I like the Monster Hunter series. First playing one with 3 Ultimate thanks to an offer with Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U. Then when 4 Ultimate came out for the 3ds I got the full taste of the multiplayer aspect. Since then with Generations and Rise I’ve continued my experiences. But now we look at how transcribing the franchise into a turn based RPG works… well the second one, never did play the first.
The Monster Hunter Stories games are a spinoff of the Main Monster Hunter games with rather than an action game being a turn based JRPG. Now that is quite a task, you could go the easy route and just make a game that uses the names and designs, plastering the name Monster Hunter on a completely different game basically… but that’s not this game.
To my surprise there was lots of what made Monster Hunter, Monster Hunter , in this game even though it’s been turned into a turn based form. But to the game.
Rather than a hunter which is what you play in the main games, you play a rider. Someone who creates a bond with monsters (by stealing them as babies but I’ll get to that later) and fighting alongside them, or riding them. When fighting, the game turns into a turn based form. You control your character while your monstie (as they are called) will use actions on their own.
There’s a fair bit of strategy in the fights too. Regular and most special attacks come in 3 varieties, speed, power and technical. These have a rock, paper, scissors style game play that if two people are attacking each other, the person with the attack advantage will win and do the more damage. So if I attack with power and my foe a technical, I win. What’s more if you and a monstie (or hunter companion) both use the same attack which has advantage the foe’s attack is completely negated and extra damage is done. And so, much like Classic Monster Hunter, it pays for you to analyze and learn the attack patterns of monsters as they will use one of these 3 attack types, for example Tigrex, unless enraged, will use speed attacks so you want to use technical against him (unless he’s throwing a rock at you). When you defeat a monster you will get a score which will increase the number of drops you get as well as additional ones for breaking monster parts, these are used to craft new armour and weapons.
Your character can take 3 different weapons with you and these come in 3 types as well – blunt, slashing and piercing. These as well will do more damage or less depending on what you’re fighting, or if it’s body parts you’re hitting. Throw in elemental advantages and you see the turn based fights can involve a lot of strategy. If you are at a notably higher level than an intended monster encounter the game does give you the option for a quick finish by pressing the shoulder buttons, it still counts as a win so you will get rewards but don’t expect much EXP from something they thing you are well above fighting.
The major element of the game, the monster companions or monsties are acquired by searching monster dens and finding eggs. Manage to get the eggs out (searching too many times may alert a nest guard resulting in a fight) and you can then hatch it for a new monster friend. Different monsters will then have different abilities both in battle (such as preferring which attack type they like to use) or out of battle abilities to help explore.
Being a jrpg there is a large plot that should last you quite some time. Once you have completed that there is also online co op (you can do that before endgame as well but it opens up far larger afterwards) and several post game challenges.
While playing there were moments where I just set to do one little thing but got caught up for hours. But I did notice as the game went on the large open areas grew smaller making hunting for rare dens more frustrating and requiring more resets of that area.
Online had different issues, ignoring standard connection problems ( of which if your ally is disconnected from you they are thankfully replaced with a decently combatant AI) I found that Nargacuga becomes mandatory since its stealth lets you sneak past things so completely while moving fast people will just rush past you.
Other annoyances came from when despite bringing a partner specifically to use a type of attack it decides to use the one that’s weak to the monsters resulting in me having to use up power to select a special attack to amend this. It’s frustrating constantly having to correct my partner when it’s not doing the very thing it was brought out to do.
The game is supported with DLC as more monsters and online challenges are added post main story ranging for additional deviant forms brought out from Monster Hunter Generations to the Palamutes from Rise. There is a lot more to talk about but the game will do a good job explaining this as you play through the main story leaving you with a good amount of play time to enjoy as the world expands.