2021 has been a big year for the Monster Hunter Franchise. First of all, we had Monster Hunter Rise on Nintendo Switch in March, arguably one of the best Monster Hunter mainline entries we’ve had, and now we’re about to get a sequel to Stories titled Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings Of Ruin. This is much more of a turn-based RPG, but the characters and the formula work very well. There’s also a demo available on Nintendo Switch, so you can try it out before you decide to buy it. Today I am going to go through my first impressions of Monster Hunter Stories 2.
Mainline Monster Hunter games are all about battling, crafting, and leveling up in an action setting, whereas Monster Hunter Stories is much more in the JRPG model of games. You still collect monsters, level up, and can ride around on your ‘Monsties’ (more on that later) but this is less about the action-adventure style and leans more into the turn-based combat approach. If you’re into anime and enjoy Monster Hunter then you can’t really go wrong with Monster Hunter Stories 2.
I played a little bit of World, but recently really got into Monster Hunter Rise (and it’s going to be tough to beat as my game of the year in 2021). Monster Hunter Stories 2 looks like another strong entry in the Monster Hunter series of games. You don’t really need to know much about the story before going in and they give you a good explanation of what’s going on at the start to ease you into things. If you do have a little bit of Monster Hunter knowledge, then it’s not going to hurt at all, but the game does a great job of explaining what’s going on, why and the actions you have to take.
As far as the story goes you start out as a boy or girl, which you can customize a little bit, and you are part of a tribe on the island who has made friends with some of the monsters, whom they affectionately call ‘Monsties’. However, some things going wrong when the normally tame creature starts acting all aggressive. Rathalos are disappearing, which is implied is NOT a good sign at all, and a Wyverian Girl is given a Rathalos egg by your late Grandfather’s Monster. Still following? Good. As per other turn-based RPG games you set off on an adventure of self-discovery, with the egg in your possession and your aim is to hatch it and prove your worth.
At the core of the game are turn-based battles and Monster Hunter Stories 2 does a really good job here. Teams take on teams and you battle in a kind of rock, paper, scissors format with Speed, Technical, and Power attacks. There are also different weapons too, plus different attack types including Blunt, Slash, and Pierce – which learn into the many different weapons of the mainline series, without overwhelming the player. The tutorial does a great job of explaining things, and I never felt lost or confused in battles. You can even team up with your monster for a double-team attack, which has pretty spectacular results.
As well as the different attack types there are different weapons too including hammers, swords, and other signature Monster Hunter weapons including the OP Hunting Horn, which quickly became one of my favorite weapons this year in Rise. There’s plenty of tactics to consider with the weapons. For example, a hammer can be pretty handy when encountering Kulu-Ya-Ku and their defensive rock, plus there’s avoiding the poison attack with the Hunting Horn from Pukei-Pukei. The battle system is deep which includes items, the Kinship Guage, breakable Monster parts, and more. It’s a very satisfying JRPG wrapped up in a Monster Hunter dressing.
There’s plenty to learn when it comes to the battle system, although that isn’t to distract away from the main mechanic in the game which is finding Monster dens, collecting eggs, and hatching them. Eggs can contain different species of Monsters, plus there’s also the factors of genes, what they are, and how many. Genes related to the different attributes of the monsters allowing you to create unique beasts. The more the eggs smell, the rarer the genes, and the heavier the egg, the more gene slots it has. Obviously!
There’s plenty of detail to get lost in with the battle system alone, but when complemented with the egg and hatching monster system, it all comes together to form a very well-put-together game. My first impressions are very strong from what I played in the demo.
The main drawback for me with the demo was the performance on Nintendo Switch. The framerate didn’t seem to perform very well at all, and the game felt a little clunky when running around in the exploration mode. The battling and cutscenes were great and left a good impression on me, however, the exploration really put me off. you character is hard to control and the framerate was slow. I haven’t checked the game out on PC, but I have heard good things about the PC performance. However, there are some cross-over bonuses if you play on the same account with Monster Hunter Rise installed, and I didn’t want to lose out on those. It’s a shame because everything else about the game is top-notch, the performance just really let it down in Nintendo Switch.
The good thing with the demo is that your progress carries over to the main game if you do decide to buy it, which is available for free on the Nintendo eShop. I’d recommend trying it out before you buy. If you are in any way a fan of Monster Hunter and you like JRPGs then this is your dream game and an improvement on the first installment. I would recommend checking out the performance before you buy, and maybe go for the PC version of the performance is going to bug you.
Platforms: PC and Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 9th July 2021