A few months after the release of Monster Hunter Rise, many fans were delighted when Capcom suddenly announced the launch of a spinoff title to the Monster Hunter series: Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin. The new addition to the long-running series was launched worldwide on July 9 and was rather well-received by both critics and longtime fans.
Although Monster Hunter Stories 2 is a friendlier alternative to its combat-heavy predecessor, many lifelong Monster Hunter fans surprisingly found that the game continues to retain the depth and sense of expedition that the series is known for. Consequently, the newly launched game is not only perfect for enthusiasts of the original series, but it is also enjoyable for any gamers who have previously been too intimidated to get into the Monster Hunter craze.
As someone who is not as familiar with the Monster Hunter series, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin proves to be an exceptionally vibrant and charming game that offers an exhilarating ride from start to finish.
Story, Characters & Sounds
The opening scene of the game is quite eye-catching, providing a strong sense of fascination and excitement for what’s to come. For players who are unfamiliar with the series, the intro does a fair job at providing context to the overarching story:
Something is forcing monsters on the island to run amok, which requires the “conservative” Riders — the side players belong to — and the “civilized” Hunters to join arms despite the long-standing tension between both sides. The incompatible views of the Riders and Hunters add an unexpected layer of complexity and introspectiveness to the game that ultimately becomes one of the main themes the plot explores.
The majority of the storyline, however, remains vibrant and lighthearted, especially with the witty and humorous remarks from the feline character Navirou, which is honestly one of the reasons why I came to adore the game. Besides the winsome cat, there are plenty of characters to encounter and befriend that will undoubtedly make players feel a whirlwind of emotions.
Although the plot of Monster Hunter Stories 2 consists of a number of unexpected twists and turns, they don’t feel absurd or inordinate due to the groundwork laid by the narrative. While the story does feel lukewarm in certain instances — particularly around the halfway point — the plot remains fairly engaging, especially for a newcomer to the series.
Another notable trait of the game that deserves commendation is the beautiful soundtrack. Different locations are accompanied by charming tunes that complement their ambiance. On the other hand, the battle music is exhilarating yet foreboding at times. Although it may be a detail that many players tend to overlook, the game’s soundtrack definitely contributes to the fantastic gameplay experience.
Overall, the sounds, characters and overall storyline of Monster Hunter Stories 2 are wonderfully charming and offer various surprises that manage to keep players invested in the game. The plot is well-paced and balanced, while the characters continue to leave a genuine impact throughout the story. Quoting Orgo, another beloved feline character in the game, the story and characters are “pawsitively clawdacious.”
Monsters & Combat System
Similar to its predecessors, the monsters and combat in Monster Hunter Stories 2 serve as the main meat of the gameplay.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the game is the act of venturing into monster dens to collect and hatch “monstie” eggs. The goal is to try and find eggs with the best “smell” and weight in order to end up with the strongest monstie. Another cool gameplay feature is the ability to modify these monsties by switching their genes with another creature. Different genes offer varying stat boosts and special powers, allowing players to get creative with unique combinations.
On the other hand, the combat in Monster Hunter Stories 2 is very reminiscent of the turn-based system used in the Pokémon series. Each move is associated with a certain element — power, speed or technical — each of which trumps one other element. Although discovering a monstie’s attack pattern and weakness remains crucial to winning, there is also an element of luck that is incorporated into the battles.
The most fascinating part of the combat system is that the monsties act of their own free will, choosing their own moves and skills in battle unless commanded to use a special skill by the player. Although some may find this feature foreign and frustrating, it is a welcome shift from the traditional predictive element that characterizes most combat systems.
As important as monsties are for battles, gears and weapons remain equally significant. Going into battle with weapons that monsties are susceptible to offers a huge advantage, and upgrading gear and armor reduces the chance of suffering significant amounts of damage.
The diversity of weapons and monsties along with the different strategic considerations that are presented to players not only prevents combat from getting repetitive but also manages to serve as some of the most enjoyable parts of the game.
The Open-World Game Setting
Perhaps the most impressive feature of Monster Hunter Stories 2 is the expansive open-world game setting. The scope of the map rivals that of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The main quests lead you through snowy mountains, lush fields, scorching deserts and molten volcanoes, each equipped with their own little anecdote and monsties. The vast setting offers never-ending opportunities to make new discoveries while riding on the back of your favorite monstie. The beautiful, colorful scenery ensures that every environment is worth exploring, even if doing so seems relatively repetitive. After all, there are always new materials and monstie eggs to gather.
Despite seeming monotonous at times, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is a terrific game to get into. The beautiful animation, the varying mechanics of the combat system and the scintillating setting ultimately make the game a worthwhile experience for both longtime fans and newcomers to the Monster Hunter series.