With Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak's release on consoles, there's never been a better time to get into Hunting Action games
When I took a look at Monster Hunter Rise's PlayStation 5 version in January, I walked away more than pleased with the state of the port - even if in my case, I'd gotten used to many of the same upgrades on PC when I had to make the jump over from Nintendo Switch in preparation for the Sunbreak expansion's review period. At this point I've talked about Monster Hunter Rise, and all of the support it's received from Capcom, to death; when Capcom gave us the opportunity to check out the state of Sunbreak on PlayStation 5 ahead of the update's launch, it's hard to extract too much from the experience when so many of Sunbreak's additional Quality of Life features had already made the jump to basegame Rise with the port's launch earlier in the year.
What I find interesting about Sunbreak on the HD consoles is not the expansion itself. Rather, how it strikes me that with its launch it feels like there's never been a better time for anyone interested in the Hunting Action genre (as Capcom calls it) to give it a try. It's as solid an entry point as any other; and now that players don't have to worry about waiting for the expansion before jumping in, it's much easier to justify the plunge.
Earlier this week I wrote about my thoughts on how Sunbreak's Title Update 5 on PC and Switch has cemented the game as one of the series' best entries. While Sunbreak's PlayStation and Xbox releases will initially come with content only current to the game's state with Title Update 3 from back in November, that's not to say that my impressions of the state of the game back then were any less glowing. Many of the minor issues I had with the expansion at launch were solved as early as the game's first Title Update; any additional support the game has received since were nice bonuses for what was otherwise already an excellent game.
Perhaps the one remaining sore spot with this release is the lack of crossplay; when I revisited Wild Hearts from Koei Tecmo and EA, I was pleasantly surprised by how active the game felt. There was never any worry of there being nobody to play with, as the combined playerbase from PlayStation, Xbox and PC ensured that multiplayer remained active, even several months after the game's rocky launch. It makes it easier to recommend to anyone looking to pick that game up - and while Monster Hunter Rise's basegame was active enough on PlayStation, how will that work out for Sunbreak? It's a good thing that players will be able to employ Followers if the population ends up anemic past launch, yet especially with Capcom detailing their plans for full crossplay with the upcoming Street Fighter 6, it's hard not to look at the state of the rollout for Monster Hunter Rise across its various platforms and not feel a tinge of jealousy.
Worrying about multiplayer population is, of course, speculation - and I don't want it to diminish what has been, and remains to be, an excellent port of the game. I would feel remiss glossing over it when a direct competitor has handled the situation almost perfectly; despite the myriad technical issues that plagued that title at launch. I have the utmost expectation that whatever title will come from the Monster Hunter team next will have full crossplay, but it doesn't hurt to continue to stress just how important that feature is.
At the end of the date, it doesn't change the fact that there's now truly something for everyone within the genre. Whether it be the faster-paced action that Rise brings to the table, the more immersive experience that the content-complete Monster Hunter World still maintains - with excellent performance on current generation consoles - or the plucky underdog, as much as an EA-published AAA game can be in Wild Hearts. As someone who started playing Monster Hunter all the way back on the PSP, it's staggering to see just how much the franchise - and its contemporaries - have grown in these last few years. No matter where and what you choose to play, the future has never been brighter for fans of the genre.
Review code provided by Capcom.