I’ve been playing Monster Hunter Rise for around eight hours now, and I’m struggling to get into it. I had a similar problem with World, although I picked that game up on sale, so when it didn’t click it felt like no harm, no foul. I paid full price for Rise, so I feel like I need to persevere in order to get my money’s worth. I love the range of weapons on offer, and the traversal (except for when I hate it), but the game as a whole just feels like a slog. Thankfully, everybody on the internet has a solution for me – I just need to play with somebody else who is more experienced than I am. But I really shouldn’t have to.
This is an ostensibly single-player game that I’ve just paid 50 quid for, so I don’t want to scout out a suitable mentor; the game should be able to teach me by itself. If telling you the basics of the game ‘wouldn’t be Monster Hunter’, then add a difficulty setting. I’ll play on “weenie crybaby not a real gamer” and you can play on “true Monster Hunter fan git gud you not only cheated the game you cheated yourself” mode, if it means that much to you to brag about being better than me at a game I haven’t played.
The game doesn’t even want to be this complex, mysterious thing. It pastes tutorials all over the screen every time you do something. Talking to a merchant? There’s a tutorial for that. Looking at weapons? There’s a tutorial for that. Taking three steps inside the village? There’s several tutorials for that, don’t you worry. It’s just a bit ridiculous. There are so many tutorials with so much text but they seem to tell you nothing. A new player is never going to take them all in, and even if you try, they seem both vague and overly descriptive. When pretty much every battle is a boss battle, the endless advice that teaches you nothing just leaves you stranded.
It’s not just that they don’t have health bars – although sidebar: why don’t they have health bars? Don’t tell me it’s more realistic to see them pick up scratches or limp when they’re weak, I’m fighting off huge monsters with a blade-wielding dog and a cat with a watering can by my side. Shove your realism up your Palamute. Do they recover when they flee? Is it a recovery over time? Or is it just to stretch out the encounter and add to the quote-unquote realism? There’s probably a 20-page tutorial that explains all this, isn’t there? And it’s probably still vague and overly descriptive.
But it’s not just that they don’t have health bars. Food isn’t really explained. Neither are elemental weakness, and neither is… well, anything really. After I wrote the piece on traversal, someone trying to be helpful messaged me with some of the solutions to the problems I mentioned. That’s very kind of them, but as I said verbatim in the traversal piece, “This part of the game is awful but don’t worry, we’ve added an extra mechanic that makes it less unbearable” is a terrible fix.
More than all of the things I find frustrating, though, is that the generally accepted solution is just to have someone explain it to you. I know it’s not the fault of the fans that the games are made this way, but it’s a damning indictment of the franchise that the barrier for entry is so high – it’s basically impossible to scale without someone at the top pulling you up. The game has got a snazzy Switch console tie-in, and could have been a brilliant entry point into the series, just as Animal Crossing: New Horizons was last year for so many people – but if it’s so tough for newcomers to get into, all it will do is turn people off.
I know the folks saying “play with someone experienced!” are just trying to be helpful. They love Monster Hunter because they understand it, and they’re eager for everyone else to delve into its depths and appreciate it too. But they shouldn’t be the ones having to guide the rest of us along. I really wanted to love Monster Hunter Rise, and the immediate range of weaponry I was offered had me on board straight away. But it feels determined to shut me out, unless I find somebody else who already has the key.
Next: Monster Hunter Rise Complete Guide And Walkthrough
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Stacey Henley is an editor for TheGamer, and can often be found journeying to the edge of the Earth, but only in video games. Find her on Twitter @FiveTacey
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