Jumping into Capcom’s Monster Hunter franchise with the latest title Monster Hunter Rise can feel like a mammoth undertaking. There are more than 15 years of history, lore, and hunting notes all bearing down on the back of this beast, which can be pretty daunting for newcomers who have never picked up a longsword (or Insect Glaive, or Hunting Horn.) But since that’s exactly the situation I found myself in before starting Monster Hunter Rise, I feel confident in saying to my fellow greenhorns that yes, this game is for you, too. (My spoiler-free and beginner-friendly review follows below.)
Capcom not only graciously gave us a review code for the game ahead of launch, they also made a demo available for wannabe and veteran hunters around the world, in two parts. If you played through those demos, you’re already ahead of the curve and probably have a handle on not just your weapon, but your Wirebug, your item box, and your animal friends, the Palico and Palamute, too. That’s a good way to get a leg up on the competition or just get your hands dirty with Monster Hunter Rise’s somewhat obtuse controller schemes. But even if you haven’t taken advantage of the early demo, which allows you to hunt the Great Izuchi, Mizutsune, and even the flagship monster Magnamalo, the game’s early stages are gentle enough for new players, even if they don’t exactly hold your hands.
I did have the advantage of running through the demo with some Monster Hunter veterans before jumping into the main game, so the learning curve was softened somewhat by that experience. So I’m here to pay it forward with some very basic tips for newcomers to the franchise that will hopefully help ease your transition by offering up some things the game isn’t 100% clear on. (Or, even if the game tells you these same things multiple times in different places, I, as a distracted gamer, completely ignored or forgot about.) First up, you’re gonna need a weapon!
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You Don’t Have to Stick With Your Starter Sword
Image via Capcom, Nintendo
Right from the get-go, after an extensive character-creation section in which you customize your hunter and animal friends (which was just delightful, by the way), Monster Hunter Rise throws a lot of exposition and “How the Game Works” content at you. That’s great for newcomers and veterans alike since Rise does things like hubs, multiplayer, and the new Rampage mechancis a little differently. However, it’s also so much stuff from so many different characters and places (if you visit and talk to them all) that it’s easy to miss something important … like, the fact that you have all the weapons you need at your disposal without having to lift a finger.
Unlike questy RPGs that I’m used to, where you have to either level up your starter weapon or hope for something better in loot drops, Monster Hunter Rise starts you out with everything you need. However, what they literally put in your hand right out of the gate is the basic Longsword, one of 14 weapon types available for you to use and enjoy. The other 13 aren’t in your inventory or the first item box you come across; you’ll have to seek out a blacksmith/armorer in either the village market (the gruff and semi-surly Hamon) or your own prep area inside one of the hub buildings. That’s not intuitive, so even when quest-givers Hinoa and Minoto briefly mention testing out your weapons in the training area, it’s not exactly clear how to do that.
Be sure to seek out Hamon or other equipment managers and look for the “Manage Equipment” option in order to check out your available weapons and pick the one you want to play around with. Luckily, starter armor is pretty much your only option for both your hunter and your animal pals, so it’s only the weapons you’ll have to worry about changing out. With weapon in hand, be sure to go across the wooden bridge out of the Kamura Village hub and into another hub where you can do all manner of things, from trading, to pet management a.k.a. “buddy handling,” to the all-important training. You may want to take the dinghy to the waiting training area with weapon in hand as soon as you’re able; it’ll save you a lot of headaches if you do this before embarking on quests.
And speaking of quests…
Experiment With New Gear & Upgrades ASAP
Image via Capcom, Nintendo
You can take on a variety of quests from a number of people and places, but the main quest-giver for 1-star and 2-star missions will be Hinoa the Quest Maiden (who is particularly fond of Bunny Dango.) That’s enough info to get you started, so don’t worry too much about the multiplayer hubs and all that nonsense until you get a few missions under your belt. And while Monster Hunter Rise is very beginner-friendly with this first handful of fetch quests, gathering goals, and hunting targets, the game doesn’t really tell you what to do with your loot once you’ve carved it from your fallen foe.
My two cents, and this may differ quite a bit from player to player, take whatever loot you get and see what you can craft, upgrade, or make out of it ASAP. I probably went through the entire suite of 1-star missions without attempting to make a better weapon, upgrade my armor, or generate scraps so that my animal buddies could have better gear of their own (kinda messed up that they get your literal scraps but hey, that’s the game.) Not only does taking your loot to the various merchants help to fill in the feedback loop and loot cycle that the Monster Hunter games are known and loved for, it helps to ground you and your greenhorn hunter (who is literally rubber-stamped into becoming a hunter without much to prove in the process) in the story.
