If there’s one thing you could say about the Monster Hunter franchise, it’s that it’s quite generous when it comes to expanded content for its many iterations. And Monster Hunter Rise has been no exception, and has thus far rolled out plenty of content to keep hunters happy. Now, Rise is on the cusp of getting its first paid expansion in the form of Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak and it’s looking jam-packed with new content for players to dive into. Before its impending release, I had the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with a few of Sunbreak’s beasts and get a small taste of what Sunbreak has to offer.
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak will take players out of the familiar realms of Kamura and into the mysterious new world of Elgado. This means players are getting a whole new hub world along with things like new armor sets and variants. Gameplay is also receiving a few tweaks here and there to spice things up. One very cool new feature is the ability to load out with two sets of Switch Skills and swap between them on the fly. Although it may seem small, being able to swap between the two sets of skills expands a hunter’s combat options out in the field massively and allows them to adapt to even more situations that may occur.
While all the new mechanics for Sunbreak are looking rather impressive, most of my hands-on time was spent doing exactly what you do in these games, hunting monsters. While there are a number of monsters old and new that players can expect to run into while playing Sunbreak, I was given a chance to hunt down two in particular during our demo.
The first was one of the new big bads coming to Sunbreak, Lunagaron. This feisty beast is one of Elgado’s three lords and resembles a giant wolf with some very nasty claws. Lunagaron has ice capabilities that it can use to create armor for itself and has one heck of a chilling howl that it can use to temporarily stun players. The real show however is in its brutal combat abilities, like when it gets up on its hind legs and starts slashing away with its icy claws at everything in sight. To say that Lunagaron is a tough cookie would be a savory understatement as even with a stacked team of myself, one other journalist, and two very pro-level Capcom employees, we still got our butts kicked while on the hunt. At one point Lunagaron even took three of us down all at once with a well-timed charging attack.
While we weren’t able to fell the mighty beast in our short hands-on time, this was my first chance to see just how much the Switch Skill Swap upped the ante when out in the field. Being able to go from using a Switch Skill that unleashed a medium-range combo to something that allowed me to keep my distance and get my bearings straight showed me just how useful having more options could be.
The first hunt gave me a look at what me and my squad might be up against in a co-op setting, the second hunt was all about showing off a Follower Quest with one of Sunbreak’s new characters, Master Arlow as we tracked down a Seregios. While solo players usually go out into the field to hunt with just their Palico and Palamute at their sides, Follower Quests allow players to go out into the world with an additional AI companion. As someone who had a lot of trouble putting together a full squad and isn’t quite the most skilled hunter, I really appreciated having a very capable NPC by my side while trying to deal with Seregios. At one point I thought I was on my own and then Arlow popped out of the ground riding on the back of a Diablos and just started wrecking Seregios. Master Arlow helped out with buffs, heals, and combat in general. I gave this hunt a few go-arounds, but it was more than likely my own fault that I couldn’t take this returning fan-favorite monster down. One attack that I found particularly tough to deal with was a flying jump-kick attack that I could just not get the timing down to dodge. At one point I thought I had it on the ropes, but then came the kicks and I just couldn’t get the job done.
I’m a bit of a late-bloomer when it comes to Monster Hunter, having only really dug my teeth into the series starting with Monster Hunter World, but I feel like Rise has been doing a great job of refining the series’ gameplay overall. Between the gameplay tweaks like Switch Skill Swap, Follower Quests, new territories, and additions to the bestiary, Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is feeling like another step forward in the games evolution. Fortunately, fans don’t have long to wait until their next hunt, as Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is set to launch on June 30, for the Nintendo Switch and PC.
This preview is based on a hands-on demo provided by Capcom. Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is set to be released on June 30, 2022 for the Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam.