Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak achieves what the intent of every expansion should be: it expands upon the foundations laid by the base of Monster Hunter Rise by adding new areas, story content, and most importantly, epic new monsters to hunt. But that’s just the basic expectation; Where Sunbreak rises is in the recontextualization of this original title.
The new areas and monsters are awesome, but what really blew my mind was the mix-ups. Watching the insane new monsters invade the locations I knew so well from the base game in configurations that pushed my skills to the limit never ceased to amaze me.
It’s worth noting that accessing Sunbreak isn’t an easy task if you’re starting from scratch. For the purpose of this review, I was playing the Steam version of the game and expected to play through the game on PC to get to Sunbreak. I had been playing Rise on Switch when it launched so I knew exactly what to do, but it still took me about 30 hours to leave Kamura for Elgado and start Sunbreak. It helps that Monster Hunter Rise is a phenomenal video game in its own right, but that’s quite a challenge for players unfamiliar with the series.
Without spoiling the events of the base game, know that you have to complete both the Village and Gathering Hub quest lines. Also, you’ll probably need to do a bit of grinding to craft gear strong enough to take on seven-star quests. And then you have to deal with the actual Sunbreak content, which is even harder and set to a new difficulty level called Master Rank.
In any case, once you’re ready, head to Elgado Outpost, your new base of operations for the adventures to come. Without spoiling some of the pretty cool plot points, you travel to the kingdom of Elgado at the behest of a knight of the royal order named Fiorayne. The monsters native to the kingdom are becoming hyper-aggressive and invading other regions, including Kamura, so set out to find out why.
Elgado is a refreshing change, and the medieval theme contrasts nicely with the tribal styles of Kamura. While the environment has changed and there are new hunting grounds to explore, the core mechanics of the game remain the same. You undertake hunts, harvest materials, increase your hunter rank, and respond to urgent quests to further the storyline.
While some may consider it recycled content, I found the way Sunbreak populates areas from the base game with new monsters really cool, so I was always excited to see the majestic Rathian battling something completely bizarre like a Daimyo Hermitaur . A giant hermit crab inhabiting the skull of an even larger monster that saw the Daimyo Hermitaur in mortal combat with a flying dragon, with beautifully detailed animations to boot, never got old.
But there are new areas, and they’re impressively detailed, outshining the base game in many ways. The Jungle, for example, is the first area you visit and is on a completely different level than its counterpart, the Shrine Ruins. It’s full of secret areas and interesting shortcuts, and it’s visually striking with its white sand and azure waters.
Also new are the follower collab quests, which mix things up in a nice way. This new type of quest has an NPC like Fiorayne joining you on the hunt, and for a solo player like me that really brings things to life.
These NPCs can do basically anything you can do: use items, ride monsters, pull aggro, and comment on the action all the time. They even bring their own buddies, which makes these hunts truly unforgettable, and if they pass out you won’t be penalized, so there’s really no downside to taking them with you (although admittedly things can get pretty messy at times).
The new Master difficulty comes with its own new material class, and with it a whole new set of armor and weapons to craft. For example, I played through Rise with my beloved Rathian armor, and in Sunbreak I was able to earn it again, and it looks different and even has slightly different abilities.
When you consider the new Silkbind abilities that come with each individual weapon, the new locations and monsters, the addition of follower collab quests, and new armor and weapons to match each monster from the base game, Sunbreak offers an embarrassment of riches, the almost is on par with the base game and will keep even the most dedicated hunter occupied for dozens of hours.
I know that longtime Monster Hunter fans found Rise’s streamlined mechanics and mobility offered by both the Palamute and Wirebug lukewarm. As someone without the nostalgia for how things used to be, I can’t imagine going back to a slower or more methodical playstyle.
As it stands, there are very few negatives that I can reconcile with Sunbreak, which I consider a resounding success. Higher level hunts can take a bit too long in my opinion, and the amount of time it takes to reach the new content is a bit of a drag (although it’s not something everyone will experience). I think Capcom should have added some sort of skip content option that would allow returning players on PC to get to the new stuff without replaying the entire base game, but your mileage may vary on this point.
From the looks of it, Sunbreak represents the very best of Monster Hunter Rise, putting the base game into a new context through its clever integration of old and new. It won’t win over die-hard fans who bounced off Rise, but for those who loved the changes to the Monster Hunter formula, Sunbreak marks a new pinnacle for the series and is an absolute no-brainer for anyone wanting to dive back in .
Reviewer: Khayl Adam | Forgive: The Editor’s Choice | Copy provided by the publisher.
- Recontextualizes content from the base game in a meaningful way.
- Elgado is a refreshing change from Kamura.
- New monsters are epic.
- A whole new set of weapons and armor to craft.
- Huge investment of time to access new content if you haven’t played the base game yet.
- Early game encounters can take too long before you get Master Rank gear.
June 30, 2022
Nintendo Switch, PC