Monster Hunter Stories is getting another chance. The Monster Hunter spin-off showed up on multiple platforms, and now it’s spawned a sequel. Siliconera had a chance to interview Producer Ryozo Tsujimoto, Director Kenji Oguro, and Art Director Takahiro Kawano about Monster Hunter Stories 2, its development during a pandemic, and its new features.
Jenni Lada, Siliconera: When did development begin on Monster Hunter Stories 2?
Ryozo Tsujimoto, Producer: About three years ago, the previous title, Monster Hunter Stories, was released in 2016. Since its release, we have continued to update the title, support the animated TV series, and begin working on the idea for a sequel.
What led to Monster Hunter Stories 2 launching simultaneously on the Switch and PC? Did preparing for two platforms at once have any effect on its development?
Ryozo, Producer: We actually decided to add a PC version in the middle of the project. After receiving requests from users, we decided to add a PC version and the development schedule allowed us to release the game at the same time. We wanted the PC version to help the game become a title that can be enjoyed by a wide range of players.
How did the pandemic affect Monster Hunter Stories 2 development?
Ryozo, Producer: COVID did have an impact on the development schedule, however we were able to keep the impact to a minimum by maintaining a development process with social distancing. I am excited to deliver the game to you all soon.
What sorts of elements or features are you able to include in Monster Hunter Stories 2 due to it being on the Switch and PC? Were any cut from the original 3DS release?
Kenji Oguro, Director: The contents we added are "co-op" and introducing the Rite of Channeling sooner. We also wanted battles to feel like mainline Monster Hunter where anticipating the movements and attacks and monsters allows you to keep your turn.
The Rite of Channeling involves transferring genes to a monster to increase its strength. In the previous game, this ability was unlocked after beating the story. For Stories 2, we made it so users can enjoy it before clearing the game, and by making the “Bingo Bonus” element easier to understand.
In Monster Hunter Stories, we included a mechanism to change the attributes and elements of Monsties through channeling, but we have omitted that this time. We decided it is more efficient to develop strengths (for example the original attributes), and even among users who played Stories, not many people knew how the mechanism worked. Instead, for Stories 2 we greatly increased the number of skills that can be passed down, which I think increases the fun of creating original monsters.
Takahiro Kawano, Art Director: On the art side, we made character’s facial expressions and acting in the cutscenes much richer.
Additionally, the textures of monsters and players’ equipment can now be rendered with much more precision. The vastness of the field, as well as the expression of grass and sea water surfaces, is more expressive than the 3DS version by taking advantage of the hardware characteristics of the Switch and PC. I feel that it increased the excitement of wanting to adventure as an RPG.
How did Monster Hunter World influence Monster Hunter Stories 2?
Ryozo: In response to the global success of Monster Hunter: World, we started production of this title with a global mindset from the beginning. That is why we made sure this title will be released on the same day worldwide on July 9, 2021. Many monsters from Monster Hunter World: Iceborne and Monster Hunter Generations will also appear in this title, so please look forward to it!
Co-op is available for this installment. How are Monsties designed to take advantage of this? Are there any that are specifically made with co-op in mind?
Oguro: I wanted to recreate the element of cooperating with friends to defeat monsters with a strategy that is unique to Monster Hunter. You can enjoy playing alone while working with your Battle Buddies in the story. And while co-op quests can be played in single player, you can also play with friends to enjoy it more. In these co-op quests, you and your friends can play together to defeat bosses and hunt for rare eggs.
NPC companions play a big part as well. How did you decide who to make playable? Who are some of your favorite allies?
Oguro: First of all, we wanted to make sure that even those who have never played the first game could enjoy this game. We decided to make some of the characters from the previous game appear as some of the co-op partners for those who have played the previous game can enjoy.
That said, my favorite character is Kayna. She is a good partner who is overprotective and supportive, not only in terms of character but also in terms of gameplay. Each co-op partner has a personality, such as a support type or attacker. When you go on an adventure with Reverto for example, you will feel the dependability of a hunter. The concept of co-op was created so that people can enjoy both the story and the gameplay.
Kawano: My favorite character is Ena. At the start of the production, I had a hard time figuring out how to make her more appealing, and it was hard for me to get attached to her. But by the time I finished making the cutscenes and the ending, she had become my favorite character, I hope users will feel the same way.
Genetics play a bit of a part here, as you can alter a Monstie’s abilities. Which sort of skills and builds did you find most useful during development and would you recommend?
Oguro: As for useful skills, I hope that everyone will play the game and develop their own unique Monsties.
The original Monster Hunter Stories eventually appeared on multiple platforms. Which one ended up being the most successful?
Ryozo: Each and every platform has its own characteristics, so there is not one I can say that this one platform where the game was the most successful. The 3DS version and smartphone version have been played by many people, and inspired many requests for a sequel. We were able to proceed with the development of this title because we received so many requests for a sequel.