Online game

Chasing The ‘Real’ Monster Hunter Rise Ending Restored My Faith In Online Gaming

Picture: Capcom

Soapbox features allow our individual writers and contributors to voice their opinions on hot topics and random topics they have in mind. Today Tom goes online and finds lots of nice, friendly and helpful people…

There are a majority of very normal and charming individuals who love video games. Of course, you wouldn’t necessarily know this if you spend too much time on social media, where the tendency is often to unearth the worst examples of humanity, quote-tweet, and lament society’s irreversible decline. It’s human nature, and it makes Twitter’s algorithm overlords happy.

Plus, to be fair, taking this lovely hobby online can single-handedly undermine faith in humanity. You may end up with someone sending you offensive messages or hurling insults in voice chat, leading you to settings to disable communication. On top of that, it’s definitely a hundred times worse for some players than it is for me.

So it’s not always a bed of roses in this gaming world of ours. Just like in the rest of the world, the actions of some can be so reprehensible that they shake our confidence in the majority, which is always a troubling situation. For my part, I have always kept my online activities to a minimum; when I’m not getting paid for writing about games, I keep a relatively low profile on social media, I’m not involved in any groups or clans for online games, and I generally stick to single-player gaming ( with some occasional local multiplayer). Maybe I’m missing it, though, because my recent experiences with Rise of the Monster Hunter have underlined.

There are other great online experiences that I occasionally participate in – Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, primarily, in which being (non-verbally) toxic to other players is actually necessary to win the race, and the slapstick humor makes it more child’s play than over-achieving adults. But I’ve only discovered in the last two months that Monster Hunter Rise has an online feature that works for me – and anyone with similar online habits – Perfectly. Aside from the lack of native voice chat, which makes playing with friends unnecessarily tedious (and for which we can mostly blame Nintendo), what Capcom has provided is an uplifting and positive way to cooperate and play online.

Beginning of the MH climb
Picture: Capcom/Nintendo Life

I’ve been playing the MH series since Tri on Wii, I really fell in love with the franchise during the 3DS/Wii U era. I mostly played solo, though, with occasional online sessions (very rare, in truth ) meticulously organized with a few colleagues and friends. Playing online was a bit awkward, and even though I wanted to play with random players, it was a pain to set up a lobby, get everyone on the same page and on a quest; it was like keeping cats.

With Rise, I’ve spent a lot of time since launch doing the village quests for the story – those are offline and you hunt with your Palico and Palamute. Sometimes it would give me a “challenge” quest to improve my HR (Hunter Rank), which I did, and kept playing until I got an ending, sort of.

The only real criticism I have of Rise is its progression through the story. I hadn’t read much about the game so it surprised me when it said to advance further, towards the “true” ending I should do “Hub Quests” – they are really designed to be done online, but in theory you can tackle them solo. However, taking them on alone is a chore, especially when you’ve already worked on many similar quests in the village area. I don’t know why Capcom structured it that way, but I knew there was a better ending waiting for me if I worked through the Hub. On top of that, the next “massive expansion” – Sunburn – needs you to reach the “second” ending to unlock it. There was no choice, I had to go online.

The monster, so snarling and confident when I rode my Palamute alone, now struggles to escape as four players engage in balletic mayhem to defeat it.

I hadn’t really looked at how it worked in Rise, so I imagined the painful dance of opening a lobby, waiting for strangers to show up, trying to get them all signed up for a quest, and then Continue. However, having clearly learned from people like dark soulsand pursuing an approach that I vaguely remember in Monster Hunter: World, it’s not like that at all. In fact, over the past two months, I’ve found this to be the most seamless and enjoyable online experience I’ve come across in years.

When you choose a quest in the Hub area (always offline, no lobby), you have the option of having a “Membership request”; you get ready, eat a meal, etc., and you just have to go. When the hunt begins, the application opens, but nothing changes and you just start your quest. Then, almost without fail if you play at the right times (weekends, UK mornings to engage the impressive Japanese playerbase), other hunters show up. Up to three other players arrive in the quest, and you can see their little arrows on the map pointing towards you.

Sometimes other players arrive before I even reach the target, or on other occasions my heroic Palamute and I have already started the fight when they arrive Gandalf-style in The two towers, to turn the tide of the battle. They swing around in awesome armour, often using different weapons than me (you don’t see many Insect Glaives), and set out to help you. The monster, so snarling and confident when I rode my Palamute alone, now struggles to escape as four players engage in balletic mayhem to defeat it.

Through it all, Capcom set it up as a positive experience – some text messages and voice lines are automated. For example, when someone rides another monster to start a Kaiju-style fight with the target, all other characters say “Awesome!”. The closest to negativity I’ve seen is someone who had set their text to say “wow” whenever someone was knocked out, but 99% of players leave it defaulting to “No worries!”.

When the hunt is over, there’s the next elemental, charming touch – you can choose to “Like” other players, which everyone invariably does after a successful quest. This leads to in-game rewards, but also means you can find these players in the “Connect” area if you want to attempt an invite or step in and help them with their quests. Then you all go your own way, I go back to my own hub and watch the next quest, in which three other strangers will probably come to help. It’s a brief encounter, 15 minutes of chaotic monster hunting, but everyone just enjoys the game. Maybe the quest helps them grind specific parts, or they’re trying to increase HR like me – maybe it’s just for fun.

It’s such a quick and human-friendly way to navigate the online portion of the game, which is very reminiscent of the aforementioned Dark Souls approach (or how summoning works in Ring of Elden, if you want the most recent example). Integrating this approach seamlessly into a Switch experience, with that quirky Monster Hunter vibe, is such a nice thing that came as a really nice surprise for someone who has actively avoided online modes in the past. I reached the required level a while ago to unlock “Sunbreak”, which seemed like a long time before I explored and gave Rise online play a chance.

And you know what? I continued. Right now I’m almost on my way to HR50 which should apparently unlock the third and “good” ending. Then I’ll continue to HR100 to unlock a particularly tough challenge. Why not? I love Monster Hunter, and doing the virtual equivalent of hunting with like-minded strangers is a joy. I’m even going through all those event quests I was avoiding – one of them played Mega Man music during an arena fight, because why not?

Sometimes people are great.