Back on Nintendo Switch (and PC) to hunt monsters in Monster Hunter Rise with Sunbreak: here is the “massive expansion” review.
The Monster Hunter Rise audience can be divided into two hypothetical groups: those who have not stopped playing since day one, perfecting their build and hunting monsters upon monsters, and those who, after the first months, have left their own experience as a hunter. In both cases, Sunbreak arrives to restore vitality to the last episode of the Capcom series, which, as usual, has wreaked havoc on Nintendo Switch and PC.
The only flaw of an otherwise excellent Rise was the lack of content in the endgame. Or rather, lack of content for what are Monster Hunter standards.
The basic version of the game is still a title capable of taking away over 200 hours of gameplay without major difficulties.
But fans of the series are used to increasingly challenging creatures, great care in building the perfect build, and many other things to do after completing the main part of the adventure.
In addition, Rise offered a lower level of challenge overall, accommodating for new players, with a softer difficulty curve that only got steep in the very last stages of the game, with the latest hunts and those added later with updates.
In this context comes Sunbreak, with an impressive load of the content we have gutted for you.
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak, massive review (but less than the expansion)
For those familiar with Monster Hunter, Sunbreak could become a very short review: it’s the Iceborne equivalent of what Monster Hunter World was.
As we anticipated in our preview, the Rise expansion offers a wealth of content, ideas, characters, weapons and armour that can be equivalent in size to another base game sold as DLC.
So much so that, just like for the Iceborne above, Sunbreak is also offered in a new purchase formula as a game in its own right (as you can check on Amazon).
It’s also hard to start talking about Sunbreak because of the amount of stuff that needs to be said. So let’s start from the beginning: Elgado.
Now that Kamura is safe, the hunters must fight a new threat in another realm, sunny Elgado.
The story of Monster Hunter has never been the main attraction. Still, in this case, although we are faced with the classic scenario of “there is a fierce monster attacking us”, we immediately notice that for this expansion, the team of developers has also taken care of the narrative aspect.
The cutscenes are more interesting, as are the dialogues and characters. Parallel to the Magnamalo for Kamura; the new dangerous monster also has a more intriguing twist than his wanting to destroy everything in front of him.
For this reason, Elgado is an immediately enveloping place, this time inspired by Western Europe, with a light spirit of conquistadors and explorers of a distant world.
The cast of new characters with whom we will find ourselves interacting is very well structured, and, despite the many hours spent in Kamura, you immediately feel at home in this new outpost on the sea.
There is no technical news (we tried the Nintendo Switch version of the game), and Sunbreak still reconfirms the great optimisation work, bordering on the miracle, done on Nintendo’s hybrid console.
We are therefore impressed by the art direction built by Capcom, which is now a guarantee regarding the creation of the worlds of Monster Hunter.
But hadn’t we already seen each other?
You also feel at home because, in the first hours of the game, the hunts you will have to face are almost totally dedicated to the monsters we already knew. It would have been more interesting to learn how to get familiar with the new creatures immediately, instead of having them sip for the first few ranks of missions.
But there is an element of novelty in each case – or rather two.
The monsters you knew now are much more ferocious, starting right away. Sunbreak is still content accessible only to those who have completed Rise, and it shows.
Even a simple “gritty” Tobi Kadachi can turn out to be a creature capable of making you sweat (and given the period in which Sunbreak comes out, even more), and this immediately leads us to a reflection that we feel we can share: playing exclusively in solving the content of this expansion can be very frustrating.
There is an obvious surge in data regarding the level of challenge compared to the base game, and if you are not planning to play even with global matchmaking, know that Sunbreak will put you to the test almost immediately.
This is not an expansion inaccessible to lone hunters, of course, because there is still the support of the canine and feline (which indeed have been enhanced with the possibility of unlocking more skills and some devastating “definitive”), but know that you will have to have a lot more patience and dedication.
The second new element is that all the equipment of the Master Rank (which will be assigned to you as soon as you arrive in Elgado) now has a completely new aesthetic and a series of new values.
This means that even finding yourself knocking down yet another Rathalos is still a satisfaction for discovering what the new set of armour and weapons will be like, and to find out what the new equipment values will be and start imagining how to fit them in a possible build.
When it comes to taking on the new creatures, however, Sunbreak takes a different turn.
Beyond the aesthetic that now represents a strong point, so much so that underlining it could be redundant, the new beasts of Monster Hunter are not only incredibly ferocious and rewarding to fight, but they are again stimulating due to their attack patterns and multiple new statuses that they inflict on players.
One of the funniest is a kind of vampirism, tied with attacks by the Quiros, small bats accompanying the imposing Malzeno. In this case, players cannot heal themselves with items, but each time they deal damage, they recover some of it in the form of hit points.
The paradoxical situation is that when you instinctively move away to be able to drink a potion in peace when you have a few hit points, you have to attack with ferocity until the status is eliminated.
After the first few hours, the bestiary begins to unravel and considerably lengthen the list of missions available for each rank.
And, of course, the impressive endgame, which builds a challenge with a series of monsters that become more and more ferocious, and that will easily be able to knock you down with a couple of hits even with a build built to perfection.
A challenging level that greatly surpasses Rise’s toughest hunts, capable of challenging even the most experienced Monster Hunter players. To the point that the Apex monsters of the base game will seem little more than puppies after trying the creatures that Sunbreak will put in front of you.
Parallel to the new monsters, we also mention the new maps introduced for the occasion, once again well structured and full of shortcuts and secrets to discover, but above all evocative.
In particular, the Citadel is also composed of various biomes and an area with a ruined castle that almost resembles a scenario of Elden Ring at certain times.
Even though we return to hunting in the maps we already knew, the new areas are a great added value.
Start over the right way.
But Monster Hunter is also (and above all?) Gameplay, and in this sense, Sunbreak has done a different job to make Rise’s already rock-solid game system even more valuable.
Some elements have been included that improve the game’s quality of life, such as the ability to climb surfaces without using wire insects to speed up the exploration. Likewise, the maps contain many more Precious Lilies with which to quickly traverse the sections, and more have been added to the base game maps as well.
There are also new elements of the endemic fauna, some of which also speed up some play practices and make them more effective.
The spiderweb will allow you, for example, to grab creatures and yank them to send against a wall and perhaps stun them or against other monsters to activate the wyvern mount. Particularly interesting is the use against flying monsters (many in Sunbreak) since it is possible to knock them to the ground stunned and then unleash a group attack.
Speaking of wyvern mount, Sunbreak makes it more effective by using two thread bugs that can be recovered. Riding a monster in the final stages of Rising was often ineffective compared to a coordinated group attack in terms of damage.
Thanks to the red and gold thread bugs, starting amount is a much more attractive dynamic. With the red bug, all damage done while riding a creature is increased, while the gold one causes many more parts of monsters to fall from creatures that players on horseback attack.
But the most important news, the one that makes Monster Hunter Rise an impressive qualitative leap, of trading skills.
And not only that, but during the hunt, you can switch from one set to another at any time, even during a combo. In doing so, among other things, you will have the opportunity to make a short dodge immediately following the exchange.
This mechanic, which already changes the whole approach to combat, is also supported by a great list of new trading skills added for each weapon. The new trading skills can disrupt the use of weapons and, in players’ hands, provide a new set of incredible gameplay options.
Creating the two swap skill rolls is inevitably the most galvanising element of Sunbreak. Weapons now open up to a huge range of unprecedented possibilities. You can indulge yourself in creating the most effective combination of trading skills possible, making hunting much more dynamic than before.
Version reviewed: Nintendo Switch.