Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin, the sequel to Monster Hunter Stories, will launch on July 9, 2021, for Nintendo Switch and PC (via Steam). With the focus of character development and narrative experience, Capcom plans to ride on the success of Monster Hunter World and the most recent Nintendo Switch release, Monster Hunter Rise, to get more players into the Monster Hunter universe. With that all out of the way, will Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin be another hit run for Switch Players to pick up?
Some notes before I begin my review: I have only played Monster Hunter main line games and the only experience with JRPGs that I can recall is Pokémon and Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. I have not touched the previous game, Monster Hunter Stories. However, that should not deter players from picking up this game as it is a new adventure. With that said, let us begin the review!
Gameplay mew-chanics and review
Monster Hunter Stories 2 is your typical JRPG where players engage in turn-based battles against various monsters and other non-player character riders. Players can utilize various strategies to defeat their foes such as using power, speed or technical attack styles, similar to a rock-paper-scissors system, as well as elemental weaknesses. Players with prior experience in the Monster Hunter Series will find the elemental weaknesses very helpful as most of the monsters previously encountered in other games do apply here. The game also have 2 other battle mechanics: Head to Head and Double attacks. Head-to-Head is when you and the enemy monster directly targeted each other with any of the style-typed attack. Should you win the head-to-head duel, you will take reduced damage while inflicting heavy damage on the foe. Double attack happens when you and either your ally monsties or Hunters have chosen the same attack style against the enemy. You will stop the enemy from attacking and will gain a large amount of kinship gauge.
There are 6 weapons that a Rider can use: Greatsword, Sword and Shield for cutting weapons, Hammer and Hunting Horn for Blunt weapons and Gunlance and Bow for Piercing weapons.
I really like the newly added gunlance in this game as the piercing type weapon will gain shell charges per turn and you can gain additional ammo on top of that. There are a lot of weapon skills that uses shell charges which are multi-hitting and paired with my destroyer (L) charm, I was getting a lot of additional parts for each battle.
Monsties are obtained from gathering eggs from monster dens that are scattered in the open world sections of the world. Players will have to explored random-generated maps until they find the nest. Sometimes the nest will have patrolling monsters guarding the nest while sometimes the monster will be asleep or even completely absent from the nest!
Hatching the monsties was the highlight of the game for me. Each egg hatching is like opening a booster pack as you never know what you can get. Each Monstie can be specialized to be focused on doing power, speed and technical specialist or they can be specialized in their elemental attacks. They also have the potential to have random boosts depending on the rarity of the egg and an assortment of powerful genes. It can be a pain sometimes if your favorite barioth rolls a fire attack +2 when you want it to specialize in ice attacks.
Genes is a customization of the monsties arranged in a 3 by 3 grid where the genes will be randomly placed. Players then can further strengthen their favourite monsties by using the Rite of Passage to transfer their gene of choice from a fodder monstie to the monsties of their choice. By doing this, players can transfer genes that are normally not found in their gene pool. I managed to transfer an Astalos Active Gene onto my Zinogre Monstie and now it has an AOE attack. This helped me clear out a lot of pesky small monsters.
Due to me constantly finding new powerful monsties to add into my party, I was often sidetracked from the main quest line. However, thanks to the sidequest being repeatable and giving some experience as well as zenny, I never found a need to grind for levels. The game has similar gameplay loop as Monster Hunter where players will try and get the next big monsties and craft armor and weapons while going at it. Old monsties never become complete irrelevant as genes can be transferred over. Having over 80 monsties available at your disposal to create your ultimate team might not be at Pokémon levels of variety but given how much customization at the players’ disposal, I believe there will be great diversity in teams and players will be spending endless hours creating their perfect team.
I finished the main quest in slightly over 51 hours of gameplay time and coming from playing monster hunter main games, the introduction of Stories 2 is definitely refreshing take, using and it made me question why I did not try Monster Hunter Stories on launch.
The game’s difficulty is barely challenging if you learn the patterns of the opposing monsters and have decent armor and weapons. You only fail when losing 3 hearts on your character, like carting 3 times in standard Monster Hunter games. However, there is no real consequence for carting as the game loads back to the last autosave point. The game does autosave very frequently, so progress is not lost at all. However, the post-game content does pose some serious challenge for players who do not have the correct strategy to deal with some of the higher difficulty monsters like the deviants and elder dragons. Perhaps the main quest is designed to be a big experimental ground for players to try it all before putting them to the real test in the post-game area.
I also had some gripes with the duration of the battles. Some battles can take over 5 minutes to complete. Thankfully, they have included a quick finish function. This function allows you to finish off the monster instantly if you have previously fought it before and won as well as meeting a certain level threshold. However, even before hitting that requirement, one needs to engage said monsters once. Having no control over your monstie’s actions and your hunting buddies does not help at all and increasing the battle speed even to 3x does not alleviate the feeling of dread when facing endless hordes of monsters.
Monster Hunter Story in my Monster Hunter Game?
Monster Hunter Stories 2 starts you off as a budding monster Rider at Mahana Village. A strange, weird light suddenly glows, causing monsters to be raged eye and all the rathalos have suddenly disappears. Being entrusted with a mysterious egg, you must travel all around to different villages to find out about the mysteries of the disappearing rathalos, the egg and the legends of light.
The story in Monster Hunter Stories 2 is typical, akin to most of the Japanese media out there. I enjoyed most of the characters introduced in the game. Each of them imparted the lessons they were meant to teach, and the lessons did not feel forced. I appreciated the developer’s effort to write out a decent story for this game. However, the plot twist in the story is predictable. The moment the antagonist made its appearance, I already knew that they were going to be the game’s big baddie. I had a small chuckle when they revealed themselves. I will not spoil too much of the story as it is major component of JRPGs like this. It is best for players to experience the story firsthand through the game itself!
Paw-formance review, Nyaa?
Performance for the game is smooth during combat where I feel it matters the most. I played using Japanese voice overs and it was good. Cutscenes look amazing coming from a game that is developed for Nintendo Switch. However, there is some severe frame rate drops in the village and in some open world areas where there are a lot of moving particles, particularly the desert area and the great plains. But due to the turn-based nature of the game, this should not be a deal breaker for any of the players.
I was unable to test the tournament mode and multiplayer function, but I appreciate Capcom for having foresight in adding those functionalities especially the tournament mode as I do see potential for this game to go big should the game pick up steam.
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin bring fan favorite Monsters from the Monster Hunter universe and put them into a JRPG. I feel that Capcom has made another great game trying to to capture player base from various genres and bringing them into the Monster Hunter universe. I also appreciate how Capcom could have easily made this a pay-to-win game by adding an auto play function and gacha-gate powerful monsties behind a paywall but thankfully the entire package is a one-time payment. Furthermore, with the recent pre-launch announcement of their roadmap for future content, the content of the game is slated to be the most content packed Monster Hunter game ever.
Fans of Monster Hunters who crave for a different experience and JRPG lovers should buy this game wholeheartedly!
Great Graphics on Switch
Endorphin rush during hatching eggs of Monsties
More content promised in the future
Performance issues in some areas of the game
Battles can drag on at some points
RNG of genes and stats boost of Monsties
A pinch of JRPG with Monster Hunters make a purr-tastic concoction.
Review written by Melvin. Review copy provided by publisher.