I had played a significant chunk of Monster Hunter Rise when it launched – it was the reason for buying a Switch actually. I covered a few months of content, up to Valstrax near the end of May. I stopped playing when the power curve started to tip sideways (and that farming Lazurite gems was pretty easy). I stand by my prior assessment, that Rise is a further simplification of World, to various degrees of success. The skill floor dropped significantly, while the addition of the wirebug dramatically increased the skill ceiling.
Sunbreak therefore compared to World’s Iceborne expansion, which added new climates, new monsters, and some skill rebalancing. At the early stages, Iceborne is more favorable, as the “new” is upfront, and the prior monsters take a backseat to a slew of new ones. For Sunbreak
- There are 2 new environments. A smaller jungle map (fun, tight design) and a castle ruins map (slightly too large for my tastes, could have been 2 maps).
- The first few hours are battles against existing or reskinned monsters. Garangolm is a much weaker version of Rajang. Lunagaroth is an interesting ice-wolf. The existing monsters all get new skill sets, which is nice to see given that the new patterns are important.
- The new hub environment is a nice addition, where the measure between the item box, quest giver, and dango (food) is still only a few seconds.
- Each weapon has a new set of silkbind moves, where most of them act as counters to attacks rather than additional attacks. This re-enforces Rise’s push for less aggressive playstyles, and allowing for a lower skill floor (aka “easier”).
- There’s now the ability to swap silkbind moves while in battle, which opens up some tremendous situational agility. Some skilbinds are “builders” while others are “spenders”, and you used to have to choose between them for a total fight. Now you can have both, which for some weapons is a complete game changer. Skill ceiling just went up.
- There are now follower missions, where up to 2 NPCs follow you in battle for specific solo-only fights. This dramatically speeds up farming runs. I should point the AI for these NPCs is really solid. They use traps and move strategically to lure monsters into them. Consider this another skill floor drop.
- The difficulty curve at the start of the expansion is significant, as the practically “free” armor they hand out is 20%-100% better than what most hunters will have on hand. If you’re not using MR-rank armor, you’re likely to die in 2-3 hits. MR-rank weapons are even larger power increments.
- Customization of Palico/Palamute are now present. You can swap skills, target specific builds, and increase the # of slots for skills. Prior to this, it was a slot machine RNG to get the “perfect roll”, which could only be done once after each fight. This is a huge QoL change, and allows for more testing of skills, given you don’t need to invest 50 levels of experience to see if it fits a build.
- Weapons were rebalanced a bit, so that there’s slightly more parity between choices. If folks thought Longsword was OP, they didn’t try Heavy Bowgun. That felt like an automated sniper rifle. There’s now more drift between shots, slicing ammo and blast ammo took a damage hit.
- Oh, Rampages are gone. I think that was an interesting experiment (tower defense of sorts) that had some good ideas but suffered from implementation challenges. It was a mode that only really worked in multiplayer, and then required a ton of coordination to rightly pull off.
I’ve yet to unlock Malzano, the titular monster for this expansion. I think I have 1 more rank to go. From what I’ve seen so far, this is a quality expansion that has a tight focus on quality of life changes rather than huge content updates. Then again, the MH model is monthly content updates which keeps you going for a long time. It’ll keep me entertained for a while still I am sure.