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Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin Review

Initial release date: July 8th, 2021

Series: Monster Hunter

Developer: Capcom

Engine: MT Framework

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows

Publishers: Capcom, Capcom U.S.A., Inc.


"Review Copy Provided By Capcom"



In 2017, Monster Hunter Stories released on the Nintendo 3DS during the freshman year of the Nintendo Switch and was generally overlooked by the majority of gamers and yet developed a cult following amongst many others. I was one of those who didn’t pick up the game as I wasn’t the biggest Monster Hunter fan and I felt the premise of the game wouldn’t appeal to me and so I passed on the title. Here we are in 2021 and I am kicking myself for passing on this game as I cannot find it anywhere out here in Hawaii and am now actively seeking it out while also looking forward to the sequel which is now available on Nintendo Switch and STEAM. Will Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin be the MonHun spin off that ensnares me in it’s fangs or will it be another spin off that doesn’t sell well similar to how the original title didn’t? Let’s Find out!

Story

The plot of Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin does not tie into the original title. This game focuses on the mass disappearances of Rathalos the world over and the mystery behind why this is happening. You play as the descendant of the legendary Rider known as Red and over the course of the adventure will encounter a mysterious white-haired girl that’s a wyverian known as Ena that has been tasked with protecting a Rathalos egg. The egg eventually cracks and out comes Rathalos that has small black wings which signifies the omen of ruin to be brought to the world.

Gameplay

I personally have never played the first Monster Hunter Stories so I’m coming into this game completely blind into it’s gameplay and mechanics and honestly its all really solid and I love it! MHS2 carries a lot over from the mainline Monster Hunter games such as the central village hub with a Jobs/Quests board, Villagers that need you to help them with mini-quests, shops to buy items and weapons as well as blacksmiths to forge and craft new weapons, and the like ability to explore different areas to collect resources as well as running into enemies of all different strengths all over Where this game differs is in how the combat plays out with it being turned based similar to Breath of Fire instead of the traditional Monster Hunter formula action adventure.


You start the game off by creating a character and selecting their gender of being either male or female and then selecting details such as their hair color and style, skin color, eyes, mouth, nose, and voice and then naming them. Your character never speaks but will grunt and yell.

When out in the field or in Monster Dens’ you will see enemies roaming about the environments and if you run into them then you’ll initiate battle. Depending on how you approach the enemy (and how they approach you) will initiate a battle; approaching enemies face on will initiate a normal battle whereas approaching the enemy from behind will start initiate a surprise attack giving you a free turn for all your characters. Enemies can also approach you from behind and initiate a surprise attack on you giving them a free turn on you so be aware of your surroundings to avoid those kinds of situations.


The battle system plays out in standard turn-based affairs with you selecting to either attack, use skills/abilities, use items, and flee battle. Where this game differs from the norm is in how the battle system utilizes its rock, paper, scissors mechanics in giving you the attack choices of using Power, Speed, and Technique when deciding to attack your opponents. Power bests Technique which bests Speed which bests Power; remembering that order of what bests what will help you in battle because enemies will favor one or the other and will go towards one of the three when battling them. When selecting one of these attacks you will sometimes see a cutscene playout where you and your enemy will rush towards one another and depending on what you and the enemy selected will determine who ends up trumping the other which will shift focus on the cutscene cut-in towards the winner of the Rock, Paper, Scissors battle system.

This unique twist to the battle system makes battles feel more hands on and dynamic in comparison to most other RPGs, however, while this system does play into effect when you fight tougher monsters and bosses; do keep in mind that they will eventually go into a berserk state and switch up their offense of which will change what type of attack they will normally go with as well. Say you beat down an enemy that normally uses Speed, after a while they will go into an enraged state and temporarily switch to using Power based or Technique based attacks. Some enemies in this state will even grab objects such as boulders and more to buff up their defenses which will cause you to switch strategies to focus on breaking the object in order to get back to beating up the baddie. Breaking these objects will yield materials that you can use to either forge new gear at the blacksmith or sell them to the various merchants abound and even use them to craft items you can use.


During battle, if you and your Monstie select the same attack then you will see a quick cut-in of both your faces and then you see you both do a devastating dual attack. When you fill up the blue sphere to it’s max capacity then you can mount your Monstie by selecting Ride On and after selecting that you will have the option of selecting “inset” to do a massively damaging cinematic attack which is similar to a Limit Break in a Final Fantasy game. If you and your battle buddy both have your blue spheres filled then you will be able to do a combined attack which is even more cinematic and damaging than the one with just you and your Monstie.

