The upcoming release of Monster Hunter Rise will be a pivotal moment for Monster Hunter fans, perhaps just as pivotal as the release of Monster Hunter World in late 2017. While World brought on a staggering number of brand new players to the series, Rise will be a return to some of Monster Hunter's oldest roots. As a portable game, Rise will be similar to every other Monster Hunter game before it aside from World, but even so, the millions of new players that World garnered won't have ever played a portable Monster Hunter game before.
Monster Hunter World gained its popularity by doing away with a lot of the identity of former Monster Hunter games, but it still made compromises to appeal to fans of the classics. Monster Hunter will no doubt continue to be a massively popular series after what World did to bring it to Europe and the US, but if Capcom is to continue capitalizing on that newfound popularity, it should split the franchise into two series: one that caters to a more popular audience on mainline consoles like PS5, PC, and Xbox, and one that continues the classic traditions of the older series on portable platforms like the Switch.
The release of Monster Hunter World was a turning point for the Monster Hunter franchise. It was the first MonHun game on mainline consoles rather than portable systems, it focused in on streamlining hunting and combat, and it made huge quality of life changes that endeared it to an entirely new, and massive, audience. Prior to World, Monster Hunter was a series that enjoyed most of its popularity in Japan and other Asian countries, but World made countless changes to ensure that it would be able to take Europe and the US by storm as well.
With so many games in the Monster Hunter franchise prior to World, Capcom had plenty of experience to draw from. That's why each of the game's 14 weapons feels finely tuned and well-balanced, the monsters are so numerous, and the mechanics are so varied and deep. What Capcom didn't emulate was the way that older MonHun games had much more byzantine rules, a steeper learning curve, often clunky portable controls, and areas divided up into separate zones, each with its own loading gate. Almost all of the changes made in Monster Hunter World were designed to appeal to a global audience, and it was a great success.
Harvesting, crafting, equipping items, eating meals, preparing supplies, traveling through an open world, and entering multiplayer co-op are just some of the systems that were simplified for Monster Hunter World, and even then they are still relatively complex. The reason that previous Monster Hunter games did poorly worldwide is that they were too complicated and were always on portable systems, which are favored far more in Japan than in the rest of the world. Monster Hunter World changed all that.
Monster Hunter Rise seems to be trying to bridge the gap between new quality of life improvements and old portable sensibilities, but splitting into two separate series may be the only way to please all of Monster Hunter's audience.
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