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The Best Animals In Monster Hunter Rise Are The Ones You Don’t Kill

Whether you’ve never played a second of Monster Hunter or eat Rathalos for breakfast, you’ll probably know that the core focus of the series is tied to hunting monsters. But my favourite thing about Monster Hunter Rise is the fact my dog and cat come everywhere with me. In fact, I’d rather hang out with them in Kamura for ten hours than take on some weirdly enormous badger tortoise with my trusty dual blades. That’s why half the time I’ve spent with Rise so far has felt a bit like I’m actually playing a game called Animal Friender.

I haven’t played a Monster Hunter game in a long time. World seemed a bit daunting at launch – and became far more daunting the longer I left it alone – so I’ve been excited for Rise for ages purely because it’s a Monster Hunter game that looks like it will be around for a while, but is also one I can jump into right at the beginning so I’m not left for dust. Ideally, I’d like to at least know my way around glaives and gunlances before I embarrass myself in an online raid by Wirebugging off the side of the map. So I reluctantly coughed up some money and said, “Okay, we’re getting really into Monster Hunter this time around.”

What I wasn’t expecting when I booted up Animal Friender Rise, though, was the ability to customize my own Palamute and Palico. I mean, I knew they were in the game, and that I’d get to name them, although I had no idea about how detailed the customization options were going to be. I must have spent over an hour designing my dastardly duo – switching their fur color, messing around with different ear styles, and deciding whether I wanted my cat to sound like a spry kitten or a 20-year-old grump.

At first I wanted to call my Palamute Woody after my real-life golden retriever, but then I decided I didn’t want to see a virtual version of my dog getting smacked around by monsters every five minutes. I kept the golden coloration, but I changed his ears and tail so he didn’t resemble my dog too much. Instead of naming him Woody, I ended up going with Moro, after everyone’s favourite wolfy boy from Princess Mononoke. Great choice, I know.

Next up was my Palico, who I designed with a similar color scheme. To keep the Ghibli trend going, I named this lad Totoro. Both Moro and Totoro have one bright blue eye, which matches my hunter’s eyes, and one bright pink one, which connects them to each other, because I’m a pretentious little git when it comes to customizing characters. But this is what makes these two lads so special, isn’t it – their names, their link to one another, and the bond they share with me. And so I reiterate: my favourite thing about Animal Friender Rise is the animals you don’t stab and skin for a talon, or something. I’m all about the animals we get to be mates with, who prove that maybe monsters aren’t so bad after all. They’re just animals, you say? Listen, mate. Senri the Mailman is a talking cat. He’s a monster, alright?

There are loads more animals outside of my two best buds. I got a Cahoot yesterday, a little owl lad who I named after Ku from the Ori games. I couldn’t customize him, mind, but his coat is fortunately quite similar to Moro’s and Totoro’s, which makes them a sort of golden-furred trifecta of absolute legends. This is probably why I keep calling Moro and just sprinting around Rise’s Ruins map, speeding right past all the lizards and velociraptors because who cares about them. I’m just here to bring my dog for a walk. My cat is basically Puss in Boots from Shrek, but with healing magic and a background based on one of my favourite Hayao Miyazaki films. Ku is flying around somewhere, meaning that Ori is canonically a spirit in Animal Friender Rise now. See that tree you just Wirebugged up? That’s a spirit tree. I am playing this game correctly, I swear.

Anyway, as you can probably tell, I haven’t made very much progress in Animal Friender Rise yet. I’ve played for about three or four hours and done like, one quest, maybe two. I just can’t stop hanging out with my animal buds. Are you sure Kamura is about to get stampeded by a group of monsters that band together once every 50 years? I mean, are you really sure? Because I’d much rather play fetch with Moro than bother with any of this hunting malarkey. I’m decent with a gunlance, so I can probably knock a few monsters’ teeth in if it’s absolutely necessary, but I’d much rather chill out with my gang of animal pals. Congrats on Animal Friender Rise, Capcom. Really enjoying it so far.

Next: Valheim Has Been A Better Pandemic Game For Me Than Animal Crossing

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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.

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