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Awards

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You Might Like

  • Deep battle system requiring strategy
  • Cool monster designs
  • Plenty of content and customization options

Might Not Like

  • Difficulty spikes
  • Some systems/tips not well explained
  • Not many new monsters added to the roster
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Monster Hunter Stories 2 Review

monster hunter stories

The Monster Hunter series has offered a unique, behemoth slaying experience for many years now. The focus on defeating titans rather than recruiting them sets it apart from other monster-based games such as Pokémon. This all changed when the original Monster Hunter Stories (MHS) launched on 3DS, and then mobile a few years ago. This spin-off series indeed focuses on befriending ‘Monsties’ through raiding nests for monster eggs. Additionally, battles are turn-based as opposed to real-time and unlike other monster tamers, your player character also participates in battles. So, with plenty of unique features, does the second entry in the series innovate enough to deserve your time?

Tall Stories

The plot of Monster Hunter Stories 2 is quite similar to the first game, though for me gameplay is the main attraction here. A mysterious force is causing wild monsters to rampage and threaten human settlements. You agree to use the power of your Kinship Stone to assemble a team of Monsties and investigate further. As a young ‘Rider’ – a group that separates themselves from the traditional monster ‘Hunters’ – you can befriend the majority of creatures encountered.

Not far into the plot, you acquire a special Rathalos, possessing the titular ‘Wings of Ruin’. This ability simultaneously means that the Rathalos could save the world from the mysterious force, or end it entirely. Consequently, a small side-plot also sees you come to blows with Hunters, who see monsters as too dangerous.

This investigation will take you across the usual biomes of plains, forests, snowy mountains and fiery volcanoes. Along the way, it’s largely up to the player to find new Monsties and craft new equipment. Story progression boils down to a few fetch quests and tracking mosters, but largely just strings of boss battles. Again, with battles being the main draw of the game (for me anyway), there’s nothing wrong with this. Be prepared for a long quest, with the main plot lasting around 40 hours, with more postgame content following.

Fangs For The Memories

Defeating monsters, when playing Monster Hunter Stories 2, does not directly allow a chance to recruit them, as Monsties are gained through finding eggs from nests. Therefore, the primary reason for defeating monsters is to acquire crafting materials. These can be used to create weapons, armour, or consumables such as status and health restoring potions.

Equipment keeps the aesthetics of its source monster, so you can outfit yourself into a spiked demon of a Rider. Alternatively, other quirkier looking equipment may possess better skills for the upcoming skills, so switching regularly is advised. This is one of the games flaws, as it doesn’t push the player into regularly upgrading their equipment. Therefore, it’s sometimes best to halt story progression to grind for materials and craft stronger equipment to help against roadblocks.

As well as their own stats, equipment possess a variety of skills, each useful in different situations. This creates a lot of customizability and adds strategy to tougher, late game battles. Some skills add resistances against certain elemental attacks, whereas other prevent status conditions. On the more offensive side, some skills boost the chance of inflicting statuses, or the power of successful head-to-head attacks.

Rock-Paper-Scissors

Whilst elemental types exist in MHS2 (Non-Elemental, Fire, Water, Ice, Thunder and Dragon), they are not the focus of battles. Each monster possesses an attacking/defensive type, as well as having one type that it is weak to. More important however is the attacking technique. Monsties and Riders have the option to attack via a technical, speed, or power attack, with each one beating the following option in a rock-paper-scissors cycle. Whilst it may sound that this simplifies combat, it actually adds a lot of depth to it.

Opponents have a technique that they prefer, but when enraged after losing HP or applying buffs, will change their strategy. This requires the player to make educated guesses when facing a new monster, then commit a successful strategy to memory. When a Rider/Monstie attacks an opponent also attacking them back, a head-to-head is triggered. By winning the head-to-head by choosing the correct technique, the Kinship gauge is filled. When full, the Rider can mount the Monstie, healing them both. The Rider can then choose when to trigger a Kinship move, dealing heavy damage and negating one opponent’s attack.

