Tag Archives: Stories

Review: Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin – A Franchise Riding High

Monster Hunter is a series with a longstanding tradition of being impenetrable to casual first-time players, with systems layered upon systems and tricky combat. In the mainline series Monster Hunter: World provided a multi-platform mainstream breakthrough, while on Switch the recent Monster Hunter Rise followed that lead in applying copious quality of life improvements, and at times aggressive streamlining, to make the experience more palatable for a wide audience. That said, the IP’s broad universe and the intricacies of its monsters are still vitally important factors, and no genre is better suited to making sense of a complex world than a traditional RPG.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin may be a sequel, but it’s worth saying right away that you don’t need to have played this spin-off’s debut to jump into the new release — this reviewer hadn’t, despite a borderline obsession with the main games. There are some returning characters along with some assorted nods and winks that no doubt raise a smile for those that fought through the 3DS epic, but nevertheless Capcom takes a generational approach to storytelling and it is certainly a standalone game.

Playing Wings of Ruin with a lot of background knowledge of the main games isn’t necessary either, but it helped us recognise that this could be another welcome gateway for newcomers. Though some settings, monsters and general environs remind us more of the last generation of Nintendo-centric MH games on 3DS — and indeed World — this is a title that opens up an understanding of how monsters have ticks and behaviours, and introduces all the familiar items and their effects. Although knowing monsters from first-hand battles in past games can help a little in initial encounters, the systems and tutorials on hand here make the game accessible to pretty much any player.

As an RPG, Wings of Ruin isn’t shy about simply tagging along with decades-old genre tropes and methods. You have forests, ice areas, a desert and… you get the idea. You visit a village or town and to earn trust you set off completing quests to prove yourself — it’s almost always the same “this monster is causing problems, deal with it for us” scenario. So yes, it’s arguably a bit of a grind, but games like this are designed to be slowly digested over a number of weeks; in that context it works well.

However, the particularly intriguing aspects of Monster Hunter x RPG come in the combat and party building. You are a Rider, part of a group of rather charming folk that opt to raise, befriend and team up with monsters rather than hunt them. Yes, it’s a bit Pokémon to a limited degree — with a questionable practice of stealing eggs from nests, but let’s not go too deep into that — but as a playthrough develops there’s staggering depth to the setup. Each monster has a preferred ‘type’ that feeds into a rock-paper-scissors combat, and they then have varied special moves, abilities and buffs.

You could absolutely bury yourself in the stats, especially once you have the ability to ‘channel’ abilities between monsters, but the game is also generous enough that you can pay minimal attention and just about get away with it. The setup is clever, and you earn ways to expand your roster of monsters and even send them off on expeditions to level them up when outside your party. Particularly later in the story, you find powerful monsters that you want to use but are 20+ levels lower than desired, so sending them off on 20-30 minute jaunts to level up while you continue with saving the world is smart design. This is a game that encourages you to dive into the detail and build the dream party, but doesn’t judge you too much if you instead opt to stick to your old favourites.

Then there’s your Rider, a charming individual that can buy, forge and upgrade a dizzying array of armour and weapons derived from monsters you’ve faced. As always the Monster Hunter fashion is genuinely fabulous, and we had family members react with amusement to seeing our character in a different outfit pretty much every time they watched us play. There’s depth to admire again, as you carry three weapons and conveniently all the varieties fall into three categories — sword, bow, and hammer / horn — that add yet another wrinkle to the combat. Forging armour and weapons with your preferred moves and buffs is genuinely fun, and then you ditch them for something snazzier within a few hours. That part of the Monster Hunter life is brilliantly recreated here.

As mentioned previously, the combat itself incorporates a rock-paper-scissors format, as you try to second-guess opposing monster’s moves to successfully counteract them. When you know a monster’s patterns you have the tools to win well, as you can determine your accompanying Monstie’s next move or swap them out for a different type. There’s the option to target specific parts, and when you trigger combinations you build up to the option to ‘Ride’ your Monstie for a powerful special, healing you both in the process. As enemies become tougher you also learn how to use various items such as bombs and traps, too, so it’s kept interesting.

