The arrival of Monster Hunter Stories on PlayStation and PC finally puts the series in one place

Monster Hunter Stories PS5 header artwork

Ah, Monster Hunter. It’s everybody’s favourite game series about hunting monsters, and then chopping off the useful bits to turn into even sharper and hardier stuff to hunt some more monsters. It’s a loop that’s been working for two decades, and we’re still not tired of it, or the spectacular menagerie of toothy antagonists. Monster Hunter Stories certainly has elements of the mainline series, but it’s safe to say that it’s a slightly different proposition.

Originally a tentpole 3DS title, back when Capcom was certain that the 3DS was the perfect home for the Monster Hunter series, Stories takes the beloved franchise and turns it into a turn-based JRPG, with bright, colourful graphics, and equally bright and colourful characters. As the Monster Hunter series has grown increasingly important to the company, it’s little surprise to find both Monster Hunter Stories and its sequel finally being ported to the PlayStation, while the first game also arrives on PC and Nintendo Switch for the same time.

Monster Hunter Stories was, and is, a welcoming and easy-going introduction to the world of Monster Hunter. Instead of slaying the iconic beasts, here you’re more focused on forming a bond of friendship, riding them around the landscape and then utilising their special moves in turn-based combat. It’s like a How to Train Your Dragon RPG, but with more teeth.

There’s three different kind of attack: Power, Speed, and Technical. Much like Fire Emblem’s fabled weapon triangle, each type of move is stronger against one of the others, and choosing the correct type is the key to a successful battle. Each time you make a successful attack, you also build up your meter, allowing you to ‘Ride-On’ and hop on your Monstie, before unleashing a hugely powerful attack.

Monster Hunter Stories PS5 combat

Successfully winning a battle will see a cavalcade of parts and bits shorn from that monster, and it’s here that the classic Monster Hunter loop comes into play, with parts accrued from battle then being crafted into new equipment to head back into battle with.

Monster Hunter Stories certainly looks better than it ever has, with both its previous 3DS and mobile outings utterly trounced by the capability of the PS4, let alone the PS5. However, there are some clear signs that this is a fairly straightforward remaster, with some suspiciously low-res textures here and there, and a frame rate that somehow doesn’t feel as smooth as it should.

Monster Hunter Stories PS5 flying

Meanwhile, Monster Hunter Stories 2 is a match for the PC release, which in turn thoroughly trounced the somewhat disappointing performance of the Nintendo Switch version. It’s smoother, more modern, and expands the story and world in a meaningful way – where the original game feels a little outdated at times, that’s never the case with its sequel.

The great thing about Monster Hunter Stories is the way it opens up the world of Monster Hunter to a different demographic, and younger gamers will find a lot to love in its primary coloured take on the creature-centric series. If they’re wrapped up in it all, there’s also the accompanying anime which follows the storyline of the first game, and expands on some of the ideas and characters in a more well-rounded way.

Monster Hunter Stories 2 PS5 environment exploration

Given how popular Monster Hunter has become it’s gratifying that fans of the series can now experience these enjoyable outings wherever they game – well, unless you’re an Xbox gamer. Where the original game is showing its age, both games weave a tale that’s well worth diving into, especially while fans wait for the upcoming Monster Hunter Wilds.

Written by
TSA's Reviews Editor - a hoarder of headsets who regularly argues that the Sega Saturn was the best console ever released.

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