By now, there’s a good chance you will have heard how Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin changes up real-time combat for real-time battles and has a certain uncanny resemblance to another popular monster-catching series.
This is nothing new, with its predecessor on the 3DS branching out into that style back in 2016. As someone that’s new to the world of Monster Hunter though, Wings of Ruin kept me gleefully entertained while cutting out a lot of the nonsense that certain other JRPGs could learn a thing or two from.
Note: After receiving the game at launch (July 9th), I played 20 hours of Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin and made it to Lamure – mostly by mainlining the campaign.
To set the stage: Rathalos are disappearing around the world and chaos emerges without the monsters’ presence to keep the balance. The protagonist – a rider from Mahana Village whose grandfather Red previously saved the world with a Rathalos – stumbles upon a girl named Ena, who holds the final Rathalos egg. Naturally, adventure ensues.
It’s a simple setup. One that’s tried and tested to get you into the action quick – having said that, there’s a strong argument that you don’t unlock everything the game has to offer for a good eight hours. Still, the pacing doesn’t suffer as a result.
Returning from the original game, we have Navirou, a talking cat (Felyne) that accompanies the journey. Filled with cat puns galore, Navirou’s nine lives quickly ran out for me personally, yet I can see how a younger audience may appreciate him. Aside from that, I rarely felt like I was missing something, meaning newcomers can jump right in without any fear.
EGGS! Precious eggs
The main gameplay revolves around searching Monster Dens for eggs, which you take back to one of several hub worlds (depending on where you are in the story) to hatch, level up and battle. 81 of the creatures (or Monsties) can be hatched out of the 128 monsters that reside across the lands, enough to keep things interesting and make every new encounter feel special.
Six hours in, the Rite of Channeling is thrown into the mix too, allowing Monsties to gain genes (abilities) by sacrificing other Monsties with the gene you want to pass on. It’s very much for the hardcore, with myself dabbling a little bit but never felt compelled to invest that much time. It’s never felt a necessity to progress either, so that helped.
As mentioned, battles are turn-based focusing on a rock-paper-scissors fighting system (Power, Speed or Technical) that requires the player to study monster behaviour to come out on top. Fighting alongside your own Monsti, you decide moves for the pair of you with a companion and their own Monsti typically participating too. Each duo has its own three heart life bar that results in a game over if either loses them all.
There’s also a Kinship Charge that builds the more you synchronise moves, enabling a major attack with both Rider and Monsti entering a blockbuster cinematic to rain terror down on all that oppose. It’s very over the top but in the best way possible. Quick time events similarly bring the same visual buzz and keep you on your toes.
A meaty game
All battles can be flicked between one to three times speed, with even the option to wipe out much weaker enemies straight away via Quick Finish. Without any of this, the game would have felt majorly sluggish and it’s hard to imagine anyone playing in real-time.
Weapons are the epitome of the dumber it looks the stronger it is. Take it or leave it but I’m someone that always goes for fashion over function, opting for more difficult fights instead of wielding a Gunlance that resembles a corn on the cob.
Wings of Ruin looks to generously boasts 60-hours plus of content (according to early reports – however, Capcom declined to put a number on it when reached out for comment) if you wish it to. A Quest Board offers plenty of side missions, be that taking down a specific monster, performing a certain number of moves in battle or collecting various items to trade-in.
We’ve not even mentioned the multiplayer aspect (unlocks about 8 hours in) where you can venture off on quests with a buddy or NPC. While all of this compliments the main campaign well, I doubt I would have spent that much more time than I already did with the lot of it if not pressed for time.
A lush world begging to be explored
Where I did wish I could have relaxed a little was the various locations offered, from the tropical Hakola Island to the mountainous Alcala to the snow drenched Loloska. Every region is dying to be explored; proving difficult not to get engrossed. Bonus points for the fantastic fast-travel system too.
This was only helped by the gorgeous anime-like art style and rousing soundtrack that changed itself up enough to feel fresh throughout. Notably, on Switch, the game looks to have struggled due to an uncapped frame rate. Unsurprisingly, this did not affect gameplay in Wings of Ruin on PC, as it ran gloriously at 120fps on my 1080ti, potentially swaying some buyers.
The first few hours of Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin can be quite overwhelming, considering how much is introduced. Powering through this reaps heavy rewards with a satisfying monster collecting cycle, acres of unfathomed land to explore and a compelling battle system, all contributing to a comprehensive package of content. Just remember to mute Navirou.
Want to join me in this adventure? Get your PC copy of Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin right here on the GMG store.