Monster Hunter Rise Ruined my Favourite Weapon

It should come as no surprise that I was very excited to play Monster Hunter Rise. Having to wait almost a year, while being surrounded by people who were playing it on Switch was borderline torture. However, I’m glad I waited! Rise is fun as heck. The new roster of monsters contains a number of interesting challenges, and the increased mobility makes the game feel a lot more fluid than World. That said, not all of the changes in Rise were welcome. The updates to the Hunting Horn rubbed me the wrong way, and ultimately soured my experience. Bucket up, cause you’re in for the hottest of takes today.

When it comes to game balance, I feel that it’s a lesser known fact that changes are usually focused on representation, rather than power. People will debate if something is too strong or too weak until they’re blue in the face. However, developers aren’t necessarily concerned with making everything equally powerful. What they are concerned with is making sure every option is actively used. No one wants to spend time creating content only to see it go completely untouched. As a result, many balance changes are focused on making underrepresented options more attractive so players will choose them more often.

For a concrete example of this kind of change, we can look at how May was affected by the November update to Guilty Gear Strive. Prior to the patch, May’s Mr. Dolphin special attacks were extremely powerful. So powerful, in fact, that most players had little reason to use the majority of her other attacks. As such, Arc System Works made May’s dolphins slightly less effective by giving every character an easy counter to them. In addition, they also increased the effectiveness of some of May’s other tools like her neutral heavy slash, and command heavy slash. Thanks to these changes, players started using Mr. Dolphin less, and began to utilize the full breadth of May’s arsenal. 

Capcom is no stranger to making these same types of representation-based balance changes in their games. With Rise being a new entry in Monster Hunter, they had the perfect opportunity to alter each of the weapons in a way that wouldn’t be totally disruptive to the playerbase. Unfortunately with less than one percent of players using it in World, the Hunting Horn was a prime candidate for receiving some radical balance changes in Rise. While these changes had the intended effect, they also changed what I enjoyed about the weapon to the point where I no longer wished to play it.

Before covering the changes, it’s important to establish how the Hunting Horn used to work. It was the closest thing Monster Hunter had to a support weapon, with a primary gimmick of playing songs to cast buffs on yourself, and your teammates. Each of the weapon’s attacks (each button press) corresponds to a note, and as you swing the weapon, said notes appear in a bar on the left hand side of the screen. Playing these notes in a set sequence would queue up a song, and using your powerful performance attack would activate the buffs associated with all queued songs. In essence, you had a weapon where optimal combos involved keeping buffs active, rather than doing the highest possible damage, and I thought that was really fun.

Unfortunately, there are two main drawbacks to playing the Hunting Horn. The first being that it is absolutely glacial. There are other slow attacking weapons in the game like the Great Sword, and Hammer, however these weapons compensate for their speed with high damage. By comparison, the Hunting Horn has relatively low damage – some of the lowest in the game. The other drawback is that no one likes playing support. This is true across every genre. Support players are always in high demand because there’s a low supply of people willing to take on these roles. The majority of players would rather do anything else.

With very few players actively playing the Hunting Horn, Capcom decided it needed a complete overhaul. They sped up the attack speed of the weapon, and dramatically increased its damage output. The buffing mechanic was also simplified. Instead of having to perform a unique combo to queue a song, you only needed to use the same attack twice consecutively. The list of songs was also halved, and buffs were cast automatically – no longer requiring input from the player. The Hunting Horn had become a modern magic flute for a modern audience.

Unfortunately, I hated almost all of these changes.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked being able to do more damage. We take damage buffs in this house. What I didn’t appreciate was how the song mechanics were streamlined. Because the songs played automatically, and the combos for queueing them were so simple, you could largely ignore this aspect of the weapon while still reaping the benefits. This actively removed my favourite aspect of the Hunting Horn. I actually enjoyed having to optimize my buff rotation, and work that into my gameplan. With how it is now, the Hunting Horn feels functionally indistinct from Monster Hunter’s other weapons.

Unsurprisingly, these changes had the intended effect. The Hunting Horn’s usage stats spiked, with around 10% of the playerbase using the weapon, proving the changes were quite effective. However, in making those updates, legacy Horn players like myself found the weapon no longer had that X factor that originally drew us in. The unique mechanic that made the Hunting Horn so fun to play in World simply wasn’t there in Rise. It may be a more fluid and powerful weapon, but personally, I’d rather play any of the other weapons. At the very least, the other weapon types have unique properties that make them special, whereas the Hunting Horn just feels generic and soul-less.

Have you ever found yourself in my shoes? Was your favourite weapon altered to the point where you no longer enjoyed using it? Perhaps your favourite character was updated in a new version of a game, and you no longer enjoyed playing them? Let me know in the comments. Misery loves company, so I’d love to hear about your experiences.