Despite the notable positives it’s not quite a clean kill with the combat, despite its solid construction and clever variety. For one thing, later in the game battles can drag on to 20 or more turns, even when you’re doing well and heading for an S rank. If you’re working through a dungeon and are getting snarled up in regular fights it can feel a little long-winded as a result; we spent a lot of time trying to duke around enemies as a result, as thankfully they’re visible on the field. You can also speed up battles, which helps a little, and if you’re over-levelled in an area you can also quick resolve a battle for an instant win. AI ‘buddies’ are another very small complaint — they can be very useful at times, but occasionally a little dim in their moves. They don’t intuitively target the same monster parts as you and will use a heal at silly times. These are relatively small complaints in the big picture, however.

When it comes to equipment, party building and combat, the mechanics in place are strong and clearly introduced. There’s far too much depth to go into fully in the space of a review, but suffice to say Stories 2 does an excellent job of keeping things varied.

Out of necessity, a lot of mechanics and detail are introduced slowly, with clear guides to help you find your way. It’s carefully put together so that it’s easy to grasp, but the victim of this is the story progression early on — another genre trope that is inescapable here. There are long stretches of busy work, where you may spend half a dozen hours on quests that achieve nothing of note but introduce useful mechanics. That’s the nature of RPGs, yes, but we would have preferred some slicker storytelling in the early stretch, in particular.

The story itself is quite simple but enjoyable, all told, and it’s certainly boosted by the lead protagonist and the utterly charming relationship they have with their ‘Monsties’, and ‘Ratha’ in particular. It feels like a while before the plot truly lifts off, but the pay-off is effective because of the lead-up and the excellent cutscene work — they mostly run in-engine, and the animation and direction of these scenes is terrific.

What you will notice in cutscenes are performance dips, and you’re going to see a fair bit of that during gameplay, too. There’s no getting around the fact that this title is not particularly well optimised for Switch, which is disappointing considering the stellar work that went into Rise. It feels like this was developed for PC primarily — where it is getting released on the same day — and then squeezed onto Nintendo’s little hybrid. The framerate even appears, bizarrely, to be unlocked, though it only nudges above 30fps very rarely when indoors with very little on screen.

Even if you don’t worry much about performance, especially in a large-scale RPG where there’s no real-time combat, it’s still noticeable. It can vary wildly depending on location and time of day; we’ve seen an area be smooth-ish at daytime and a juddery disappointment at sunset, and there’s a forest area early-on that runs downright poorly, especially in portable mode. It doesn’t stop you playing, but it is nevertheless hard to completely overlook in the worst-affected areas. That’s a bit of a pity, especially as the art-style is a brightly coloured pleasure, while copious voice-acting and beautiful music elevate the storytelling.

Intriguingly, an effort is being made to boost both story progression and no doubt postgame activity via multiplayer; a big strength of the main series that is getting a chance in this spin-off. Only unlocked after a decent number of hours and progress, you can either go into battles against others or embark on co-op quests — the latter is given more focus. The environments are similar to ‘dens’ you find in the story, with the option to team up with assorted players online or use room IDs. We weren’t able to test it extensively for review, but as a means of teaming up with friends and boosting Monstie collections and resources it’s a fun idea that could add even more longevity.

Conclusion

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin deserves to find a sizable audience. It’s full of charm and boasts depth that can immerse the committed or be dabbled with by those eager to simply experience the story. As a blend of Monster Hunter with a traditional RPG approach it’s an accomplished effort, and offers the sort of meaty experience that’ll keep most players busy for weeks. Switch owners will need to tolerate some disappointing performance, unfortunately, but the overall experience shines nonetheless. It’s a game of bright colours and wholehearted optimism, which is very welcome indeed.

Oh, and you can name your Monsties; trust us, you’re gonna love these companions.

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Read more here >>> Nintendo Life | Reviews

Eek! The Physical Copy Of Monster Hunter Stories 2 Might Require A Download

Monster Hunter Stories 2© Capcom

Here’s some news that physical collectors will find quite concerning – the retail version of Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin could potentially require a download. And it may be more than just a day-one patch.

According to Nintendo Everything, photos it has received of the game’s box (from a retail worker) seem to indicate a download will be required in order to play the hard copy of the game. On the front, it says “download required” and on the back, it’s mentioned how the game requires a download of at least 15GB. The eShop file size listing is 13.5GB.

While storage requirements aren’t necessarily a problem – especially if you own a MicroSD card, there’s still the issue of the physical copy not featuring the entire game on it, which some might feel defeats the purpose of purchasing a hard copy in the first place.

