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Capcom’s beast slaying series has already seen major success this year with the behemoth title Monster Hunter Rise. Capcom is now looking to attract an even bigger audience with their spinoff title Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin.

If you’re a fan of the Monster Hunter series, then you’ll probably know why it has done so well. Its core gameplay loop – where players take the role of a Hunter to slay and trap monsters – is addictively fun, but has a steep learning curve at the same time.

The sheer depth of its customisation, unique landscapes and intense battles have allowed it to become one of Capcom's best selling series.

This game is very different for past titles in the series
(Image: Capcom)

Now the spin-off title Monster Hunter Stories took the best elements from the main games and put them into a turn-based RPG.

Released on the Nintendo 3DS in 2016, Monster Hunter Stories was generally well-received and praised for its challenging turn-based combat and abundance of side quests.

It by no means was the finished article, but with the capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS, Capcom did a stellar job.

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Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin isn’t a direct sequel to its predecessor so anyone can jump straight in. But those who have played the original will be familiar with the gaming mechanics.

Monster Hunter Stories 2 is a tale of a young Rider whose fate becomes intertwined with a mysterious Wyverian girl called Ena, who has been entrusted with the last Rathalos egg.

The battle system is very complex and rewarding
(Image: Capcom)

Our hero embarks on a grand adventure that will test bonds, friendship with people and monsters, as they unravel the mystery of the disappearing Rathalos.

Unlike the games from the main series where the stories mainly serve as prompts for new modes to be unlocked, Monster Hunter Stories 2 comes with a really entertaining story.

It's great to see a different side to the Monster Hunter lore, where the ideologies of riders and hunters clash leading to some deep moments.

Lots of monsters from the past return
(Image: Capcom)

The characters are filled with anime tropes but are highly entertaining nevertheless, which stops the story from becoming bland. It feels like Capcom were trying to attract a slightly younger audience with the Pokemon style themes of friendships and bonds.

Visually Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is literally the opposite of Monster Hunter Rise and other main titles. It retains the anime cel-shaded style from the first Monster Hunter Stories but improves each of the game's aesthetics drastically.

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The world of Hunter Stories 2 is beautifully crafted, alluring players to discover all its wonders. It’s really easy to trail off from the main story to just go and explore every fine detail.

Character models are a lot more fun than Rise, and sheer joy to watch during cutscenes. The compelling battle animations are for me one of the best parts of the game.

The monster taming system is surprisingly addictive
(Image: Capcom)

Players will love watching their favourite monsters execute brazen anime-style attacks that look incredible. Monsters haven’t lost any of their ferocity at all, if anything I feel this game adds a little extra character to our favourite monsters.

The music in Monster Hunter Stories 2 is great, with each theme adding extra depth to your overall experience. Players will be enthralled by the amazing instrumental ensembles, from the epic ballads to the intense battle themes.

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Each track is always shifting to match the situation or location you are in and the big orchestral pieces just make every situation feel epic.

Monster Hunter Stories 2 comes with voice acting, and players are able to pick from Japanese and English. Both dubs work well to convey the emotions of each of the characters.

The game does look amazing but there it still suffers from performance issues like frame drops and jittery movement in places.

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This isn’t a deal-breaker by any means, but it feels like the game was optimised for the PC version and not the Switch. Like previous entries, Monster Hunter Stories 2 will let you create your rider and the customisation is as in-depth as ever.

Players will be able to choose either a male or female rider and go from there.

The story is filled with great characters
(Image: Capcom)

The character creation really gives players full authority to how their rider looks, right down to expressions, skin tone and voice pitch.

Like past Monster Hunter titles, Monster Hunter Stories 2 has a lot of depth with elements such as equipment and item forging being implemented here too.

Unlike Rise, there is a huge emphasis on exploration to find Monsties, which are monsters that you’ve bonded with.

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Each location is huge and filled with an abundance of things to do from the get-go. There will be areas that are only accessible by riding certain Monsties, but the rewards are normally worth it.

The main story is huge with each chapter taking several hours to complete and that’s without doing the sub-quest and trial quest which feels a lot like Rise.

Their is a vast world to explore
(Image: Capcom)

Probably the main focal point outside of the main story is the Monstie farming system where players will have to find monster eggs in dens and eventually train them up.

Players will be able to find monster dens and rare ones as soon as they can leave Mahana Village. Once a player finds an egg they can hatch it and take it on their adventure.

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To stop players from getting put off by hatching the same Monstie over and over again, each Monstie comes with a different set of genes. These genes will dictate what passive and active abilities they learn as they grow.

However, if players aren’t happy with their Monstie build they can use Rite Of Channeling which allows players to trade different genes between Monstie. This can become really addictive because you can literally create whatever partner you want.

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This monster taming system has more depth than other games in the same genre. However, this level of complexity may prove really overwhelming for newcomers.

The biggest difference in the Monster Hunter Stories series lies within its turn-based battles system which is a massive change from the real-time action players might be used to.

There are several layers to combat and the in-game tutorials do a good job in walking you through how it all works.

Some of the Monstie's you find are awesomely powerful
(Image: Capcom)

The battle system works primarily on a rock, paper, scissor system where players will have to pick attacks that defeat the opposition's choice. As players progress so does the combat with the addition of kinship moves, weapon swapping, double attacks, clashes and more.

There is so much depth here and so many ways to defeat monsters it is hard to get bored.

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My only gripe is that as stunning as some of the battle animations are, they can last a long time, and when you have a team filled with several riders and Monsties, battles can really drag on.

Luckily players can speed up battles which really helps make the grind a lot more palatable. Fans of the series as a whole will be happy to see that equipment and item forging return with a slight few differences.

Free updates are coming this month that will add new Monstie's
(Image: Capcom)

Here players won’t have to worry about finding specific parts to build one item, but each monster part is worth a certain amount of points. These can be traded to gain the required equipment or item.

Verdict

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is a breath of fresh air to the monster taming genre, with the amount of depth paid to characters and the Monsties very welcoming.

The whole adventure is a massive mountain to climb and that's without all the extra content. There are elements within the game that can feel overwhelming, but like other Monster Hunter games, players will only be rewarded by the amount they put into the game.

There are some performance issues but that doesn’t take away that much from the overall experience. Even though this may not be the Monster Hunter players are familiar with, it's a great game that Capcom has amazingly re-envisioned to bring a new audience.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is out on PC and the Nintendo Switch on 9 July

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