By Matthew Byrd

To millions across the world Monster Hunter Rise is the biggest game of 2021 so far. Millions of others likely just find themselves asking the question: "What is Monster Hunter?"

Monster Hunter began as a way for Capcom to test the PlayStation 2's online play capabilities. The other two games they developed for that purpose were Auto Modellista and Resident Evil Outbreak.

Right from the start, Monster Hunter games have focused on hunting giant monsters with the help of even larger weapons. However, there are a couple of qualities that really help set the games apart.

The first is Monster Hunter's survival and gathering elements. Players are required to constantly gather resources to upgrade their equipment. Many of those resources come from fallen enemies.

The second is Monster Hunter's cooperative options. Monster Hunter is best experienced with a friend due to its sometimes challenging gameplay and unique multiplayer options.

Monster Hunter emphasizes preparation above pure action. The game's methodical mechanics and deep systems have long made it popular among gamers who love the anticipation of a battle as much as the battle.

Monster Hunter is the sixth major installment in the Monster Hunter franchise. It follows in the footsteps of 2018's Monster Hunter World by utilizing a more elaborate "open-world" design.

Monster Hunter Rise's biggest new feature is the ability to ride more monsters across the world. This feature emphasizes the game's open-world elements while offering fresh challenges.

Monster Hunter Rise also introduces a new survival mode that sees you defend a small village against waves of monsters. These new features already have some calling Rise one of the best Switch games.

Mostly, though, Rise sticks to what brought the series this far. Why change? Monster Hunter is Capcom's second best-selling franchise ever after the Resident Evil series.

You’ll be able to see what Monster Hunter Rise is about for yourself when the game launches for Nintendo Switch on March 26. Despite imitators, it remains a franchise like no other.

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