Prepare your ‘monsties’ monster riders, for it is time to return to the world of Monster Hunter Stories. Jump into the shoes of a new rider from the tropical island of Mahana Village. The descendant of the legendary rider ‘Red’, who along with his monstie, Ratha, fought off the evil that made monsters lose control. An evil known as the Black Blight. Now, many years later, chaos has returned, and something is creating uncertainty in the monsters’ habitats. That something is making them cross over into environments that are not their own and even causing them to attack each other for no reason. It is up to you and your companions to uncover the truth and restore peace once more.
The world of Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is incredibly gorgeous to look at. With its colourful, fun-to-look-at open-world depicted in a vibrant cell-shaded art style, you’ll be stopping to admire many of its joyful environments. Everything from dynamic and bustling towns, lush green forests and oceans surrounded by peeking cliffs to dark, cold, mossy-looking caverns; the game’s environments will not disappoint. Well, maybe except for the monster dens, which at first are really fun to explore, but after some time, you’ll find, are just randomly generated dungeonlike areas that make you feel like a mouse running through a giant maze. While some are dry wasteland plains, admittedly others are still gorgeous to look at though.
Navigation around the world is primarily done on your monsties. Sure, you are able to just hop off them and run on foot, but why would you even consider that?
Navigation around the world is primarily done on your monsties. Sure, you are able to just hop off them and run on foot, but why would you even consider that, especially when you learn that each monstie has different field abilities. Some are able to swim. Others can jump across cliffs or even climb up vined walls. And since you can only have a limited amount of monsties accompanying you into the open world, it’s up to you to decide which of them you’ll be getting to tag along with you into each area.
Counting your chicks before they hatch
One of the game’s core mechanics is obviously finding eggs, hatching the monsties, and then riding them and training them up to battle. Gotta catch ’em all, hey? Well, although there aren’t over 800 monster eggs to locate and hatch, there is still a substantial number. Thankfully. the game has a really cool way of sorting out duplicate monstie hatches for the player. Also, since each monstie hatches with their own ‘genes’ (a sort of DNA that grants them specific abilities) players are encouraged to find more and more monsties with different genes. What’s more, players are then able to transfer these specific genes to other monsties. Doing so grants specific monsters unique abilities, giving them that ‘added edge’ in battles. Crossbreeding magnificence, right?
During battle, your enemy will focus its attack on either yourself or your battle companions. And since all monsters attack differently, its important to familiarise yourself with each attack pattern
This leads us to the battle system in Monster Hunter Stories 2. Much like the first one, the sequel is a turn-based battle system. You utilise a spin-wheel selection dial to access three attacks or moves, namely: Power, Speed and Technical. Using the spin-wheel you select the move that’ll overpower your enemy in a single head-to-head confrontation (think Rock, Paper, Scissors). During the battle itself, your enemy will focus its attack on either you or your battle companions and because all monsters attack differently, it’s important to familiarise yourself with each attack pattern. Velocidromes, for example, are more prone to use Speed attacks. So let’s say this monster targets your character directly and you enter into a head-to-head showdown with it. The victor of this particular match-up will be the one that selects Paper over Rock…or in this case, Technical over Speed. By selecting the Technical move you thus cancel the opponent’s attack altogether, leaving you as the sole attacker of the head-to-head. Yes, a little monstie-flavoured game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, with the loser getting beat down.
Another intriguing bit about this system is that if the enemy is targeting you or your companions and you select the opposing move to the monsters, the game will allow you and your companion to team up against the monster, causing a combo attack (formerly known in the game as a Double Attack). This also cancels out the enemy’s attack. And if that’s not enough, each successful attack will charge up your Kinship Gauge; A meter that advises players as to when they and their monsties can head out onto the battlefield and perform a special attack known as a Kinship Skill. This usually results in a flashy cinematic with a rather devastating blow to your enemy. Note, these are different to Double Attacks and a ton more powerful as well. All that being said, for the most part, players can select any move as the real damage is dependent on your weapon…
A little monstie-flavoured game of Rock, Paper, Scissors, with the loser getting beat down!
Although you have several categories of weapons to select from including Great Swords, Bows, Hammers and Hunting Horns, to name just a few, the game caters for only three types: Slash, Blunt and Pierce weapons. Each of these weapon types, in turn, will grant the player the ability to inflict damage on a certain part of a monster. As an example, Slash weapons cut off tails. Mostly for the larger monsters, you’ll then be able to select which body parts to target; head, body, tail, and even their legs. And just as it is in the main series, breaking a part off during a battle will cause an item to drop and may even knock the monster down and stop it from using certain attacks.
So you might be asking, “With all that battle taking place, how then do the riders manage to take on such monstrous enemies?”. Well, with the right gear of course. Just as it is in the main series of Monster Hunter, you’ll receive monster parts at the end of each battle. These parts will be used at the blacksmith to craft both armour and weapons that not only resemble that specific monster but also contain that monster’s elemental attributes. Although this is extremely simplified compared to the mainline series, the same element of excitement that comes from finally having enough parts to craft the flashiest set of armour amongst your fellow riders still remains.
All in all, Monster Hunter 2: Wings of Ruin, although being a spinoff to the main Monster Hunter series as well as the sequel to Monster Hunter Stories, in no way intrudes or changes the world that is Monster Hunter. If anything, it adds to it in a more light-hearted and fun manner. With its colourful cell-shaded design, playful soundtrack and detailed battle system, fans of the Monster Hunter series as well as RPGs will be able to pick it up and enjoy it with ease. This especially so, when they get into the multiplayer aspect of things as this will allow players to co-op in on quests, battle alongside each other or battle head-to-head against each other. The character development flows really well within the game’s story and it sets the pace by balancing the comedic aspects with the seriousness arising from what can happen to the world if evil is left to run wild. The cutscenes and voice acting just add on to that, and make the player feel like they’re watching an anime series…which coincidentally is also out now. So what are you waiting for? Become a rider!