Monster Hunter fans always want more Monster Hunter. New demo? instant download. A sequel on a system you don’t already own? Add that to the pre-order. Spin-off franchise with cutesy anime art and a jRPG turn-based monster vs monster battle system? *long pause* HELL YEAH LET’S GET ON THAT. To the fans, it doesn’t matter what happens to the franchise as long as it’s good, and quite simply, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin delivers.
In Wings of Ruin things are a little different.
Instead of controlling a hunter with a penchant for exterminating innocent wildlife, you take on the role of the grandchild of a legendary monster rider. Riders are people who have connections with monsters, form bonds with specific ones, and then utilise them to assist in the exterminating of innocent wildlife. Okay, that last bit wouldn’t be what the Rider community would tell you, as they seem to appreciate monsters and have a fairly understandable hatred towards hunters, but in the 30 hours you’ll spend in this game, you’ll be wiping out a bunch of these beloved monsters and utilising their corpses to build new and improved weapons and armour. After all, it is still Monster Hunter.
As you start learning more about your grandfather and how loved he seems to be from everyone who has ever interacted with him, things start getting a little weird. Giant holes start opening up outside your village, and the ominous red light coming from these holes starts to enrage any nearby monsters. It’s while investigating some of the strange happenings that you meet Ena, a girl who used to know your grandfather; someone he entrusted a certain monster egg to. At this point it’s unclear how long your grandfather has been out of the picture, but Ena hands the egg over, and it looks like it’s almost ready to hatch. Just a few sidequests later and what hatches from the egg could mean ruin to all.
More than just a cutesy anime face.
There are two rather engaging parts of Wings of Ruin: the story, and the combat. Everything else feels like it’s there as a vessel to serve up these two things in a meaningful way. Spend time in the open(ish)-world collecting and hatching monster eggs to create a party of monsters to call upon during combat. It all sounds a little Pokemon-esque, and you’re right to make that comparison. You’ll be swapping out monsters (and weapons) to try and take advantage of the strengths and weaknesses of the monsters you’ll be fighting. It’s a rock-paper-scissors style combat system that adds decent layers of teaming up, and super moves, that’ll make most gamers look at the recent Pokemon titles and wonder why they couldn’t get something this polished.
Wings of Ruin pushes far from the realistic look and feel of the main series and dives Felyne-first into a cutesy anime look and feel. With that comes all the pros and cons you might be used to when it comes to anime-inspired games. The art is crisp, but flat, and the voice acting is almost entirely atrocious and takes on a vastly different tone when switched to Japanese.
We have the power, let us use it.
Most PC gamers first stop in any new title is the settings menu to ensure that everything is set-up perfectly for their rig, and I’m no different. To say the graphical settings in Wings of Ruin are lacking is an understatement. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s nice to have a simplified settings page, but there was a lot missing I would’ve liked to have seen. There’s no HDR option, no way to remove the large amount of pop-in, and I’m fairly certain that when the game uses images for flashbacks, that they’re in a sub 4k resolution. What also seemed odd is that the camera controls aren’t even analog. There’s no smooth motion as you pivot the camera to take in some of the sights. Instead it starts off slowly and picks up speed until you’ve overshot what you were trying to do. There’s just an overall lack of polish and care when it comes to the controls, and graphical settings that I wondered if maybe Wings of Ruin was developed with the Switch primarily in mind.
Despite these last little gripes, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is a great addition to the Monster Hunter franchise, and quite frankly could give Pokemon fans the Pokemon game they’ve been looking for. I always thought a Pokemon x Monster Hunter mash-up would be a great idea, I just figured it would involve me spending 40 minutes taking down a 16ft electrical yellow rat-creature.