Monster Hunter Rise was an exceptional title at launch, and it remains equally as great today as it enters its second year of the franchise-renowned post-launch content. However, as the studio needs to keep making money, and long-time players need to be rewarded, the game has also entered its official expansion age, starting with Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak.
The entertainment industry often adheres to the adage of not fixing what is not broken, and Capcom seems to have followed this philosophy with Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak, the first expansion to Monster Hunter Rise. While offering more of what fans love, it primarily focuses on quality of life improvements, new challenges, and an array of exciting wyverns. Yet it also plays it safe, missing some key opportunities to elevate the experience.
First and foremost, it is important to note how Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is not a standalone expansion and requires ownership of the base game to access its content. Targeted towards experienced hunters, players must progress significantly through the main campaign before they can delve into the downloadable content. The new content becomes accessible only after completing the Urgent Quest titled “Serpent Goddess of Thunder” and defeating Narwa, the final Elder Dragon in the main campaign.
The expansion introduces a new quest leading players to uncover the mysteries surrounding a trio of new monsters called the Three Lords, situated in a region known as The Kingdom. The journey commences from Elgado Outpost, although it must be acknowledged how this outpost is somewhat lacklustre compared to Kamura Village from the main campaign. While it offers essential amenities like a tea shop, blacksmith, port, market, and hunter room, it fails to exude the same charm as its predecessor. Nevertheless, the expansion’s primary focus revolves around the franchise’s signature monster hunts.
As players progress through Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak, they face more challenging variants of the monsters encountered in Rise. The hunts become increasingly intricate, culminating in the introduction of the expansion’s formidable new wyverns, of which there are only five. Although this may seem limited, it is not uncommon for Monster Hunter expansions to act as a “springboard” for post-launch content.
It must be said how the new wyverns are a masterful addition to the game. The Three Lords, all of which are Elder Dragons, and the accompanying wyverns complement the new areas impeccably, providing thrilling and demanding monster hunts. Alongside these challenges, several gameplay additions enhance the experience. Most notably, weapon types now boast additional Switch Skills and Silkbind Attacks, which are balanced for the newer wyverns. Additionally, players can switch these abilities in the overworld, thanks to new loadout features, streamlining the gameplay and enhancing convenience.
Despite these improvements, the expansion disappointingly neglects one of Rise’s significant gameplay additions: “Rampage” mode. This decision is extremely puzzling, and it seems Capcom is attempting to compensate by introducing new gameplay mechanics tailored for the wyverns.
Thankfully, new locales are always a sight for sore eyes in Monster Hunter games, and Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is no exception. The expansion introduces captivating new areas within The Kingdom for players to explore. Lush forests, treacherous mountain terrains, and mysterious underground caves await daring hunters seeking fresh challenges. Each locale brings its own unique ambiance and ecosystem, enriching the overall gameplay experience. As players venture into these uncharted territories, they will not only encounter the fearsome wyverns, but also a host of indigenous creatures and plant life.
Furthermore, the expansion emphasises the dynamic weather system, thus enhancing the immersive nature of the title’s wild landscapes. Weather conditions change rapidly, adding a layer of realism and challenge to hunts. The lush forests transform during heavy rain, and fog shrouds the mountains, forcing hunters to adapt their strategies on the fly. These dynamic environmental changes also impact the behaviour of the wyverns, creating intense and unpredictable encounters [Side note: it looks even cooler on a desktop computer]!
Another massive addition is the inclusion of Follower Collab Quests, catering to players who prefer solo gameplay with followers or non-playable characters. Further adjustments to the mounting and monster riding mechanics, as well as smoother animations, contribute to the overall enjoyment. Beyond these changes, however, the package lacks substantial additions, which is underwhelming for a major expansion.
While Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak remains a must-have for players keen on experiencing the complete post-launch content, the initial release content is lacklustre. The impressive new wyverns and elder dragons offer excitement, and the gameplay tweaks are noteworthy, but the glaring omission of Rise’s signature “Rampage” mode, and the requirement for hours of gameplay before accessing substantial new content, leave room for disappointment. Ultimately, the expansion falls short of matching the exceptional main campaign, despite its redeeming qualities.
|Excellent springboard for future content||A little lacklustre considering how great the base game is|
|Gameplay tweaks are worth it||The grind actually feels real for once in a Monster Hunter title|
|New monsters help keep things fresh|
Title reviewed on Nintendo Switch Lite with code supplied by Capcom.
Junior Editor at Vamers. From Superman to Ironman; Bill Rizer to Sam Fisher and everything in-between, Edward loves it all. He is a Bachelor of Arts student and English Major specialising in Language and Literature. He is an avid writer and casual social networker with a flare for all things tech related.