Take, for example, successfully hunting the Great Izuchi and then using what you gain from your carvings (sheathe your weapon and press A to get three opportunities to carve before the game yeets you back to the village) in order to create or upgrade your weapons and armor along certain trees or tracks. It’s literally the point of Monster Hunter. And with a razor-thin story about Kamura Village being in danger of a monster Rampage (and something more sinister lurking behind it), you’ll need all the connective material you can get to ground your hunter in this monster-infested world.
But it’s not all “nature, red in tooth and claw” out there…
Image via Capcom
While you may understandably be all keyed up to go hunt monsters and prove your glory as Kamura Village’s hunter and protector, there’s a lot more to the world and regions of Monster Hunter Rise. Be sure to explore during both timed quests and the more free-roam options that allow you to do so without any pressure. It’s a rich world out there, and those riches might just make your hunting life a little easier.
You’ll find caves, secret passages that don’t appear on the map (including the one right in your Shrines starter camp), shortcuts to head off monsters who flee from your all-out assault, and tons of useful items like endemic life and lore drops. Plus, the more you explore, the easier it’ll be for you to find the necessary quest items when Hinoa, Minoto, and the villagers task you with bringing in the goods. The maps are pretty decent when it comes to highlighting your quest objects, though a lot of the markers aren’t necessarily where the things are just where they could be; you’ll often have to kill some time (and some mons) to let plants and animals regenerate in order to get enough for your mission goal.
The more of an area you explore, the more fog you clear out, and the more elevation you traverse in your travels, the better. Knowing how to get to the top of a mountain using your Wirebug, Palamute, and hunter stamina will save you plenty of time (and headaches) on future missions. Plus, you might even find the occasional lore drop, like ancient stories, scattered throughout each region. Exploring also helps you fill in your Hunter’s Notebook with helpful tips to make future hunts easy-peasy. When in doubt, explore!
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Cook Your Own Dang Meat in the Field!
Image via Capcom, Nintendo
If you’ve played pretty much any Monster Hunter game before, you know the importance of food, whether it’s Felyne chefs putting on a culinary feast or doing your own cooking out in the field. But if you’re new to the franchise, Rise never tells you how or why to do this. They do, however, drop a villager quest on you almost immediately and expect you to figure it out. So here’s how to go about getting the necessary Well-Done Steak to complete said quest and give you stamina for days.
Once you’re out in the field on a mission, whether it’s a timed hunt or free-roam quest, scroll through your action bar until you find the BBQ. (This is also a good place to mention that your whetstone is also on your action bar and you’ll occasionally need to use it to sharpen up your blades. For some reason, Rise only trains you on the action bar usage in order to take pictures…)
Whip out your BBQ and your character will drop some raw meat on the spit lickety-split. Listen to the jaunty meat-cookin’ tune (the music in this game is great), and hit the A (Confirmation) button as soon as the song ends. Perfecto, you’ve got yourself some well-done steak! This isn’t just an early quest delivery item, it’s also a necessary staple in the field to refill your stamina. (Now if just knew where to get some of that Bunny Dango…)
Relax, Have Fun, & Hunt Mons
Image via Capcom, Nintendo
There’s a lot of pressure built into the Monster Hunter franchises from veteran hunters who love to sit around a campfire and share their stories about how they got their digital scars. The thing is, they all started out as newbies once upon a time, too. And they probably felt the pressure of performing, being the best hunter they could be.
Relax. Take a breath. Take a swing. Get carted. Learn from your mistakes and try again.
Monster Hunter Rise, perhaps more than the titles that came before it, gets back to basics and just lets you have fun as a young hunter out in the world. It doesn’t hold your hand and it pushes you to figure things out for yourself in the village, the hubs, and the field, but it doesn’t punish you for doing so. That’s a nice balance. And as we push further into the game, the tough lessons of learning the mechanics of Rise and its many mons will make us better hunters when we’re ready to take on the Rampage and the tougher challenges that await beyond. But for newcomers to the franchise, Rise is a great beginning.
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About The Author
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Author of “The Science of Breaking Bad” from MIT Press | Twitch Affiliate: twitch.tv/drclawmd | Co-host of the Saturday Mourning Cartoons podcast | Community manager for Ironface Studios | Former science freelance writer for Nerdist.com | Former Animation editor, Streaming Content editor for Collider.com | Founder of ATL S.T.E.A.M.
From Dave Trumbore