Monster Hunter Stories Interview
Image: Push Square

Next month, two Monster Hunter spinoff games are coming to PlayStation for the first time. Both the original Monster Hunter Stories and its sequel, Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin, are being ported to PS4 — but why now? We were lucky enough to ask producer Yoshihiro Akira this very question, while also getting the scoop on Monster Hunter Stories as a whole.

To start with, can you tell us about the Monster Hunter Stories games as a whole? What's the goal behind this spinoff series?

Yoshihiro Akira, producer: We started discussing the idea of making a Monster Hunter game aimed at a more casual audience in summer of 2013, and that was what eventually became Monster Hunter Stories, but the gameplay concept itself came later. We wanted a game where existing MH fans would have a satisfying experience of deepening their experience with the world of MH and liking the monsters in the game even more than before, while also making a new entry point to the series for non-fans and hopefully creating a through-line to the action games.

The idea was that MH players would recommend the game to their friends who hadn't played MH before, as a way to lead them towards also playing the mainline games together. In that sense, the Stories concept was "a tutorial title for the Monster Hunter series”.

Monster Hunter Stories

Can you tell us anything about the development of the original Stories game? Was it viewed as something of a risk, to branch off from the well-known gameplay of Monster Hunter?

There were definitely lots of risks involved: Stories was the first Monster Hunter title for its director, the game (and its sequel) were a co-production with Marvelous, Inc., we were developing a tie-in anime series, and so on. But we wanted to challenge ourselves to take the MH series in a new direction.

For the first month or so of development, it was hard to get away from the idea that "Monster Hunter = action", so deciding how to design a game where you go on an adventure together with monsters was difficult. Turn-based battles were a good match for what we wanted to achieve, as they don't require complex button inputs and let you smoothly progress through an RPG experience.

It was a process of trial and error to land on the final rock-paper-scissors style battle system, and it was thanks to a fruitful collaboration with Marvelous, Inc. that we were able to create the game the way it turned out.

Obviously the two Stories games are coming to PlayStation for the first time. When and why did you decide to port them over?

The main reason was the great reception and support we saw from players for Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin on its release in 2021. Now that Nintendo 3DS digital services and sales have ceased, we wanted to port the original game to give players a way to experience it, whether they played the 3DS version back in the day or got into the series with the sequel and wanted to check out the first game.

To further encourage existing players to revisit the game, we decided to add fully voiced dialogue in Japanese and English as well as a museum mode packed with artwork and music to enjoy.

Monster Hunter Stories 2

Would you recommend that players play both Stories games? Or could they jump into Stories 2 without having played the first?

You don't strictly need to play the Stories titles in order, but the sequel does take place four years after the storyline of the first game and has various connections with it, including some returning characters, so I think players will really love getting into the game world and seeing how the characters develop over time.

This is of course even more the case for players who are already Monster Hunter fans, so definitely check out Stories if you haven't already! And if you played the original version of the first game, you will love the addition of fully voided dialogue and museum mode features.

We have to ask, do you have a favourite Stories monster? Are there any monsters that you'd recommend to new players?

My personal favourite Monstie is Khezu. Its, shall we say, "unique" appearance means that it isn't among the most popular monsters, but its technical nature in the Monster Hunter Stories titles means that raising it is a rewarding experience. It can paralyse your opponent and also leech its HP to heal itself, which makes it a reliable choice for new players.

In terms of recommendations for new players, in Monster Hunter Stories, Azuroth, Velocidrome, and Khezu have useful ride actions. Khezu in particular has moves that are useful all the way through the game.

For Monster Hunter Stories 2, we recommend Royal Ludroth, Velocidrome, and Yian Kut-Ku for exploring the game's vast environments. Of course, there are many other unique and strong Monsties in the games, so we encourage players to find and try out as many as possible!

Monster Hunter Stories 2

And finally, is there anything that you'd like to say to western Monster Hunter fans?

We are very proud and excited that the port of Monster Hunter Stories to modern platforms and the release of Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin on PlayStation will give many more players in the west a chance to experience this series.

From newly added fully voiced Japanese and English dialogue to the inclusion of previously Japan-exclusive additional content, these new versions are the best way to experience these unique titles, so whether you've played Stories before or are new to the series, we hope you'll take this opportunity to dive into the charming RPG world of Monster Hunter Stories!

Huge thanks to Akira-san for taking the time to answer our questions. Special thanks to Zaid Al-Jubory and the team at Capcom for making this interview possible.

Are you looking forward to the arrival of Monster Hunter Stories and Monster Hunter Stories 2 on PS4? Start planning your team of Monsties in the comments section below.