Hunting isn’t for everyone. With its myriad creatures the world of Monster Hunter is made for a Pokémon-type game, and so the Stories spin-offs feel like an attempt to offer a friendlier alternative, from cute anime-style character design right down to the core of the series. Monster Hunter Stories presents the idea that monsters can be friends instead of foes.
Right from the beginning, you can tell that Monster Hunter Stories 2 doesn’t stray too far from its predecessor – you get to design your own character, who begins their training as a rider in the wake of strange happenings in their hometown. Navirou, the feline from the first game, once again comes along to declare himself your navigator and you’re off, presumably to learn what it means to be a rider, a friend to monsters instead of their hunter.
If you haven’t played the first game, don’t worry – while there are references and recurring characters, you won’t miss much in the way of context. In general, Monster Hunter Stories 2 is remarkably like the first Stories game. Your silent hero is, just like in the original Monster Hunter games, meant to serve as an avatar – in a game series that is about taking on monsters for the fun of it, that’s enough, but just like its predecessor, Monster Hunter Stories 2 takes a very long time to come up with any sort of reason for why you’re doing what you’re doing, or why it has to be you at all; it doesn’t have Pokémon’s convenient excuse that both the battle and collection of monsters are the end goal, the way to mastery, if you want.
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