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Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin Review

Monster Hunter Stories 2 is a solid JRPG that will keep players engaged and satisfied until the end, even with its uninspired map layouts.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is the follow-up to Monster Hunter Storieson the 3DS, and for those unaware, it takes the classic Monster Hunter gameplay and switches it on its head. Monster Hunter Stories 2 is a traditional turn-based JRPG that can be compared to the Pokemon franchise.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin Review
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin Review

Instead of facing ferocious monsters head-on in fast-paced real-time combat with friends, Stories takes a different approach, putting players into the shoes of a Monster Rider. These riders don’t live to hunt monsters for their parts but instead believe that monsters (big or small) can be befriended and become an ally to a person. By forming bonds with monsters, Riders can use them in battle and perform all-powerful special attacks to take out threatening beasts. And considering that Monster Hunter‘s core gameplay has essentially stayed the same for the past 20 years or so, it’s so surprising to see it all work in a different battle system entirely.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin kicks off with players discovering that monsters are going rampant around the land due to these mysterious glowing pits appearing all over. After being put in the care of a baby Rathalos, the main character must work together with several different characters to figure out what’s going on and solve the mystery of a Rathalos that could potentially bring the world to its end. It all sounds very high-stakes, but Monster Hunter Stories 2‘s narrative is rarely compelling. However, that doesn’t mean that players won’t have a good time with it.

While the story can be melodramatic at times and cliche, there are silly jokes and witty banter to keep the laughs coming, especially from Navirou, a Felyne that acts as the main character’s guide. He’s absolutely hilarious, and players are likely to giggle here and there due to his wacky antics and physical humor. However, it’s worth noting that Navirou’s English voice isn’t great, so if any players prefer the game in Japanese, that can easily be changed from the menu. It also makes the game a bit more authentic since it is a Japanese-developed game.

Although the narrative for Monster Hunter Stories 2 is lacking somewhat, the game more than makes up for it by having an engaging and satisfying gameplay loop that can be as addicting as Pokemon, thanks to having that “gotta catch ’em all” appeal. While players go from area to area, there are different monsters to encounter and battles start once monsters are touched. They’re all living in their natural habitat, and die-hard Monster Hunter fans will definitely want to try to collect as many as they possibly can. By exploring monster dens that are scattered about the world, players will have the opportunity to collect a monster egg that can later be hatched at a town’s stable.

There are dens all over and, at first, fans will enjoy exploring them for special loot and to fight monsters for extra XP, but these monster dens, as well as some of the major areas in the game, can be a chore to explore and are lacking any sort of unique design. There are times when the game will make players go through area after area, and while they are pretty straightforward, they take way too long and feel like padding.

Monster Hunter Stories 2 is a visually gorgeous game at times, but because of its uninspired map design, exploring the world and its little nooks and crannies isn’t as enjoyable as it should be. Thankfully, there are many fast travel locations to choose from, and players can pretty much transport to any previous location from anywhere on the map from the menu. It’s a beneficial addition that makes it much easier to hunt down specific monsters or to travel to places to grind XP. It makes the entire experience just a bit easier and is much appreciated.

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

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

The player can use special skills by spending Kinship points, but if Kinship points are stored, players can ride on their monster and perform a powerful skill unique to that monster. These moves are fun to use and flashy. It’s worth watching each of the moves at least once to see what each monster does, and the battles themselves are a visual spectacle. Every attack looks fast and fluid, and the player can choose to increase the speed of the battle, which is a win for any player trying to grind or get through the game faster. The player can switch weapons on the fly during battle, and figuring out the monster’s patterns is very enjoyable.

Battles in the first half of the game are fairly simple and provide little challenge to players, but that difficulty will start to ramp up as the game goes on. Players will really need to strategize during battles, making sure to keep the right monster out for the situation. If a monster uses mostly power attacks, it would be best to bring out a monster that focuses on speed attacks. And then, if the opponent gets angry and enters a rage state, they might switch to technical attacks, which will mean that players will also need to adapt.

Something really interesting about the battle system is that it rewards players for having knowledge of these Monster Hunter creatures. If a player faces a Tigrex for the first time, veterans will immediately know that it uses speed attacks. Newcomers won’t find the experience too difficult, though, as there is no game over screen. It’s a very forgiving game that wants to ensure that every player has a fun time with it, regardless of experience with the franchise. And with it being a standalone story, players shouldn’t be intimidated if they haven’t played the previous game.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin does have some performance issues on the Switch, specifically when players enter any major hub area, but besides that, the environments look really good, and the character/monster models are vivid and colorful. Throughout its 40-hour campaign, the game manages to keep things exciting with lots of enjoyable “boss” battles, many different monsters to collect and train, and a simple yet charming story that’ll keep players coming back for more.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin doesn’t shake the genre up or do anything incredibly unique, but it’s a massive JRPG with lots to do. It’s a solid entry for the sub-series and is recommended for those looking for a charming title on the Switch that doesn’t require much thinking or undivided attention. It’s a casual game for the most part, but the back half does provide some epic story moments that are satisfying and worth watching.

Monster Hunter Stories 2 will launch on July 9 for PC and Switch. Game Rant was provided a Switch code for this review.

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