If you're excited for Monster Hunter Wilds, should you play Rise or World?

If you're excited for Monster Hunter Wilds, should you play Rise or World?
Images via Capcom

Written by 

Lloyd Coombes


20th Dec 2023 16:14

Did you know Monster Hunter has been around since 2004? That means we're just months away from the series' 20th anniversary in March, but all eyes are on Monster Hunter: Wilds, the next instalment in 2025.

If the reveal trailer that capped off the Game Awards 2023 got you excited but you're not sure where to start, good news - you're not alone. Wilds' trailer, full of weather effects, stampeding beasts, and a flying mount got tongues wagging within the GGRecon team, and as the de facto Monster Hunter fan amongst them, many have asked whether Rise or World is the best place to start for new players.

The decision isn't an easy one, but there are a few key considerations.

What is Monster Hunter?

An easy place to start is laying out just what a Monster Hunter game looks like. It's a very simple gameplay loop, at least in practice, that has you beating up beasts with a variety of weapons. Slay them, and you can carve them into materials for better weapons and armour to, you guessed it, hunt even tougher monsters.

That's a gross oversimplification that doesn't take into account weapon types, elemental strengths and weaknesses, monster types, locales, and about a million other things, but the key thing to remember is that you're always looking to grow in power or expertise to tackle the next foe.

With that in mind, Monster Hunter Rise and Monster Hunter World both operate on the same template, sending you into quests against increasingly tricky beasts and giving you better tools with which to hunt them.

There are, however, plenty of differences.

A whole new World

Monster Hunter World Anjanath
Click to enlarge

Monster Hunter World is the game that got me into the franchise for a variety of reasons. For one, it marked the series' debut on the PS4 and Xbox One when it launched in 2018, using that power to build a huge ecosystem of flora and fauna. It's not open-world, but it is a far cry from the fenced-off arenas of prior games that required a brief loading screen in between.

It also streamlined many of the series' more complex and obtuse mechanics. Things like having a non-consumable whetstone so there's no need to carry a dozen of them to sharpen weapons may have been baulked at by longtime fans once upon a time, but it's just one of a hundred ways Monster Hunter World removes the friction of, well, monster hunting.

Monster Hunter Rise may have launched in 2021, but being a timed exclusive for the Nintendo Switch meant it arguably lacked the visual fidelity of World. Its worlds are still more open, but they're also less detailed.

New heights

Monster Hunter Rise Wirebug
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On the other hand, the worlds in Rise are more vertical, utilising a new tool called the Wirebug to propel players to literal new heights.

The Wirebug plays into combat, too, allowing for faster dodges, and the ability to use flashy moves and mount monsters - although the latter is an option in World with the right weapons and tactics.

The end result makes World feel like the bigger game in terms of scale, but Rise offers a more aggressive combat style that provides more instant gratification. Each offers a deep progression system, though, and plenty of reasons to persevere through their tougher combat scenarios.

Monster Hunter World Iceborne
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As if that wasn't enough, each game has its own expansion. Iceborne adds a new region and a host of new hunts to World, while Sunbreak offers similar for Rise. Neither is likely to change your opinion of the base game, but for those hunters looking for a challenge, you'll find plenty of that in either.

In terms of monsters, World has 94 monsters (including Iceborne), while Rise has 72. Some of those are smaller ones, but keep in mind many of Rise's are new to the franchise whereas World offers more returning ones.

Should you play Monster Hunter Rise or Monster Hunter World?

Monster Hunter Rise Wirebug
Click to enlarge

I've been getting this question a fair amount since the Wilds trailer was shown, and as much as I love Monster Hunter Rise, I'd have to recommend World - even though it's almost 6 years old at the time of writing.

While both games are streamlined enough for new players to comfortably invest in, World's scale trumps Rise, with labyrinthine biomes that feel genuinely believable as ecosystems. It's also the better-looking game, while still running great on Steam Deck.

Rise is still an incredible game, though, and the only one of the two you can play on Switch, which may make the decision for you.

Lloyd is GGRecon's Editor-in-Chief, having previously worked at Dexerto and Gfinity, and occasionally appears in The Daily Star newspaper. A big fan of loot-based games including Destiny 2 and Diablo 4, when he's not working you'll find him at the gym or trying to play Magic The Gathering.

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