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  1. Monster Hunter Rise was another outstanding entry for the series, continuing the quality of life improvements introduced in World and adding fun new ways to move and fight. It was missing one thing though: the ultimate challenge of g-rank hunts. The recent DLC, Sunbreak, remedies that issue while introducing new monsters, silkbind skills, and types of hunts. Now dubbed master rank, these hunts feature old and new monsters with faster attacks and tougher situations for a true test of your hunting skills. This is exactly the kind of intense action that the Monster Hunter series is known for, and longtime fans will love every minute of it. After solving the crisis in Kamura, your hunter encounters a new problem: a monster not native to the area has appeared. You learn it's from the neighboring kingdom of Elgado, so you set off to help them cull the monster population and get to the bottom of why these beasts have grown more aggressive. Storytelling is never a main selling point in a Monster Hunter game, but Sunbreak does a great job of introducing new NPCs with personality and charm. There are several new cutscenes that make the NPCs feel more directly involved in your adventure, and their dialogue skirts the line between cute and corny, as always. Most importantly though, Sunbreak introduces two new types of hunts, Follower Quests and Support Surveys. These hunts are only for solo players but they let you team up with NPCs in a sort of pseudo-multiplayer experience. This is the kind of addition to the game that I didn't even know I wanted, but loved playing through. Each NPC can equip a few different weapons, so you can sort of build out a team to hunt with, and they do provide actual help during the hunt by fighting, healing you, and sometimes even riding monsters to attack your main target. At the same time though they don't make hunts trivial; the difficulty is still there, and you're still doing the majority of the work, but having NPC buddies along for the ride is an excellent way of making the story and setting feel more involved in the actual gameplay. And yes, hunts are definitely more difficult in Sunbreak compared to the base game, though the challenge rarely feels unfair. In master rank, monsters move and attack so quickly that you have to learn a new flow of battle, which is always an exciting prospect for hunters. At the same time the gameplay still feels overall easier than past Monster Hunter games, so newer players shouldn't feel too intimidated by the increased difficulty of master rank. There'll be some painful learning moments, but every hunter has been there at one point or another. The monsters themselves are a little bit of a mixed bag. The main three additions, The Three Lords, are excellent, both from a design and combat perspective. They have all of the style and intense challenge that defines Monster Hunter. The other new additions though are a little less exciting, with monsters returning from past games or new elemental variants of monsters from Rise. In the end, having any new monsters to hunt is a fun addition, but it feels like Sunbreak could have gone a little further with more new monsters. The DLC also introduces a handy new feature that allows you to swap between two sets of silkbind skills, the movement and combat techniques introduced in Rise. The value of this new feature entirely depends on how you play the game. More variety is good, but some players likely have a set of skills that they already prefer and won't feel much pull to swap around with different sets. More frustratingly, Sunbreak doesn't give you the most interesting new silkbind skills until you've progressed through quite a bit of master rank. Getting the new skills earlier would've helped highlight the value of swapping between two silkbind sets. With two new locations to explore, over a dozen new monsters, and a whole variety of new equipment to forge, Sunbreak adds a substantial amount of content to Rise. There are also planned updates through this year and next to continue to add new monsters and locations, so it's safe to say you get plenty for your money with this DLC. All of this doesn't even factor in the allure of multiplayer hunts or grinding for specific materials. At this rate it looks like Sunbreak can easily last you as long as the base game, and most likely more than that. It also looks and sounds just as good as Rise. The new monsters (and more importantly, the new weapons and armor forged from their materials) look fantastic, the frame rate runs smoothly, and the soundtrack has some excellent tunes for death-defying and thrilling hunts. Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak delivers more of the fantastic gameplay established in the base game with more challenging hunts, stylish new monsters, and new features that range from helpful additions to fun new ways to play solo. Hunters will love having even more content to sink their teeth into, and even more challenging hunts to hone their skills and perfect their play styles. Rating: 9 out of 10 Hunts
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