Monster Hunter Stories 2 review – A robust and charming turn-based RPG

Monster Hunter Stories 2Capcom

Monster Hunter Stories 2’s thrilling turn-based battles, charming story, and gigantic roster make Monster Hunter Stories 2 a must-play for series fans and fledgling hunters alike. 

The Monster Hunter series has come on leaps and bounds since it first stomped its way onto hunters’ screens back in 2004. Originally, Capcom’s creature-slaying series struggled to make an impact in the west, but with the release of Monster Hunter World and the newly released Rise, it has finally seen a huge boom in popularity overseas. 

It’s partly down to this wider popularity that Monster Hunter Stories has been given a chance to spread its wings once again. The first Stories title was released back in 2016 for the Nintendo 3DS and while it received a fair amount of praise from critics and fans alike, the ‘mon-collecting spinoff went largely unnoticed. 

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However, this time Capcom is keen to prove to fans that its turn-based battler is more than just a simple spinoff. With its flashy beastly brawls, beautiful environments, charming cast of characters, and monolithic monster roster – Stories 2 proudly joins the very best creature collecting titles.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin – Key Details

  • Price: $59.99/£49.99
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Release Date: July 9, 2021
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch and PC

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin trailer

Simplistic story oozing with charm

Monster Hunter Stories 2 takes place in a world where people have befriended the gigantic toothy terrors that roam across the land. Not only do the Riders of Mahana village use these fearsome creatures to help with various tasks, they also fight alongside them in beastly brawls of tooth and steel.

Players assume the role of Red’s grandchild, a legendary Rider who once rode Guardian Ratha – a revered Rathalos that protects Hakolo Island. However, not everything is as it seems. Red’s loyal dragon has disappeared and a rage-inducing light is infecting monsters around the world. 

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Ena Monster Hunter Stories 2Capcom
Monster Hunter Stories 2’s story is simple yet charming.

After being entrusted with the last remaining Ratha egg, Red’s Grandchild sets out on a quest for answers. During this tale of monster and man, you’ll fight alongside a colorful cast of characters, battle fearsome foes, and find out the truth behind the calamity that is befalling the world. 

Just like the mainline Monster Hunter series, the narrative behind Stories 2 is very simple. While there are a few minor twists and turns, the real meat can be found in the game’s excellent turn-based combat – an area the monster-slaying series has always prided itself on.

Thrilling turn-based battles

Monster Hunter Stories 2 Ray-Rage monsterCapcom
Monster Hunter Stories 2 features some fantastic boss fights.

Unlike the real-time battles of the mainline Monster Hunter series, Stories 2 is entirely turn-based. Instead of narrowly dodging lethal claw swipes and following up with flashy weapon combos, Riders are only able to choose from a total of three attack types: Power, Speed, and Technical. 

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This may seem like a huge step back, but it’s this Rock, Paper, Scissors style system that makes for some nail-bitingly good battles. Each monster has its own strengths and weaknesses, with most creatures clearly favoring one attack type over the other. For example, the series’ lightning-fast Nargacuga utilizes Speed-based attacks, while the noxious Bird Wyvern, Yian Garuga, commands the battlefield with Technical move types.

Kinship skills in Monster Hunter Stories 2Capcom
Kinship skills are a marvel to watch.

As a result, learning to read these patterns and countering them with the correct attack is pivotal to your success. The feeling of perfectly syncing up your moves with your beastly companion and unleashing devastating Double Attacks is as rewarding as it is satisfying. This is especially true when you manage to pull off a level three Kinship Skill – an all-out attack that sees both Rider and hunter band together. 

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Not only do these killer moves look flashy, but they also deal tremendous amounts of damage to your foe. Unleashing them in coordination with your AI companions is a surefire way to obliterate even the fiercest of foes. While early-game monster fights may be relatively easy, battles do gradually ramp up as more ferocious beasts are introduced. 

