Monster Hunter’s Sunbreak expansion is a tonal shift from Rise

Monster Hunter’s Sunbreak expansion is a tonal shift from Rise

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak is the upcoming expansion to Monster Hunter Rise, last year’s Nintendo Switch-only Monster Hunter game that came to PC in early 2022. It promises new monsters to fight, new companions to battle with, an expansion to Rise’s Switch Skill system, and more high-flying adventures with the Wirebug.

But Sunbreak is not just “more” of Rise, and instead breaks from the Japanese folklore theme of its base game entirely. In a translated interview, Polygon spoke to Sunbreak producer Ryozo Tsujimoto and director Yoshitake Suzuki about how the expansion capitalizes on Rise’s success while also giving players something fresh.

In a video demo for Sunbreak, Capcom showed two new monster hunts, one of which took place in the expansion’s creepy new area, The Citadel.

“With Rise, it was more focused on the Japanese folklore motif,” said Tsujimoto. “But with the addition of new Master Rank quests on the Sunbreak side, once [players] start taking place in those, they will be more fully immersed in the Western motif.”

Tsujimoto was referring to Sunbreak’s clear interest in the Gothic castles of classic movie monsters like Dracula — the expansion is Monster Hunter by way of Castlevania, or Capcom’s own Resident Evil Village. The Citadel is a European-looking mountain glade filled with ruins and foliage.

Despite its scenic beauty, a purple, ominous haze sits over the map, imbuing the area with a sinister feel. As players climb over the dilapidated castle turrets and into the snowy mountains, it should be clear that they’re nowhere near Kamura Village (the main player hub in Rise) anymore.

Image: A group of Hunters battle a giant ice wolf in Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak Image: Capcom

But these tonal shifts should not be taken as a philosophy change with Sunbreak. Despite the new mise en scène, Capcom worked to preserve and enhance the map movement that we lauded in our review of Rise last year.

“One of our focuses in creating Sunbreak was really to introduce a new location that could really take advantage of the new features and the new mobility that we’ve kind of introduced in the base game,” said Suzuki. “[…] It was important for us not to diverge from the overall size from the previous fields in the game. […] So the mobility was definitely integral to how we went into designing the layout of this new map.”

However, Suzuki clarified Capcom was still careful not to overwhelm Hunters with too much play space.

In the clips we saw, Hunters were able to fly over cliffs and mountains using the Wirebug, strategically dropping into one area of the map from another. The mountains look new and imposing, but the map folds in on itself nicely — like many of Rise’s best maps — making for easy travel between zones.

Just as the Iceborne expansion did with Monster Hunter World, Sunbreak shows off Capcom’s work to continue the features players loved with the base release, just with far harsher monsters and quests. But unlike Iceborne, Sunbreak’s aesthetic shift is giving players a very different world to explore. Ideally, this will give the expansion a newer feel than Iceborne did, even if Hunters are using the same tricks to navigate a similarly sized world.

Capcom will release Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak on June 30.