Monster Hunter Rise was one of my favorite games from 2021. I played for dozens of hours on the Switch and, in preparation for this review, happily worked through essential hub searches to make sure I was ready to dive straight into Sunbrake. Capcom’s new expansion is a great time for existing hunters looking to fight new monsters with fun and add flexibility to its combat systems, but the slow rollout of meaningful new content has dragged the experience until the later stages of the main campaign. is taken.
Sunbreak takes hunters across a gorgeous body of water, off the Japanese-focused Kamura Village of Rise and into the European-inspired Kingdom area. There, a powerful trio of demons called The Three Lords terrorize the land, while other creatures from the region appear in distant regions such as Kamura., causing hunters to search in previously available rise places. The Elgado outpost, the new base of operations, is small and seamless, leaving behind nothing other than the requisite loop of crafting gear and preparation for the hunt to come. It only provides the bare minimum of providing convenient vendors and search givers, and while it’s really needed, I want Capcom to care about the environment as much as it did in Kamura Village.
The detail shines in proper monster hunting. Sunbreak introduces some great monsters to complement the original roster from Rise but knocks them out at a painfully slow clip. At the center of Elgado’s woes are three giant creatures Garangolam, Lunagaron, and the vampire-inspired dominant monster Malzeno. They serve as gatekeepers to step through the levels in pursuit of the Master Rank, and each one offers a unique challenge in battle and awesome new gear to craft. However, in order to challenge even the first of these, I had to battle through a selection of monsters I’ve bested several times since the release of Rise.
The expansion does away with the difficulty of the new master rank with a new creature for the game, the daimyo hermitaur, a returning hermit crab monster from an earlier entry in the series. After that, the game then shifts to slightly harder presentations of the same hunts that are available in the low- and high-ranked quests. Creatures have new moves and features that add complexity and complexity to famous fights. Still, these missions are well-worn territory for experienced Monster Hunter players. I expected the existing roster to be used, but starting with the slightly adapted old encounters is considered an exciting expansion, a boring way to start. That being said, after hours of progress, more monsters arrive, and each one is a desperate and needed shot of variety for the slate of prey available. Combatting The Three Lords, returning the favorites Astalos and Sergios, and subspecies variants like Magma Almudron are fun and rewarding battles to master.
The environment of Monster Hunter is just as important as the target itself. Jungle, a platform from the second Monster Hunter generation, makes its return in Sunbreak. For many, it will be a fabulous piece of nostalgia, but after some hunting, it starts to feel small and simple compared to other places in the Rise. Another new, more substantial area addition called The Citadelle has all kinds of little enclaves and paths that make the area seem dense with traversal and trekking options. It is also filled with various biomes such as a deserted resin swamp that slays monsters and hunters alike, a cave that glows with the glow of a coating of snow, and a crumbling castle that harbors Elder Dragons and other large monsters. Lets fight with, feel all the more epic. New endemic life monsters like marionette spiders can visit, and the insects that affect Wyvern Riding are scattered all over the map, offering fun new strategies for dealing with monsters on a hunt.
Raising the difficulty up to the Master rank will naturally make things harder for players, but each iteration of Monster Hunter also brings a necessary change in quality of life. Switch Skill Swap provides a way to switch up your weapon-specific attacks on the fly in battle. You can equip five moves with two loadouts, and by pressing a series of buttons, switch between two sets of maneuvers whenever you feel the need. I’ll keep my most reliable hammer skills applied to my main set of Switch skills, and when I need a specific Silkbind attack to move quickly on a monster, I swap them to use my extra kit. I can Me Flexibility Switch provides skill swaps and the agency that offers players to adapt a preferred playstyle to a typically hardened weapon fanatic.
More quest variety is available through the new single-player-only Follower Quest that lets me take on the hunt with different characters from around Elgado Outpost and Kamura Village. Guest hunters such as Lady Fiorione and Admiral Gallius have distinctive weapon attributes and can join hunters in these quests. I was hoping these missions would add a whole new narrative twist to Monster Hunter, but outside of fighting an NPC with me, the follower quests play out like any other average hunt, sometimes in a complete pinch. However, they help learn how to take on new monsters and often serve as training missions rewarding monster material to gear up for difficult solo tasks.
Overall I have had a great time with Sunbreak. The lack of new monsters plagues the opening hours, but there’s a lot to love if you keep going. The added flexibility of the Switch skill swap system is a free and fun expansion to combat for hardcore hunters and new creatures in your quest to master rank – breathe life into the experience when you meet them. For anyone already invested in Monster Hunter, there is Plenty To love in the sunset. Just don’t expect to see a lot of new content in the opening hours.