Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak Review — The sun rises high

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak

Monster Hunter Rise released on PlayStation consoles earlier this year to generally favorable reviews after being exclusive to Nintendo Switch and PC. Capcom was nice enough to give players a few months to clear the base game before releasing the meaty DLC expansion Sunbreak, which is finally coming out in just a few days. Rest assured that the PlayStation port of this beloved expansion is phenomenal, with unparalleled performance and incredible visuals on the PS5. Get ready to pour another thousand hours into getting the flashiest armors and weapons whilst battling the fiercest of monsters!

Your journey into Sunbreak actually starts off in Kamura Village with an urgent request to hunt a Daimyo Hermitaur in order to unlock Master Rank. This giant crustacean isn’t too difficult to take down with your old High Rank gear, but just know that once you enter Master Rank hunts, most if not all of your old equipment becomes obsolete. The difficulty of hunts ramps up considerably, with many of your old foes one to two shotting you in Master Rank if you are not careful. It’s a bit sad that all the hard work you poured into crafting your end-game High Rank gear is now outdated in this DLC. In addition, you won’t even be seeing most of what this expansion has to offer until Master Rank 3. You’ll be spending your first several hours retreading familiar ground fighting the same monsters as the base game.

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak

Sunbreak introduces a simple yet substantial mechanical tweak that ultimately changes how you approach hunts, and that is with the Switch Skill Swap. It’s a complete game changer as you can now essentially have two loadouts that you can swap on the fly midhunt. You can customize between a red and blue switch skill scroll for each weapon that contains different moves. New silkbind attacks have also been introduced, which adds more versatility on the battlefield. For those monster hunter experts, this is definitely a neat addition as you can now pull off even more complex combos. If you enjoy using the same set of moves during combat, this won’t change things up too much for you, but the option is always nice.

So what’s actually new in terms of content in this beefy Sunbreak expansion? Well first off you have a new base of operations, as you’ll be leaving your home of Kamura Village and traveling to the Elgado Outpost. It has all the essentials, including a dango shop, trader, blacksmith, you name it! Don’t worry you can still travel back and forth between the two locations if you miss Kamura a little too much. Two new hunting locales have also been added, those being the Jungle, a returning area from the franchise, and the Citadel, a brand new area that features a dilapidated castle ruin. I wish they could have added at least one more new location, given the base game has five and this expansion only adds two new ones, for a total of seven.

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak

New endemic life has been introduced in all existing locales, which are wildlife that can help aid you on your hunts, such as marionette spiders which can pull monsters into walls. Crimson and gold wire bugs now scatter the environments as well, which improve the damage of mounted punisher attacks and increase monster drops from wyvern riding attacks, respectively. The most exciting addition for me as a mostly solo player are the follower quests. NPCs can now join you on hunts as allies, each with their own unique set of equipment and movesets. Sure they’re controlled by the computer, but there’s still a sense of camaraderie to be had when victory is achieved. Your bond with them can be deepened and developed through a series of missions that reward you with exclusive armor and weapons.

Alright it’s time to actually mention the monsters now, because this is a monster hunting game after all. Sunbreak unfortunately doesn’t add many brand new creatures, but rather variants of monsters that were already present in the base game. To name a few there’s Blood Orange Bishaten, Pyre Rakna Kadaki, and Aurora Somnacanth. The vanilla versions of these monsters have also had their behaviors altered in Master Rank, with entirely new movesets and skills that provide a refreshing challenge. Most of the DLC revolves around the concept of the Three Lords, which are the actual new monsters that serve as main bosses. They include the flagship elder dragon Malzeno, the ice wolf Lunagaron, and the rock ape Garangolm.

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak

After beating the campaign in Sunbreak at Master Rank 10, there’s a new endgame activity known as anomaly investigations, where monsters get progressively stronger as you raise your investigation level. This main gameplay loop features afflicted monsters, which are even deadlier apex variants of existing creatures that drop afflicted materials needed to craft endgame weapons and armor. I already think that some of the monsters here are way too spongy, but afflicted versions of them take it to another level. Just as Update 2.0 unlocked your Hunter Rank in Monster Hunter Rise, the Master Rank is also unlocked after beating Sunbreak. Of course, you also have your free title updates and event quests to look forward to, so there’s definitely no shortage of content here.

One thing I feel compelled to mention is how outstandingly brilliant the music is, especially the soundtrack for the Elgado Outpost. Titled “Basking in Eternal Breeze”, the town theme truly brings out the peaceful and serene vibes through its use of jazz instruments. I could just sit there for hours on end listening to the tunes on repeat! The audio soundtrack for the actual monsters are just as enticing, featuring exciting arrangements that make your hunt much more immersive.

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak

There’s not much to say about performance here, because Sunbreak performs just as well as the base game does on the PlayStation 5. Frame rates are consistently smooth and can be boosted up to 120 frames per second, although the visuals are capped at 1080p if you choose that mode. Load times still aren’t the quickest compared to other games on next-gen hardware, but that’s simply a minor gripe. I did run into some confusions on how to actually access the expansion. You first need to install the DLC, which will be under “manage content” for the base Monster Hunter Rise. You’ll know you have it installed then the title screen says Sunbreak! Then you need to finish the main story in the base game by completing the hunt: Serpent Goddess of Thunder, and then talk to Rondine the Trader near the front of Kamura Village.

Despite all the positive aspects that Sunbreak brings to Monster Hunter Rise, I’m not sure if the hefty price tag of $39.99 comes off as worth it to many people, especially for non-hardcore fans. Rise was already discounted when it launched on PlayStation consoles a few months ago, and now this DLC expansion costs essentially as much as the entire base game. That being said, I think Sunbreak is still a no-brainer purchase for Monster Hunter fanatics, as it pretty much improves on the original experience tenfold.

An avid enthusiast of both tabletop and video games, finding endless joy in exploring different realms of entertainment!



Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak

Review Guidelines

The Sunbreak expansion only serves to elevate the already excellent experience that Monster Hunter Rise features, with a slew of new monsters, locales, armor, weapons, mechanics, and quality of life updates. It builds on nearly every aspect of the base game, without compromising anything in between. Just know that there is a high barrier to entry, especially for non-hardcore fans, in terms of price, difficulty, and grind.

Henry Viola

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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