Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak Review

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is an expansion to what was an incredible entry in the Monster Hunter series and seemingly addresses the main criticism many had with the base game. Rise was lacking post-game content as many gamers had to wait for updates and free additions like starving dogs huddled under a dinner table during Thanksgiving. After waiting for scraps, the big desert has finally arrived.

What does Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak offer to the Monster Hunter faithful? Two new areas are added; the gothic ruins of the citadel and a remade rendition of the jungle locale from Monster Hunter 2. About 17 creatures are included; four of which are completely new large monsters and seven are returning from prior entries.

Compounded with a new hub area, single-player only hunts, new abilities, new endemic life, remixed monsters, new gestures and of course; more gear to craft, Sunbreak stands to make Rise one of the most complete Monster Hunter experiences possible. How does this expansion improve upon an excellent game? Find out in our Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak review!

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Release Date: July 30, 2022
Players: 1-4 (online)
Price: $39.99 USD

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After slaying Narwa the Allmother and defending Kamura village, new threats emerge just outside of the port of Elgado. The unusual monster activity can be attributed to three monsters known as the “Three Lords”; each of their designs are seemingly inspired by Universal Monsters such as the Wolfman, Dr. Frankenstein’s creature and of course; Dracula.

With the old time feudal Japanese setting of Kamura being traded out for Western European style locales, Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is a breath of fresh air. The Elgado port is a bustling place, with different cultures passing through and a high density of various accouterments to make the place feel alive. The breezy guitar twang of the background music is even more relaxing than the swelling Japanese folk music that made Kamura so inviting.

Being able to explore the jungle from Monster Hunter 2 in the RE Engine is especially enjoyable since the franchise moved away from segmented areas being separated by load times. Everything is seamless now and is one large, interconnected map. The area is littered with endemic life and rare creatures that beg to be photographed that only show up at specific times of the day.

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The real headliner of Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is the ruined castle stage that feels like something out of a Castlevania. The entire area is lite with glowing moonlight and enshrouded in mist. The starry skies lit up like a Christmas tree and the scarred, torn gothic vista is crumbling due to the attacks from the three lords.

Garangolm has a massive jaw and flat top head to make him have Boris Karloff like features. He’s a fanged beast who charges and has incredibly dense armored skin. Any monster movie fans would know that Frankenstein’s creature really hated fire and that is the case for Garangolm as well. Firebeetles are especially devastating to him.

Lunagaron represents the werewolf and seemingly has some design cues taken from Capcom’s Jon Talbain from Darkstalkers. While his design is wolf-like, he is actually a Wyvern and has some Zingore characteristics and behaviors. When he gets up on two-feet, he gets insanely more powerful and he emphasizes on ice elements. You can’t use silver bullets on him, but he hates thunder-based elements.

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And then there is the headliner of Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak: Malzeno. This terrible elder dragon is like the devil himself and has regal, Dracula-like qualities. He can unleash swarms of vampire-bats that can inflict a new bad status effect called bloodblight which constantly drains HP and only can be restored by landing blows on enemies. This is the “vampirism” symbolism at play and it pushes aggressive play.

You won’t be staking Malzeno while he sleeps in a coffin; instead players will contend with four phases to battling this abomination. Since hunters aren’t Belmonts, the holy weapon of choice to send this creature to hell is fire or try riding a stray Lunagaron into battle to even the odds. If this was the final battle of Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak, it would have been satisfying, yet there is still one other new and more threatening elder dragon to battle after it.

On top of these battles, there are a bunch of returning monsters from prior games and they get remixed attacks. Just when you think you know them, be prepared to have to rug pulled from beneath you to keep you on your toes. To make these battles more fair, players will be able to acquire new techniques to better engage with these threats.

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For its price, Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak should offer more. While the content in this expansion is substantial and highly enjoyable, it is only $20 away from being the same cost as the base game. Of the 17 additional monsters added, only four are brand new and the others are a “greatest hits” of past games.

Compounded with one of the two new areas being a remake of an older stage, there needs to be more content to make it perfect. There are no new rampages (the tower defense-like missions) and meals are still different varieties of dango.

Surprisingly, there is a bit more effort put into story and character. There are some single-player missions where a guest NPC will participate and they prove themselves to be very effective in battle.

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Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is almost perfect. If it was cheaper, there would be nothing to complain about. As it stands, $39.99 is a bit of a tall order to ask of fans considering that is full cost of the Monster Hunter games on Nintendo 3DS, and those were complete games.

The final battle with what can be best described as the devil is one of the most satisfying and challenging conclusions to any Monster Hunter game. The Sunbreak expansion definitely does address what was missing from Rise and consistently gives players something to work towards.

If you loved Monster Hunter Rise and wanted more of it, Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is going to be exactly what you want. The dazzling cutscenes for the story and new music are a bonus surprise that add to the scope of the scenario and add a lot of polish to the presentation. The attention to detail is staggering and it will be interesting to see how Capcom will top this in the inevitable sequel.

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a code provided by Capcom. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is now available for Windows PC (via Steam) and Nintendo Switch.

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