Monster Hunter Stories 2 has been out for a full month, and we’ve gotten two title updates so far. This game serves as a love letter to Monster Hunter, with the player taking the role of a Monster Trainer – or a Rider – that is trying to help save the world from destruction. As a gigantic fan of the Monster Hunter franchise, this game filled me with joy and fear alike. With Stories, the gameplay changes from the regular Monster Hunter experience to a turn-based RPG with basic skill and attack elements. Did Stories 2 fix some of the major problems from the original game, or is it time to shelve the idea entirely? Let’s take a look.
The Razewing Menace
Minor Spoiler Warning!
The storyline of Monster Hunter Stories 2 surprised me. Any fan of the Monster Hunter franchise knows that the storyline for any game is essentially an engine to allow you to fight grand monsters and explore new environments. Story is important, but it usually takes a backseat for the crafting and gathering that the series is most known for.
This game was different, though that’s to be expected. As an RPG, it’s expected to have a significantly more in-depth story than an action game. Stories 2 is no LISA or Mother 3 or anything akin to that. It’s a simple tale about changing the fate of a creature that is doomed to destroy the world. However, the simplicity doesn’t make Stories 2 feel terrible at all! In the short storyline, the game talks about fate, the fragility of life, friendship, growing up, and tolerance. Sadly, Stories 2 doesn’t take the time to flesh out any of these elements, and most characters are reduced to a few personality traits. Because of that, I’d hardly say that the storyline was memorable, but it was serviceable.
The aesthetics service this point quite well. Stories 2 adapts a more cartoonish art style than Monster Hunter World or Rise, and it works well for a more youth-oriented experience. The animations are punchy and quick, the monsters look good, and the special attacks you can do with your Monstie partner are guaranteed to make Monster Hunter fans smile.
Turn-Based Monster Hunter
How does Monster Hunter adapt to turn-based combat? Quite well, actually! You have two characters: Your Rider (or Avatar) and your Monstie, which you choose from a party of six. You collect Monsties by raiding Dens and grabbing Eggs, which have different patterns, colors, and rarities. Higher-rarity Monsties from higher-level dens will have stronger Genes, which you can mix and match between Monsties to create incredible forces of nature.
The Dens that you raid from are randomly generated from pre-set tiles, which sadly can make exploring them get very repetitive after many hours. However, they can still offer some unique rewards and experiences, especially once you get Monsties with Roar and Stealth that can help you move through them quickly.
If you don’t want to ride with just your Monstie, you get multiple partners throughout the game that aid you. When with another Rider, your party adds of that Rider and their Monstie. When with a Hunter, your party adds the Hunter, who is essentially a stronger version of a Rider without a Monstie.
Horn, Fang, Claw, Shoot!
During combat, you are only in control of your character. You can choose to do a basic attack of three types: Power, Speed, and Technical. This is a Rock-Paper-Scissors system, where Power beats Technical, Technical beats Speed, and Speed beats Power. Monsters tend to have patterns where they use one of these types of attacks. Choosing the right attack type when the monster attacks you negates most of the damage and negative effects of their attack. It also gives you a big damage boost! If your Monstie, your friend’s Monstie, or your Hunter ally matches this attack, you Double Attack, which negates the enemy’s attack entirely and deals massive damage.
Other than basic attacks, your Hunter has weapon-based skills from six weapons: Sword and Shield, Greatsword, Hammer, Hunting Horn, Bow, and Gunlance. These weapons all have their peaks and valleys; check out our guide to learn what each are good at.
Finally, you can command your Monstie to perform a Gene Skill that they know. This allows you to control what attacks your Monstie does, at the cost of Kinship, which you generate from winning Head-To-Head attacks in the Rock, Paper, Scissors-style fights. This small amount of control is very important, since otherwise your Monstie does whatever the heck it feels like.
Unfortunately, there is no way to control your partner’s attacks; your fellow Rider and Hunter can be really dumb sometimes. However, their extra damage, utility, and item use can be crucial, so it’s hard to play without them.