Capcom has made no mention of the game requiring a download of this size previously and there’s no reference of it elsewhere, so with any luck this is just a misprint. If we hear anything else, we’ll update this post.

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Read more here >>> Nintendo Life | Latest News

First Impressions: Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin Is An RPG Of Monstrous Potential

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin in out in just a few short weeks, but ahead of that launch we were able to get our hands on it and were granted the luxury of giving you all a bit of a whack from the ol’ impressions stick. The first game came out on the 3DS in the West after the Switch had launched and didn’t perhaps get the audience it deserved, so the pressure’s on for this sequel to grab the audience share it missed out on. So, how’s it looking so far?

Well, if you’re not familiar with Monster Hunter Stories as a concept, it differs from the standard Monster Hunter formula in a number of ways. First and foremost, you are not a hunter, you’re a rider. Whereas hunters kill monsters, riders kill monsters with monsters that they’ve befriended. The gameplay is also leagues apart from the mainline series, as Stories takes on the form of a turn-based JRPG.

Similarly to something like Miitopia, you’ll have numerous members of your party, but you’re only in direct control of your player character rather than your ‘Monstie’ (a term used to distinguish friendly monsters from your bog-standard common or garden monster) or any partners that might be tagging along.

System01 Tab01 01© Capcom

This at first may seem detrimental to your control and efficiency as a unit, but the game is very open with what moves and/or attacks everyone else on your team is going to use before you make your final decision, meaning that you can plan accordingly and apply tactics where necessary. You can also command your Monstie to use specific special moves called Skills if you really need to, so it’s a limitation only in part.

When it comes to attacking you have a fair few options at your disposal. You can perform a Power, Technical, or Speed attack, and this trifecta functions like a rock-paper-scissors system, with Power beating Technical, Technical beating Speed, and Speed beating Power. This is important because if an enemy is targeting you (which the game also kindly highlights) and you decide to target them back, you’ll enter a head-to-head situation, whereby the winner of the conflict – through the rules of the three attack types we just mentioned – will get to attack, and the loser will deal no damage whatsoever, which can be crippling for said loser.

System01 01© Capcom

Each monster also has weaknesses and resistances to specific weapon types, categorised into Slashing, Piercing, and Blunt. When you first encounter a monster you’ll have no idea which weapon is most effective, so you’ll have to get experimenting by swapping out your weapon, which you can do once per turn and thankfully doesn’t ‘use up’ your move for that turn.

There are also tactics where you and your Monstie can perform a Double Attack against a foe, and ride your Monstie mid-battle when your Kinship gauge is full, and it’s all these little wrinkles that add up to what is really quite a detailed and nuanced system, even if on their own they’re relatively simple. The end result is a combat system that’s really rather excellent, and provides intense battle situations but without overwhelming the player at any point. Nice work, Capcom.

System06 01© Capcom

But combat isn’t everything this game has to offer, you’ll be exploring vast swathes of land littered with monsters, resources, and – most importantly – Monster Dens. These dens are essentially little mini-dungeons with monsters, resources and – most importantly again – nests, where you can find eggs to hatch into new Monsties to join your party.

If that sounds a bit Pokémon then yeah, it is a bit, but that’s no bad thing whatsoever. Each time you find an egg your partner Navirou will give you an indication as to whether it’s a good egg or not, and the patterns give away what kind of Monstie you can expect. It’s a fun system that makes each Monstie feel deserved, but we did see quite a few duplicates from time to time, so bear that in mind.

The world of Monster Hunter Stories is rich and diverse, and its art style is just to die for. The whole game pops visually, cutscenes are engaging and don’t outstay their welcome, and the cast of characters is (mostly) endearing. Our feelings about the Felyne Navirou are a bit mixed; he’s clearly the comic relief of the story but his Bubsy-like voice and relentless use of cat puns did grate on us. We miss the Felynes that just went ‘mrow’.

Weapon01 Ss01© Capcom

All in all, Monster Hunter Stories 2 is looking to be a fine spinoff that truly feels like it fits in the Monster Hunter universe, but without simply emulating the mainline games. From what we’ve played so far we have high hopes that this is going to be an RPG well worth your time, so keep an eye out for our full review when it rolls in around launch day on 9th July.

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This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News

Piers Morgan challenges Boris Johnson to appear on Life Stories amid Labour backlash

“Known him 30yrs, respect his many electoral successes, but don’t respect him running into fridges to avoid accountability.”