In fact, selecting a false move or switching out the wrong monster against the game’s Rage-Rayed opponents can quickly lead to a quick death. It’s during these relentlessly brutal battles where Stories 2’s combat really starts to shine. 

Meaningful weapon variation

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You’ll need to use a variety of weapons in Stories 2.

While the series’ iconic monsters may take the lead role in Capcom’s spinoff, that doesn’t mean your hunter can’t dish out some lethal damage as well. In fact, you’ll need to constantly switch between a variety of weapons to take down the game’s toothy terrors. Not only does this help keep combat feeling fresh, but it also directly feeds into the series’ beloved hunting and crafting loop. 

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By felling the leviathans that roam the land, Riders can use their materials to craft a huge variety of weapons and armor. From the mighty blows of the Hammer to colossal cuts of the Great Sword, each of the six weapon types has its own unique skills and advantages. However, unlike the mainline Monster Hunter series, Stories 2 allows hunters to effortlessly switch between three weapon types during each combat turn. 

Monster Hunter Stories 2 Rider vs Rider fightsCapcom
Rider vs Rider fights really test your mettle.

By taking advantage of either blunt, slashing, and piercing damage types, Riders can maximize their combat effectiveness and even break specific monster parts. Once a part has been broken, the creature will invariably topple over, allowing you and your AI companions to dish out some free critical hits. 

If battling monolithic monsters wasn’t thrilling enough, things get even more interesting when you face other Riders. Unlike the monster vs monster brawls, these battles are purely won on wits alone. It’s here where you’ll need to constantly keep your opponent on their toes, baiting them into choosing the wrong move before barraging them with an onslaught of fearsome attacks. 

Not only are these fights much harder than regular monster fights, but they also add another layer of depth to the game’s simplistic Rock, Paper, Scissors style combat. 

Highly customizable monster rosters and abilities

Ratha Monster Hunter Stories 2Capcom
Gotta hatch ’em all!

From the ancient rocky terrain of Alcala to the unforgiven frozen fjords of Loloska, there are plenty of scenic locations that feature a large variety of monsters. Just like the mainline series, Stories’ behemoths can be seen skulking around the overworld. However, if you wish to build a ferocious army, then you’ll need to scour the depths of each environment’s Monster Dens. 

These craggy caves are home to all kinds of creatures and it’s here where Riders can harvest consumables, utilize Monstie skills to get rare items and navigate the labyrinthian networks to poach monster eggs. Each den has a randomized chance of rewarding Riders with a monster from that region, with golden Monster Dens yielding rarer and more powerful Monsties. 

Rite of Channelling Monster Hunter Stories 2 Capcom
Experimenting with different monster builds is half the fun.

However, it’s only upon hatching your newfound friend that you’ll begin to see its true potential. Leveling up your companions will also unlock new special skills, powerful attacks, and passive skills that can turn the tide of battle. If that wasn’t enough, monster genes can be transferred to other creatures entirely via the Rite of Channeling. 

For example, selecting the Burning Fang skill and transferring it to Nargacuga gives the Felyne-themed monster a deadly fire-based attack that it would never learn naturally. On top of this, Passive Skills can also be inherited, which can either help bolster a monster’s defensive capabilities, attack power and even help negate its weaknesses to certain elements.

While you can get through the campaign without ever dabbling in this feature, Stories 2 is at its best when you’re theory-crafting various builds. It’s this freedom and limitless creativity that makes the game’s loop of hunting and hatching so rewarding, especially when you come up with a killer combination of genes that you can use to dominate your foes in competitive online battles. 

Rating: 8/10

Monster Hunter Stories is a must-play for both series fans and monster collecting aficionados alike. While the Rock, Paper, Scissors style combat may lack the overall intricacies of other creature collecting battlers, Stories 2 proves that it is more than just a simple spinoff.

Whether you’re looking to duke it out with your favorite monsters or just looking to school your foes in online battles, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Reviewed on PC