The combat system is surprisingly deep and read-oriented, which can be a lot of fun. Despite how simple it is in concept and on paper, there are legitimately hard fights that can challenge a player’s mind, even just a bit. While this combat system is good, it does still struggle from lack of player control and frustration with the AI. That can be considered a good or bad thing; the ability to help your Monstie out by spending a resource is really cool. If only you could help out your allies as well.
Monster Hunter Stories 2 Endgame Content
As a cartoonish game, Stories 2 might not seem like it’ll have that much to do after the main story. You’d actually be quite surprised; the game doesn’t really start until the main story is over! Similar to Monster Hunter games in the main series, the quest has only begun.
After the storyline, High Rank is unlocked. This means you have access to more Monsties, monsters, and significantly better eggs and town services. Now, you can farm the best armor and weapons in the game, and really get to making a build.
You also gain access to all of your Partners throughout the storyline, and you can choose any of them to play the endgame with you. I personally think that Reverto and Kyle are safe, high-damage options that won’t die as easily to area-of-effect attacks. But, any of the partners provide good damage and health to your party that make the end game challenges a touch easier.
The Elder’s Lair
The Elder’s Lair is the primary endgame content for you to match up against. It’s suggested that you level up and get some High Rank gear before you start working on this series of difficult dungeons. However, this is where you can fight Elder Dragons, Rajang, and the Deviant Monsters: Bloodbath Diablos, Grimclaw Tigrex, Silverwind Nargacuga, Thunderlord Zinogre, and Dreadqueen Rathian. It’s not the only place to find these guys, but it might be the first or second time you encounter them!
The Lair has some great parts and some abysmal parts. There are new Puzzle fights, where you have to figure out a Monster’s Weakness or follow a specific series of events to avoid losing. These fights require flexible builds and preparation, and are probably where Stories 2 flexes it’s combat system the most. These are great, but could have benefited from using the monster’s standard weaknesses more often.
The bad stuff comes from the part break trials. These require 5-7 part breaks from three different unique part archetypes. At minimum, you are fighting seven monsters that have all three parts. And those are rare spawns on these floors! Not to mention that your AI partners can often screw you out of multiple breaks, meaning that you’re usually fighting 12 or more of these monsters just to get your breaks. This can be multiple hours of work per floor if you get unlucky. Not great, but an acceptable time waster that at least gets you some parts.
Overall, the Elder’s Lair and the Secret Lair are good time wasters that can get you some really fantastic and fun gear for sets.
The game’s co-op offerings are actually really fun. If you get a friend to play with you until the Endgame, then Co-op quests are not only interesting experiments with combat, but grant stellar rewards. You’ll get rainbow eggs constantly from Super Rare Expedition tickets, which means you can more easily construct a high-tier team of Monsties to take down massive threats. And doing these with a friend can be so much fun! Comparing your Monsties and team-building has been a great time with my friends.
However, without a conversation partner, these become a bit more boring. The Expeditions pull from the same environmental tile sets as the normal dungeons, compounding on the repetition of the game. Some of the Computer partners that the game matches you with are more than useless. And if you’re trying to do the Time Trials… Good luck doing them without some coordination!
Still, overall, these are really fun to work through and reward you with items and Monsties that you simply cannot find in the main game. Good incentive to continue playing, even after the Elder’s Lair falls!
Overall Score for Monster Hunter Stories 2
Even as a Monster Hunter fan, this game has a lot of flaws. The repetitive dungeon design is problematic, the Gene system is underdeveloped, and the lack of control in combat can be frustrating. However, the charming art style, story, content, deceptively complex and rewarding combat system, and team-building elements will keep turn-based RPG fans around for hours.
Monster Hunter Stories 2: 7/10
Fans of Monster Hunter will probably bump this up to 8. But, you will still want additional Monsties and game design tweaks before the game becomes perfect.
Seriously, try out the free trial if this game seems fun to you. It might catch you by surprise!
Want to start Monster Hunter Stories 2 right? Check out some of our guides to learn what the game doesn’t make too clear!