Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak – Could this be the series' best expansion yet?

by Pierre Bell

With the changes coming to Monster Hunter: Rise in Sunbreak, one of Capcom's best games is going to get even better.

It's no secret I'm really into Monster Hunter: Rise: as well as pumping over 100 hours into the game on Switch, I started playing the most recent addition to the action-RPG series even more intently when it came to PC earlier this year.

A quick rundown of all the information we've learned about Sunbreak over the last few months.

Sure, it doesn't quite have the depth (or breadth) of Monster Hunter: World, but Rise does everything I want from the series; it brings new monsters, it gives me new moves to learn, and it gives me a whole new playground to dive around, blow things up in, and run away from. No wonder it managed to ship 5 million units in a week, ey?

With Sunbreak, it looks like we're getting all of that again. If you've played Monster Hunter for a while, you'll be used to the rhythm Capcom is in with major releases: we get a base game, then a big expansion. The expansion brings new ranks, new hunts, new items, and new challenges. The last big Monster Hunter expansion came in the form of Iceborne for Monster Hunter: World – and it extended the game's life in a pretty meaningful way.

You can expect the same with Sunbreak. From yesterday's blowout presentation alone, we know we're getting a lot of impressive content right out the gate. The Switch Skill Swap ability, Follower Quests, vampiric new Elder Dragon, Malzenom all headline proceedings – and there are augmented existing monsters, returning beasts 3DS players will enjoy, and more endemic life elemetns to come, too.

Fun fact: Seregios is sometimes called Steve amongst Capcom staff. Yes, really.

I'm personally pretty excited about the Flying Wyvern Seregios, also known as the “thousand-edged dragon,” which makes its return from Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate in Sunbreak. The rapid – and lethal – wyvern makes use of myriad high-flying maneuvers and a body brimming with Bladescales coating its body to wield both offensive and defensive properties by the clawful. Zipping around to combat its mobility – whilst also trying to keep yourself alive whilst inflicted with a terrible 'bleed' status – is no mean feat. I'm excited to do this fight without having to rely on the weird little controller nub that the New 3DS was so weirdly fond of.

In terms of new monsters, it's the Elder Dragon Malzeno we've got to get our sharpened weapons ready for. This curious beast commands a swarm of parasitic entities that can capture and then absorb the energy of their prey. I imagine this means we all need to be extremely careful about other monsters wandering into the battlefield when we're taking on a Malzeno. Given it can evolve into "an even more terrible form" if the battle drags on long enough, I think this fight will have a very different rhythm from what we're used to in Rise.

Between its parasite buddies siphoning off other creatures and the “bloodblight” it can stack on us as players, these hunts will result in a good amount of carts before people really understand how to do it properly. Good. That's the kind of challenge these expansions are so well-equipped to introduce.

Malzeno looks like one of the series' best fights in years.

Speaking of being well-equipped, there's no point in beefing up the opponenets we're facing if we're going in half-cocked ourselves, is it? Enter the Switch Skill Swap ability. To put it simply, this allows you to set different Switch Skills in your loadouts – and you can hot-swap between these whilst on a Hunt.

Should you find yourself under attack while performing a Switch Skill Swap, you can perform a Swap Evade in any direction to avoid danger, even cancel out into a special attack. We got a brief look at these in the trailer (below) but Capcom promises to show off more – one for each weapon type – via a set of short videos from May 16.

I'll hold my thoughts on how decent these will be until then, but from what we've seen so far, they look set to change the game – again! – as much as Silkbind Attacks did in the base version of Rise. Expect awkward timing windows, pressing about eight buttons at once, and memorising more inputs for your mental monster-hunting flowcart. Even the thought of 'labbing' more flashy Sword/Shield strings is getting me excited.

Flitting between movesets on the fly? Sounds prefect.

Finally, we're seeing some pretty meaningful updates to the game's single-player content, too. Follower Quests are single-player hunts that allow you to accept and complete quests with your favorite story characters – and each mission will proffer some sort of unique reward. Each Follower has its own specialization, and will even assist you by recovering health, placing traps, and even riding monsters.

Fiorayne, Luchika, Jae, Admiral Galleus, and Master Arlow have been name-checked so far, but I imagine there'll be more in the final game... maybe even one per weapon. That'd make sense, right? For players that are shy about jumping into lobbies, but still want to experience the sheer joy that is Monster Hunter with more than one player, these missions look great – and it gives online-obsessives reasons to pursue more solo ventures, too. Everyone's a winner (except the monsters).

Hinoa and Minoto will even join you on hunts!

These expansions are a smart move for Capcom; Iceborne alone netted a massive 5 million sales for the publisher, a nice chaser for the 15 million sales the base game managed to rack up as of 2020.

It stands to reason Sunbreak will do the same, again – granted, there are less platforms for this to work on (PC and Switch won't see the same numbers as Xbox, PlayStation and PC), but even so you can see that Capcom cares deeply about this very profitable series, and there's no expectation that the quality of the expansion will be anything less than stellar.

As of June 2021, Monster Hunter has shipped a ludicrous 75 million units in its lifetime. I think it's perfectly reasonable for Sunbreak alone to add a nice couple-of-million garnish to that number. Like a runaway Magnamalo, the series just cannot be stopped.