12 thoughts on “Monster Hunter Rise Ruined my Favourite Weapon

  1. While not specifically weapons, but as someone who has played Dota for a long time, the ebbs and flows of buffs/nerfs with patch updates is something that comes with the territory but on occassion there is a nerf so rough that on a mid-tier unique character that I really love playing that changes a major character mechanic and is no longer fun to play.

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  2. Merely seeing this title I went “Uh oh…the Hunting Horn” Lol.

    Closest thing to this off the top of my head would be when I was still playing Overwatch and Blizzard would seemingly nerf/buff character’s ultimate attacks at random. You could usually tell who got buffed when you saw that character immediately get picked in the lobby…

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    1. Pretty common behaviour in most games I think. Though in Overwatch’s case, maybe Blizzard was trying to tune the pick rate of specific heroes. There’s an entire GDC talk where a former game designer at the company actually talked about balance, which is where I’d first heard that balance is more about representation instead of actually making the game balanced.

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      1. Yeah, that kinda confirms my suspicions. I’ve played many games where I wondered if the weapon/ability “tweaks” weren’t to encourage players to use different things and not just a single main throughout.

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  3. I do agree that the horn changes felt weird. I haven’t played much of Rise yet but so far it felt a bit too simple and the automatic activation is incredibly weird to wrap my hound around. It’s easier, yes, but now that it plays automatically, I end up hitting another button by accident and it makes things happen out of muscle memory. Meanwhile, the damage on the horn wasn’t that bad in World, so I honestly find it quite bad that they think that halving the list of songs is okay because they upped the damage… It made the weapon unique, just like how the Glaive uses the kinsect or just like how the other weapons have unique mechanics to them that come with a trade-off. The hunting horn is just a hammer with melodies now and it feels a bit weird.

    In terms of other games, I stopped playing Overwatch when they took all the characters and put them into “offense” with only six characters in the “support” and six in the “tank” group. There are twenty characters in the offense class and a lot of them don’t see any play because they’re miscategorized in my opinion. Mei felt like a Tank. Symetra (or what’s her name?) at one point was a support. They kind of lost me back then, even though I still enjoyed playing Support and Tank, simply because those classes didn’t get the same amount of characters or more options. I loved playing Reinhard but when I queue up as tank and someone picks him, I can’t pick him myself and am left to play one of the characters I don’t enjoy. Similarly, Support had the best characters but I miss playing “Utility” Characters like Mei and just being annoying and stuff.

    But then again, who plays Overwatch anyhow? And it’s not like the horn change ruined the game for me. I’m looking forward to seeing how the extra mobility feels when paired with the hammer. 😀

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    1. Pound for pound, the horn had one of the lowest damage profiles in World. It wasn’t super noticeable unless you were doing stuff like Fatalis solo in which case running with other weapons often yielded a higher level of success (for non-speedrunners). But yeah – now it’s just a generic damage weapon with a unique mechanic that is barely present, but apparently most people who’d not been playing the horn love the changes :\

      Another Overwatch comment. Man, Blizzard really got a lot of people’s knickers in a knot with that game, huh?

      I remember in the earlier versions of the game they had the heroes broken out into if they’d work better as offensive payload pushers or on defence, but I’m guessing Blizzard did what they always do and fell back on the trinity model (attack, defence, support). It’s simpler, and more readily understood by the majority of players, so even if they hadn’t done that, I imagine most people were treating all of the offense characters like damage based characters even before Blizzard recategorized them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I’m bummed out about the change but I’ll probably still play it, at least a bit. 😀

        And yeah, Overwatch was fun at first but Blizzard really screwed the players over by going into the trinity model (among other things). I mean, the game also turned incredibly toxic with hardly any repercussions for players being bigots or “just” flamers. Nerdslayer actually did a great video on Overwatch if you’re interested in a high-quality commentary on how Blizzard fucked up:

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t remember a time I’ve felt this, since I haven’t gotten much into games where it would be a problem. I did used to play AoE2 though, a very long time ago, and I know that game has gotten a ton of buffs, debuffs, and additions over the last 20+ years, mostly in the last few. I imagine playing one civilization a lot and then realizing they were made less fun to play thanks to such changes — not very nice.

    I know balance is important and not easy to maintain, but the case you bring up sounds like a pretty straightforward one of the developer killing a weapon or technique’s fun by making it too easy to use. I was never a fan of automated skills, unless maybe they’re reserved for some kind of very easy mode.

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    1. It’s a hard balance to strike. If you believe something isn’t being used because it’s too difficult then naturally you’re going to want to make it more simple. It’s just that, in the process, they kind of removed what made the weapon unique and interesting. At least, that’s how I feel. I’m of the mind that if they had only made a few of the changes, but left some of the existing stuff I’d probably still enjoy the weapon. Maybe.

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