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Monster Hunter Stories Hands-On Preview (PS4) – A Unique Take On The Monster Hunter Franchise

Monster Hunter Stories PS4 Hands-On Preview. The Monster Hunter series has officially become one of Capcom’s most prestigious franchises. Though it took a while to finally find success outside of Japan, when it finally did, it ran with it. But before Monster Hunter World took off, Capcom took a different approach to one of its Monster Hunter spin-off titles, Monster Hunter Stories.

Stories takes the franchise in a different direction by turning it into a turn-based monster-collecting RPG. The game was initially released on the Nintendo DS, and PlayStation players will finally get to experience a different Monster Hunter title that’s surprisingly deep and entertaining.

Monster Hunter Stories PS4 Hands-On Preview

A Different Take On The Monster Hunter Formula

You start the game by creating your character, who lives in the small village of Hakum. There, you are adorned to become a rider—someone who lives in harmony with Monsters and learns to ride them. On a peaceful day, the village is attacked by a monster under the influence of the Black Blight. The game picks up months later, and you begin your Rider training.

The story takes a while to get going, and I spent plenty of time learning and mastering the game’s mechanics. However, once you begin to make your way out of the initial exploration area, it has much to offer, and I can’t wait to see where it heads.

The supporting cast in Hakum Village is a fun bunch, but I do wish your character’s two best friends had more of a role to play, especially how deeply their bonds of friendship are shown off in the early part of the game.

Keeps The Spirit Of Monster Hunter

Hakum Village is the hub early in the game, where you accept quests, hatch monster eggs, and upgrade your equipment. Stories do a great job of making you feel like this is a full-fledged Monster Hunter title. You’ll get requests to slay unique monsters and collect materials like mushrooms and monster bones.

These materials can not only be used to complete quests, but you can also combine them to get better items and use them to upgrade your gear. This leads to much grinding for materials if you want to collect suitable materials to upgrade your weapons and armor.

You can still graft greatswords, hammers, and bows, which you can switch out whenever possible. Unfortunately, monsters are affected by the type of weapon you use in combat. So, it just becomes a preference. I did find that hunting for materials became incredibly tedious, and I ended up just moving on. It was easier for me to buy a new weapon than to craft one.

Combat That Makes You Try Out Various Monsters In Your Party

Combat is turn-based, with you only controlling your character. Though one of your monsters, or Monstie, as they call them, joins you in battle, you don’t have complete control of them. Your Monstie will attack and use skills independently, but you can order them to use a specific skill.

Each of your Monsties falls into one of three groups—power, Technique, and Speed. The combat in stories is a rock-paper-scissors system. Power beats technique, technique beats speed, and speed beats power. Each monster you encounter falls under one of these groups.

The strategy is using a Monstie that is effective against your opponent. That’s not to say they will always be effective in their attacks against them. Your character can switch between the three types of attacks at every turn, making them effective most of the time.

Not As Much Control In Combat As I Would Like

The issue comes in when a monster decides to change its attack. Say you are up against a monster that is a Power monster. That enemy will sometimes change their attack and attack you as a speed enemy. Your Monstie will sometimes do this, making it frustrating to gain a good advantage in combat.

If you attack an enemy as they are attacking you, you go into a head-to-head mode. If you attack, type beast out the opponents, you gain the advance and attack the enemy. If you both attack with the same type of attack, you take damage. If you and your Monstie attack with the same kind and win the head-to-head, you’ll do a special tag team attack, doing critical damage to your enemy.

Winning a head-to-head gives you Kinship points. These points are used to pull off special skills, or you can build them up until they are fully indicated by your medallion, which you can see between your character and Monsties health bars.

Once the Kinship Guage is full, you can mount your Monstie in combat, giving you a massive boost to health, attack, and defense. While mounted, you lose your ability to pull off special skills and use items.

If you win out on the head-to-head battles while mounted, you increase the Kinship Guage even further up to three maximum levels, which you can then do a Kinship attack that goes into a unique animation. This is essentially like an ultimate move for your Monstie.

Finding New Monster Eggs And Exploring Is Extremely Rewarding

You get to explore large areas of this World and use your Monsties to get around. Some Monsites have unique abilities like jumping, swimming, and climbing, so it’s important to note which ones you must utilize to their potential.

Besides harvesting and mining materials, monster dens are essential to look out for. These look like cave entrances and mine shafts. Once inside, you can go to the egg den and find a nest holding a monster egg. You’ll know the egg quality from your feline companion, who will tell you if the egg smells bad or is heavy. The heavier and smellier the egg, the better the Monsties stats will be.

Visually, the game looks suitable for a DS title ported to the PS4. It’s not groundbreaking, but the character models look solid, and the monster animations are great especially the often funny ultimate attacks. The same could be said for the voice work, which is brand new for the PS4 version, and the soundtrack, which keeps the spirit of Monster Hunter alive.

I can’t wait to dive further into the game and see all it offers. After twenty hours, I still have a few question marks on some menus. Monster Hunter Stories is a fun take on the franchise, and those looking for the next monster-collecting game will find something to enjoy here.

Monster Hunter Stories releases on PS4 and PS5 via backward compatibility on June 14, 2024