Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin review: Bigger, better sequel

Capcom /

Title: Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed on), PC
Release Date: July 9, 2021

Watching Nintendo slowly become the replacement Monster Hunter machine for the PSP/Vita has made me exceptionally happy. While I didn’t enjoy Monster Hunter Generations was, admittedly, not that much fun, I forgot all about it when Monster Hunter Rise came out and somehow took everything from the groundbreaking Monster Hunter World and…somehow…improve upon it while also allowing it to be portable.

And while Monster Hunter Rise was excellent, I was still holding out for the next Monster Hunter game that was announced around the same time. That would be Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin.

Monster Hunter Stories is a really bizarre spin-off series from Capcom and one I absolutely adore despite only having one game up until now. In it, you create a more cartoony looking character and you start off as a youngin’ who grew up in a village where instead of just going out and fighting monsters, you use  a “Kinship Stone.” This allows someone to bond with a monster they hatched from an egg, calling them “Monsties”.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
Capcom /

The cutesy looks stops with your character and terms like “Monsties.” The rest of the game looks like any other Monster Hunter at first. The monsters are just as you remember. The worlds are still gorgeous and varied. But the difference lies in how you fight and interact with the monsters.

You can have six monsties with you at once. The mechanic works okay, no need to reinvent the wheel on that one. But the big deal with having six is that you can pick one to run with you through the main world, and it can be used as a mount. While mounted, you’ll find that all of the monsties have special abilities. Some can sniff out nearby herbs and honey on the map. Some can use sharp beaks to bust stone and open new paths. Some can swim allowing you to cross large bodies of water. Later creatures even allow you to become invisible to other monsters and dig underground, even fly.

While this still bears some similarity to another monster-collecting franchise, one of the things that make Monster Hunter Stories a joy is that you actually see this happen realistically. A monstie that breaks rocks actually busts it with it’s beak. A monstie that can swim just dives into the water when close without having to active any ability. It makes the world much more natural.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
Capcom /

Another similarity with Monster Hunter Stories games and — I’ll just say Pokémon — is that the battles are now turn-based instead of real-time action. But I think these battles are way more engaging.

Instead of trying to memorize an insane table involving 18 different attack types, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin breaks it down to a simple “rock/paper/scissors” style setup involving “quick, power and technical” attacks.

This comes down to actually learning a bit more about the monsters in the world and how to read their behavior. Early monsters are very easy to read. Large four-legged beasts are going to come at you with power attacks. Little raptor-like monsters are going to focus on speed attacks. But it’s good to learn how to recognize what your opponent is going to do because if you don’t you’re going to lose fast.

Let’s say a monster is targeting you. You’ll know because an energy line will stand between you and the monster while you’re picking a move. If you both do the same type of attack, you’ll tie, hit each other and both suffer damage.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
Capcom /

But let’s say you can recognize a monster is about to come at you with a power attack and you choose speed. When the attacks happen, you’ll counter it, suffer far less damage and do extra damage on your opponent. Later monsters will have behavioral changes where they’ll sometimes get frustrated and do a different type of move. And even far later you’ll encounter monsters that aren’t afraid to change it up at random, making recognizing their stances much more important.

Another benefit to reading moves successfully (outside of just survival) is that whenever you or your monstie wins a turn, a meter fills between your health bar. Let the meter fill and you can mount your monster during battle. This allows you to not only refill your health a bit but also do stronger attacks. You can also do a Kinship Attack which, while ending your time riding your monstie and emptying your meter, does a ridiculous amount of damage. And it also looks incredibly cool.

These attack animations can range from adorable and funny like shown here via my sweet baby Paolumu.

And they extend to more violent attacks like the absolute hell that Nargacuga showers your poor opponent with.

And even cooler, if you are teamed up with another player online or have an NPC teamed up with you in the story and you both do Kinship Moves at the same time, you’ll do a two-rider, two monster mega attack that does a stupid amount of damage.

As far as story goes, Monster Hunter Stories 2 is much more narrative driven than most other Monster Hunter games. On your peaceful island, under the watch of the “Guardian Rathalos,” your character has lived a pretty chill existence, occasionally going out to battle cow-like herbivores and small raptor-like things. That’s until a mysterious glow starts rising from the water. This glow causes any monster near it to suddenly become incredibly hostile and break from their normal patterns to just do as much damage as possible to those around it.

Your character sets off on a quest to tour the land to see how different places have been affected by this weird phenomenon and figure out how to put an end to it. Along the way you meet different clans of people from peaceful elven like Wyverians to overly aggressive human hunters who consider befriending monsters a form of blasphemy.

As you make your way through the story you encounter all sorts of interesting characters like a Wyverian who is not only allergic to the series’ signature Palicos but also completely ignorant to what an allergy is thinking he has some sort of weird shameful curse. There are over the top villains like Kayne, the woman who trains you in the beginning of the game by being a bad-ass big sister archetype that I would absolutely take a Tigrex claw for.

While engaging in the main story you’ll also complete a series of side quests standard to RPGs while also just searching the massive world looking for rare monsties to get in your party. It’s a satisfying cycle that never felt like a grind. If I ever did poorly in battle, I never felt like it was because I was underpowered; it felt like it was my fault because I haven’t been paying attention to my opponent’s body language. This is admittedly very much my fault because a two-legged dragon made out of boulders and farts poison gas isn’t exactly a creature awash in subtlety.

All-in-all, the game features a slew of different grinds like building better weapons and armor, finding new and better monsties, completing quests, and moving the story along. They all fit together so damn well. I honestly recommend this game to anyone, straight up. Even if you’re not a Monster Hunter fan it’s such a complete and fun game. Go hunt down a copy today.

10. <em>Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin</em> takes the various things that made the first <em>Monster Hunter Stories</em> game such a fun ride and improves upon it adding a bigger, more gorgeous world,  new gameplay mechanics and an easier-to-access multiplayer. From finding new companion monsties, to the battle system, to exploration, to the story — everything the game does is done remarkably well. In spite of my love for the series, I dove into this game trying to find something it does poorly and I just can’t find it. As a skeptical pessimist, this is really frustrating but I genuinely enjoyed this game and have so much love for it.. Capcom. . Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.