All About Followers with Sunbreak Lead Follower Designer Junyeol Lee

Aug 05, 2022 // Shibata

Hello everyone! Koichi Shibata here, reporting from the Monster Hunter Rise dev floor!

For our next round of Monster Hunter Rise interviews, I’ll be talking to Junyeol Lee about Sunbreak’s “Followers” and the new single player quests called “Follower Quests”!

Q1: To start off, could you give us a quick explanation of what you worked on for Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak?

A1: I’m the lead designer for the “Followers.” I’m in charge of the gameplay ideas, content, and production of anything Follower-related.

Q2: How was this completely new element implemented into the game?

A2: It started with Yoshitake Suzuki, the Director, saying he wanted to have a sort of “Buddy Hunter” that would fight alongside the player. So we threw lots of ideas around and we figured that it would be the most fun to hunt together with the characters that appear in the world of Monster Hunter, and they wouldn’t just be characters you would be fighting alongside with, but they would actively join in on other elements of the hunt as well, and that’s how we ended up with the concept of “Followers.”

We tried out a lot of gameplay and content ideas as well.

Ultimately, we wanted players to really feel the connection between these characters, so we added dialogue to the start and end of these quests, and even conversations between the Followers, to give more life to the characters.

Q3: Looking at comments on Social Media, there seems to have been a lot of positive feedback from players who like the fact that Followers help out by healing you or placing traps, and that they’re very reliable in how actively they attack the monsters. How do you feel about this?

A3: We received a lot more positive feedback than we expected, so we’re very happy.

Players have been putting up lots of clips and screenshots, not just of fights with monsters, but just posing with their favorite characters, or getting into all kinds of fun hijinks with their Followers, so we’ve all been greatly enjoying watching what people are up to.

We’re very grateful that people are having so much fun with this feature.

Followers aren’t just inorganic robots, but they’re unique characters each with their own strengths and weaknesses. You can see this on the Follower Info screen by looking at their hunting style, their skills, and their available weapons, but also just by looking at how they behave during hunts. For instance, Admiral Galleus may look like he doesn’t have any particular kind of hunting behavior, but he actually very frequently uses healing items, ailment-cleansing items, and buffing items during combat. This, combined with the Wide-Range skill, makes him a great asset to the player’s team, providing valuable support.

On important investigation quests, you’ll be able to take two Followers along with you. There are various combinations of Followers possible, so try to think about which ones best suit your play style to optimize your hunts.

Q4: Was there anything you were very particular about when implementing the Followers?

A4: The two key terms were “likeable characters” and “similar feel to multiplayer.”

In order to make these quests feel like multiplayer, we were very particular about giving the Followers natural behavior. We didn’t just want the player to think they were fighting alongside AI, but we wanted these characters to be actually reliable in combat. If you just have them repeat the same determined behavior over and over, it won’t feel natural, and it’ll just feel like you’re being accompanied by a robot, so we made sure that sometimes they’ll just run around, and carefully avoiding the monster while healing etc., to make it feel more as if you’re playing with other hunters in multiplayer.

It’s easy to make an NPC that can just destroy everything, but they key to making it feel as if they’re actually fighting with you is to have them behave realistically, which was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it.

The ultimate goal of Followers was for the players to get more engrossed in the story and the world by interacting with these characters, so after we managed to get them to behave realistically, we focused on showing their unique personalities in combat. Based on the character settings, we decided which weapons they’d be able to use, what kind of items they’d use most, and what kind of actions they’d perform, so each Follower has their own charm and flavor.

Especially when taking two Followers with you, there are some fun conversations, and the way they respond to gestures and poses, or just hanging around is really fun, so there’s more to it than just seeing how they behave in action. We hope everyone picks their favorite characters and enjoys taking them out on hunts!

Q5: Do you have any final comments for the fans?

A5: Thanks to all of you for playing our game. We’re all very grateful!

– Closing Comment from Shibata:

Thank you, Junyeol!

I always have fun going out on hunts with Followers, because of their quips during quests, the dialogue amongst the characters, and the various actions they take during combat. I hope you try out lots of different combinations too!

Next time, I’ll be talking to Satoshi Hori and Mana Ogura, who worked on the sound design for Sunbreak!