Monster Hunter Stories was originally released in September of 2017. I remember playing the demo, and being taken aback by the bright visuals, and more lush environments. From the first time you set off into this world you are presented with the major difference between traditional Monster Hunter games, and Monster Hunter Stories. You are a rider not a hunter. You have a bond with the monsters and strive to respect that bond. Whereas hunters are set on killing all of the monsters. This doesn’t mean that you don’t engage in combat with the monsters, but it is usually at their instigation.
Monster Hunter Stories 2 continues this theme and starts out during a village ritual. Afterwards a group of hunters attempt to capture and kill a guardian Rathalos. The guardian Rathalos and many others like them flee the island. The waters turn red as well. This event initiates a conflict between the islanders and the hunters. The islanders determine they need a group of riders to investigate what has happened. That is when your character gets to start training to become a rider. The help teach you the basics, Kayna is tasked with being your instructor.
You will start off with one of Kayna’s monsties and will journey to a nearby monster den to find your first monstie egg. What you end up finding will be your first addition to collection of Monsties. You will always have at least one Monstie to ride on. You are training to be come a rider after all. You can dismount and walk around an area but for most of your travels early on, it is much more convenient to mount your Monstie ride to your destination.
All of the character models are really high quality. They are cell shaded, in sort of an anime style. The village is also cell shaded and looks great. The outside environments look good, but the monster dens are less impressive. It isn’t a problem, but it won’t be impressing anyone either. Thankfully the gameplay more than makes up for the lackluster environments.
Combat is one of the things that sets it apart from the rest of the Monster Hunter series in that it isn’t a traditional action RPG. Combat is turn based and based on a Rock Paper Scissors mechanic. Specifically you have three styles of attack.
Each style will be more adept at besting another style. Speed bests Power, Power bests Technical, and Technical bests Speed. (See diagram) You will have to figure out how a given enemy will fight, and choose the best style to counter them. If both your monstie and you choose the same style it will boost kinship and do a double attack. Kinship is a meter that fills over time and once full allow you to mount your monstie and do a special attack.
I had gotten some hot takes that the Nintendo Switch version was not very good due to frame rate issues. I am not usually able to notice these issues, so I went ahead and picked up the game. I have been waiting to notice any slow downs, or stuttering, and to be honest it looks and plays perfectly fine to me. There was a day one patch that I was prompted to install. Maybe that resolved some of the frame rate issues that have been mentioned?
In conclusion I am very happy with my purchase, and have had lots of fun in the game. I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoyed the first Monster Hunter Stories for the Nintendo 3DS. I really like Monster Hunter Stories more than the traditional Monster Hunter games, perhaps because of the turn based combat, or just because of the difference in the tone of the game. If you aren’t entirely sure if this is going to be a game you are going to enjoy, there is a demo on the Nintendo eShop. If you are planning on getting this game in a physical form, stores like Walmart and Amazon have discounted the game to 49.99. If you don’t have either of those places available to you, you can always see if your local retailer will price match. You can also purchase this game on the Nintendo eShop here.