Walking around the Monster Rider Village in Monster Hunter Stories was one of the demo’s greatest pleasures. The Monster Hunter titles have always done well to make the villages feel like home sweet home, and that feeling transcends in the series’ new RPG. Before getting to that, let me tell you how I got there.
Wasting no time at all, the demo begins with the curious-looking Felyne, Nabiru, telling the player that he’s sniffed out an egg for you to snatch. Immediately you gain control of the aspiring Monster Rider and are free to roam around a small Jungle area. After taking the time to gather some familiar materials, I moved onto the next area. Here, atop a raised hill, slept a Yian Kut-Ku – next to it, an egg.
The presentation of this area was special, and drew on the same kind of suspense and amazement as those first moments of walking into a boss room in a Legend of Zelda game. Climbing up the hill, I took the egg – but doing so stirred the Yian Kut-Ku from its slumber. I booked it while avoiding some of its sluggish attacks. It must have still been sleepy.
From there, the demo brings you right to the Rider Village where you engage in a conversation with the village elder, who seems like a mix between Okami’s Mr. Orange and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker’s Orca. He explains that the egg will hatch into a (sigh) “Monstie” that will belong to you and only you, and so you waste no time at all going to the nearby nursery to meet your new partner.
While the egg hatches, you are prompted to “encourage” it by poking at it on the touch screen or tapping the A Button. Doing so will cause little bonuses (Attack +3, Defense +1, to name a few) to appear – though to what extent these affect the Monstie, or whether or not you can control them is unknown. In any case, in the demo, you had a chance at getting a Congolala, Velocidrome, or Yian Kut-Ku – mine hatched into a happy little Yian Kut-Ku, a fan favorite here in Japan.
After you befriend your Monstie, you’re finally given some time to explore the Rider Village – and I did just that.
1. The building immediately next to the Village Elder is a Gathering Hall of sorts –whether or not it serves a function in the game’s story, or if it functions like an online Gathering Hall in other Monster Hunter games is unclear, but talking to the Veteran Rider just outside it mentions that they were busy constructing it, so it wasn’t accessible in the demo.
2. The back area of the Rider Village had an item shop and armory-and it merits mention that you could select a different armor from your menu (I liked the Monster Rider outfit, so I stuck with that). In normal Monster Hunter games, you have to gather materials for five pieces of armor. In Monster Hunter Stories, it looks like you’ll actually build a whole set at once – as there is no option to equip individual pieces. That has implications I’ll talk about another time though.
3. Instead of getting quests from the Guildmarm, it looks like quests are posted on the village bulletin board. Only one village is depicted in official art for the game, so I wonder if this Monster Rider village really is the only one of its kind.
4. There is a nursery for eggs. It will be interesting to see if the egg-hatching mechanic gets fleshed out – are there inherent values to certain stats like Pokémon? Can you gather more than one egg at once? Do stronger creatures take a longer time to incubate?
Before departing for the demo’s “Trial Dungeon” at the request of the Village Elder, I took one last walk around – and I’m glad I did, otherwise I wouldn’t have noticed the village’s windmill, which used Rathalos wings as its fans.
Next time, I’ll touch more on the game’s combat system and exploration.