In this article, we’ll go over how the Monster Hunter Stories 2 Wings of Ruin handles battles turn-based combat, whether the game has a good balance of these features and why this entry is more than just a Pokemon like collectathon.
The premise for MH Story 2 is you play the role of the grandchild of a legendary Rider. The story follows the fateful encounter with Enna, the wyvern girl entrusted with an egg. This egg has the potential to hatch into a legendary Rathalos but has the possibility to wreak havoc if its inner power is awakened.
The story revolves heavily around the idea of friendship or kinship with not only your monsters but also other characters in the story. It is well paced with plenty of cheesy humor and cute characters to keep you entertained throughout. It definitely feels more light-hearted when compared to MH Rise but still has some more serious moments as the game has a strong narrative some progression is driven by the story in order to unlock further locations and systems.
What's great about this game is that it gives you plenty to do in between story missions which include side quests, investigating dens, gain more monstery eggs and explore the world. You can even dive into trials that provide arena type challenges which will reward you for doing so. This gives you a chance to level your monsters in different ways offering you some variety when it comes to gameplay.
Often turn-based JRPG can require some grinding but it didn't feel this was an issue with monster hunter stories 2 as there were a lot of different activities to experience. The story keeps the game well paced with the option to go and explore on your own in between.
Real-time exploration means you can venture through different lands and even run away from monsters to avoid encounters. I should also mention that there is co-op in stories 2 however, since we received an early copy I didn't get a chance to try this out.
There are both options to team up with a friend for expeditions or player vs player battles. The battles heavily rely on a rock paper scissors system but with power technical and speed actions.
Monsters have certain attack patterns but larger monsters will have an enraged moan which will change up the fight making things a little more interesting. You can also attack different monster body parts to take out their certain moves meaning you have a great deal of strategy when it comes to larger monsters. When you go head to head with a monster the outcome will be victory draw or defeat depending if you've chosen the right attack. You get a grade at the end of each battle with S being the best earning you more loot depending on how you score. You score more points for using fewer turns winning head to heads using kinship skills and more.
Things definitely get more complicated with skills as you have to decide which ones to use at the right moment. You can also double attack with your monster as long as you have a Kinship Charge to spend.
Another key feature is the hearts or lives that each character slash monster has. If the HP reaches zero the character loses one heart with three to start with. If a character or monster loses all three hearts then it's game over and you're transported back to the village losing any dropped items from the battle. This gives a bit of breathing room for when you're deducing strategies for newly encountered monsters but you still need to figure it out before losing all of your hearts. This makes some more challenging battles feel intense or the thought of losing in a trial arena more nerve-wracking as you don't want to start all over again.
Great quality of life features include being able to adjust the speed of battle so you can move rapidly through some of the more common encounters which is also a welcome feature. Encountering lower level monsters when you're leveled enough will give you the option to skip the battle gaining the rewards instantly.
Kinship has quite a strong theme in Stories 2 and not just in the narrative. A Kinship gauge gets charged up in battle letting you unleash some powerful attacks based on your monster's skills giving you the ability to ride them in battle to execute a devastating blow.
You also form bonds with your monsters so the higher the bond level the more Kinship moves you can unlock. These Kinship moves are pretty satisfying to watch and some of them are quite fun such as the Kulu Ya-Ku who hurls an egg much like a rugby ball. Probably my favorite feature in the game is hatching monsters miniature versions of their adult counterparts.
Players can travel to dens or everdens and search for some monster eggs and they come in different weights monsty types and even smells that affect the kind of monster you'll gain. These dens are home to larger monsters so you may have to tackle one before you have access to their nest. Once you have an egg you can leave the den fairly easily and it's not like Monster Hunter Rise where if you fall with the egg you have to go back and grab another. You can exit the den usually with little trouble and it will automatically join your egg carton back at your village, you can visit the stable to hatch these monsters. The monster system is quite complex as there is a number of variations in terms of their stats making some better for technical power or speed moves depending on how good the egg is.
I really like that there is so much variation in terms of moves in battles such as Kinship skills and out in the world for exploring such as destroying rock walls or jumping. While collecting monsters does remind me a lot of Pokemon, what's different in stories is that you fight right alongside your monster even being able to do double attacks for more damage.
