I really like Monster Hunter, however I attempt not to consider it too exhausting.

Monster Hunter is a sequence that asks me to kill large beasts with sharp fangs and infrequently cuddly tummies. More usually than not, they’re present peacefully in their very own ecosystem earlier than I waltz in with my large horn of doom to show them into hats, pants, and a whole ensemble for my cat. I can’t pluck a single feather and save the monster. It’s a kill-or-be-killed sequence, and I’ve collected quite a lot of pelts over the years.

With Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin, a follow-up to the 2016 turn-based RPG, I used to be trying ahead to a extra symbiotic relationship with the monsters. As a Rider, I get to work alongside a companion monster that I elevate from beginning, known as a Monstie. But as a rule, my missions with my Monsties contain lethal battle with different monsters.

By highlighting the Rider-Monstie relationship, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin makes me feel extra like the dangerous man than ever.

New world, identical drawback

A combat screen from Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

The rider, Ranmar, and their companion taking over a Kulu-Ya-Ku
Image: Capcom through Polygon

In Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin, I get to regulate a Rider, not a Hunter. Riders aren’t fairly as Longsword-happy relating to killing creatures. I see Royal Ludroths and different monsters sleeping round city after I stroll by means of my village gathering quests. Humans and monsters dwell in a symbiotic world — or no less than, that’s the concept.

When I step outdoors the partitions of my village, I’m joined by my Monstie, in addition to a companion and their Monstie. Together, we journey ahead to care for some pesky monster or raid a den for eggs. It’s the identical type of angle from the mainline sequence — “It’s a tough job killing these creatures, but somebody has to do it”— besides it’s made extra awkward by my Monstie’s presence.

There’s one thing a bit of off about coming into right into a battle with a pack of Velocidromes and utilizing my Velocidrome companion, Ranmar, to assist me combat them. It’s like strolling down the road together with your chihuahua, coming throughout an aggressive chihuahua in an alley, after which commanding your chihuahua to chunk the different one whilst you and a buddy kick it. Then, once you get again residence, you make your self a chihuahua go well with out of the chihuahua you simply slayed. And the subsequent time you allow the home, you soar in your chihuahua’s again whereas carrying your chihuahua go well with. I remorse selecting such a small canine breed for this metaphor, however you get the level.

Watching two Pikachus combat in Pokémon doesn’t actually bug me. But if the combat was to the dying and I acquired to pores and skin the shedding Pikachu and put on it as a hat — with no regard for the way my Pokémon would feel about that — the sequence would tackle a special type of tone.

Monster Hunter video games usually embrace justifications for all the monster-slaying, often with some type of blight or fellow monster that’s making the inhabitants of close by beasts overly violent. Monster Hunter Stories 2 does one thing related, mentioning the Black Blight from the unique Monster Hunter Stories as a purpose why some individuals misplaced religion in gentler monsters. This actually helps justify their looking — and I believe many individuals will play Wings of Ruin with out ever contemplating how their Monstie feels about killing a member of their very own species — however after I’m diving into dens to kill monster mother and father and steal their eggs, it’s exhausting for me to not feel dangerous, irrespective of the justification.

Are we the baddies?

A bunch of colorful eggs in Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

A Stable crammed with eggs stolen from nests
Image: Capcom through Polygon

I’m solely a dozen hours into Wings of Ruin, however I’ve come throughout just a few characters who genuinely care about their monsters. In truth, the sport desires me to feel like most of its characters imagine that monsters will be good. There’s a companion who exiled herself alongside her Barioth when her fellow villagers had been afraid of it. She apologizes to an offended monster earlier than serving to me take it down. Another character acknowledges when a mom monster is “only trying to protect [her] kid.” But these platitudes exacerbate the difficulty for me much more.

Wings of Ruin paints a world the place some monsters get to dwell amongst people, work with us, eat donuts with us (severely), and be beloved by us. But what about the monsters who aren’t so fortunate? What about the ones I’m going out of my approach to kill with a view to farm for expertise factors, or so I could make a big-ass sword to take down the subsequent one, and the subsequent one? Just as I might have a look at a totally digital being, like a Tamagotchi, as a child and suppose, “I love this pixel more than anything in this world,” I have a look at the our bodies of the monsters I kill and might’t assist however feel unhappy.

I do know, on some stage, that sympathizing with the monsters goes towards the level of Monster Hunter. The phrase Hunter is in the rattling title. When I sacrifice one Monstie to a different to enhance their genes in a super-special ritual, I’m not supposed to consider the Monstie that disappears; I’m speculated to get enthusiastic about how highly effective my different Monstie turns into. But Monster Hunter Stories 2’s focuses exhausting on the relationship between Rider and Monstie, so I can’t assist however see each creature as a possible buddy.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin breaks for me after I homicide the mother of each creature in my arsenal and indoctrinate them from beginning to combat in my tiny, Monstie military. And in flip, it makes me marvel about the creatures I’m speculated to look after. Is elevating them to combat towards their fellow monsters really any higher than turning them into hats? Sometimes I’m not too certain. I hoped Monster Hunter Stories 2 would assist me determine that out, however as an alternative, I simply feel like a special model of tyrant.

I nonetheless love Monster Hunter. I nonetheless should attempt not to consider it too exhausting.