Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin Demo Impressions (Switch)
This better have Paolumus.
My first Monster Hunter game was World and while I do enjoy the game, at the same time I kind of don’t. I ended up not being in the target audience in the long run, but I had fun with the time I had with it (it probably also doesn’t help that I didn’t have friends that played, and even then the multiplayer implementation wasn’t that great from what I remember). So knowing my past with Monster Hunter, I past on Rise. However, when I saw the Monster Hunter Stories 2 trailer and heard that it was a turn-based JRPG spinoff, well I was interested. And in Monster Hunter fashion, we got a demo before the game releases where everyone can check out the game to see if they’d like it and if they do, the save can be transferred to the full game.
Rather than having a few missions to hunt monsters and endless tutorials to bombard you with (which ends up not being a great indication for newcomers if they’d actually like it), Monster Hunter Stories 2 lets you play through the opening hours of the game. I did not play the first Stories game, but from my research, it is set 2 generations after those events as it references the Black Blight and it seems like the protagonist from the first game is named as “Red” who also happens to be your grandfather. Naviou, the Felyne that finds you quickly as you start out your Rider ventures, also returns. Though considering your character won’t know anything anyway, the events from the first game seems to be stories that were told, and what’s going on is different, it doesn’t seem like it’s needed to play the first to understand what’s going on here. And the trailer does suggest that we’re going to get a flashback.
Anyway, Stories 2 starts during a ceremony taking place in a hidden village called Mahana. During the same time, we see a mysterious girl, which you learn is named Ena, trying to lose track of scoutflies before she visits Red’s Ratha. She’s given its egg before a strange red glow appears which is quickly followed up by the Hunters visiting coming along to kill it as they believe that Ratha is dangerous. Ratha gets some good hits in before getting the heck outta there, which also causes the strange red glow to happen even more (which you later find out is happening everywhere and is causing otherwise docile monsters to become super enraged) and the water to turn red. And that one boy we saw in the trailer? While his name hasn’t been revealed in the game yet, his name is Kyle (of course it is) and his father gets injured here. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets turned around on this as the story goes along and will stop trying to capture Red’s Ratha or the Rathalos you’ll hatch (or even help you get it back as there is a scene with your hatched Rathalos on a sky ship).
You also find out that Riders and Hunters coexist and they don’t really have a good relationship. Which mostly comes from the fear of these dangerous monsters being so close (which is understandable since they destroy their towns/settlements in the mainline games). Though, they aren’t totally different. Hunters hunt monsters and gather the material they drop, often targeting parts like their tail or horns so they’ll fall off for easier scavenging, but at the same time Riders do too. Riders kill just as many, if not more, monsters and end up gathering material they drop to craft armor and weapons; except they will also steal their eggs (sometimes after they kill the mother monster or before, and may or may not throw eggs away that isn’t predicted to be powerful enough) so the new monster baby will form a bond with them. Which I don’t know, seems morbid for people that dislike Hunters because they hunt monsters.
When the game begins, you’re actually just a child that is just setting out as a new Rider. Kayna helps you out with getting the hang of things, and acts as your first companion, and even gives you your first Monstie (or monster that’s bonded with someone by the use of a Kinship Stone). Once you get outside of your village, you’ll be faced with an open world and your lead Monstie right there for you to ride. Various monsters roam around that you can encounter (or they can encounter you). During battles, you’re only in control of your own character. So far, this doesn’t seem too much of a big deal as Kayna usually comes in to heal you or your Monstie herself and she usually adapts if you do it before her (though I did have one instance where she still healed me). And even then, you can see what everyone else is doing before you choose your action. Anyway, attacking is pretty much like rock, paper, scissors as you have 3 different attack variants that have Power beating Technical, Technical beating Speed, and Speed beating Power. This is important if the monster is aiming to attack you (as you are shown their attack line if they’re going to attack you or your Monstie) and for your Monstie as a Head-to-Head will initiate. The winner will deal a lot of damage with draws having both dealing damage. Each Monster type has a attack type they prefer that you can remember, but some will become enraged and change it up. You’ll be able to switch out your Monstie if they favor attack types that are weak to the monster you’re fighting. Monsters will also be weak to certain weapon types as well. Weapons fall under slash, blunt, and piercing and monsters will have those symbols under their health bar or shield bar that will indicate which type is effective or not based on your past battles.
As the battle goes on, your kinship level will increase. You can spend this on skills that are determined on what weapon you’re using to do more damage (which have the Power, Speed, Technical with it) or to do buffs or debuffs; but you can also mount your Monstie in battle when it fully fills up. From here, you can still use regular fight commands and winning Head-to-Heads will raise your Kinship Level with them. Though, failing a Head-to-Head will give a high chance of you being knocked off. You’ll also have the choice of doing a Kinship Skill anytime, with each Monstie having their own unique skill and animation, but the higher Kinship Level you have (maxing at 3), the stronger this skill becomes. Also, using it will cause you to dismount.
While it’s important to keep an eye on your health, you do get a safety net as everyone has 3 hearts that needs to be used up before they’re done for good.
Other than this, there are also Monster Dens which you’ll visit during story quests, but you can go in any you come across anytime you want. These are kind of like small dungeons that will have a monster nest at the end. You’ll be able to search for an egg and Navirou will give you some indications on how good the egg is other than the egg’s pattern. You can search for more, but you’re really gambling on a better egg coming up as you can’t go back and pick up the egg you had (which begs the question, do Riders just throw the egg haphazardly, not caring if it hatches?). Once you settle on one, either by choice or by force once the eggs run out, you can then run just out of the nest location before you get the option to exit the den (thank goodness you don’t have to run all the way through as you can’t ride your Monstie while holding an egg). Once you get back to your village, you can then hatch the egg really fast and create an instant bond with the help of your Kinship stone. You’ll also see a cute baby version of these monsters before they’re quickly grown up so you can ride them and use them in battle.
There are also Everdens, which are also mini dungeons with the difference of having Bottle Caps at the end, which you can use to trade in for rare items.
If you’ve played Monster Hunter, or maybe watched some gameplay, you’ll recognize a lot of elements that it shares with the mainline series while also staying with its JRPG route. As you’re riding around, there are materials for you to collect just like the main game which you can sell or combine to make into useful items like potions. During monster fights, you’ll have the option to target specific parts of the monster depending on the monster to stop the charging effect it’s doing and you’ll get monster parts which is needed when you want to buy new weapons or armor as well as upgrading your current weapons and armor. However, instead of requiring specific parts, each part has a point value and all you need to do is reach the point value you need to have the item made or upgraded. Many of the weapons that appear in the mainline games also appear here, including the Hunting Horn. You’ll also be able to accept side-quests and battle trials.
The game ends once you’re given the Rathalos egg and Red’s special Kinship Stone from Ena and set out with her to go to her home in Rutoh to escape the Hunters. Except, Kyle (of course it’s him) notices you guys leaving and has his Palico, Tsukino, follow you. Though, you won’t be able to go back and do whatever in this beginning area with the save you completed the demo on. Luckily the autosave is in a perfect position so don’t worry if you never manually saved before the end or accidentally overwritten it.
So yeah, Monster Hunter Stories 2 seems like a promising game and it’s right up my alley. I enjoyed my time with the game and I can’t wait to see all the cute Monstie babies and collecting my favorite monsters from the Monster Hunter series. As well as where this story goes and the other crazy boss monster battles as the one featured in the demo is so dramatic due to the mysterious red light affecting the monster and the battle music (and also the constant angry roaring).