Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin (Switch)

Monster Hunter Stories 2 is the newest installment of the JRPG ‘Stories’ branch of the Monster Hunter series. It is a sequel to 2016’s Monster Hunter Stories. It was developed by Capcom and Marvelous and released on July 9th 2021 for Nintendo Switch and PC.

While the game is a sequel to the original Stories game, playing the first game is not necessary to understand the plot of the game. You play as the grandchild of a legendary Rider from your village, and are a beginner rider. After a meeting with Ena, a Wyverian girl, you are entrusted with an egg that hatches a Rathalos that is prophesized to end the world. The game is much more story focused than the mainline series. I found the story to be engaging with interesting characters. The world of the game is excellent, with the story making it feel alive and expansive.

The gameplay is where the game truly shines. The combat is turn based with some interesting changes to the standard turn based formula. For example, when the enemy is attacking a member of your party, the party member being attacked can attack the opponent and a rock-paper-scissors style situation plays out depending on the type of attack you chose. For example, Power attacks beat Technical attacks. Another interesting addition to the combat is using different weapons for different monsters. Every type of weapon fits into one of 3 categories and monsters have different strengths and weaknesses to them. You also have the ability to ride your monsters to boost your party.

Outside of combat, most of your time will be spent searching for monster eggs in the monster dens scattered around the map. Finding these eggs is how you acquire new Monsties, your companions throughout the game. These eggs hatch Monsties with different abilities depending on the type, weight and smell of the egg. Finding rare eggs that hatch better Monsties gives a good sense of progression. Obtaining better equipment and armor through monster parts is a vital part of the Monster Hunter series and thankfully this spinoff keeps this and it gives you a good reason to grind and helps the progression of the game feel rewarding. Different armour sets give different resistances so it is a good idea to have multiple sets to rotate between depending on the monster.

Overall the gameplay is the highlight of the game and provides a great reason to keep playing the game. I can only imagine it will get even better over time with post launch content.

The visuals of the game are fantastic. The game chooses to depart from the more realistic style of recent Monster Hunter games in favour of a more anime style of graphics which really fit the game well and help with the more lighthearted tone of the game. The environments of the game look great and are colourful and feel varied. Each environment feels different from the last and fits the monsters found in the area. Character models also look great, particularly the different weapons and armour sets for your character. The character creator is great and lets you customise everything about your character. Each set looks unique and vibrant with their fantastic designs.

The monsters of the series also translate well to the new art style and attacks look great in motion. The animations look fluid and each Monstie has a unique kinship skill, a powerful attack that comes with its own over the top cutscene that looks fantastic. The cutscenes that accompany key story moments are great and would not look out of place in an anime. Unfortunately, the switch version of the game occasionally has some dips in frame rate in the more built up areas, however I don’t think this hampers the game too much The visual style of the game is one I hope Capcom uses for more games in the future as I believe it is a great fit for JPRGs.

The games music fits the areas of the game well. Each area has its own music track that fits the area well  The battle themes in particular are great and are memorable. Each area also has background sounds that really help the world of the game feel alive. The game features both English and Japanese voice acting. Both languages have great voice acting that brings their character to life well. Overall I think the games audio is good and helps set the tone of the game.

Overall I believe Monster Hunter Stories 2 is a great JRPG that keeps some of the best features of the main series while adding new twists on turn based combat. The game will only get better with time as Capcom has already released a roadmap for post launch updates.

4

Summary

A charming JRPG that adapts the Monster Hunter formula well and opens the franchise to a whole new audience.

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Shaun

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