The crafting system is there that allows you to use the materials you gathered in the environments such as mushrooms and bones and insect husks to craft potions and more to help you during battle. Items such as whetstones work in a similar fashion as they do in the mainline franchise except here you can only use them during battle and their function allows you to increase your crit% in order to have a greater chance of landing critical hits. Weapons no longer have durability meters, so you no longer have to worry about them being broken and losing their effectiveness.


Since this is a monster taming style of gaming, you are able to go and find monster eggs that have varying levels of rarity based on the weight and smell of them. It’s effectively how you gain new Monsties, When you enter a Monster Den then you are able to find them usually situated in a nest with either a Monster sleeping at the nest or sometimes you’ll find an unwatched nest of which you can go up to and then press A to pick up various eggs although you can only take one egg and there is a RNG of what type of egg you’ll get and how many times you can pick up eggs. Sometimes you can get the eggs and just leave while other times when you get the eggs and linger too long then you will be chased by a monster until it either catches you or you get far enough away.

One of my favorite features in this game is the Trials battles that you can compete in to win Bronze, Silver, or Gold medals based on how quickly you beat the trial and or whatever the clear conditions are such as taking no more than 5 turns to win a Gold medal and the like. You’ll gain various resources and materials that you can use for forging better equipment along with gaining experience to level up.

Speaking of leveling up; regardless of who is or isn’t in battle, after every battle every companion gains equal experience which I find to be a mechanic that needs to be in every RPG as it makes leveling up all your characters not a chore.

Graphics

Your player created character looks really good and is fully customizable when you start the game. The important NPCs also look good and creative looking. The Monsties all look good and are toned down anime versions of their mainline counterparts. The villagers you meet are clearly inspired by Hawaiian and Polynesian culture of which I love seeing my cultures represented in this game from the Samoan/Tongan style tattoos of some NPCs and the village chief Gara, all the way to the flowers in the ear and clothing of a lot of the other NPCs. It’s truly awesome to see.

Now if you compare this to the original Monster Hunter Stories and the older Monster Hunter games pre World then this game will look really good. Compared to World, Rise, and generally most games on the Switch then it will look very underwhelming. It effectively looks like a 3Ds game if not a Vita game with low details in the characters and environments especially on the Switch with texture pop-in and textures and NPCs disappearing based on your proximity to them. This doesn’t fully bother me because of the games artstyle which I find works perfectly for it. It does make me think that the game was potentially in development for the 3Ds originally and I have not played it on PC so I’m unsure if it looks better on that platform.


It actually makes me think that Mega Man Legends 3 would look excellent in this graphical style!

Audio

The game has an incredibly whimsical fantasy style OST that mixes in the melodic style of tune you’d find in Breath of Fire while incorporating standard Monster Hunter songs and sounds such as the victory theme when you complete a quest.

The voice acting is top knotch and everyone is delivering their lines perfectly well. My absolute favorite voice in this game is Chief Gara and how he comes across as commanding and serious and yet is compassionate and collected.

Downsides

The main downside I can see with this game is how none Monster Hunter fans can find this to be a bit repetitive with its “Go here, beat this monster, get this egg, go back to the village” rinse and repeat nature even with the story being factored in. Casuals may not find it as fun or endearing as series vets, although series vets may not enjoy it much at all given how radically different It is from the stand MonHun experience which is not ever centered on the plot and is focused on the crafting of better and better gear.


The only other downside I can see to this game is the graphics being incredibly underwhelming especially for the Nintendo Switch. You have games such as Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and 2 along with the Ys and Trails games which all look substantially better graphically than this one does especially the recent Pokemon and Digimon games and it makes you wonder why Capcom didn’t utilize more detailed textures and polygons.

The Wrapup

Monster Hunter Stores 2: Wings of Ruin has been the one game that actually made me pick back up the Nintendo Switch and struggle to put it back down and has me going out of my way to find a copy of the original 3DS title so that I can dive into it and enjoy the current anime. With a solid and serviceable story, awesome monster catching, a superbly deep and intricate battle system with brilliant companion AI, and all in a package that’s playable in both handheld and on the big screen; Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is a game you MUST pick up and play!

The Verdict

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