Monster Hunter, as a series, is constantly growing and evolving. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Monster Hunter Stories 2 not only builds on things experienced from the original game, but also newer entries like Monster Hunter World. After briefly going hands-on with this newest installment, I was heartened to see how much is adapted into this game.
In general, Monster Hunter Stories is what you get when Pokemon and creature collecting and training elements are added to the Monster Hunter world. Rather than hunting monsters to take their parts and fulfill quests, you’re bonding with them. You steal eggs from nests, hatch them, and then… head into battles with them to fulfill quests. Allies with their own Monsties can join you, like Kayna with her Velocidrome, to help you fight your battles. And, like the original game, the sequel begins with a fledging rider on the precipice of getting involved in major events.
Also right away, the game starts picking up elements from other mainline installments. The obvious additions are new monsters introduced in Monster Hunter World appearing in Monster Hunter Stories 2. While familiar characters like Aptonoth and Velocidrome are common at the outset, the game quickly introduces characters that debuted in Monster Hunter World. Kulu-Ya-Ku is there to cause some mischief early on. An Anjanath shows up before you’re prepared to fight it. One of your tasks involves helping the village out by dealing with a Pukei-Pukei. And in many cases, these encounters lead to acquiring eggs that let you befriend that creature.
The return of scoutflies is a prominent one too. There are times when you’ll have to track down certain monsters. When this happens, your scoutflies will “lead” you to different points of interest to gather evidence. Once enough’s been found, you can hunt down the specific monster that might normally be uncommon in that area. It’s a chance to adapt a familiar concept to a new situation, but still have it serve a similar purpose.
Of course, some of these elements are returning from the original Monster Hunter Stories or other mainline entries. But the difference is, it felt like here Monster Hunter Stories 2 introduced some of these concepts earlier. For example, during my hands-on session, the “invasion” tutorial happened early on. Like normal Monster Hunter games like World, Monster Hunter Stories 2 can have another monster bust in and join your fight. In my tutorial segment, that meant relying an item to get out of there, since I wasn’t equipped to fight the aforementioned Anjanath yet.
A wider range of weapons are available as well. In the original Monster Hunter Stories, people could use a great sword, hammer, hunting horn, and sword and shield. More selections are available here. For example, I was able to use Kulu-Ya-Ku parts to create a bow. There was a gunlance available to purchase at the blacksmith’s. Three can be equipped at once. As you fight a monster, you can see whether it and its parts are weak or strong against certain weapons after using them once. As each has its own nuances and abilities, it allowed for additional strategic options during my trial. Especially since switching can be done at any time from the skills menu in a fight with no penalties. (Just as monsties can be swapped at any time as well.)
What follows feels like, in its early moments, a game that tries to pay tribute while expanding on what a Monster Hunter game could be. Monster Hunter Stories 2 builds on the original, by including new monsters, weapons, and encounters early on, and does so by also tapping into recent successful mainline games like Monster Hunter World. The first steps into a rider’s life are encouraging, and it seems like there are plenty of ways for this installment to grow.
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin will come to the Nintendo Switch and PC on July 9, 2021.