Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is the conclusion of the very popular Monster Hunter Stories mobile game series. Set in the Monster Hunter world, the game allows players to build a party of three characters, each with their own unique weapon and personality, and embark on quests across multiple different environments. The series is designed with the iOS and Android platforms in mind, and while it is available on PC, it is the first time in the series’ history that a PC version of the game is being developed.
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is the latest entry in the Monster Hunter Stories series, which debuted for the PlayStation Vita in 2017. The game features a compelling head-to-head multiplayer mode in addition to the main story, which spans fifteen missions. You play as a small group of hunters (called a hunter team) who must battle monsters together to achieve a common goal. “We are here at the Game Developers Conference to discuss the future of gaming. As a follow-up to our last conference, we thought it would be interesting to look at a number of games that are currently being developed, and what we can expect to see from them in the coming years.”
When Monster Hunter Stories 2 begins, it’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting a completely different game: The Wings of Ruin. But to dismiss the spin-off sequel as a game meant to fill in the gaps between major releases – Rise is still a Nintendo Switch exclusive title, after all – would be a shame. Capcom has managed to make a full-fledged, turn-based RPG that does something unique, while remaining very deliberate and making good use of the name it bears.
In Monster Hunter Stories 2: In Wings of Ruin, you are an aspiring rider who has been given an egg to hatch a Ratalos that can destroy the world. You must find a way to avoid this by fighting and collecting monsters, but also by understanding the kinship with these creatures.
While hunters spend most of their time tracking down and chasing monsters to maintain the balance of the ecosystem, horsemen form bonds with the monsters of their choice. This is the central plot point of Monster Hunter Stories 2: In Wings of Ruin, your mute protagonist is randomly paired with a certain Rathalos who seems destined to destroy the world.
The story itself has its share of light, humorous moments that balance out the overtly dramatic ones. But despite the high stakes and a few twists, the film doesn’t stand out in any way and uses a lot of familiar tropes and clichés to get its point across. The characters you meet along the way are good, but you bond with them more by fighting alongside them than by their colorful personalities.
The story takes up most of your time, but you can mostly move around different areas, fight monsters, mine coins and create new equipment. You can easily follow the events without having any idea about the previous game in the series, but we think owning the original game can help you get more enjoyment out of specific encounters.
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin feels like an interactive anime, which sometimes works in its favor, but also leaves a lot to be desired. The monsters are definitely the stars of the show, and they are full of detail. The pretty, elegant colors might not immediately give away how deadly Legiana or Toby-Kadachi can be, and you might be tempted to laugh at Konga’s goofy appearance before she delivers a well-aimed blow with a debuff. But the first time you see a nergiant with its sharp horns and spiny wings, you know you’re in for some pain.
The attack animations also perfectly capture the power and speed of some of these monsters, despite the rather static nature of the battles. The relatable skills are the icing on the cake, and unleashing these powerful, mind-blowing moves suggests you’re willing to end the world yourself, just to get your hands on Barriot’s tusk to stick on a long stick and look cool.
Also, the weapons and armor you create from different monster materials have an impressive visual variety that made us wonder if we really wanted to forgo our stylish hat just because the monster we had to fight next did extra damage while wearing it.
Unfortunately, Monster Hunter Stories 2: The locations in Wings of Ruin are not as well preserved. Sure, you go through a few biomes, but the environmental textures are still underwhelming. The same goes for the flora, which is present in much smaller numbers than in a game like World. Whether it’s snowy mountain peaks, open deserts or tree-covered forests, most of the places you have to traverse seem deserted, as if they only exist so you can gather ingredients and begin the inevitable monster battles. There are moments that benefit from skillfully used colors that create an atmosphere seriously lacking in exploration, but they are few and far between and don’t create a cohesive world.
Audio and music
The music and actors are good enough to keep the story moving. The actors fit the various character archetypes, but again it’s the sounds of the monsters that really stand out, in the way they make enemies, whether scaly, furry or horned, a tangible threat when they fight.
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin retains the basic pattern of exploring the world, fighting monsters and upgrading your character’s equipment that should be familiar to players of the main game, but adds a few elements of its own. The turn-based combat is based on a rock-paper-scissors attack system that, despite its simplicity, is still interesting thanks to a few assistance mechanisms. You and your enemies have access to three basic types of attacks: Force attacks defeat technical attacks, technical attacks defeat speed attacks, and speed attacks defeat force attacks.
When you attack an opponent who has it in for you, you start a one-on-one match where your attacks are compared to his. Whoever wins, inflicts more damage on his opponent. When you and your Monstey attack the same opponent with the same type of victory attack, you perform a double attack that deals more damage and robs the opponent of their ability to counterattack. These are powerful tools that can sometimes make the difference between using a lot of consumables or even losing a fight. Not only are they fun on their own, but they also increase your affinity value, which you can use for a devastating attack. What’s more, you can use these special attacks in conjunction with those of your fellow combatants – characters who join you at certain points in the story – for an even more devastating effect.
