Wooderon’s Favourite Video Games of 2021 – #3: Monster Hunter Rise

Am I panicking a little at this point? Maybe I am It’s getting pretty late and these lists aren’t totally 100% done. But I haven’t managed to miss any uploads yet, even at the expense of more important things I should be focusing on. But tradition is tradition, and I just need to keep ploughing through my top ten video games of 2021 list.

This list is one of my top ten favourite games that come out in in the year 2021. In the past I’ve been a little loose with the rules and kind of slipped DLCs and expansions into the mix. But with the real rise of service games now, I felt like I finally had to break away and create a list of my older favourite games too. Which you can check out by clicking this link here.

These top three were all a struggle for me to pick between them:

#3: Monster Hunter Rise

Played on Nintendo Switch | Released 26th March | Developed by Capcom

It seems like all my favourite games of 2021 came with a caveat. At least, that’s the way it seems if you’re just basing my feeling on all the titles of the reviews I’d written for them over the course of 2021. But let’s be real: Monster Hunter Rise is another solid entry in the franchise and its continued growth of prevalence in the west. Even if the major changes it brings are some I have exception with. 

I’m a huge, long time Monster Hunter fan. Coming to it with the first entry on the PlayStation 2 before taking a dip out during the PSP years, only to return to it in a big way when Nintendo signed a big old exclusivity deal with Capcom. Ever since that time, they’re been my most played games of the year when new titles come out. 

They’re black holes of time and grind. And I love them for that. A game I can fall into, switch my brain off and just work on, like a project.

With that being said, in 2018 Capcom made a big push to try and get Monster Hunter to finally break through into the mainstream in the west, after being a huge only in Japan for all of its life before now. They put out Monster Hunter: World home consoles and made a whole slew of quality of life changes that, in all honestly, were badly needed for a franchise that changed very little in the prior decade. 

Monster Hunter Rise continues this trend, marketing itself as a middle ground between the “classic” style of monster hunter game and the more modern take seen in World. Personally, after putting a ton of time into it this year, I think the game actually diverged even further away from the classic style of game than even World did, replacing the methodical, tactical style combat with an even faster paced action that almost makes it feel like you’re playing a DMC games rather than a Monster Hunter game. 

There was something highly satisfying about the playing of the older style Monster Hunter games for me. The prep, the methodical approach to locating and then fighting the monster. The combat that forces you commit to every action to take and risk/return choices to getting extra hits in and even healing. 

Playing Rise is almost a wholly different experience, not one I hate for the changes it made, but one I do feel has lost something in the transition. It’s a culmination of little things; the Wirebugs giving you an easy out when getting hit or moving around the map, mounting mechanics changing additional monster invasions from a harrowing experience into a benefit to the player, the removal of gunner armour as a different set. 

I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel like Monster Hunter anymore, not to mention the absolutely terrible Rampage mission format that I feel totally missed the entire point of Monster Hunter and what the game was at its core when it first started. 

Here’s the frustrating part though. I still really enjoyed my time playing the game. With all the changes they’ve made, the game is a fast paced, fun and dynamic action game where zipping around the map and beating the crap out of all these weird monsters is still an absolute blast. 

All of my misgivings for the game come from my own history with the franchise and the expectations I naturally carry with me into every new entry into the series. And you could say that’s my problem rather than Capcoms. Maybe it is. 

At the end of the day, I feel really torn about it. I simultaneously enjoyed the hell out of my time with this game, and I am actively looking forward to the expansion that’s coming out next year. I just wish some of the core, some of the soul of the series didn’t have to get diminished at its expense.

It’s a tough one, because I know I’d be criticising the game if it didn’t grow and evolve with the times either. But in a time where FromSoftware games seem to be the most popular titles coming out in a given year, I’d have thought that Capcom might lean even harder into that aspect of early Monster Hunter rather than away from it.


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