Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin Review
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is a turn-based spinoff of the highly successful Monster Hunter series. Does the game do enough to set itself apart, or should you stick with the more traditional titles? Check out our review and find out.
Monster Hunter Stories 2 Review
Players begin their adventure by choosing between a male or female protagonist before setting off. A festival going on in your village is quickly interrupted by some sort of strange red aura. The ocean around your town turns blood red, and a horde of Rathalos fly from the forest. Your chief says that this is a bad sign – as if you couldn’t figure that part out yourself. As a new member of the town’s Monster Riders, it is your job to investigate what is going on. You soon discover that it might be a black-winged Rathalos causing this, and you set out to stop it.
You are also constantly reminded of your grandfather Red, who was a legendary hunter himself. You are repeatedly told about him and how much you remind people of him. Sometimes it feels like you are following in his footsteps more than forging your own path. While the story can be predictable at points, I wouldn’t call it bad. However, I do think the game drags on a bit towards the end. I clocked in about 45 hours, but I think you can cut 5-10 off if you don’t grind as much as I did.
Combat is much different from the typical Monster Hunter formula, with turn-based instanced battles that have to load. During combat, you have three separate attacks: power, speed, and technical. Much like the older Fire Emblem games, each one beats another. Power beats technical, technical beats speed, and speed beats power. You have to find out which each monster prefers and focus on that to counter them. On top of that, you need to find out if they are weak to swords, blunt weapons, or piercing weapons. You can switch mid-combat, but I’d prefer if you could turn that animation off since the time it takes adds up as you keep playing.
You are not alone when fighting, however; you also have your monstie companion with you. Hatching from eggs you find in the world, these monsters all have a primary focus. These run the gamut from speed, power, and technique, and can also be switched mid-combat. If you pick the correct type of monstie and attack, you can combine your strike for a double attack. If you fight alongside your monstie for long enough, you can even ride it. Riding your monstie heals you and allows you to unleash a devastating attack that typically knocked the opponent over. From there, you get to wail on them for a turn.
While the combat is different from the typical Monster Hunter formula, the breaking of parts is not. For example, letting the Pukei Pukei keep its tail will allow it to use poison attacks. Not using piercing attacks on the Paolumu will let it fly, leaving you exposed to its most destructive attacks. So while breaking the parts does give you more loot, it also has a more practical value in this game, stopping specific enemy attacks. You don’t carve the beast after victory. Instead, you are rewarded based on how well you do in combat. The higher the tier, the more parts you get.
One thing I really enjoy about this game, as opposed to other Monster Hunter games, is its crafting system. Previous entries had players grinding the same monster repeatedly, looking for a specific gem or another part. In Monster Hunter Stories 2, however, you just need to cash in enough parts to make the point requirements. For instance, a scale is worth one point, and you need six points to make the weapon. If you have six scales, you can just use your scales to make the weapon. As a guy who spent way too much time farming the Nergigante in Monster Hunter World, this was a welcoming system that I’d love to see in the other titles.
While the gear grind is there, it is the egg grind that kept me going. In the overworld, you will run into monster dens that have eggs in them. Some of these dens are rare and have rare eggs in them. When you get the egg, you go back to the village and hatch it for a monster. They all have ratings, and the stronger they are, the higher the rating. It is almost impossible to pass up a rare den, which is where a ton of my grinding time went to. On top of that, you can pass genes from one monster to another. That means almost every egg will have some value to you in some way or another.
If you find yourself struggling with certain fights or finding certain parts, you can play Monster Hunter Stores 2 in co-op. While co-op works fine, you have to load into each battle, and that starts to add up quickly. This leads to most players avoiding fights and rushing straight to the boss. Not a problem if you guys make it there together. If someone falls behind, though, you might be fighting the boss solo until they catch up. You also have a versus mode which I tried once, but didn’t find very appealing. You have three hearts, and whoever loses their hearts first loses.
As far as performance goes, the game does chug pretty often. What I mean by that is it struggles to maintain 30 frames per second in nearly every area. It’s almost like they need a Switch Pro or something with more power. Outside of its performance, I didn’t have any crashes or bugs.
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is a game for JRPG fans and Monster Hunter fans alike, perfect for those that have a thing for capturing and raising monsters.
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