Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
Reviewed by William Ince
Play Time: 80 Hours
Monster Hunter has grown into a much-loved franchise with a huge fan base since it first launched in 2004; but the series wouldn’t debut on a Nintendo platform until the release of Monster Hunter Tri for the Nintendo Wii in 2010. With games on a range of Nintendo consoles and handhelds since then, the franchise has allowed fans all across the globe to connect both online and offline to gather, hunt and capture Monsters to craft and improve their gear, and tackle more difficult quests in order to triumph over the most powerful of enemies.
In 2017, Capcom brought us Monster Hunter Stories on the Nintendo 3DS and flipped many a switch by taking our favourite Monsters and giving us the ability to work alongside them to save the world in a JRPG that opened Monster Hunter fans up to a whole new way to play. Players were tasked with building a team of Monsties, the term used for a rider's monster companion, each with their own strengths, weaknesses and abilities from a range of favourites spanning the Monster Hunter series, to stop the terror that is the Black Blight and save the world!
This new spin-off entry performed well enough for Capcom to greenlight a sequel. Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin released for Nintendo Switch a few months after Monster Hunter Rise, bringing two new Monster Hunter games to Nintendo Switch in the same year. Additionally, both included road maps for additional content to be released further down the line.
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin has already more than tripled the sales of the 3DS original, and has brought Capcom’s fledgling JRPG spin-off series back and better than ever, with a ton of side quests, over 100 monsties to collect, beautiful visuals and a soundtrack that will leave you whistling tunes to yourself for weeks. A new entry to a series of course has to include a whole new story, and this game does it the right way in that you aren’t required to have played the original on 3DS to understand what's going on. Any references you don’t understand? Don’t worry, the characters will explain it all!
The battle system returns with a couple of changes that open up a lot of new strategies. With the buddy system, you'll have an NPC party member with you throughout the story to assist you in battle. Whilst its presence can be an advantage in battle, if you’re not careful, it can also be a hindrance. The basics of battle follow a Rock-Paper-Scissors approach that’s easy to learn, with each attack being strong against one, but weak to another. The main trick is learning each monsters’ patterns to counter their attacks and what to do when the monsters get angry, and completely change up their battle style. Keep doing well in battle and you can even pull off some super-powerful attacks with your Monsties. It must be said that the battles can get a little on the repetitive side when levelling up your rider and monsties, but this will be a familiar trope to fans of the JRPG genre.
Online play is pretty straightforward. Select what kind of Monster Den to walk into before waiting for a buddy to join, before working together to take down your target and get eggs as rewards. If you're lucky, you can get some really powerful monsties early on to help you on your journey.
The visuals present a welcome change to the main series Monster Hunter titles, and bring a wholesome world you can really get drawn into. With various areas from Icy Tundras, Volcanoes and everything in between, there are plenty of different habitats to explore and adore while you’re out and about. But we can’t talk about the visuals without talking about Kinship Skills. These super-powerful attacks all come complete with their own little cutscene, and they are nothing but a delight for the eyes.
My personal experience with Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin has been fantastic, and I haven't been able to put it down since it was released. Every little bit of progress I make just makes me wonder “Ooh, what am I going to get next?” and that for me is exactly what you need in a game. If you’re reading this and are still unsure if it’s a title that’ll appeal to you, there is a free demo available on the Nintendo eShop, and progress carries over into the main game.