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Review: Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak (Nintendo Switch)By Steven M At 16.08.2022 22:29

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The story isn't anything to write home about, which is the norm with the genre. Sunbreak follows similar beats to the base game, but fails to offer a consistent pace. Malzeno, the expansion's flagship monster, could have had a more prominent role in the story and give it some sense of urgency, but the plot saves whatever cards are in hand until the end. While the story is a step down, Rise's mission structure is back in full force with a fantastic new set of exclusively offline quests and a new status type of enemy monster to replace Apex monsters.

Follower quests, a new offline addition to the series, is the best thing to happen to solo play in the series, but it still has some tweaking to go through if they are to come back in future installments. Like with the new urgent quests in Sunbreak, follower quests have NPC allies join you. Their AI and effectiveness could be somewhat improved but is serviceable in lower Master Rank hunts. A couple major perks to these quests are that each supply chest gives you better items and NPCs that faint will not deduct from your life count. Sometimes, albeit incredibly rarely, NPCs will leave and mount a monster making them incredibly useful when this does occur, since they can immediately ride a monster that was already mounted by the player. In short, this definitely beats hunting alone and is a feature that hopefully becomes a mainstay in the series. In addition, these quests offer unique weapons and armor sets to craft, some of which have perfect skills for a specific weapon.

One negative aspect to the mission structure comes after reaching the credits. There are new monsters to hunt after the credits roll, but getting the opportunity to fight them is arduous to an extent. To obtain all quests, players need to reach Master Rank 100. The grind to get there requires too much time but having a party helps, since anyone in the hub party can join any quest someone posts. Hopefully, this doesn't become a habit post-Monster Hunter World — which has a similar issue in Iceborne.

There is an obvious omission from Sunbreak, however. In Monster Hunter Rise, Capcom introduced a new mode called Rampage. Rampage hunts weren't all that exciting or engaging after the first couple ranks, but they did offer a new tree to each weapon type to funnel mission rewards into. The Rampage tree allowed for a great amount of flexibility and customisation to weapons. Sunbreak drops Rampage almost entirely, not offering Master Rank Rampage quests or expanding the weapon tree. This is unfortunate, as building crafting was much more fun with the ability to influence things like a weapon's element, sharpness, or choose the Hunting Horn's song list. Speaking of the horn, this lack of customisability means that players will likely go with Teostra's weapon most of the time due to the exceptional song list.

In its place are Rampage Decorations. Weapon specific enhancements and Elder Dragon souls reside here in Master Rank, however this is significantly limited and pared back from the original release. The main benefit of this change is notably having the ability to give Elder Dragon soul decorations to any weapon instead of being glued to its weapon, respectively. Still, this feels restrictive compared to the Rampage weapon flexibility from the original release.

Rarity 10 weapons often don't require many normal monster parts, but do require parts from Afflicted monsters, the new archetype introduced in Sunbreak. Afflicted monsters don't have any new moves or abilities. What makes them unique is that their body parts occasionally glow and if hunters hit them often enough, they explode, doing large amounts of damage. The unfortunate side effect to this is that these monsters have overly large health bars, but it's a decent twist on the existing beasts.

One of the main critiques of Rise is arguably around its difficulty. While the base game may have been considered easier than most low to high rank experiences due to the wirebug's potential for mobility, Master Rank tries to offer an interesting counter to a hunter's speed. Each monster — returning and brand new — can pull off more complicated attacks, kicking up attack frequency and aggression by several notches.

While Master Rank monsters may still appear in locales from the vanilla game, Sunbreak introduces two new locales. The Jungle is a returning locale from previous titles in the series prior to World. It's easy to navigate and traverse though, and has great verticality and depth in its map design. The Citadel, however, is a much larger and more visually diverse locale, offering a variety of terrains from zone to zone. The vast majority of monsters can appear here due to the landscape's diversity. Because of this, The Citadel ends up being the most compelling map in Sunbreak. The secondary camp and Relic Records in both maps were a challenge to find, but it made this reviewer appreciate the maps even more.

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Final Score
All told, [i]Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak[/i] is more of the same core experience, complete with the best gameplay the series has ever seen. While it cuts out one of the base game's unique modes and features, follower quests are a fantastic addition for offline play. The story could use some better pacing, but the mission structure continues to be spread out very well with new and returning monsters becoming available at a relatively decent pace — aside from the post-game grind to the final monster. Regardless, [i]Sunbreak[/i] is an astounding expansion and a must-have for any hunter for both Offline and Online play.

8

/10

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