Having clocked over 100 hours, Monster Hunter Rise is easily my favourite game of 2021. Building on the global success of Monster Hunter: World, it’s an even slicker and more accessible sequel that absolutely leverages the somewhat aged hardware of the Nintendo Switch into one of the console’s prettiest and best-performing titles.
The good news is that PC owners will finally be able to get a taste of what they’ve been missing out on. Not only has a PC version been announced for release on January 12, 2022, but having tried out the demo early, it’s precisely the enhanced port that might just tempt me to play the game from scratch.
Let’s get this out of the way first. The PC version of Monster Hunter Rise is essentially a port of the original Switch game. Yes, you do get the option of applying improved textures but you shouldn’t go in expecting the same look as World. That said, if you can appreciate the difference between graphical fidelity and art direction, then Rise trumps its predecessor on the latter, from its aesthetic inspired by Japanese culture and mythology to its hugely diverse and varied monster roster.
If you have the relevant monitor, Rise also supports 4K resolution and ultra-wide aspect ratios, which are all fine additions that any decent PC port should have. Even on my standard 1080p laptop screen, that’s already a sharper picture than the Switch version, which ran at 756p docked, dropping to 540p in handheld mode. However, the real game changer is the frame rate.
Personally, I thought the Switch version ran fantastically. The RE Engine is so well optimised that even at 30 FPS I fooled myself into thinking it was a 60 FPS game, with nary a frame drop even as my hunter would zip around the map with Wirebugs or up to four of us are smacking away one or two monsters onscreen.
Playing the PC version with unlimited frame rates though? The difference is eye-openingly clear. It’s so smooth my fingers are sliding off the keyboard just thinking about it as I type. And for a game where your positioning, timing and animation frames are vital things to consider, it completely transforms the hunt into an elite tier experience.
As far as the demo itself goes, it’s the same as the time-limited one Switch owners got earlier this year where you can choose to hunt three different monsters on three difficulties: Great Izuchi for beginners, Mizutsune for advanced players, and an extra tough version of flagship monster Magnamalo. There’s also a couple other monsters hanging around too, and as each hunt lasts a maximum of 50 minutes, it’s quite worth tracking them down too if you want to make the most of the demo. It’s also a great excuse of getting the opportunity to take advantage of the wyvern riding mechanic, a bit of a cross between the mounting and turf war mechanics of previous entries, as you take control of one monster to wreck the other, though newcomers can also opt to try out a separate training mode for this.
I’m already a Rise veteran at this point so it felt easy just jumping into this demo with my reliable mains of the Long Sword and the ridiculously OP Hunting Horn (heavy damage and buffs – what’s not to love?) but it still feels like a fresh experience on PC that gives the definitive version of the game that I’m not sure could be replicated on a theoretical Switch Pro.
While I’ve only been able to try this early demo out on my own, the joy of Monster Hunter is hunting with others, which is recommended if you want to stand a chance at toppling Magnamalo in the demo. One other drawback on Switch has been the complete lack of voice chat support – you couldn’t even use the crappy Switch Online app. While there are workarounds like Discord, it’s obviously far easier that the PC version of Rise will just support voice chat without any fuss, although the communication wheel shortcuts and hunter voices that provide important cues are fine if you’re just matching with randoms.
For those who haven’t yet experienced the brilliant of Monster Hunter Rise, waiting three more months for the PC version seems a no-brainer, especially if you don’t have plans of gaming on the go, which isn’t even something the Switch can boast as its USP once the Steam Deck arrives (although we won’t know whether Valve’s handheld will let you play Rise in a higher framerate).
As for fans like me who have already invested tens or hundreds of hours already, it’s a more conflicting choice. Sure, it’s going to be a much better experience, but do I really have the time, patience, and fortitude to go through the grind from scratch? Of course, this is something old-school Monster Hunter fans are used to back in the day when an expanded release wasn’t DLC but a separate physical game you had to buy all over again. There have nonetheless been exceptions, such as when Capcom created an app for players to transfer their Monster Hunter Generations save data on the 3DS over to Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate on Switch.
The problem is once your eyes have opened to just how crisp and smooth this game can run, it’s very hard to go back. Adding to this is that the game’s massive expansion Sunbreak releasing next summer is also launching simultaneously on Switch and PC. Had it been like World’s Iceborne expansion where the PC crowd had to wait months after the console release, it’d have been easy to say that I’ll just stick with the Switch version. But now, I’m hugely tempted to start all over again in January in the hopes that I’ll have caught up in time for Sunbreak.
Capcom’s already promising the best version of Monster Hunter Rise in just about every way. Who knows, if it can find a way to transfer my Switch save data over to PC then surely everyone wins.
Monster Hunter Rise is out now on Nintendo Switch and coming to PC on January 12, 2022. You can download the Steam demo from October 13.