I really liked Monster Hunter Rise, and have been equally excited for its new expansion, Sunbreak. The game is an extension of the 5th generation’s open design ethos, though with all the insanity and new ideas that mid-generation Monster Hunter games are now known for.
But how much can you add? An open
That’s very much what you get with Sunbreak- a reward for players who’d already topped Monster Hunter Rise and done everything there was to do, in the form of more new ways to interact with Capcom’s crown jewel multiplayer franchise.
Welcome To Master Rank
Obviously, the biggest draw to Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is the new Master Rank. Just like Iceborne and the G-rank expansions before it, this adds a whole new campaign to the Monster Hunter Rise experience, with a whole new difficulty level thrown over it. While the game takes this opportunity to throw in faces new to Rise like Astalos, Gore Magala and Espinas of all things, older monsters who make the jump to Master Rank also feature new moves to appropriately bump up their challenge level.
I gotta say, some of these redone fights are absolute bangers. Tetranodon now has delays in its attacks, being able to hold off on finishing its animation to catch you rolling and making you feel like you were fighting The Fell Omen or something. Meanwhile, newcomers like the game’s Three Lords (all based on classic horror monsters, the closest we’ll get to a new Darkstalkers) have incredibly engaging fights involving a gorilla who can rocket jump, an ice werewolf and pilebunkers off a teleporting dragon the size of an 18-wheeler.
I’ve always loved how much care Capcom actually puts into these monster fights, and you really see it here with Sunrbeak. It would have been easy to just scale up damage and health and call it a day, but the fact that there’s new tricks to the Master Rank fights is a great feeling.
New Tools For The Hunt
While the new monsters are cool, to me the star of Sunbreak actually comes in the form of its gameplay changes. Base Rise featured a huge change in the form of the wirebug and Switch skills- these allowed you some degree of customization on how you played the game’s weapons, swapping out key moves with each other to create a unique playstyle.
Naturally, Sunbreak expands the roster of special moves you can choose from, enabling all sorts of new playstyles for each weapons as every weapon basically got a move from Long Sword while Long Sword got moves from other weapons. However, a big problem with just adding new moves is that you might not be interested in swapping out your rad divekick for a new button.
Thankfully, Capcom did account for this with the new Switch Skill Scrolls (try saying that 3 times fast). What these are is basically the ability to swap loadouts on the fly- effectively letting you carry two sets of special moves with you for different situations. Better yet, they have other functionality too- some moves can be canceled out of using the swap, meaning mastery of the style-switching will be absolutely necessary for playing the game at a higher level. Better yet, switching out also grants you a free evade, it’s a great way to get out of sticky situations.
I’m honestly really happy with how the new switch skills and style switching were implemented. Rather than create a new alternative playstyle, it feels like your old one was expanded dramatically, since you can have the second scroll act as a more situational tool for wake-ups or what have you.
Sayonara, All of Rampage
An advantage of releasing Sunbreak as an expansion to Rise down the line is the opportunity to course correct some mistakes from the base Rise. With base Rise, we had a huge problem with the endgame weapons in that the Rampage Tree was simply too strong- with access to Rampage Skills, you were basically mandated to pick them if you wanted creative builds, which also meant you had to play more of the Rampage Quest type.
With Sunbreak, however, Capcom seems to have reworked the system. Master Rank Weapons do not have a Rampage Tree, instead having bespoke Rampage Decorations. How it is is that any weapon can have Rampage Decoration slots, separate from the regular decorations. This is great for weapon balancing, since you can have weapons that are total beasts in the stat pool sport lower level Rampage Decorations, meaning you can’t go too crazy with the Rampage Skills. Alternatively, you could have some less impressive weapons become super viable with the addition of rampage skills- it’s a great alternative to the dominating presence of Rampage weapons in base Rise.
This does, however come with casualties- the Rampage quests aren’t a thing anymore in Sunbreak, and there is no equivalent to them either. While personally I never much cared for them, it can feel like Sunbreak is lacking in content as a result since there’s less variety to quests like there are in Rise.
What If We Kissed Under The Bishaten
One addition to Sunbreak I really didn’t expect to see was the addition of Follower Quests. These basically let you take the game’s various new NPCs along with you on quests, where they’ll act as a pseudo party member that’s not bound by things like Cart Limits.
I mean, from the casual perspective they make a great use of a previously untapped resource- the non-monster characters of Monster Hunter. Guildmarm from 4 was super popular, as were characters like the Serious Handler in World. Introducing new characters who can react to situations is a great way to make them more appealing, and really gives a more casual way to play single player that isn’t just obsessively clearing your previous time record.
But it doesn’t just stop there either, since the AI are actually pretty decent at being a hunter. Riding monsters, setting traps, they’re pretty handy to have around, which is great since normally this type of quest would be a slog if the AI wasn’t up to snuff.
It’s hard to not praise such a minor feature since it could have easily been a nightmare you’d have to slog through for just a couple of pieces of new gear but instead it’s actually a really fun alternative way to enjoy the game.
You Could Have Just Called It Ultimate Monster Hunter Rise
At the end of the day, I really enjoyed Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak. It’s an expansion that very much builds on the strengths of Rise, being much more than just a content drop.
If nothing else, its flaws mainly come from not expanding that same forward thinking to other areas- I’d have liked for some sort of new endgame system instead of just farming MR, or even a more engaging endgame hunt outside of the health-bloated Afflicted Monsters.
Still, Capcom knows its strengths- it’s the moment to moment hunts are a load of fun, almost addictively so. And if that’s what you want, you’ll definitely enjoy what you get with Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak.