Like Monster Hunter World’s Iceborne, Monster Hunter Rise’s Sunbreak expansion continues the tradition of building upon a stellar experience. For a game that was already brimming with quests and endgame pursuits, Sunbreak adds even more flavor to the delicious meal. A bevvy of new hunts to go on (with some new and returning monsters), the Master Rank difficulty, as well as new Silkbind attacks, weapon and armor rarity tiers and even quality of life improvements make Sunbreak a must-buy for any serious hunter out there.
To best understand what Sunbreak brings to the table, we should start at the beginning. After the events of the Rampage against Kamura Village, your legend as a hunter has spread far and wide, and now you’re needed at another location to help quell a new threat. Enter Elgado Outpost, a medieval town full of characters that need your assistance fighting the appearance of three Elder Dragons.
As is always the case, you can’t very well tackle an Elder Dragon right away – you’re simply not strong enough. To gain strength, players will need to complete new Master Rank quests, a new difficulty above the Low and High Ranks from the base game. The new Master Rank quests feature stronger wyverns to hunt, new rarity levels for your weapons and armor, and new materials for crafting.
These new Master Rank quests (which will also level up a new Master Rank for your hunter) take place in Master Rank versions of the old locations as well as two new locales. There is a Jungle biome that features lush flora and is surrounded by sandy beaches and a Citadel biome that leans into the fantasy element with a foggy grove, snowy fields, and the ruins of a castle. Though a treat to explore, the Jungle doesn’t quite reach the same dizzying highs and labyrinthine systems of World’s Ancient Forest. However, where both these locations excel is in the simple fact that more Monster Hunter is always welcome.
While exploring these locations, players will notice a few new additions to the map. There are two new versions of Wirebugs to find that offer temporary boosts. The Ruby and Gold Wirebugs grant increased damage during Mounted Punisher moves and increased drops during riding attacks, respectively. A new spider has also appeared, called the Marionette Spider. This thing is used as you would the Puppet Spider, but instead of riding a wyvern, the Marionette will yank the monster toward you.
Moving around the locations has also become easier thanks to a phenomenal quality of life improvement whereby wallrunning no longer requires the use of a Wirebug. Players can now run directly at a wall and they will start running up it. It’s a change that alleviates a bit of the jank and slowness of movement. Another valuable addition is the ability to turn on and off weapon attack information on your HUD.
On the monster side of the equation, a big question most long-time players will have is about the difficulty. There’s no clear cut answer to be found here, as some will struggle while others may find the experience of middling difficulty. The deciding factor will be player experience, willingness to upgrade armor and weapons to new Master Ranks, and whether players want to engage in multiplayer. However, no matter your skill level, Sunbreak adds even more things to do in a game already packed to the gills with tantalizing endgame goals.
In terms of what you’ll be using to take down new and returning monsters, Sunbreak introduces new levels of rarity with its Master Rank along with new Switch Skills and the Switch Skill Swap mechanic. To put it simply, players can now have two loadouts of Switch Skills that can be swapped back and forth mid-fight. For my Insect Glaive I utilized Tetraseal Slash and Diving Wyvern on my Red Swap Scroll while my Blue Swap Scroll featured Tornado Slash and the new Kinsect Slash move. Being able to have two loadouts and swap between them on the fly opened up new combat opportunities and allowed me to experiment with builds I might have simply overlooked in the past.
Outside of hunting and fighting, Elgado Outpost is a place bubbling with activity. Thankfully, there’s no need to jump back to Kamura Village as there are vendors here for everything. The Buddy Agent takes care of the Buddy Plaza mechanics (Meowcenaries, Argosy, etc), Chichae will handle Low, High, and Master Rank quests, there’s even a Smithy, Arena vendor, a food stall, and more. The smaller hub world also makes it less time-consuming walking or teleporting to each vendor.
One thing I continually appreciate about these games is that after each story mission, there is always something new to do in the hub worlds. The same holds true for Sunbreak. After each hunt, there are characters that want to talk to you, offering quests with unique rewards like the new Secret Support Moves for your Palicos. There’s this constant sense of progression and reward that propels you through to the endgame where you will no doubt find your own goals like honing your preferred build.
There’s just so much to unpack with Sunbreak that I couldn’t possibly go into each element. There are new Follower quests that see you go on hunts with an AI companion, you can now gamble with your dango meals for more powerful effects at a lower activation chance, the lottery system has new bonus rewards, the Buddy Recon mechanic lets you place buddies at set locations in biomes as single-use quick travel locations, and new Defender weapon tiers will help newcomers unlock the expansion even faster.
For long-time Monster Hunter players, it’s always worth picking up the expansions, especially in the case of Sunbreak. For those looking to get into Monster Hunter for the first time, treat Sunbreak like dessert: it’s there for you once you finish your meal. But whether you’ve been at the banquet for a long time or just getting your first plate, you can’t go wrong with Sunbreak, it’s a stellar addition to an already excellent experience.
These impressions are based on a Steam key provided by the publisher. Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is available on June 30, 2022 for PC and Nintendo Switch.