The Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak Digital Event in May gave us a good glimpse of what to expect in the upcoming paid expansion. The 16-minute presentation showcased some of Sunbreak’s new zones, debut monsters, and gameplay tweaks. We’ve also seen variations on familiar monsters that fans can encounter in the fresh experience. And while that gave us a lot to chew on, we couldn’t wait to explore all of the new changes for ourselves. We recently sat down with the team at Sunbreak and got a hands-on preview of the expansion, which included two different quests, a look at unique locations, characters, and of course, monsters.
My adventure begins at Elgado Outpost, a place teeming with European-inspired architecture that director Yoshitake Suzuki describes as “a former fortress now used as an outpost for the hunters and organizations you encounter in the game.” As this is an early build of a work in progress, the preview visuals may not have been as polished as the end result. However, the city’s various Western influences swirl together to give it a vibrant personality. The new outpost doesn’t deviate completely from Rise’s design, however, as the residents of Kamura village leave their own mark on the settlement.
One of the first things we’re encouraged to do is stop by Elgado’s thriving, prominently located pop-up eatery. The Dango Shop is a new franchise opportunity brought to the Outpost by the suppliers of the Kamura Tea Shop. It provides hungry hunters with all the necessary goodies that increase the stats one might need before going on a monster hunt. Monster Hunter cooking movies have always put a smile on my face. While Elgado’s scene isn’t all that different from its Kamuran counterpart, the antics, like the tasty dango, nonetheless strengthened me for the difficult challenge that lay ahead.
Sunbreak’s cover monster is Malzeno, an Elder Dragon whose design borrows heavily from vampire lore. And while I couldn’t face this life-stealing horror, my first monstrous opponent still managed to send chills down my spine. Unfortunately, I beat the quest out of line, which puts me a bit far from my teammates in this multiplayer hunt. I have to scurry it all the way across the Citadel map with the help of my well-armored Palamute buddy, but that gives me a bit of time to explore the mountainous landscape and new gameplay improvements.
First, running on the wall is even more fun than ever without having to burn a wirebug that I could pick up for the fight. The various environments I encounter during my time with the expansion focus on verticality, allowing players to enjoy more free traversal, and offering interesting ways to approach a hunt.
Making my way to the rest of my party with the help of my nimble Canyne companion, I discover a cave – the entrance glistening with frost revealing the identity of the creature within. “The other monsters in Sunbreak also have varied themes and motifs that draw heavily on Western mythology and monster imagery,” explains Suzuki. “And what you see in Lunagaron is sort of a werewolf/wolfman theme.”
In the demo, its frost-covered body blocks many of my party’s best hits with ease, and its sharp Lupine claws are capable of ending a hunter’s quest with a direct hit. While not an easy task, the party overcomes the beast, thanks in part to the ability to switch ability swaps mid-encounter. This gave each member access to two completely different sets of wirebug attacks without having to return to camp. I choose to build two completely different skills that give me access to every trick in the book. Switching is seamless, especially since I can switch between skill loadouts while dodging, which is great for fast-paced action.
I have little time to bask in the victory achieved by the group as I am instructed to start a single player only follower quest. This quest mixes a little that is familiar with the new content from Sunbreak, as my ultimate goal is to take on Seregios, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate’s flagship monster. I encounter the flying wyvern in the Sandy Plains – a stark contrast to the frozen cave of my first quest. Seregios’ razor-sharp claws do not dull with time, and the monster’s swooping attack, often performed back-to-back, can decimate the unwary. Both diving for cover and using a wirebug to dodge will help escape the deadly dive bomb. However, the creature’s ripping, projectile-like scales are more difficult to avoid. I get the bleeding effect from one of the devastating attacks, draining my life when I move to dodge deadly attacks or try to damage the beast.
Luckily, I wasn’t alone in facing the power of Seregios. My companion on this hunt turns out to be Master Arlow. Specializing in the Gunlance, the Hunting Tactics Instructor puts his skills to good use in my hunt for the flying enemy. While I wish he would provide much-needed healing a little quicker, he sets traps for the creature and does a ton of helpful damage. This was especially true on the few occasions when he rides another beast and attacks Seregios with his recently tamed mount. In a particularly zealous display of beast-riding, Master Arlow rudely leaps onto a creature I’m preparing to ride. It’s extremely helpful to have a powerful creature to draw into battle even if my follower steals it from me. However, this does not guarantee success against the formidable monster. It’s hard enough to keep from fainting during the tough hunt, so I was glad to know that if Arlow fell into Seregios’ clutches, I wouldn’t fail the mission.
The “massive” expansion is coming to Switch and PC later this month, so fans won’t have to wait long to try out the new content for themselves. If you haven’t jumped into the latest entry in the series, remember that you need to pick up Monster Hunter Rise in order to play Sunbreak. You can purchase the DLC individually for $29.99 or the bundle that includes both the DLC and the base game for $69.99 when Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak launches on June 30th.
https://www.gameinformer.com/2022/06/02/monster-hunter-rise-sunbreak-hands-on-preview Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak Hands-On Preview