Game: Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
Genre: Role-Playing, Adventure
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam)
Developers | Publishers: Capcom
Age Rating: US E10+ | EU 7+
Price: US $59.99 | UK £49.99 | EU € 59,99
Release Date: July 9th, 2021
In 2016 Monster Hunter Stories was released by Capcom on the 3DS, a spin-off title in the JRPG Monster Hunter series. These games feature different action-hunting gameplay and a focus on the narrative with monster collecting.
Both Monster Hunter Rise and Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin include plenty of monster slaying. However, Monster Hunter Stories differs as a Rider befriends monsters or monsties and teams up with them to defeat evil monsters. Monster Hunter Stories 2: Ruin of Wings is the long-awaited successor to the 3DS game that fans like myself have been looking forward to. Was the wait worth it? Read on and find out!
Red the Legendary Rider
In Monster Hunter Stories you are placed in the role of a Rider who tames monsters and becomes friends with them using a Kinship Stone. You’re the grandson (or daughter, the choice is yours) of the legendary Rider Red whose monstie was Guardian Ratha, the revered protector of Hakolo Island. After naming your character and customising them to your liking the story begins. It is a fairly detailed customization, male, female, and binary gender options are on offer. You can choose the hair and facial details, even down to the colour palette of armour patterns which are adjustable.
Your character, a total newbie Monster Rider, lives in the village of Mahana, on Hakolo Island. It’s from here that you’re sent out to explore and gain experience as a rider. Accompanying you are your teacher Kayna and your trusty and sometimes annoying feyline, Navirou, as well as your monstie. As you explore, you encounter a young Wyverian girl named Ena who says she once knew your grandfather.
Rathalos and Glowing Lights
Ena tells you that the Rathalos are disappearing worldwide. Strange glowing red lights that are originating from large holes in the ground have started to appear all over the world. This is having a bad effect on the individual region’s monsters, sending them into an uncontrollable rage. Mahana’s Elder gives you permission to leave the island with Ena and set off on a journey to save the world from this unnatural disaster.
When you roam the world map of Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin., monsters will be going about their business. You can avoid them if you want to, let them be while they are eating grass or standing resting. The choice is yours to skirt around them, but where’s the fun in that? As soon as you run into them, battle starts and you can gain some extra experience points.
Combat is turn-based and operates much like rock-paper-scissors, you need to select the best move to use against whatever monster is targeting you. Speed beats power, power beats technical and technical beats speed. So if a monster is targeting you with a power attack, you’ll need to choose speed.
You also have to choose the best weapon for the job, depending on the monsters you are fighting and the attack you need to use. This is done by swapping between blunt, sharp, and piercing weapons during battle.
The rider can switch between three weapons and monsties during fights for free. Whenever you and your monstie execute the same type of attack, be it power, technical, or speed, a Double Attack occurs. A Double Attack not only does a lot of damage but also prevents the monster’s you are fighting next attack.
Nearly every action that you do in combat contributes to the Kinship gauge and fills it up. Once the gauge is maxed out, you can mount your monstie and unleash a powerful Kinship Skill. This action will interrupt whatever move your target has planned and will often be first in the priority queue for moves. This allows you to possibly knock a monster down and in turn, leave them open for critical hits from the rest of the party.
If two Kinship Skills are used at the same time, they’ll fuse together to deal a massive amount of damage. Each monstie has its own unique Kinship Skill and some of the animations for these skills are extremely well animated.
Upgrade Weapons and Armour
Learning a monster’s attack types is the key to surviving. As well as learning which weapon types affect each part of a monster. If you have played the Monster Hunter series before, you will already be familiar with the ins and outs of this system. But Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin does a fantastic job explaining the finer points to new players to the adventure.
You’ll be collecting monster parts and upgrading your weapons and armour with the parts, each village has a Blacksmith to visit. He can upgrade your tools or armor with the parts you bring. The battles are entertaining and as I have mentioned, well animated too, though if you wish you can speed up the animation. For me, I wouldn’t want to miss that!
Monster Dens and Egg Hunting
Across the overworld map, you’ll find randomly spawning Monster Dens, which are also randomly generated. The monster den will include a nest from which you can gather an egg that you can bring back to town and hatch. These dens can either be empty, or have a specific monster sleeping in them, or can even have an active and awake monster on the prowl.
The eggs are from the same monsters you might fight in battle, but hatched from eggs and bonded to you as a partner. You’ll form a connection with all your Monsties of which you can have six in your party. You’re able to take them into battle and ride them around the world map, which is a blast.
Each monstie has unique abilities that will help you reach new areas on the world map. Depending on what sort of monsties you have in your team, you’re able to dash, fly, or swim and climb. Using the monstie’s abilities allows you to get to otherwise inaccessible areas for more exploration.
Rite of Channeling
Further into the story you get a new ability, Rite of Channeling. Back at Stables in the village, you can use your spare monsties in the Rite of Channeling. This allows you to take a gene from one and give it to another sacrificing the monstie the gene is from in the process.
Each individual monstie comes with different genes, each with an element and attack type to consider when choosing which genes another monstie should inherit. There’s a puzzle element to it all on a 3×3 grid. When you line up genes of the same colour or type, the monstie that inherited the gene has its power increased.
The puzzle aspect is interesting, and it adds another element to Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin. You raid dens for eggs and use the monstie hatched. Channelling its genes to increase your own team means you can take a break from the main story and do something a little different. There are quests to do for each area as well, so there is certainly plenty to keep you busy.
Visuals and Controls
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is visually stunning. Leaving a village to go exploring, the camera pans into the distance and you can see the area stretched out in front of you, which is really a joy to see. Monsters are highly detailed, even down to the way they move when you ride them. Their movement and battle animations are spot-on. Voice acting is very good, with none of that whiny screeching or high pitched screaming from the females that you hear in other JRPG’s.
Sound effects are good as is the music during cut scenes. Strangely, there isn’t any music playing while you are exploring the map or dens. At first, I did find this odd, but after having played the game for a while I appreciate what Capcom have done by removing the music. It lets you get completely engrossed in your surroundings as you move across the map, listening to the monstie’s footfall and the rustle of the grass.
The game controls well with the joy-cons, no complaints in that area at all. The camera could do with a little work on it. It seems to move on its own and floats down behind your Rider and monstie and you end up looking at the ground. It can be repositioned by keeping your right thumb on the R stick, but it did take me a while to get used to it. There is also a slight drop in frame rate during some cutscenes, it is noticeable but it is not enough to spoil your enjoyment of the game in any way.
I’m pretty impressed with Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin. It has a great storyline, excellent voice acting, lots and lots of areas to explore and gather items in. The monsties are a delight to see going about their business in the open world. Combat is interesting and a lot of fun to take part in.
If you are a fan of the Monster Hunter series then this is a very entertaining adventure RPG that is extremely enjoyable to play. But even if you aren’t into the main Monster Hunter series then you will find Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin to be different. This is an excellent game to sink your teeth in!
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up