Monster Hunter Stories 2 Review: When Pokemon Meets Monster Hunting

In this Monster Hunter Stories 2 Review, we take an in-depth look at the sequel to the turn-based Monster Hunter RPG that is releasing in July 9th 2021. Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin follows a more narrative-driven format than other Monster Hunter games, offering you the chance to collect your favorite monsters that will fight alongside you.

In this MHS2 review, we will go over how the title handles battles, turn-based combat, whether the game has a good balance of these features and why this entry is more than just a Pokemon-like collectathon.

Monster Hunter Stories 2 Review – When Pokemon Meets Monster Hunting

  • Genre: Turn-based RPG
  • Developed by: Capcom
  • Published by: Capcom
  • Release Date: July 9th
  • Platforms: Switch (reviewed platform) & PC via Steam
  • Price: $59.99 Standard Edition, $69.99 Digital Deluxe Edition

Monster Hunter Stories 2 Features

  • Open world exploration in real-time
  • Monster hunting to gain monster materials for armor and weapons
  • Crafting an array of weapons and armor
  • Monstie system which lets you hatch your own buddies that fight with you in battle
  • Turn-based combat in a variety of Skills, Kinship moves, strategy
  • Embark on a journey about friendship and the truth behind the legends of old
  • Collect different Monsties to battle with as well as an extensive DNA gene system with trait customisation
  • Co-Op Expedition Quests or face off against each other in Versus Battles

MHS2 2 Review Story & Setting

The premise for Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is you play the role of the grandchild of a legendary Rider. The story follows a fateful encounter with Ena, a Wyverian girl entrusted with an egg. This egg has the potential to hatch into a legendary Rathalos, but has the possibility to wreak havoc if its inner power is awakened.

While this is the next game in the Monster Hunter Stories series, it is not a direct sequel. As a new player to the franchise I didn’t find it too difficult to catch up on what was happening, as the introduction explains what’s going on pretty well.

Without giving too much away I will say the story revolves heavily around the idea of friendship or Kinship with not only your monsters but other characters in the story. It is well-paced with plenty of cheesy humor and cute characters to keep you entertained throughout. It definitely feels more light-hearted when compared to Rise but still with some more serious moments.

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Monster Hunter Stories 2 Review Gameplay

As the game has a strong narrative, some progression is driven by the story in order to unlock further locations and systems. What’s great about this game is that it gives you plenty to do in between story missions which include side quests, investigating dens or Everdens to gain more Monstie eggs and explore the world. You can even dive into Trials that provide arena type challenges which will reward you for doing so. This gives you a chance to level your Monsties in different ways, offering you some variety when it comes to gameplay.

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Often turn-based games require some grinding, but I didn’t feel this was an issue with Monster Hunter Stories 2 as there were a lot of different activities to experience. The story keeps the game well-paced, with the option to go and explore on your own in between. Real-time exploration means you can venture through different lands and even run away from monsters to avoid encounters.

I should mention that there is co-op in Stories 2, however since we received an early copy I didn’t get a chance to try this out. There are both options to team up with a friend for expeditions or player vs player battles.

Turn-based Combat

The battles heavily rely on a rock, paper, scissors system, but with Power, Technical and Speed actions. Monsters have certain attack patterns but larger monsters will have an enraged mode which will change up the fight making things a little more interesting. You can also attack different monster body parts to take out their certain moves, meaning you have a great deal of strategy when it comes to larger monsters.

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When you go head to head with a monster the outcome will be Victory, Draw or Defeat depending if you’ve chosen the right attack. You get a grade at the end of each battle with S being the best, earning you more loot depending on how you scored. You score more points for using fewer turns, winning head to heads, using Kinship skills, and more.

Since I hadn’t played the first Monster Hunter Stories this was fairly new to me, but is easy to learn with some practice. Things definitely get more complicated with Skills as you have to decide which ones to use at the right moment. You can also double attack with your Monstie as long as you have Kinship charge to spend.

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Another key feature are the Hearts or lives that each character/Monstie has. If the HP reaches zero, that character loses one heart, with three to start with. If a character or Monstie loses all three hearts then it’s game over and you are transported back to the village, losing any dropped items from the battle. This gives a bit of breathing room for when you’re deducing strategies for newly encountered monsters, but you still need to figure it out before losing all your hearts. This makes some more challenging battles feel intense, or the thought of losing in a trial arena more nerve racking as you don’t want to start all over again.

Great quality of life features include being able to adjust the speed of battles, so you can move rapidly through some of the more common encounters, which is also a welcomed feature. Encountering lower level monsters when you’ve leveled enough will give you the option to skip the battle, gaining your rewards instantly.

Kinship

Kinship has quite a strong theme in Stories 2 and not just in the narrative. A Kinship gauge gets charged up in battle letting you unleash some powerful attacks based on your Monstie’s skills, giving you the ability to Ride them in battle to execute a devastating blow. You also form bonds with your Monsties, so the higher the bond level, the more Kinship moves you can unlock. These Kinship moves are pretty satisfying to watch, and some of them are quite funny such as the Kulu-Ya-Ku who hurls an egg much like a rugby ball.

Monsties and Monsters

Probably my favorite feature in this game is hatching Monsties, miniature versions of their adult counterparts. Players can travel to Dens or Everdens and search for some Monstie eggs, and they come in different weights, monstie types and even smells that effect the kind of Monstie you’ll gain.