In addition to normal attacks, you have access to a number of weapon skills that change depending on the type of weapon you choose, six in all. Swords can be used to strike lightning, spearmen can bombard enemies or deploy a powerful sea serpent once you have enough ammo for normal attacks, and a hunting horn gives useful buffs to the entire party that remove the effects of conditions, gradually heal allies or increase their combat abilities. The weapon also inflicts a specific type of damage out of three that are effective (or not) against different parts of the monster’s body.
The first fight with a new monster is always exciting because you don’t know what to expect. It takes time to learn their tricks, and even once you’ve figured out which attacks they prefer – which can change as the fight progresses and they become more furious – most monsters also use abilities that can’t be directly countered by attacks. As you are torn apart by the ice blast, you begin to anticipate when to defend yourself or which body part to attack first. Will you see a flying monster taking off into the sky and getting ready to crash down on you? Items like the lightning bomb destroy them instantly, leaving them vulnerable for an entire turn. Like your equipment, monsters have strengths and weaknesses. You can use up to three weapons in combat, and if you have a weapon that deals elemental damage against which your opponent is vulnerable, you can retain three hearts, the loss of which results in an immediate retreat.
You can also have a few quick events happen during the fights that are simple enough to spice up the environment, but won’t get boring over time. All of these variables may seem overwhelming, especially considering that you’re constantly encountering new monsters in the game, but they’re introduced naturally throughout the campaign and become second nature after a while. Moreover, some of this knowledge is carried over into the main games, making Wings of Ruin a great introduction to the series. Because battles can be long, you can also speed up the animation by simply pressing a button.
But why talk about Monstey? Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin also has a creature collection aspect that is very important. If other pilots have one monster they always stick to, you have several, in addition to your great, even world class rathalos. Monster caves appear randomly around the world, essentially giving you the chance to steal eggs that you can then hatch in your stables. These monsters then join your group of six, and you can freely switch between them during the fight. They all have a preferred type of attack, meaning proactive change is encouraged if you know your opponent is planning a strategy change. Of course, they also have their own affinity for the elements, notwithstanding Pokey-Pookey’s poisonous tail.
In addition, the different types of monsters have their own movement abilities, allowing you to reach inaccessible places and loot additional resources and currency along the way. Your monsters grow in power as they become part of your party or go on expeditions, making them stronger and unlocking skills and gene slots. Upon hatching, each sample is given a random set of genes.
They have different abilities and can be upgraded or swapped with a channeling rite, causing one monster to inherit the genes of the other, but the last monster to be lost entirely. You have a total of nine slots to work with, and if you line up genes of the same type or color, you’ll get bingo bonuses that further enhance the monster’s abilities. Combined with Monstey’s vast capabilities, this is all the more reason to head out into the world and collect as many eggs as possible, especially from the Nora of rare monsters.
The number of creatures you encounter adds a lot of variety to the battles. But shredding, like all Monster Hunter games, is an important part of Wings of Ruin. It’s not as necessary as in World, but you’ll need to look for better gear as you move from one area to another if you want to fight the monsters more easily. Needless to say, sooner or later the battles get a bit repetitive, which may be the deciding factor for some players. But discovering enemies’ plans, related attacks, quickly switching between weapons and monsters, and the prospect of adding new monsters to your stable and manipulating genes to unlock their true potential is more than enough to keep you on your toes.
In Monster Hunter Stories 2, you essentially control your rider: Wings of Ruin, which means your Monstey and your allies are the key to defeating all the beasts that stand in your way. The AI does a good job for the most part. The enemies are challenging without making the game unfair.
The friendly AI never hindered our progress and only failed in a few of the more difficult battles, oddly enough because it wasn’t aiming for the body parts that its dialogues suggested as targets. Of course, you shouldn’t expect everything to be perfect, and it’s always good to keep consumables on hand, but the companions and monsters help you in the fight, and it shows.
In the world, enemy monsters only chase you if you get very close, and only for short periods of time, so you can more or less pick your battles except in places where spaces are very tight, and you always have the option to escape by clearing them out of the area until you return without penalty (unless you miss the relevant parts). A practical solution that simplifies the shredding process.
MONSTER HUNTER STORIES 2 : RUINS WINGSET
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is very similar to the game Monster Hunter. The emphasis remains on the basic pattern of fighting monsters, collecting materials and using them to make cool gear for different situations. It includes a turn-based stone-paper combat system and creature-collecting elements, yet offers a different perspective that gives an extra reason to engage with this inherently neat experience.
The story acts as a small, mostly innocuous reward between the long battles, moving you from one plot to the next. The barren locations and unattractive textures are disorienting when exploring the world, but you’ll forget them once you get into the fray and enjoy the detailed and epic monster models and special attack animations. It’s not perfect, but don’t underestimate Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin would do a disservice to fans and newcomers alike, as it is a full-blown turn-based RPG that also has much of the DNA of the main game.
BEST PART OF THE GAME
Defeat Nergigant and move up a gear after he’s been kicked around a few times.
- Exciting basic game: Fight monsters, collect materials and build equipment
- Collecting monsters and manipulating genes adds another satisfying layer to the gameplay.
- Great models of monsters, armor and weapons.
- Thousands of monsters to fight and monsters to tame.
- Some of the lessons learned here apply to other Monster Hunter games as well.
- Unconvincing environmental textures
- Still, shredding may be too difficult for some players.
- The narrative does nothing particularly interesting
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