Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak Impressions

Normally, we would get the chance to go hands-on with a game ourselves. However, Capcom wasn't quite ready to go back to in-person events quite yet. Instead, for Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak, all we've had to work with this time around is some gameplay footage sent behind the scenes.

I usually wouldn't feel comfortable giving my impressions from watching someone else play a game, but with Monster Hunter Rise things are a little bit different. I've put hundreds of hours into the game between the Nintendo Switch and PC releases, let alone the thousands of hours I have logged across the series' entire catalog. Also, it's an expansion for a game that's already out. So, there's less reason to be concerned that anything shown is unrealistic for what players can and should expect when they finally get a chance to play it for themselves. I feel confident that simply seeing the changes and additions is enough to get a feel for them, even if it's still not as ideal as getting a chance to experience them directly.

With all of that out of the way, the footage that we were given access to comprised of two hunts; one showcasing some of the new monsters like Lunagaron, and another offering an example of the new Followers system where players can go out on a hunt with an NPC party member. Interspersed throughout the footage were glimpses of Sunbreak's various new features, including the Switch Skill Swap, Gold and Ruby Wirebugs, additional Silkbind actions, as well as the ability to run up walls without expending a Wirebug to do so.

Most of these changes aren't exactly glamorous additions to the game, outside of the new Silkbind actions, but all of them are sure to be greatly appreciated by the exact type of fans that would be interested in getting the expansion in the first place.

It's not a stretch to say that many, many players will end up playing Sunbreak for hundreds of hours, so every little quality-of-life change adds up in the long run. Even Follower Quests gave off a good first impression from the ten minutes of a hunt we watched. The NPC's AI seems solid enough, certainly a step above what I'd be used to from Palicos and Palamutes. Perhaps what we were shown was cherry-picked, though that feels a bit of a stretch with otherwise how candid the rest of the footage looked.

The meat and potatoes of any Monster Hunter would, of course, be the monsters - and we certainly got a good look at some of the new and returning foes for Sunbreak. Seregios is back and is frantic as ever, yet it was Lunagaron that stood out to me the most. Looking at its design, I expected a monster to behave more like Zinogre, or Odogaron - heck, it even shares part of its name with that one! Shockingly enough, however, an enraged Lunagaron stands on its hind legs; it busts out moves and animations that reminded me much more of the newcomer Goss Harag from Rise.

There's not much to say about the new biome - the Citadel seems neat, though it's a bit harder to get a read on how I feel about it through a video alone. Even once I have a chance to hunt for myself on the new expansion, it will likely take me a couple dozen hours before I come to a solid conclusion for how I feel about it. The same can be said for the new Endemic Life, with the note that I never really found much use in them within Rise to begin with. Unlike with Monster Hunter: World, Endemic Life in Rise are clearly not as much of a focus, with standout exceptions such as Great Wirebugs and Spiritbirds. 

In Sunbreak's case, both Ruby and Gold Wirebugs will make it easier for players to engage Wyvern Riding, while also speeding up their Wirebug gauge's recovery. Ruby Wirebugs come with the added benefit of Finisher Moves that will deal extra damage to their recipient, while Gold Wirebugs will increase the maximum number of material drops that can be received from Wyvern Riding. Marionette Spiders can be used to forcefully pull a monster in a specific direction. For example, they can be utilized in a similar fashion to Monster Hunter World: Iceborne's Clutch Claw where hunters can knock a monster into a wall, dish out damage, and create an opening for some free attacks.

In the grand scheme of things, what we were shown should only amount to a very small portion of what Sunbreak has to offer. 

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak launches on June 30 for the Nintendo Switch and PC. We're as eager to get our hands on the final game as soon as possible as you are - so stay tuned for our full review, coming later this month!