Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is releasing on the 9th of July on the Switch and Steam. In the run up to this release Capcom have released a pretty sizable demo for the Switch. This demo was released on the 25th of June, a pretty busy day for games what with both the new Mario Golf game and Scarlet Nexus dropping at the same time.
So how was it?
The Monster Hunter Stories 2 demo takes you through the first few hours of the game. Like the actual first few hours, I think. Starting off from your village, looking for your first monster egg to get your first partner.
It takes you across this starting island teaching you the mechanics of the game and introducing the story. Showing the Rathalos(big dragons, the poster boys if you will) flying away, and monsters going mad. As you venture out on the island you are tasked with investigating different occurrences of strange monster behaviour.
The demo ends with you setting out and leaving the island.
In combat we have a rock-paper-scissors system. Power beats Technical, Technical beats Speed, and Speed beats Power. When an enemy and one of your team attack each other the outcome might change depending on the attack types. If the enemy is using a Power attack you need to use a Speed one. Then your attack will take over and they will do reduced damage and won’t get any extra effects, like poison.
Then the player can equip three different weapons, like a sword, hammer, and a bow. Each weapon type can have a different damage type, and there are three of these. Slash, blunt, and pierce. Monsters can have different strengths or weaknesses to these damage types.
On top of that, like in normal Monster Hunter you can target certain parts of a monster. Each of these parts can have separate strengths too. So the head might be weak to pierce damage and the tail weak to slash for example.
Monster Hunter Stories 2 splits the exploration into three sections, town, plains, and dungeons.
The town or village you start in has all your provisions. There’s an item shop, a smithy, a stable, and a quest board. You can also pick up other side quests from people around the village too. Using the smithy you can make and upgrade your weapons and armour with the materials recovered from killing monsters. This is exactly like the mainline Monster Hunter games, and some of the weapons and armour look absolutely amazing.
When you’re out in the world or in a dungeon you can ride one of your monsties. This is the best. Each ‘monstie’ looks different, has different speed, and its own ability. Some can jump, some climb, some fly or swim, some roar and scare other monsters. I didn’t get to use all of the abilities but most are shown to you, so you know you can do it later.
That I’ve seen, there are three types of dens; regular, rare, and everdens. Regular dens appear randomly and all over, showing as rocky doorways. Going into one will take you to a mini dungeon that ends with you picking up an egg, sometimes a boss fight too. These dens also appear when a monster retreats from battle.
The rare dens appear as golden crystal doorways. They are basically the same as the regular ones but the eggs you find can be rarer and more powerful.
Everdens differ only slightly, these are stronger dungeons that never disappear. They are always in the same place and I believe can be reentered. I think these also have a higher chance for better eggs. I will say that I didn’t get anything especially different from the everdens that I went into.
What do I like so much?
I like a whole lot in the Monster Hunter Stories 2 demo, so let’s try and distill this a bit. I’ll focus on the important parts. Combat, animations, and voice acting.
Let’s start with the combat. It’s good, real good. I don’t know how it compares to the first entry in the Monster Hunter Stories game but I like this one. Put simply, you have yourself and one of your monsties. Then if you have a buddy with you, another rider, they will be present and one of their monsties. There’s a whole lot here as well, it’s surprisingly complex.
So each fight you can change weapons, monsties, and which skills you use a few times. The little animations for changing weapons for example are also pretty cool.
The animations in this game are gorgeous. Gorgeous and surprisingly intricate. I’m honestly having a hard time thinking of another game that I’ve played on the Switch that rivals it.
There are plenty of great games and well animated ones obviously, pretty much all of Nintendo’s first party games for example.
It’s just something about pretty much all animations during cutscenes or dialogue is so endearing. All of the characters are so full of life to bursting point and it really drew me in instantly. I really hope this continues throughout the final release.
I’ll admit that this is an odd one to include here but I needed to. This is now the second Japanese made game recently that has decent English VA. At least from what was shown in the demo. So far there aren’t any weird 19th century peasant from London voices like a lot of games and Anime. So I am very happy, it just improves the feeling and immersion for me as an English speaker.
Finally there’s best girl Kayna, a rider from your village and your teacher. She accompanies you on a bunch of quests in the beginning, basically making sure you don’t get trampled. Frankly she has a gorgeous design and some of her animations are just so amazing. She makes a great and well rounded first companion to a game like this.
The whole of the beginning section, the section you play in the demo, is just a tutorial. It lasts a good few hours and could last more besides if you just explore dens more.
Despite how long it is, it’s one of the most well paced and effective tutorials I’ve played. New areas, new information, and new concepts are all trickled down to you as you progress. You are given quests to complete, each explaining a different mechanic or idea as you go. However each of these quests is engaging and fun.
You’re never impeded or bogged down by these tutorial quests, they make sense. They also allow a decent amount of autonomy. If you have to go into a forest to investigate something, you can spend an hour in the open plains, exploring dens, and getting new monsties. There’s nothing stopping you. I really like the way the game is presented right off the bat.
I can’t comment on how good the story will end up obviously, I’ve only played the opening tutorial basically. What I can say is that the set up and the themes presented in this section are interesting. I am already curious about why these things are happening, who the mysterious girl is, why the Rathalos are all flying away, and what danger there is.
I want to play more badly. That’s the end of the demo so I have to wait but I don’t want to wait, I want it now. That’s the sign of a good opening to a story in my eyes.
Overall the Monster Hunter Stories 2 demo was fantastic and I loved it. The combat was solid and enhanced by the monsties. Most of the world looked incredible. Some detail was missing, but the style more than makes up for it. Finally it has some of the most enthralling animations I might have seen on the Switch so far.
I was already pretty excited for this game, even without playing the first entry. It looked really cool and cute from all the trailers and I’m super into monster capture RPGs. Then I played the demo. My god, I think this is gonna be one of my favourite RPGs this year. If not on the Switch overall. If you have a Switch and have an interest in JRPGs play this demo, for your own sake.
I said it on Twitter but my biggest takeaway from this demo is this. Are you ready for this ‘Hot Take’? Give this team a shot at a Pokemon game. If the Pokemon Company did that, I can almost guarantee they’d make the best Pokemon game ever made. The combat system, the battle animations, all animations, voice acting, and open world areas. All of it, everything is both top notch and leagues above the biggest franchise on the planet. It’s basically Pokemon 4.0, it was so good.
I like Monster and there are a lot of holes in my drywall… and I have been gaming pretty religiously for the last 2 decades. I am currently a Backend Developer working on an online fundraising platform.