Reviews - Updated on March 31, 2022

Relevant for platform: NSW

One Monster Hunter this year is not enough – apparently, so thought Capcom, scheduling releases. Not so long ago we rejoiced at the cool gameplay innovations in Monster Hunter Rise, and now we can lose a few dozen more hours in Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin. Let the number 2 in the title not scare you – the publisher understood that few people are familiar with the first part, so there will be no problems with understanding the plot or gameplay.

From hunter to rider

The Stories sub-series is drastically different from the regular Monster Hunter. In Wings of Ruin (as in the original) we become riders rather than hunters. We still have to kill a lot of monsters, but this is not limited to this – you need to get to their nests, steal eggs and take them to the village. As soon as someone hatches from an egg, he becomes the personal monster of the protagonist (Capcom aims at a young audience, so the terminology is appropriate) and can fight with him. And yes, you are allowed to ride it!

The combat system is also completely different – turn-based. It is based on the principle of “Rock, scissors, paper” with three types of attacks: powerful, fast and technical. One defeats the other and is weak against the third. The screen does not write what exactly the enemy monster will do in a second, but the opponents do not try to outwit you – if someone prefers powerful attacks, he will use them anyway. At least until he goes into a rage – then he will have to rely on luck.

You won the “Rock, Paper, Scissors” confrontation – only you will inflict damage, and the enemy will eventually miss a turn. Lost – get ready to use a herb or a potion, because the injuries here are usually serious. Well, if both participants in the fight chose the same thing, then both will receive damage. The system is interesting: there are double attacks when you and your monster use the same type of attacks; bond charges with a tamed creature; all sorts of skills and orders to monsters. And if you do everything right, then sooner or later you will be allowed to saddle your ward and make a particularly powerful blow.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin: Обзор

In the event of the death of any member of the squad, he immediately resurrects – for this, three “lives” common to the rider and the monster are used. And if all the “lives” run out, you will be returned to the nearest camp.

Many elements familiar to Monster Hunter have been moved here with changes. For example, grindstones now increase the chance of critical damage. Yes, and you can still focus on certain parts of the bodies of monsters – this way you will not only receive bonus materials, but also temporarily knock the creature down. However, if you can tell your character where to hit the monster, then the other members of the squad do what they want: one can aim at the head, the other at the stomach, the third at the legs. It is far from a fact that on the next move they will follow your example – most likely, they will continue to stick to their line.

Fracture after fracture.

The lack of direct control over the teammates is sometimes annoying, especially considering how many options the protagonist has. You carry three weapons and six monsters with you, and you can freely switch between them at the start of your turn without losing an action point. This allows you to quickly adapt to any situation, but your companion didn’t care about all this – get ready to watch the lost battles of Rock, Paper, Scissors over and over again. Ultimately, this doesn’t affect the difficulty much, but it’s still annoying to skip a turn due to the need to heal someone with a potion.

Monsters exist to be killed

The more varied your techniques in battles, the higher the final score and the more rewards you get. Most often, these are body parts of monsters like horns and scales, which, as in all Monster Hunters, are needed to create equipment. Here only a certain amount of something is not required here – each part has a value. If you need to score, for example, four points to produce weapons or armor, then you can give four cheap parts or one “three-point” and another regular one. Plus, equipment can be improved, and resources are also spent on this, only rarer ones.

With monsters, too, everything is not as simple as it seems at first. When they are in your inventory, for each battle and completed task, they gain experience (even if they did not participate in the battle), and along with this, additional cells of their genes are opened that grant them abilities. At some point, the gene transfer function becomes available – you part with one of the monsters in order to transfer its skill to an empty cell of someone else’s gene. It will be interesting for meticulous players who want to assemble a dream team to dive into all this, especially taking into account subtleties like bingo – if three genes of the same color are placed in one row, the monster will receive a bonus to the characteristics.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin: Обзор

Just a screenshot with cats in the middle of the article.

All these systems are perfectly intertwined and make you want to spend a lot of time in the game. Numerous side quests are mostly automatic, for them you get money that you spend on equipment that comes in handy in hunting monsters for their eggs, carriers of beneficial genes hatch from eggs … Wings of Ruin does not seem to be parasitizing on a famous brand that gained wild popularity after Monster Hunter: World is still “monhan”, only different and unlike the main parts of the series.

Throughout the forty-hour campaign, fights with monsters do not bother, but still the developers have something to improve for a possible third part. Although battles can be sped up three times, this is still not enough in battles with large targets. Yes, and repeated QTEs are useless: the player is asked to alternately press L and R when two flying monsters soar into the sky, then violently press the button during head-on collisions. But there is a handy “trick” for those who want to farm resources in the second half of the game – if the target against you is completely weak, you can skip the fight.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin: Обзор

The line on the ground shows who the enemy is going to attack.

Where is Switch Pro?

What really disappoints is the boring design of the locations. Monster lairs are especially bad, randomly generated after each teleportation to the village. They are too similar to each other within the same biome: they repeat the same areas. There is really nothing to explore in large locations – you stumble either on a dead end or on a chest with not the most useful contents.

Not all monsters can do everything, so to break stones, overcome chasms and climb vines, you need to switch to the corresponding monster. But according to the plot, you don’t have to do this at all – the path to the next goal is overcome by any creature, so the funny idea is implemented very mediocrely. Clearly, the game is not about exploration, but traveling from point to point seems like a waste of time.

That’s where it came in handy.

The optimization on the Switch is also frustrating – the frame rate often drops either in battles, or in open locations, or in general in videos on the engine. After Rise, which worked almost flawlessly and looked great, Wings of Ruin constantly reminds of the weak stuffing of the console with its performance. And five-second loads after each battle with monsters are tiring if you are already used to lightning-fast downloads on next-generation consoles.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin: Обзор

There are no random battles – all monsters can be seen on the locations.

But you can’t write down history as shortcomings, although it doesn’t have enough stars from the sky. Everything is standard: the hunters attacked the guardian ratalos guarding the island, after which all his relatives disappeared, and the rest of the monsters felt free and pose a danger to the inhabitants. A few hours later, we discover the last ratalos egg, bring it to the village, and there it is considered a bad omen – according to legend, one of these monsters once plunged the world into chaos. Accordingly, we have to find out whether the subsequently hatched ratalos is really so dangerous and what secrets are associated with it.

The plot itself is simple, but numerous high-quality cinematics on the engine and charming characters make it interesting enough. Companion flashbacks are not particularly exciting, but real-time scenes are very exciting and funny. Most of all, of course, you remember the partner cat Navira accompanying you everywhere, with whom several funny episodes are associated. But it’s also nice to spend time with the rest of the characters – I never once had the desire to skip the intro.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin: Обзор

Naviru will probably annoy someone, but for me he is funny and cute.

I’m not sure it’s fair to call Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin the entry point into Monster Hunter for beginners – it differs too much from the usual “monhans” in gameplay, storytelling, and more. But the game is perfect for fans of Monster Hunter, and those who can not understand the beauty of this series. The sequel to Stories is a Pokemon-style JRPG where you “collect them all”, make monsters stronger and participate in well-implemented turn-based battles. A pleasant adventure, the advantages of which are much more noticeable than the shortcomings – it is easy to disappear in it for the whole evening, forgiving all the flaws and plunging into the gameplay mechanics.

Pros: simple but cute story with adorable characters; a good turn-based combat system that retains the gameplay elements of Monster Hunter; interesting mechanics with monster genes; an exciting gameplay in which all the components are cool connected to each other.

Cons: lack of control over companions in combat is sometimes annoying; boring monster lairs; imperfect optimization on Switch.

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