Monster Hunter Stories 2: 3 Major Ways Capcom Addressed Criticism of the Original
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is an unexpected sequel to the well-liked 3DS predecessor, and as its release date is approaching, we’ve learned more and more about what changes to expect. In an interview with the Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruins developers, we learned more about why they changed some of the main elements of its predecessor, and how, exactly, they did it. The director, Kenji Oguro, revealed what Capcom sees as the three main criticisms Monster Hunter Stories received:
The characters were too cute and chibi, making the first Stories game appear too childish.
Atypical enemy attack patterns led to frustrating situations in battle.
Players weren’t able to fully enjoy the Monstie gene customization system (the Rite of Channeling) until the post-game.
Here’s how the Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin developers addressed all three of the main criticisms the original Stories received.
1. Stories 2 Ages Up The Main Characters to Make it Have a More “Grown-Up Feel”
“The number one criticism we received was indeed the proportions of the characters and childish feel [in the original Monster Hunter Stories],” Oguro explained.
Capcom Japan Producer Ryozo Tsujimoto explained the team originally made the choice to make cute, young characters with a chibi art style to appeal to a wider audience than a typical action game. However, it in turn received feedback from adults — the reported primary demographic that played Stories — that Stories seemed too cute and “not for grown-ups.”
“We considered that feedback and we decided to create characters with a more grown-up feel, and that was one of the main concepts,” Tsujimoto said. “A way for us to utilize and implement that was to set the story a few years in the future, and with the characters naturally looking older, that really all sort of fit together.”
It’s not just the new main character and returning side characters that are getting a glow-up for Stories 2, but the monsters, too. In the original, the companion Monsties had a more chibified makeover. Though a bit smaller than the average monster you’d hunt in a mainline Monster Hunter game, the Monsties look more proportional in Monster Hunter Stories 2. Of course, the Nintendo Switch and PC are bound to produce better graphics than the Nintendo 3DS, but that doesn’t explain the art change. Look at this Velocidrome comparison, for example.
With all of this in mind, the developers believe that Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin will appeal to those who played the first and thought it was not for them because it was too cute.
2. Enemy Attack Patterns Are More Consistent
In Monster Hunter Stories, strategy is largely dependent on the Rock-Paper-Scissors attack types of Power, Speed, and Technical. Every monster prefers to use a certain attack type, and predicting the opponent’s intentions was paramount to strategy.
“However, in the first game, there was a randomized element where perhaps a monster may act atypically based on patterns, and players were frustrated that even though they chose based on what they saw, maybe they received damage unnecessarily,” Oguro said.
He’s right, there technically were patterns the monsters followed when attacking with Power, Speed, or Technical attacks — but with different tells dependent on pattern recognition and long general patterns for each of more than 100 monsters, learning every single one was quite the tall order.
“So for Stories 2 we fixed that element and made it more consistent. All the attack types for the monsters are consistent with their type and while this may sound like, ‘Well, does that make it easier?’ And ‘Does that lower the difficulty of the game?’, we think that we’ve balanced it with other in-battle actions.”
Of those other in-battle actions, there are quite a few. The most direct replacement to the issue at hand is that Speed-type monsters only attack with Speed-type attacks and so on, except when a specific condition is met. But these conditions are obvious: when a monster becomes enraged, goes airborne, burrows, or goes into other similar states, they’ll begin to use a different type of attack for that duration. It changes things up, but is much more manageable to anticipate than the“if A, then B, but if C then D” type equations of the original.
Most larger monsters now have parts to break in Monster Hunter Stories 2, and each part is more susceptible only to certain types of damage belonging to the weapons the humanoid characters wield: Blunt, Pierce, and Slash. This mechanic adds on an entirely new layer of strategy beyond the attack-type weakness triangle, and there are six types of weapons with different mechanics beyond just the damage type.
So for example, if I were up against a Basarios, a Technical-type monster, I’d want to bring a Power-type Monstie into battle. I would equip a weapon that deals Blunt-type damage to break its parts, and also choose Power-type attacks along with my Monstie. When Basarios becomes enraged, I know it switches to Power-type attacks, so I would switch my Monstie to a Speed-type to counter, and change my own attack patterns, too. I’d also choose the Hunting Horn as my Blunt-damage dealing weapon, since I could rely on its unique support mechanics to heal my party from the Burn Basarios occasionally inflicts.
There’s more, but to summarize, in the original Stories, strategy was almost entirely dependent on the Rock-Paper-Scissors weakness triangle and elemental weaknesses and resistances. Now there’s a lot more going on.
3. Intricate Monstie Customization Is More Accessible Early On in Stories 2
The Rite of Channeling in Monster Hunter Stories is a Monstie customization mechanic that allows players to transfer a gene — any gene — from one Monstie to another, allowing for interesting combinations, like a traditionally fireball shooting Rathalos using water-type attacks instead.
“In the first game, this Rite of Channeling focused mostly on post-game content. And we felt that when players are enjoying the game […] they weren’t able to really utilize this fun element of the game,” Oguro lamented. “And so in Stories 2, we worked to build that into the actual base game itself so that while you’re progressing through your journey, you can experience this transfer of genes.”
Though the Rite of Channeling was technically accessible pretty early in Stories 1, Stimulants, the items that opened up locked, unusable slots, were incredibly rare commodities during the story.
In Monster Hunter Stories 2, these Stimulants are available as soon as the Rite of Channeling is unlocked in the second chapter. Special items called Bottle Caps must be collected to trade for them, but this currency is reliably found in permanent “Everdens” if players care to explore them.
Additionally, creativity was limited in the first Stories, but this limitation is removed in Monster Hunter Stories 2. Now, a gene can be transferred to any unlocked slot on a Monstie’s gene board.
The developers believe all of these mechanics, improvements to the battle system, and the emphasis on the monsters (“the greatest element of the [Monster Hunter] series,” Tsujimoto exclaimed), lead to a smooth transition from action game to JRPG.
“We want to tell Monster Hunter fans that it’s not only the monsters, but it’s also a story and if you like the JRPG genre, it has all these elements together and it can appeal to both Monster Hunter fans and RPG fans as well,” Tsujimoto said.
At the end of the interview, Tsujimoto added: “What we’re most proud of is [that] we’ve been able to really dive into the characters and the world, and it’s not from a hunter’s perspective, but from a rider’s perspective. So you get a different angle of the same world, so you can get a deeper impression of the Monster Hunter world. […] Not even only Monster Hunter players, but people who are looking to really immerse themselves in a deep world will really enjoy Stories 2, we believe.”
For more on Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin, don’t miss the final hands-on Monster Hunter Stories 2 preview.
Casey DeFreitas is an editor at IGN. Catch her on Twitter @ShinyCaseyD.
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