Everyone is familiar with the Monster Hunter games. They’re the epitome of skill-based combat and hitbox-porn, right up there with the likes of Dark Souls. Of course, this very fact, along with the steep learning curve and mechanics makes the Monster Hunter games rather hard to get into. Enter, Monster Hunter Stories, a game based in the world of Monster Hunter where you don’t actually hunt monsters, but tame them. Think Monster Hunter meets Pokemon. Considering this is Monster Hunter Stories 2, it’s a formula that works, and not much has been changed from the first game. With that being said, let’s get into the review.
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin – Story
The good thing about Monster Hunter Stories 2 is that you don’t need to have played the first game, or even Monster Hunter games in general to get into it. Sure there are a few recurring characters here and there, but it’s really not significant enough to warrant needing to play the first game. Like with all Monster Hunter games, you start with character creation, and there’s a decent amount of customisation to go around, so if you, like us, enjoy character creation, you might be here a while. Like in the first Stories game, your character doesn’t really talk much – or at all for that matter.
In Monster Hunter Stories you take on the role of a rider, whose job, unlike the hunters, is to tame monsters, rather than kill them. Although you will be doing a fair bit of monster killing anyway.
The game’s story is pretty weak. The story has never really been a strong suit for any of the Monster Hunter games, sure there’s plenty of rich lore and background info, but as for why your character is doing what they’re doing, you’re a bit in the dark. As long as you’re not really bothered with the details, you should be fine. If you’re a stickler for that kinda stuff, you will probably be bothered.
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin – Gameplay
Monster Hunter Stories 2 plays like a traditional JRPG, with turn based combat. In typical JRPG fashion, the grind is real and there’s lots to do, which is not necessarily a bad thing depending on, well, you. There’s a quest system, which is essentially a ‘go to this location and bonk this monster’ type of deal. While you’re free roaming you can encounter wild monsters, which will start the game’s turn-based combat. Combat in Monster Hunter Stories follows a rock, paper, scissors format. You’ve got three attack types: power, speed and technical. You need to pick the right attack type to counter the move the opposing monster telegraphs. In Monster Hunter Stories you’re also accompanied by your own monster – dubbed “Monstie” to distinguish it from the monsters you’re fighting – who will help you in combat. Both your monstie and the monsters you face in combat have a primary attack type and element, which you need to guess the first time you face them, in order to effectively counter them.
Figuring out how to beat a monster you’re facing the first time is a lot of fun. There are multiple phases to every fight, and monsters won’t follow the same patterns for every phase. Just like with Monster Hunter, your choice of weapon also makes a difference, depending on the monster you’re hunting and how your weapon will affect their different body parts. You can also double team monsters with a combo move along with your Monstie, dubbed Kinship skills. While the first time is the most fun, once you’ve figured a monster out, you’ve pretty much figured it out forever, so they can never get the jump on you again. Which kinda sucks. There aren’t too many different monsters you can face, so you’ll eventually get used to the patterns of every monster you can face, which in turn starts becoming quite repetitive. Fortunately, while battles are pretty long, you can speed them up, and eventually even resolve them instantly.
Another aspect of Monster Hunter Stories is the Monsties. Collecting and raising them will take up a big portion of your playtime in Monster Hunter Stories 2, and it’s time well spent. The world is dotted with monster dens, where you will find eggs. You swipe these eggs, which have patterns on them indicating whether you’ve already collected the monster inside or not. Of course, you can get even deeper into the whole collecting and breeding thing and fine-tune your monsties to have perfect stats and genes and whatnot. While this won’t really make too much of a difference in regular battles, it does in multiplayer battles. Oh and the optional subquest battles, which are comparatively more difficult.
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin – Graphics
The game looks amazing. The battles, the biomes, the monsters themselves, the animations, attack effects, special moves, all of it looks amazing in Monster Hunter Stories 2. It looks so good that you would be forgiven for forgetting that the game’s getting repetitive because it looks so damn good. You can clearly see the love and attention to detail that has gone into the animations in Monster Hunter Stories 2, which brings the game to life. Just the act of riding your monstie buddy across open plains is beautiful. Each monstie also has its own animations, and have different ways they move around. We don’t think we need to mention the monsters themselves, which are obviously top-notch, just like they have always been in Monster Hunter games. The graphics are slightly more anime when compared to Monster Hunter World, but overall, no complaints from us in the graphics department.
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin – Verdict
The story in Monster Hunter Stories 2 is ironically its biggest weakness. However, it covers up for it in just about every other department, which ultimately leads to us not really minding the lack of a story. Clearly, even Capcom is aware of this. There’s a lot more content planned for the game, and none of it expands on the story, it’s more monsters and monsties to tame. They know what the game does well and they’re sticking to it, and we’re all for it. With Monster Hunter Stories 2, what you have is a game that’s for all the people who weren’t too keen on the Monster Hunter gameplay, and were looking for another way to sink their teeth into the expansive Monster Hunter universe.
SKOAR! – 8/10
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows
Publishers: Capcom U.S.A., Inc., Capcom
Developers: Capcom, Marvelous Inc.
Played on: Microsoft Windows
Price: INR 3,499 (Steam)