Monster Hunter World

Thoughts on the environmental aesthetics of Rise

MonsterHunterWorld3 - Thoughts on the environmental aesthetics of Rise
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After watching the Game Awards trailer for Monster Hunter Rise, one of the things that stuck out to me the most was the "new" area: The Flooded Forest. As someone who started with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, this map tugged at my nostalgia… But it also brought up a question about Rise's environmental aesthetic.

Both the maps we've seen from Rise share very similar color palettes: Desaturated greens, grays, and browns. Many people have said this is a continuation of World's art style… But I really don't feel that's the case. When looking at a map like the Wildspire Wastes, I see much more vibrant colors than I do in any of Rise's maps. There are oranges, reds, pinks, purples, yellows… Capcom really managed to capture the beauty of the US badlands with that map.

And here's the thing: The hub for Rise is not dull. Kamura Village has pink cherry blossoms, a red bridge, NPCs in vivid clothing, grand architecture, sweet multicolored dango… It's incredibly beautiful. Especially in comparison to the ramshackle and utilitarian Astera, which is a bunch of brown wood and grey metal.

I think this contrast is intentional and reflects the themes of Rise.

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In Monster Hunter World, the great wilderness of the New World is a spectacle to explore and thrive off of. The game's story draws clear inspiration from European colonization of the Americas, and those settlers often had similar attitudes towards nature. Settlers saw the "wilderness" as dangerous, sure, but it was also a glorious challenge. The major landmarks in World's maps like the giant tree in the Ancient Forest and the giant crystal cluster of the Elders' Recess are examples of nature's majesty and potential shining like beacons to visitors. There is very little commentary of the negative impact of humans on nature or nature on humans, or on the history between the two.

In Monster Hunter Rise, nature isn't welcoming. The Rampage is a constant looming threat against Kamura Village that every inhabitant must grow up with. The wilderness is not vibrant, but gloomy. The major landmarks of the Shrine Ruins and Flooded Forest are the crumbling abandoned ruins of past civilizations. Rise's historical inspiration is feudal Japan; feudal societies often saw nature not as an opportunity, but as an uneasy neighbor. Every time you go out into the wilds, you're reminded of what the world would be like without beautiful Kamura village: Depressing and cold and lifeless.

World is a game about conquering nature as a stranger. Rise is a game about surviving it as a neighbor.

Do any of you feel the same way?

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