Saturday, July 9, 2022

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak Review

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Platforms: PC, NS
Price: $40
Version Played: NS

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is the download only expansion for my 2021 GOTY, Monster Hunter Rise. It features 100% less Rampages, 2 new hunting areas, a new story campaign, a new endgame, and new monsters, with more on the way. It's a lot of content. It's bigger than Iceborne was at launch. I haven't counted the quests, but it may even be bigger than Rise was at launch.
Sunbreak's story campaign plays out in the new Master Rank quests. This is a new higher difficulty, so you have to have killed Allmother Narwa to access it. There's 6 tiers of Master Rank quests, each with 16 to 31 quests within. You unlock an Urgent Quest after completing a certain amount of quests, and after you complete the Urgent Quest, you unlock the next tier of quests, just like in LR and HR. This campaign doesn't have a bunch of tutorials, like Kamura Village's, but there are still a few small monster killing quests. There's a new story that explains why Malzeno and his monster friends are bad, but you probably shouldn't care about that. It’s barely better than MHW’s story. The main difference with Sunbreak's campaign is that there's no longer different Hub and Village quests with separate progression. It's just one list of quests, and just like in Monster Hunter World, you can do all the campaign quests either solo or in multiplayer. This is how it should have always been, in my opinion.
I really like the campaign overall, but just like in MHW's Iceborne expansion, there's a lot of going back to old areas and fighting old monsters, which is kind of underwhelming. I've spent hundreds of hours doing those same hunts. I want to see some new stuff when starting one of these expansions, not fight Aknosom in the Frost Islands for the hundredth time. Those early Rank quests feel too much like the beginning of Rise's campaign. It gets a lot better when both new areas and more of the new monsters become available, though.
Sunbreak introduces 17 new monsters to the game, including a new final boss. Most of the monsters are just returning monsters from past games, like Gore Magala and Astalos, but among them are 4 all-new monsters and a few variants of monsters from Rise. Some of the variants include new versions of Rakna-Kadaki and Almudron. I think it’s a pretty good selection of new monsters. I would have liked more dragon or dinosaur type monsters, like Lagiacrus and Deviljho, since this expansion is all about knights and castles, but it’s still a pretty good bunch overall. Maybe they’ll add more reptiles with DLC.
Since Sunbreak has a sort of goth vibe to it, the new monsters look like they’re based on castles and classic monsters. The first one you’ll meet is Garangolm, a big rocky Gorilla whose head sort of looks like a Chess Rook. Then, we have Lunagaron, who is an icy werewolf. He starts off running around on all 4, and then transforms and walks around on 2 legs at different points throughout the fight. He reminds me of Jon Talbain from DarkStalkers in werewolf form. The final one of this trio is the cover monster, Malzeno. He’s kind of a vampire bat dragon, and his gear kind of looks like someone made knight armor out of Dracula from Castlevania. The last of the new monsters is the new final boss, Gaismagorm, who is another gigantic elder dragon, like Xeno'jiiva from MHW. I really like the designs of the 3 new monsters, and they're all pretty good fights.
The 2 new areas in Sunbreak are the Jungle and the Citadel. The Jungle is a tropical seaside environment full of palm trees, beaches, rocky cliffs, and sandy underground caves. There's also some mysterious ruins on the far end of the zone. It's very colorful and beautiful, and if it wasn't full of monsters, it might make a good vacation spot.
The Citadel is actually more cliffs and forest than it is a citadel. This area has huge pine trees, rivers, mossy stones, snowy cliffs, and icy caverns underneath. The only citadel here is in ruins. It looks pretty cool, though. It looks like the ruins of Castle Grayskull. There's little spots with ruins all over the zone, too. They make me wonder who lived here and which one of the monsters destroyed it all. I'm guessing it was Malzeno. This area looks especially cool and spooky at night, when it's covered in pink and purple lighting.
Sunbreak doesn't end when the credits roll, though. The endgame here is basically another campaign. After beating the story’s last boss, you unlock Anomaly Quests, which are basically Tempered monsters from MHW done right. In these, you fight tougher versions of every monster and get new materials from them, which you can use to craft new decorations and upgrade your weapons to R10. Not the armor, though. Only a few monsters get R10 armor sets. The monsters are split up into star tiers, and you get Urgent Quests you have to complete to access the next Rank, just like in the Master Rank campaign. The main difference here is that you have to raise your Hunter Rank for the Urgent Quests to pop up, not just do some quests. These versions of the monsters not only hit harder and have more HP, they're also more aggressive and have Malzeno's status effect, Bloodblight, which prevents you from naturally recovering red health, reduces healing, and gives a life steal effect to your attacks. If you don't do enough DPS to these monsters, they’ll do a huge explosion attack that does a lot of damage, but probably won't kill you if you're healed up.
In addition to the Master Rank and Anomaly Quests, there’s also a new type of quest called Follower Collab Quests. These are single player only quests, but you’ll be joined by some of the game’s more popular NPCs in them. You can play with Minoto and Hinoa, Rondine and Fiorayne, Master Utsuchi, and more. There are quests in which you’ll be grouped with specific NPCs, but after you do their quests, you’ll be able to take them along on other quests that let you choose whoever you want. All the NPCs have clever dialogue, they talk about you, talk to each other, pose with you, and even cook steak. So tasty! They’re no Palicos in a fight either. They know how to hunt and will heal, use items, and even ride monsters. They’re pretty awesome. It’s just too bad you can only do a specific set of quests with them. There’s so much potential here. Imagine bringing Mega Man, Zero, Dante, or Regina from Dino Crisis along on a hunt. I can’t wait to see what they do with this in future DLC.
Switch Skill Swap is the big new combat mechanic introduced in Sunbreak, but honestly, I’ve barely used it. Switch Skill Swap allows you to do just that, swap Switch Skills. You can customize 2 different Switch Skill loadouts at your item box and switch between them in the middle of combat by holding down ZL and pressing A + X. You can also save a bunch of different loadouts at the item box. It’s a neat idea, but there’s a reason why I don’t use the other skills, so I’m really not that interested in switching to them. Some of the new Switch Skills are pretty cool, but if I like them better, I’ll just put them in my main loadout.
I think this is a pretty great expansion. I love both of the new areas, the new monsters are cool, there’s awesome new versions of armor sets to craft, Rampages are gone, and I think I'll play Anomaly Quests for a few months at least. The Follower Quests are a lot of fun too. There’s so much to do here. I think this is a must have for all Monster Hunter fans.