Kinship can also be used for Monstie or Rider skills. These allow you to force a win on a head-to-head, as Monsties attack randomly, though prefer one technique in particular. Certain Rider weapons use kinship in different ways. Sword and shields can guard against attacks and deal powerful slashes. Bow and arrows need to spend a turn charging to unleash their most powerful abilities. Hunting horns focus on granting positive buffs and healing rather than dealing significant damage. The player can have 3 weapons equipped at any time, freely switching them within battle. Certain Monstie parts are weak/resistant to the three weapon categories, so it's best to bring a variety.

Egg Hatching Eggcitement

Monster dens in Monster Hunter Stories 2 are littered throughout the overworld and come in different rarities, resulting in a different pool of available eggs. Their location and rarity resets upon each visit to an area, so you never know what you may find. Given that a den has a pool of available Monsties, hunting a specific one can be frustrating.

Thankfully, this is where retreating monsters come in. By throwing a paintball and then defeating it within three turns, you can boost the chance of a monster retreating. In addition, each monster has a secondary condition that can increase its retreat rate. These can include breaking a monster part with a particular weapon or defeating it whilst in a specific type of trap. Retreating Monsters cause a den to spawn that will always house its eggs, allowing you to hunt for specific monsters.

Den layouts are incredibly repetitive, and it can be hard to get straight to the nest whilst avoiding countless battles. Additionally, some key crafting items are scattered throughout, compelling the completionist in me to search every corner of a den each time. Thankfully, lower levelled monsters can be auto-battled, but in the postgame this feature is seldom seen given the difficulty spike.

The driving factor for repeatedly visiting dens, as well as finding new Monsties, is finding duplicates with better genes. Through the ‘Rite of Channelling’ at a Stables, genes can be passed from one Monstie to another. The Monstie donating the gene is lost forever, but it can be worth it load a team member up with good skills or buffs. By lining up matching skill types or elements, ‘Bingo Bonuses’ to a Monstie’s stats are also granted. Evidently, there is a lot more customization when building a team of 6 than, say in Pokémon, with any Monstie being able to inherit any gene, sometimes even changing its type too.

Best Of The Quest

Side quests can be picked up from a quest board in accompaniment with the main story. These allow the players to gain some harder to find items, as well as experience. However, they quickly become obsolete, not yielding enough rewards to justify diverting away from the plot. This excludes some key quests which grant permanent attack techniques or crafting recipes. Given that these can be easy to miss, this may make a playthrough harder without an attempt to complete these particular.

Upon completing the game, some higher rank requests become available, and these include some new, tougher foes to best. Furthermore, some postgame story content also becomes available, including a string of tough battles against ‘Deviant’ variants of Monsters.

MHS2 also features a fairly robust Multiplayer offering for both PvP and Co-Op Quests. The aforementioned customizability of Monsties through genes allows for plenty of experimentation in the PvP mode. My preference however is Co-Op mode, as some legendary eggs are much easier to find here than in single player. Additionally, some eggs are exclusive to this mode.

Thankfully, this mode can be played with an AI companion rather than a real-life player. Several times I failed a quest either because the player I matched with headed into a mismatched battle alone, or because they lost connection, causing the game to crash.

Final Thoughts

With a depth of mechanics both in combat and team building, MHS2 is a surprisingly complex RPG, despite its cartoonish adaptation of the main series and simplistic plot. Whilst some repetitive level design and difficulty spikes may hamper the experience for some, I enjoyed hoarding eggs and building the perfect team. So much so that I completed almost all of the available side quests and collected almost all Monsties in my +60 hours with the game. Even those with a casual interest in Monster Hunter, Pokémon, or turn based RPGs should give this one a try.

That concludes our thoughts on Monster Hunter Stories 2. Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames. To buy Monster Hunter Stories 2 today click here!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You might like

  • Deep battle system requiring strategy
  • Cool monster designs
  • Plenty of content and customization options

Might not like

  • Difficulty spikes
  • Some systems/tips not well explained
  • Not many new monsters added to the roster

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