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These dens are home to larger monsters, so you may have to tackle one before you have access to their nest. Once you have an egg you can leave the den fairly easily, and it’s not like Monster Hunter Rise where if you fall with the egg you have to go back and grab another. You can exit the Den usually with little trouble and it will automatically join your Egg Carton.

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Back at your village you can visit the Stable to hatch these Monsties. The Monstie system is quite complex as there a number of variations in terms of their stats, making some better for Technical, Power or Speed moves depending on how good the egg is. I really liked that there is so much variation in terms of moves in battle such as Kinship skills, and out in the world for exploring such as destroying rock walls or jumping.

While collecting Monsties does remind me a lot of Pokemon, what’s different in Stories is that you fight right alongside your Monstie, even being able to do double attacks for more damage. Fighting monsters won’t mean you will be able to capture them, as you will need to collect their Egg from a den in order to have one of your own. Leveling these creatures doesn’t become a chore as they gain experience both while in your chosen group, and when not.

Rite of Channeling

The Rite of Channeling adds even further ways to battle as you can mix DNA from any Monstie with others, forming even more customization for battles. Genes will gain bonuses if they meet the Bingo list criteria, gaining extra stats depending on these. You can take a trait from one Monstie and add it to another to gain bonuses or make a hybrid with different attack types. The possibilities are endless, making Monstie hunting even more crucial to making that perfect build.

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Weapons

There are as usual quite a wide variety of weapons, but weapon types differ from how they were used in Monster Hunter Rise or Monster Hunter World. Weapons fall into Pierce, Blunt and Slash. Larger monsters are susceptible to more than one type depending on the body part you aim for.

Blunt weapons can also smash rocks like the one Kulu-Ya-Ku uses, and you will need to destroy if you want to deal some damage and avoid a rock throw. Each Monster has a symbol system which will let you know after you’ve attacked whether the weapon is their weakness, and is recorded so in the future when you face the same monster, you will know which weapon to use on particular body parts.

You can carry up to three different weapons into battles making for a fair amount of flexibility, letting you swap between weapons once each turn. There’s also a whole host of upgrade and crafting options for both weapons and armor. You can spend many hours farming for materials and upgrades which is standard for a Monster Hunter game, and was something I’ve done a lot in Rise, so if you have also been playing Rise this will feel quite familiar.

MHS2 Review Audio & Visuals

Monster Hunter Stories runs at 1080p/30 FPS on PC according to the Steam page, but for Switch I’ve been hearing from demo users that the frame rate is uncapped so it may dip in certain situations. I didn’t really have an issue with the performance in turn-based battles, and even in open-world exploration it seems to handle well on the Switch without feeling noticeably sluggish.

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While of course you shouldn’t expect 4K crisp visuals or ultra-smooth animations, the game runs well and looks great on a small screen in handheld mode at 720p, as well as larger screens as it suits the art style. The game is colorful, with plenty of details especially in areas such as Mahana Village. The locales are pretty diverse so there’s always something new to see as you progress through the story. Some cutscenes do show lack of detail when it comes to rocks or blades of grass, and some may not find the cartoon aesthetic appealing compared to other Monster Hunter titles, but I think Wings of Ruin has done this rather well for the style of game that it is.

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Voice acting is great and the music hits the spot in all the right places, and if you’re a fan Monster Hunter soundtracks you won’t be disappointed. You can switch between Japanese and English VO at the title menu, but I mostly played in English which actually has decent voice acting.

MHS2 Review: Final Thoughts

While Monster Hunter Stories 2’s main feature is turn-based battles, it has so much to offer outside this. The progress doesn’t feel overly grindy, and provides a good balance with exploration, story and the Monstie hatching system. The story is intriguing but feels more light-hearted in places, with characters such as Felyne Navirou cracking a joke or two keeping things more up beat.

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The game is a bit overwhelming to begin with especially for newer players to the Stories series, as there are a lot of mechanics to learn. Those who have played other Monster Hunter titles will find some familiarity especially with items, but may notice that they don’t quite work in the same way as their Action combat counterparts. However, once you get the basics down the combat can be somewhat challenging, even if slightly random, but still gives enough strategy which is enjoyable.

My only real gripe about the game is that the transition between encountering monsters and going into battle feels quite slow, with this very old school slow motion zoom in which can get old pretty fast. However, there is a lot to like about this game from its silly humor to loveable cartoon version characters such as the Felynes, and you can easily sink a number of hours into just gaining new monster eggs, or forging new weapons and armor.

If you like turn-based games such as Pokemon Sword and Shield, I think you will find Monster Hunter Stories 2 scratching that similar turn-based itch, only with much more to do. The game is fun to play, with well thought out combat concepts, and some light-hearted silliness that just adds to its charm.

With so much to do in-between battles and a decent amount of content, the price tag seems worth it here. In addition, Capcom has recently announced that the game will receive regular updates post-launch, with five free content updates already announced.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin releases on Nintendo Switch and PC on July 9th. If you enjoyed our Monster Hunter Stories 2 Review, come back later for our tips and tricks guide. You can also check out our Monster Hunter Rise review and our Monster Hunter World: Iceborne Review.

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Summary: Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is a solid turn-based monster collector that still manages to feel like a Monster Hunter game. If you're a fan of games like Pokemon Sword and Shield, or you just can't get enough Monster Hunter, you'll definitely want to check out this game.
Story & Setting (7)
Gameplay (8.5)
Design, Visual & Audio (7.5)
Replayability (8.5)
Pricepoint (8.5)
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News Editor at Fextralife. Yuria is an avid PC gamer and Twitch streamer who enjoys online multi-player games and believes games should have amazing storylines not just great graphics.

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