Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin Review

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is the follow-up to Monster Hunter Stories on 3DS, and for those who don’t know, it takes classic Monster Hunter gameplay and turns it on its head. Monster Hunter Stories 2 is a traditional turn-based JRPG that rivals the Pokemon series.

Instead of facing ferocious monsters head-on with friends in fast-paced real-time battles, Stories takes a different approach by letting players become monster riders. These riders do not live to hunt monsters, but believe that monsters, large and small, can be friends and become one’s ally. By forming bonds with monsters, knights can use them in battle and perform all-powerful special attacks to destroy threatening beasts. Considering that Monster Hunter’s core gameplay has remained largely the same over the past 20 years or so, it’s pretty surprising to see it work with a completely different combat system.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin begins with players discovering that monsters are rampant across the land thanks to these mysterious glowing pits that pop up everywhere. After being taken care of by a baby Rathalos, the protagonist must team up with several different characters to figure out what’s going on and unravel the Rathalos mystery that could bring the end of the world. It all sounds very high-stakes, but Monster Hunter 2’s narrative is rarely engaging. However, that doesn’t mean players won’t have a great time.

monster  hunter  stories  2 main  character While the story can be overblown and clichd at times, there are some silly jokes and witty banter to keep the laughs going, especially from Navirou, a feline who acts as a guide for the main characters. He’s hilarious, and players are likely to get giggles everywhere due to his wacky antics and physical humor. It’s worth noting, however, that Navirou’s English voice isn’t very good, so that can easily be changed from the menu if anyone prefers the Japanese game. It also makes the game more authentic, since it’s a Japanese-developed game.

While Monster Hunter Stories 2 is somewhat lacking in narrative, the game makes up for it by having an engaging and satisfying gameplay loop that can be as addictive as Pokemon, thanks to the “gotta catch them all” “Appeal. When the player walks from one area to another, he will encounter different monsters, and once in contact with the monsters, he will start fighting. They all live in their natural habitats, and hardcore Monster Hunter fans will definitely want to collect as many of them as possible. By exploring monster lairs scattered around the world, players will have the opportunity to collect a monster egg, which can later be hatched in the town’s stable.

There are lairs everywhere, and at first, fans will enjoy exploring them for special loot and fighting monsters for extra XP, but these monster lairs, as well as some of the main areas in the game, can be a chore, unexplorable and lacking any unique design. At times the game sends the player through one area after another, and while they’re pretty simple, they take so long that they feel like padding.

monster  hujnter  stories  2 paoluma Monster Hunter Stories 2 is a visually stunning game at times, but due to its bland map design, exploring the world and its little nooks and crannies isn’t as fun as it should be. Thankfully, there are plenty of fast-travel locations to choose from, and players can just about teleport from anywhere on the map to any previous location via the menu. It’s a helpful addition that makes it easier to hunt down specific monsters or travel to a location to farm XP. It made the whole experience easier, thank you very much.

Another way Capcom has made Monster Hunter Stories approachable is through its combat system. At first glance, it might look like rock-paper-scissors, but it’s much more than that. Players will fight alongside their leader, the Monstie (a combination of monster and bestie), against other iconic Monster Hunter monsters.

The player can deal damage to enemies with three types of weapons (blunt, sword, and arrows), but can also perform three types of attacks. Green is technique, red is power, and blue is speed. Green beats blue, blue beats red, red beats green – it’s the same as typing in Pokemon. So, for example, if a monster uses a speed attack, but the player attacks with a tech attack, the tech attack will win because green beats blue.

monster  hunter  stories  2 battle Players can spend bloodline points to use special skills, but if bloodline points are stored, players can ride their own monsters to cast powerful skills unique to that monster. The moves are fun to use and gorgeous. It’s worth watching each action at least once to see what each monster does, and the battles themselves are a visual spectacle. Every attack looks quick and fluid, and players have the option to increase combat speed, which is a win for anyone trying to grind or beat the game faster. Players can switch weapons at any time during the battle, and it is very enjoyable to find out the tricks of monsters.

Combat in the first half of the game is fairly simple and doesn’t challenge the player much, but as the game progresses, the difficulty will start to rise. Players really need to strategize in combat, making sure to keep the right monsters out depending on the situation. If the monster mainly uses powerful attacks, it is best to bring out monsters that focus on speed attacks. Then, if the opponent gets angry and enters a rage state, it may turn into a technical attack, which also means that the player also needs to adapt.

monster  hunter  stories  2 tigrex What’s really interesting about the combat system is that it rewards players for knowing these Monster Hunter creatures. If a player confronts Tigrex for the first time, veterans will immediately know that it uses speed attacks. However, beginners will not find the experience too difficult, because there is no game over screen. It’s a very forgiving game, and we want to make sure every player has fun, franchise or not. Since it’s a standalone story, players shouldn’t be intimidated if they haven’t played the previous games.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin does have some performance issues on Switch, especially when players enter any of the main hub areas, but otherwise, the environments look really good and the character/monster models are vibrant and colorful. Throughout the 40-hour campaign, the game manages to keep things exciting with lots of enjoyable “boss” fights, lots of different monsters to collect and train, and a simple yet captivating story that will keep players coming back for more many.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin doesn’t change the genre or do anything incredibly unique, but it’s a massive JRPG with a lot going for it. It’s a solid entry into the sub-series, and it’s recommended for anyone looking for a captivating title on Switch that doesn’t require much thought or undivided attention. It’s a very casual game for the most part, but the second half does offer some epic story moments that are satisfying and worth watching.

Monster Hunter 2 is coming to PC and Switch on July 9. Game Rant provided a Switch code for this review.

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