DLC Review – Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak
When Monster Hunter Rise released just over a year ago on Switch I was massively impressed. It took the quality of life that World and Iceborne brought to the franchise, whilst making pacing changes to make the game much more faster than its predecessor. Now just over a year later (and a PC port) we have our first expansion for Rise that promised all the things that one would expect from a new Monster Hunter content drop. I’ve spent over a hundred hours in the base game between both the original switch release and the PC release just six months later. Can Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak keep me coming back?
Sunbreak takes place after the events of the base game. The rampage has been stopped and you have saved Kamura village. However the threat isn’t completely over; Hunters are having trouble in the western world with strange anomalies that are causing monsters to act more erratically. You journey west with your new companion, Fiorayne, to put an end to the weird happenings.
As is tradition, the story isn’t really that thoughtful and is primarily an excuse to move you between locations as well as introduce new monsters. Saying that; it’s certainly a step up with characters that I actually remember the names of after closing the game down. Maybe one day we will get a good Monster Hunter story that isn’t from the excellent Stories spin-off series. Sunbreak ditches the Japanese influenced land of Kamura and its surrounding areas, instead replacing it with a much more European look and feel. It’s a nice mix-up from the base game.
Sunbreak for the most part keeps that same gameplay loop we’ve all come to love completely intact. You are still hunting monsters to craft gear to help you defeat even more powerful monsters. It’s a formula that has worked throughout the entire series, and there seems to be no stopping it.
As you would expect, a new expansion means a bunch of new monsters to fight, from returning fan favourites such as the dangerous Gore Magala and his insane Frenzy mechanic, to the Japanese exclusive frontier monster, Seregios. I won’t go over them all here, but new additions like the vampire inspired flagship monster, Malzeno, are is the main driving force behind the game’s story. Malzeno is easily one of my top monsters in the franchise so far, in terms of design. Then there’s Lunagaron, who is deceptively not just another Odogaron like his name and appearance might imply. Lunagaron also became one of my favourite fights, with a surprising werewolf inspired moveset.
Then we have a handful of new subspecies: Blood Orange Bishaten, Magma Almudron, and Aurora Somnacanth, among several others, bringing new life into some great base game fights. There’s not a lot in terms of surprises in the roster, especially in the early hours of the expansion where you are largely fighting the same monsters you already fought in the base game. This weird pacing at the start of the expansion doesn’t give the greatest of first impressions, but that very quickly improves as you move into Master Rank 3 and beyond. As a whole though, this isn’t the largest roster added to a Monster Hunter, but it is still plenty beefy with dozens of hours worth of content and post-launch plans that rival that of live service games. You’d be hard pressed to find better value than what Monster Hunter often provides.
We also have new locales. First up is the new home base, trading Kamura for the Delgato outpost. It’s an incredibly dense space with each merchant mere seconds away from each other, it’s not even worth using the fast travel. A single wirebug could get you between merchants since it’s so compact. This cuts down on pre-hunt preparations, giving you access to just about every menu. Jungle is a returning location for fans of the franchise, with the added benefit of being one massive zone instead of cut into several smaller segments. However, the big new original map is Citadel, packing in a couple of different biomes in one map, with a ruined castle providing the expansions centrepiece.
In terms of new features, Sunbreak is largely safe. It sticks to the same formula that has worked previously, and that’s a good thing. Many Monster Hunter players were very critical of the base games lack of difficulty at the endgame, a complaint that I have come to agree with over time. The traditional inclusion of Master Rank (G Rank) is back, and aims to fix this complaint. Old monsters have been updated to be more aggressive, now with moves to catch you off-guard. It’s still not as challenging as World still, but highly entertaining regardless.
Switch Skills have also been expanded and is one of my favourite additions. This allows you to bring two different loadouts to hunt and switch on the fly. In the base game I would often only use one loadout and very rarely, if ever, change. Especially when using my Insect Glaive, which is what I use 90% of the time. Here though, it encourages experimentation. If one loadout doesn’t work, then I can quickly change back mid-fight. No need to go back to camp and dig through menus. This is of course alongside new Silkbind attacks, endemic life scattering the maps, and weapon balance changes (that also applies to base game).
Rampages which were easily the weakest link of Rise, are thankfully nowhere to be seen. Instead replaced by optional follower quests that allow you to bring NPC companions on specific follower questlines and the occasional story mission. The AI itself is pretty competent, managing to set up traps and perform Wyvern Riding to help out dealing massive damage. Better yet, if their HP reaches zero it won’t count as a faint for you. Relegating companions to specific quests, however, is a slightly missed opportunity. It’s a neat addition that is not fully explored. Finally there’s the endgame, which will have you deal with even tougher monsters with higher levels of aggression and even more attacks. There’s no guiding lands style inclusion like Iceborne, but it’s still a great endgame regardless.
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is exactly what you would expect; more of the same sweet sweet gameplay loop. There’s a bunch of new monsters to fight in new and old locations. The only things letting down Sunbreak are the early game pacing issues, and depending on your tastes, not the finest roster of new monsters. Saying that, there is more than enough to keep you busy for many hours to come as you progress through the brutally tough Master Rank and endgame content. If this is the end of Rise; then Capcom sure have done it justice.
Final Verdict: 8.5
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is available now on PC and Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on PC.
A copy of Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak was provided by the publisher.