Monster Hunter Rise was one of the best games of 2021, taking almost all of the improvements Capcom made to its famously punishing action RPG series with Monster Hunter World and bringing them to an even breezier package on the Nintendo Switch. The series only took off in popularity with its portable entries on the PSP, so this new title tailored just for the Switch felt right at home.
That said, if you were used to World, Rise was a noticeable technical step back. It’s one of the best-looking games on the Switch, but it’s still a game on the Switch — it runs on a TV at roughly 720p and 30 frames a second, and the environmental design is much simpler than in World.
That’s why I was interested to check out the PC version of the game, which is releasing this week. How would Monster Hunter Rise play when liberated from the Switch’s limited hardware? The news is mostly good on that front, but in another way the port represents a missed opportunity.
Capcom’s PC ports tend to be pretty good, in my experience — though I didn’t play last year’s Resident Evil Village on PC, which I know quite a few people had issues with — and Rise is another solid example. There’s a fairly detailed list of advanced graphical settings to tweak, and the game works great on an ultrawide monitor, though cutscenes are still 16:9.
I didn’t find myself diving into the menus too much, because Rise runs on its highest settings at 60fps and beyond at 3440 x 1440 ultrawide resolution with my GTX 1080. Sure, it’s a Switch game, but my PC is nearly six years old, so I’m used to putting in work to optimize performance. While some PC ports — looking at you, Final Fantasy VII Remake — require much more powerful hardware than their original consoles to run well (and even then might have issues), I think Monster Hunter Rise should be fine on most fairly modern computers. There’s also a free demo on Steam if you’re unsure.
The tradeoff, of course, is that Rise is a much less visually impressive game than World. It still looks good at higher resolutions, and the PC version has improved assets like much sharper textures, but the complexity of the environments and foliage density in particular takes a big hit. That’s partly just how the levels are designed, so it’s not surprising that Capcom hasn’t overhauled Rise entirely, but set your expectations accordingly. Rise looks stylish more than stunning.
What’s disappointing about Monster Hunter Rise on PC, though, is that I’ve already played a lot of it on the Switch. After the original World and its Iceborne expansion, this marks the third big Monster Hunter game in a row that’s come to PC several months after its console release. These are huge games that can be played for hundreds of hours, and the prospect of starting all over again and slogging through the easy early quests isn’t going to be appealing for most experienced players.
This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if Capcom allowed for save transfer between PC and Switch, as seen in other big games like The Witcher 3, Civilization VI, Hades, and Divinity: Original Sin 2, but the company says it’s “unable” to implement the feature. While there may well be technical challenges involved, it’s particularly regrettable because Capcom was ahead of the curve in this regard when handling transfers between the Wii U and 3DS versions of Monster Hunter 3. Capcom evidently understands that it’s great to make progress on the go and continue on better hardware when you’re at home — you can dock your Switch to a TV, of course, but it’s not the same experience as this PC version.
Monster Hunter Rise is a great game that’s even better on PC, but it’s hard to recommend if you’ve already played it on the Switch and don’t have unlimited free time. If you managed to get a Steam Deck preorder, though, this could well be the perfect game to christen it with for anyone looking to get into the series. It’s just unfortunate that Monster Hunter enthusiasts who already jumped on Rise will have to start from scratch. I hope Capcom releases future Monster Hunter games on PC at the same time as consoles, or finds a way to include cross-save functionality — ideally both.
Monster Hunter Rise launches on the PC on January 12th.