He added, cheekily: “Whenever you’re ready Prime Minister…”

Fans rushed to the comments section to share their views on what would possibly be one of the most highly-anticipated interviews for the UK.

One wrote diplomatically: “Piers, that was you at your best and I would love to see Boris Johnson on there. I think anyone who wants to run this country should have to open up about their lives (warts & all).”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Celebrity News Feed

Monster Hunter Rise update 3.0 live stream, patch notes NEWS, MH Stories 2 gameplay

UPDATE: Capcom has revealed more about Monster Hunter Rise update 3.0.

The update introduces a new variant of Valstrax, which is the signature monster from Ultimate Generations.

“This mysterious Elder Dragon is known by the name Crimson Glow Valstrax and can soar through the skies by changing the shape of its wings, allowing it to fly and attack from unusually high altitudes.

“Next, Apex Zinogre enters the fray with an electric “golden lighting” look and different attacks that might leave hunters in shock. Additionally, a new quest featuring an epic showdown with the Thunder Serpent Narwa and Wind Serpent Ibushi will provide players with a highly-anticipated new ending to the storyline.

“This new story ending, as well as the two new monsters, new quests, new weapon and armor options, new skills, and more will be available to players for free when Ver. 3.0 releases later today.”

Update 3.0 also adds a brand new DLC pack, which adds new voice options, gestures, hairstyles, sticker sets, background music and more.

Capcom is holding a special digital event for Monster Hunter Rise and Monster Hunter Stories 2.

The Monster Hunter Digital Event takes place at 3pm BST on May 26. You can watch the event as it takes place by clicking play on the video below.

The Capcom live stream will focus on Nintendo Switch game Monster Hunter Rise, specifically the 3.0 update.

“Monster Hunter Digital Event – May 2021 is fast approaching!” reads a Capcom tweet. “Tune in for details on #MHRise Update Ver. 3.0 and the latest news on #MHStories2.”

Express Online will update the article with the Monster Hunter 3.0 patch notes when they’re announced by Capcom.

Update 3.0 is expected to add new monsters to hunt down, as well as quality of life improvements.

There’s a chance fans will also be treated to a new area to explore, as well as new items to unlock.

Monster Hunter Rise is already one of the highest rated games in the series to date, so any post-release content will only make it better.

Monster Hunter Stories 2, on the other hand, is a new Nintendo Switch game launching in July.

“The vibrant world of Monster Hunter Stories 2,” reads the official description.

“Hatch, raise, and live alongside monsters as a Monster Rider in this fun-filled RPG set in the Monster Hunter universe.

“Our epic tale begins with the mass disappearance of Rathalos from around the world. At the start of the story, you meet a Wyverian girl who knew your illustrious grandfather, Red. She has been entrusted with an egg, but what’s inside it?

“The fate of the world hangs in the balance as the exciting narrative about the Wings of Ruin unfolds.”

As for Monster Hunter Rise, the action-RPG is set in the ninja-inspired land of Kamura Village.

“The critically acclaimed action-RPG series returns to the Nintendo Switch!” Nintendo continues.

“Set in the ninja-inspired land of Kamura Village, explore lush ecosystems and battle fearsome monsters to become the ultimate hunter. It’s been half a century since the last calamity struck, but a terrifying new monster has reared its head and threatens to plunge the land into chaos once again.

“Hunt solo or in a party with friends to earn rewards that you can use to craft a huge variety of weapons and armour. Brand new gameplay systems such as the high-flying ‘Wire Action’ and your canine companion ‘Palamute’ will add exciting new layers to the already robust combat that Monster Hunter is known for.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Gaming Feed

COVID-19 ravaged Texas nursing homes. Here are the stories behind the numbers.

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Carla Astudillo and Karen Brooks Harper
This article originally appeared on The Texas Tribune: Main Feed

Piers Morgan teases ITV return with Life Stories update despite concerns over complaints

“Thanks Andrew – don’t worry, I’m filming some more soon,” he wrote on Twitter.

Taking to the comments section, the good news left fans excited for what’s to come.

“Great show. This programme shows you have a heart, you still ask the questions we all want the answers to, without it sounding offensive,” one noted.

Another said: “This show is what you are brilliant at, also visiting the Jails in America. You don’t need to argue with everyone as you’re brilliant at this.”

“Nice to see you back on tv @piersmorgan you have been missed,” a third cheered.