releases for PC on January 12, and is currently available for Nintendo Switch.