Fighting monsters won't mean you'll be able to capture them as you'll need to collect their egg from a den in order to have one of your own. Leveling these creatures doesn't become a chore as they gain experience both while in your chosen group and when not. the Rite of Channeling adds even further ways to battle as you can mix DNA from any monster with others forming even more customization for battles.
Genes will gain bonuses if they meet the bingo list criteria, getting extra stats depending on these. You can take a trade from one monster and add it to another to gain bonuses or make a hybrid with different attack types.
The possibilities are endless making Monster Hunting even more crucial to making the perfect build. There are as usual quite a wide variety of weapons but weapon types differ from how they were used in Monster Hunter Rise, weapons fall into Pierce, Blunt and Slash.
Larger monsters are susceptible to more than one type depending on the body part you are aiming for. Blunt weapons can also smash rocks like the one the Kulu-Ya-Ku uses and you will need to destroy it if you want to deal some damage and avoid a rock throw. Each monster has a symbol system which will let you know after you've attacked whether the weapon is their weakness and is recorded so in the future when you face the same monster you will know which weapon to use on particular body parts. You can carry up to three different weapons into battle making for a fair amount of flexibility letting you swap between weapons once each turn.
There's also a whole host of upgrading crafting options for both weapons and armor. You can spend many hours farming for materials and upgrades which is standard for a Monster Hunter game and something I've done a lot in Rise. So if you have also been playing Rise this will feel quite familiar.
Monster Hunter Stories 2 runs at 1080p 30 fps on PC according to the steam page but for the switch I've been hearing from the demo users that the frame rate is uncapped so it may dip in certain situations. I didn't really have an issue with the performance in turn-based battles and even an open-world exploration it seemed to handle well on the switch without feeling noticeably sluggish. While of course you shouldn't expect 4K crisp visuals or ultra smooth animations, the game runs well and looks great on a small screen in handheld mode at 720p as well as larger screens as it suits the art style.
The game is colorful with plenty of details especially in areas such as Mahana village. The locales are pretty diverse so there's always something new to see as you progress through the story.
Some cut scenes do show lack of detail when it comes to rocks or blades of grass and some may not find the cartoon aesthetic appealing compared to other Monster Hunter titles but I think Wings Of Ruin has done this rather well for the style of game that it is.
Voice acting is great and the music hits the spot in all the right places and if you're a fan of Monster Hunter soundtracks you won't be disappointed. You could switch between Japanese and English voice acting at the title menu but I mostly played in English which actually has decent voice acting.
While Monster Hunter Stories 2's main feature is turn-based battles, it has so much more to offer outside this. The progress doesn't feel overly grindy and provides a good balance with exploration story and the monster hatching system.
The story is intriguing but feels more light-hearted in places with characters such as Felyne Navirou cracking a joke or two keeping things more upbeat.
The game is a bit overwhelming to begin with especially for new players to the story series as there is a lot of mechanics to learn. Those who have played other Monster Hunter titles will find some familiarity especially with items but may notice that they don't quite work in the same way as their action combat counterparts. However, once you get the basics down the combat can be somewhat challenging even if slightly random but still gives enough strategy which is enjoyable.
My only real gripe about the game is that the transition between encountering monsters and going into battle feels quite slow. With this very old-school slow motion zoom in which can get old pretty fast. However, there is a lot to like about this game from its silly humor to lovable cartoon version characters such as the Felyne and you can easily sink a number of hours into just gaining new monster eggs or forging new weapons and armor.
If you like turn-based games such as Pokemon Sword and Shield I think you will find Monster Hunter Stories 2 scratching that similar turn based itch only with much more to do. The game is fun to play with well thought out combat concepts and some lighthearted silliness that just adds charm to it. With so much to do in between battles and a decent amount of content the price tag seems worth it here.
In addition, Capcom has recently announced that the game will receive regular updates post launch with 5 free content updates already announced. Monster Hunter Stories 2 Wings of Ruin is a solid turn-based monster collector that still manages to feel like a Monster Hunter game.
If you're a fan of games like Pokemon Sword and Shield or just can't get enough Monster Hunter you'll definitely want to check out this.