Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak's Title Update 4 feels like a preview of what's to come
While the last three title updates for Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak have all drastically impacted the already fantastic expansion in their own ways - whether by revamping the game's endgame loop, adding Layered Weapons, and even expanding upon the base expansion's existing Follower system - Title Update 4 feels like the developers ramping down support. While previous updates introduced sweeping changes to the game alongside several new monsters, Title Update 4 pares things back; with no fundamental changes to the game's systems outside of one minor example, and only 2 new monsters added to the game's roster - the returning Velkhana, and the Risen form of Crimson Glow Valstrax.
Both of these fights are, of course, welcome additions to the game. Velkhana isn't incredibly different from it's debut form in 2019's Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, but with so many new fire-based Monsters added in previous updates, it immediately helps balance the game by adding a new set of ice-based weapons for players to engage with; not to mention, as always, a new set of armor skills to switch things up when deciding upon an armor set. Risen Crimson Glow Valstrax, of course, feels like more of the same compared to the other Risen Elder Dragons from Title Update 2 & 3; much as I feared, players are required to reach MR160 in order to challenge it, but on the flip side it comes with an absolutely killer armor set, filled with excellent stats, excellent skills, and a large array of decoration slots.
Fundamentally, it's these two new monsters which are the immediately obvious changes to the game. However it's the additions to Augmenting weapons that have me raising an eyebrow; in addition to adding yet another tier for players to upgrade to - which was expected, and coincides with this update's increase to the Anomaly Research cap - unlocking Augmentation slots now straight-up buffs weapons, even before choosing which augmentations you wish to implement in your build.
If Sunbreak is anything like Iceborne, then the next Title Update - Title Update 5 - will likely be the last major patch released for the expansion, and I'd go as far as to say that whenever Sunbreak lands for PlayStation and Xbox consoles, it will come as a bundle with all 5 Title Updates at once. Furthermore, and much like Iceborne, I wouldn't be shocked if the line-up for Title Update 5 included a penultimate fight with Amatsu; retooled to the same sort of difficulty as Iceborne's showdown against Fatalis. If that fight ends up anywhere near the same difficulty, then the extra little boost players will be receiving passively from Augmenting weapons would be very much appreciated when the time comes for those looking towards that challenge come April.
If Title Update 3 felt like an update purely for those who had already sunk hundreds of hours into Sunbreak and were well and deep into its endgame - Title Update 4 abandons any and all pretenses of being anything else. This isn't a bad thing, as it gives a reason for those same players to keep coming back to the game - but it's at least a little bittersweet to see the signs of the game's support beginning to taper off. Sunbreak has well and truly helped Monster Hunter Rise come into its own ever since its launch last June; and while I'm sad to see those signs that its support is likely due to dry up, I'm equally excited to see what Capcom has in store to send off the expansion - hopefully - with a bang.