Every hour I sleep, I irresponsibly sacrifice myself for Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak and remember the opening screen of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. I remember a prominent warning politely advising players to consider drinking water and maybe even touching some grass between play sessions, and at the time I thought it was a fun little joke. Who would really need such a reminder?
I played Monster Hunter Rise on Switch, but jumped to PC SSD bliss for the new Sunbreak expansion, and since starting my new save file on June 30, I’ve played it for over 120 hours. Let me be clear: this is not normal for me. I play a lot, but usually not that much for that long. I don’t think I played that much Elden Ring in the week I stopped working. specifically to play Elden Ring, and this is after playing base Rise for over 100 hours last year. Sunbreak is the most fascinating gaming experience I’ve had this year and I think it’s the best version of Monster Hunter so far.
one more hunt
Somehow I’m more motivated than ever to keep playing Sunbreak. That’s partly because I’m still unlocking new stuff, and I don’t mean just weapons and armor, but I’m looking at upgraded elemental spears like kids pressed against store windows at Christmas. Elemental weapons are generally good in this game, so there is a greater variety of things to craft and collect. I’m currently working towards master rank 50, which I’m sure will unlock another Elder Dragon or certainly a raging subspecies, and rank 100 beyond that. I also have a huge list of side quests to finish, and completing them as efficiently as possible is my version of tidying up a room in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
But there is more than a systemic progression that drives me. Sunbreak is so mechanically satisfying that I’m actively inventing games within the game just to keep fighting monsters. Usually this amounts to a time trial that I set myself. I spent an entire Friday night fighting Shagaru Magala, unlearning years of muscle memory and studying his updated moveset, because I wanted to kill him in under 10 minutes with the gear I had at the time. That’s usually my starting point: I’m happy to complete a hunt in under 10 minutes, and then I can shorten my time from there. I did the same with Lunagaron, Garangolm, Mizutsune, Rajang, Kushala Daora and the list goes on.
Setting goals and overcoming challenges are two of the main reasons I play, and the Monster Hunter formula is so much fun that it outweighs even my distaste for the competition. While I normally avoid competitive games, I’m happy to challenge myself in games Y Monster Hunter isn’t really competitive in the traditional sense; I’m not trying to climb speedrun leaderboards. To me, Monster Hunter is more like mastering kitchen knife skills. If you practice while focusing on safety and accuracy, speed will come in time. And just like good knife skills, it’s immensely rewarding to see and feel your expertise in action. Elder dragons like Shagaru Magala gave me hell before, but now they drop like so many carefully diced onions.
Bury me with my collection of spears
My weapon of choice has been the spear, which I also used in Monster Hunter World but didn’t touch in base Rise after it was completely destroyed. Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak has thankfully gutted it and restored my love of the gun, to the point where it’s probably more accurate to say I’m enjoying Sunbreak that much. because Spear I also use a lot of insect glaive and hammer, and I’m starting to dabble in other weapons like sword and shield, but spear is my hometown.
See, Monster Hunter doesn’t give you a lot of invincibility frames on your default roll, so games like Elden Ring allow you to get through attacks with a well-timed dodge, usually you need to get out of the way of monsters or build for invincibility abilities. evasion. And because this is Monster Hunter, some attacks can hit you in a different area code, so panic quickly becomes a habit. Although not with a spear. If you play it right, you can treat the spear and his big shield almost like Sekiro.
Lance is not the only weapon with a shield or parry, but it has the strongest shield and the fastest parry. After Sunbreak, you have your normal lock, heavy omnidirectional lock, two types of quick lock, a standard lock, and special locks powered by the wire bugs that help hunters. Most importantly, it has an instant parry with a small activation window and a super stylish follow up attack. This complexity is offset by the lance’s simple attacks: direct hits, high hits, and charged slaps for the most part.
You might think that the weapon with the larger shield would play more defensively, but the spear is more about sticking with monsters and negating all of their attacks. Figuring out how to optimally block each attack transforms the way you can take on monsters, and using instant parry whenever possible can exponentially increase your damage. If you’ve been having trouble getting into Monster Hunter because dodging sucks and you felt like a chew toy, play Monster Hunter Rise and give Lance a try. He is extremely aggressive and reactive, and I love it.
I could play this series forever.
My spear obsession aside, Sunbreak has done a world of good for Rise specifically, and Monster Hunter in general. For starters, its endgame anomaly system is a huge step up from the tempered monsters of World and Iceborne. Anomalous monsters aren’t tied to random hunts, and while they still have hugely inflated health pools, you can get through them with pinpoint attacks on special weak spots. This mechanic rewards detailed knowledge of a monster’s moveset, which you should have by the time you unlock anomaly hunts, and makes pinnacle less tedious. It’s a bit awkward for hammer users, who always want to hit a weak spot, the head, but I’ll let it slide.
Anomalous monsters are also a welcome test of Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak’s improved combat mechanics. One of the big selling points of the expansion was the ability to switch between two switch skill loadouts in the middle of the hunt, effectively doubling your arsenal of special attacks and combos. I usually stick with a loadout for most hunts, and that loadout usually includes some of the new switch abilities added in Sunbreak, but having the option to switch is great. An NPC describes his second charge as his “rainy day” abilities, which is a nice way of putting it. I usually put a high impact wirebug move in slot two and switch it during a big opening, or maybe put a wirebug buff that I don’t need to retrigger all the time. This adds another twist to the already complicated process of countering specific monsters, helping to distinguish the game’s central hunting theme from the flow of normal action games.
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak may also be the first Monster Hunter game with NPCs that I really care about and remember. Sure, I’ve enjoyed the voices and character designs above, but they’ve all been faces telling me to hit lizard with lizard. But in Sunbreak, your allies will hit the lizards. with you. Follower hunts and surveys that allow you to hunt with NPCs are fabulous. Spending time with characters like Hinoa and Minoto is a delight, and as always, a genuine bond can be forged in group hunts. It’s single player multiplayer, which is how I like my multiplayer. Accompanying you on multiple hunts that drive major story beats, Fiorayne is easily my favorite person in the entire franchise. She’s in the trenches with you, so she feels infinitely more present and involved than the usual brooding leaders pondering ominous prophecies or whatever.
I’ll always have a soft spot for World and Iceborne ever since they brought Monster Hunter to the current generation, but I think Sunbreak is the superior combination of modernized combat and stylized presentation. It has a lot of the mechanics of World under the hood, but they’ve been embellished with a lot more color and flourish. I don’t want to give it up, so I’m glad to see that Capcom is already planning several seasons of free updates with rare and boosted monsters. That means more gear to chase and more time trials to master, and I say keep going. I could do this all day.