Monster Hunter Rise was, perhaps, one of my favorite games of 2021. It’s hard to believe that over a year has passed since its release on the Nintendo Switch. My original playtime for it totaled around 120 hours. So, as you can imagine, I was elated about the announcement of the Sunbreak expansion. Nothing had me more excited to sink my teeth back into the game and, after spending over 50 hours with Monster Hunter Rise Sunbreak, it feels like the expansion was well worth the wait.
Sunbreak builds upon an already solid foundation, extrapolating on what made Monster Hunter Rise so good. That was the range of movement players could now perform with the aide of the Wirebug. It’s a mechanic I can’t really see myself living without at this point, and Sunbreak adds to this through the implementation of “Morphed Wirebugs.” This makes an already essential mechanic all that more useful.
There are a total of two Morphed Wirebugs available, Gold and Ruby, which have individual effects. The Ruby Wirebug increases the amount of damage done by Mounted Punishes, whereas the Gold Wirebug affects the amount of items a monster will drop when it is attacked during wyvern riding. Since I love to min-max, the Gold Wirebug became my evolution of choice, as it helped me farm items to craft and acquire better armor and weapons.
Thankfully, players can swap between Gold and Ruby Wirebugs. But only once the time allotted to having one of these “evolved” Wirebugs has depleted. Players can equip one or the other for roughly 3 minutes before needing to scour the map and potentially find a replacement. While this addition may seem incremental, it was nice having it there for those that do make copious use of endemic life.
There are also a handful of new Silkbind Skills, adding to a pretty decent list of skills that were already available. Having used the Dual Blades in Monster Hunter Rise, I loved the additional Silkbind Skills in Sunbreak. The Spiral Slash skill was my favorite, mostly because I’m the kind of player that dives headfirst into combat. This facilitated the way I played and allowed me to be even more aggressive when initiating a fight. And the ability to switch skills on the fly was particularly useful when using the Hunting Horn. This has honestly made combat way more engaging than before. It leans further and further into the more fast-paced action oriented elements of the Monster Hunter series that has been bleeding further into the formula since Monster Hunter: World.
However, what I was most excited about were Follower Quests, which didn’t disappoint. These new quests are a great draw for single-player Hunters, as you can take NPCs with you on these excursions. This specific style of quest is unlocked through story progression, with each completed quest allowing for players to jump into Survey Quests. While Follower Quests are less freeform and tie players to specific NPCs, Survey Quests allow for a little more flexibility.
Players can choose which NPCs they want to accompany them on Survey Quests, and even get a wider range of what weapons specific NPCs can carry with them into combat. But outside of being a great way to stretch out how solo players want to interact with Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak, there is a secondary benefit to doing these quests. That’s unlocking new armor and weapons.
While the Village and Hub Quest progression has disappeared in Sunbreak, with both being consolidated for a more concise experience, it feels like Follower Quests have occupied that slot held by Village quests. These feel significantly easier, especially with specific NPCs. And each NPC feels wholly unique, as they have their own behaviors that really shine through in hunts. My favorite NPCs appeared at the tail end of the Follower Quests, but that didn’t stop me from taking them through Survey Quests just to feel what it would be like to fight alongside them.
Unfortunately, the one thing holding Sunbreak back is the roster of available monsters. I had burned through Monster Hunter Rise, grinding hours upon hours of hunts with the new additions feeling meaningful and unique. But Sunbreak doesn’t have much to offer in that regard. A good portion of the roster consists of variants of monsters encountered in Rise.
While there is definitely a greater sense of mechanical complexity when dealing with the Malzeno for example, it doesn’t make up for the small roster. It is great to see certain monsters return however, and I loved going toe-to-toe with the Astalos and tackling the Gore Magala for the very first time. The end-game is also fairly interesting, and incorporates a new kind of affliction (specifically concerning monsters, not players) in an interesting way.
But Capcom has already promised plans for post-game content. As it includes the addition of more variants through future updates, the future of Monster Hunter looks bright. Specifically Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak, as it’s already managed to sell over 2 million copies since its release on June 30, 2022. Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak can really only get better from here. Like Rise, it provides a solid foundation for whatever direction future content updates or installments of the series go next.
Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is available for Nintendo Switch and PC.