Being a PC owner in 2022 is like a gaming skeleton key, opening doors to console exclusives that Sony, Microsoft, and even Nintendo zealots would firmly like to keep to themselves. While your God of Wars and Halo Infinites are indelibly linked to their home consoles, Monster Hunter has never quite found a permanent residence, as evidenced by Monster Hunter Rise now coming to PC. The series started out on PlayStation 2 and PSP, dallied with Xbox 360 and PC in Japan, before bunking in with Nintendo up until the wondrous Monster Hunter World. PC owners can therefore feel pretty smug, their platform becoming the only place to play both of the two newest Monster Hunter games and, if you’ve got the gear on hand, the best place to play them.
Monster Hunter Rise is pretty wondrous in and of itself. One of the best-looking games on Nintendo Switch, its Japan-inspired world proved utterly enticing upon its arrival on Switch in 2021, with a cast of iconic returning monsters bolstered by a set of new creature designs. Add in a host of new mechanics, including the grappling hook-esque wirebugs that opened up a new set of spectacular moves, and the ability to ride and control monsters for the first time, and it was clear that Capcom were onto another winner.
Further Reading: Monster Hunter Rise or World? Which game is better?
When we found out that the game was coming to PC though, we were like a Felyne with some cat nip. Rise was a stunning showcase for the Switch, but it is still a handheld powered by rapidly ageing hardware and that put some constraints on the game. What might the game be like with some actual processing power behind it? The answer is that it’s more or less perfect, though anyone expecting Rise to suddenly match Monster Hunter World’s level of visual fidelity should have their expectations tempered somewhat.
Monster Hunter Rise on PC looks better than ever before. Running a GTX 3070 and an AMD Ryzen 7 5800X allowed me to push the settings as far as they’ll go, and the result is an exceedingly pretty Monster Hunter game. Resolution makes a big jump from the Switch’s docked 1344×756, letting you crank things up all the way to 4K. The increase does away with the original version’s fuzziness and everything, from hunter armour through to the different biomes, is crisp, clean, and far more attractive.
Besides the huge bump in resolution, you can push the refresh rate up as far as your monitor will take you. Mine happily topped out at 144fps, but you can set limits in place, starting from the Switch version’s 30fps up to 240fps, or simply leave it unlocked. If you have a variable refresh rate screen with either FreeSync or G-Sync, you can run without V-Sync enabled and still enjoy an experience without screen tearing.
The benefit of the enhanced frame rate in Monster Hunter can’t be underestimated. Everything feels faster, smoother, and more immediate, and in the heat of a hunt you can’t ask for more. Returning to the Switch version feels sluggish in comparison, and once you’ve sampled the game on PC you’ll struggle to go back.
You can make further tweaks to the graphics settings on your hunt for the best performance, though I was able to turn everything all the way up at 1440p and suffered no problems whatsoever. You can alter the image quality, pushing it to 150% resulting in a noticeably smoother image. Besides that you’ll want to use high-resolution textures, and you have access to texture filtering, ambient occlusion, shadow quality, dynamic shadows, equipment shadows, depth of field and all sorts of other visual niceties. Oh, and you can display in ultra-wide too if you’ve got a screen that matches your giant sword.
On top of everything else you can put visual filter effects over the whole thing, letting you indulge in some black and white hunting, or really dig into the Japanese theme with a filter that imitates the eastern isles’ classic film grain. With everything enabled Monster Hunter Rise on PC looks like a different game.
At the other end of the spectrum Monster Hunter Rise is capable of being tuned to run on a much lower spec rig, with options for processing reduction via model swapping, alongside the ability to tune various things like image quality below 100%. The minimum specifications call for just a GeForce 1030, a 4th generation Intel i3 and 8GB of RAM, giving plenty of leeway for those who haven’t upgraded for a few years. It’ll be really interesting to see what level of performance we can get out of a Steam Deck when they arrive later this year, but can assume it’ll be the new handheld king.
The advantage of the Monster Hunter Rise PC release coming some time after the original version is the inclusion of all the previous free updates, and by the end of February 2022 the game should be entirely in line with the Switch edition, in preparation for the release of the Sunbreak DLC in the summer. Sadly there’s no cross-save or cross-play between the two versions, which would have delighted hunters on both platforms. It’s a feature that may still appear, but there’s currently no official word.