Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak's final Title Update is the perfect swansong
It's been a long road for Monster Hunter Rise; and with Sunbreak especially, I've managed to keep up-to-date with the expansion's various Title Updates. While for the majority of players the game was essentially finished with Title Update 5's release, I'd be lying to myself if I wasn't at least a little disappointed that it hadn't come with a challenge more comparable to Monster Hunter World: Iceborne's near-final Fatalis update. While I loved the spectacle of Amatsu and especially the callbacks to Monster Hunter Portable 3rd - I was hoping for something a little bit more, especially after having grit my teeth against the game's various Risen Elder Dragons.
Thankfully, Primordial Malzeno has more than delivered. Even beyond that, while Title Update 5 acted as a conclusion to the story arc from Monster Hunter: Rise, so too does this final Title Update conclude the story of Sunbreak; the Qurio, the Anomaly, and more. Monster Hunter: Rise felt like a finished product even before Title Update 5 had launched, but especially after this final update it would be nitpicking to ask for anything else.
Much like how I mentioned how Amatsu utilized key aspects of Monster Hunter: Rise's core design such as wirebugs as part of its fight design, Primordial Malzeno itself feels like an extension and love letter to what Sunbreak brought to the table. Many of his new moves feel lifted from some of the Risen Elder Dragons that had been added to the game in the last year; and even his rage mode activates weak points that work very similarly to Anomaly Monsters, where you're tasked with attacking red-highlighted portions of its body quickly in an effort to weaken it.
Malzeno's new variant - though simply calling it a variant feels almost like it sells this new version short - is aggressive, deals loads of damage, and is easily the most radically different variant that we've seen for a monster yet. Even with full Qurious Crafted armor maxed out it's very easy to find yourself torn to shreds if you aren't careful; while it arguably still doesn't quite reach the difficulty of Fatalis, it's certainly enough to scratch some of that same itch for those of us that were hoping for something a bit spicier to send Sunbreak off in style.
What especially helps is, much like with Iceborne's inclusion of Fatalis, Sunbreak's Primordial Malzeno tells a story throughout the course of the fight; shedding light on what exactly Malzeno is, its true relationship with the Qurio, and why at the end of the day this Primordial Malzeno isn't quite the foe it appears. Story has never really been Monster Hunter's forte, but as a longtime fan I've always appreciated when an encounter itself can be choreographed in a way that a memorable story becomes ingrained with a monster.
While I loved Fatalis' fight for its challenge, what truly elevated it was the pacing to it all; from having to duck under a piece of rubble to avoid being melted, to actively putting up a barrier between your party and Fatalis' cataclysmic breath, to the realization that there's nowhere to run - and so your only option is instead to brave its assault and charge right at it as the iconic Proof of a Hero triumphantly plays in the background.
Primordial Malzeno's encounter is a reminder that Monster Hunter has always been at its best when it gets the player in a state where they can truly feel a connection to the majestic and brutal creatures that they're hunting, and when it inspires us for that final push forward in the face of what is presented as an impossible foe. Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak has long since cemented itself as one of the series' best, and this last encore only reinforces it. I can't wait to see what the series has in store for the future.