What Monster Hunter Rise’s excellent PC port could mean for Japanese games on the platform
On January 12, 2022, Monster Hunter Rise finally made its way to PC. While I haven’t written much about the game here, longtime readers will know that I’m a fan of the series, who played its predecessor Monster Hunter World a lot. That said, the lack of a Nintendo Switch meant that I wasn’t able to pick Rise up when it first launched in March of 2021. However, having to wait for the PC version may have been fortuitous in that it let me experience what may be one of the most competent PC ports of a game from Capcom.
Now Monster Hunter as a franchise hasn’t really had a stellar history on PC. Monster Hunter World‘s PC release was fraught with quite a number of bugs and glitches. This was despite the fact that the game was on Capcom’s old MT Framework engine, a game engine that had powered other games with competent PC ports.
With Monster Hunter Rise‘s PC launch then, Capcom’s Monster Hunter team had a lot of work to do to win over fans.
A very competent PC port
While Monster Hunter Rise‘s PC launch was far from bug-free (what modern game launch truly is), it’s far from the mess that was Monster Hunter World‘s PC release. Indeed, Steam notes that user reviews for the game are “Very Positive.” Helping this is the fact that, not only was the game running on a new engine—the REach for the Moon engine (RE Engine for short) used in the latest Resident Evil and Devil May Cry titles—, Capcom had also given the game a graphical update during the porting process.
The PC version of Monster Hunter Rise comes with a fresh coat of paint in the form of high-resolution textures to help the game look better than it ever did on Switch. Sure, Monster Hunter World and its Iceborne expansion still look much better, but Rise on PC with the new textures isn’t far behind.
This is on top of the ability to play the game at as high a framerate as my hardware will allow. Rise on Switch infamously struggled to hit its 30 fps framerate cap at times. This is not the case on PC. On my own, admittedly above-average computer, the game had no trouble hitting triple-digit framerates, often beyond the 144hz refresh rate of my monitor.
All-in-all, Monster Hunter Rise‘s PC version is a very good-looking game that runs quite smoothly.
A renewed focus on PC
For anyone paying attention to news from Capcom HQ in Osaka, that Monster Hunter Rise runs so well on PC shouldn’t be a surprise. Back in October, Capcom Chief Operating Officer Haruhiko Tsujimoto stated that they would be focusing on the PC platform for both the Monster Hunter and Resident Evil franchise.
“PC is driving global sales,” Tsujimoto stated. “We have recently stated that we will make the PC our main platform. At this year’s Tokyo Game Show, we focused on exhibiting the PC version of Monster Hunter Rise, and I think people will be able to experience the change in our approach.”
What made this a momentous moment is that, for the longest time, Japanese developers tended to not give PC ports the same importance as console releases. PC ports of some of the biggest Japanese-developed titles often released months or even years after their console versions—that is if they get released on PC at all. And those PC releases often came with bugs, the most recent example of which is Final Fantasy VII Remake‘s buggy PC port.
For the longest time, many fans had the impression that Japanese developers thought that PCs were only for independent “doujin” (fan-made) titles, often within the visual novel genre, and not for big AAA or even AA games. This impression wasn’t helped by some Japanese developers actually being surprised when their games did well on PC, as was the case with Atlus and Persona 4 Golden. The success of the latter game actually prompted Atlus’ parent company Sega to announce that they’d focus on more PC.
A renaissance of Japanese games on PC?
Of course, a company saying that it will put more focus on PC is one thing, them actually doing so is another. For example, while Sega promised to focus more on PC, especially with Persona, there hasn’t been much from them or Atlus about PC ports of their titles—save for an upcoming re-release of fighting-game spinoff Persona 4 Ultimax that’s been criticized for lacking modern networking. (Read: Fighting in the time of COVID: the problems of online play and how the community has adapted)
Capcom, however, seems to be putting its money where its mouth is, as demonstrated by the excellent Monster Hunter Rise PC port. Beyond that, the PC ports of other games on the RE Engine—such as Resident Evil Village, Devil May Cry V—have also been pretty good.
And while other Japanese developers are still making some missteps—again, hello Final Fantasy VII Remake on PC—other smaller companies have also been giving the platform more love.
Over the past few months, Arc System Works has been updating the PC versions of some games in its BlazBlue fighting game franchise with modern, rollback networking, helping drive their sales. Speaking of fighting games, SNK is planning a simultaneous PC and console release for its flagship King of Fighters XV. Prior to this, the PC versions of SNKs big-name fighting games arrived years after they were released on console.
All these and more show that Japanese developers have finally realized the importance of the PC market. Hopefully, this means that it won’t be too long before competent and timely PC releases of Japanese games become the norm.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to play Monster Hunter Rise, especially since its Sunbreak expansion is set to arrive later this year, simultaneously on both Switch and PC.
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