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Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin combat guide

How to win Head-to-Head battles and more

Two characters from Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin stand ready for combat Image: Capcom via Polygon

The Monster Hunter franchise is known for its intense brawls with huge creatures. While Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin slows down the pace with turn-based combat, fighting creatures can still be complicated.

Polygon’s Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin combat guide will help you understand how fighting works in this role-playing game. Our guide focuses on how attack types work and winning Head-to-Head battles. The tips below also explain how to use the Kinship Gauge to perform special attacks with your weapons and your Monstie companions.


Table of contents

How combat works
Understanding the Kinship Gauge
Understanding the hearts system

How combat works

Unlike other games in the Monster Hunter franchise, skirmishes with creatures in Monster Hunter Stories 2 take place via turn-based combat. Since fights in this game are slower-paced, you can take more time considering your tactics and plan your moves.

In each round of combat, you trade blows against one or many monsters, while you, your Monstie companion, and any other party members take turns selecting attacks. Combat is fairly straightforward in Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin, especially if you’ve played traditional turn-based RPGs before. However, a key factor worth understanding is the game’s different attack types.

The three attack types in Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
There are three types of attacks: Power, Speed, and Technical
Image: Capcom via Polygon

Each attack in the game, whether it’s a normal strike or special ability, falls into one of three categories: Power, Speed, or Technical. In general, the type of attack you choose doesn’t matter. Each of these types of attacks has the ability to harm your enemies. The type of attack you select only matters when you initiate a Head-to-Head attack.

Head-to-Head and Double Attacks

Head-to-Head attacks occur when a party member and a monster attack one another. When this happens, a special animation will play and the attackers will succeed or fail in their strike depending on which of the three attack types they chose.

  • Power attacks defeat Technical attacks
  • Technical attacks beat Speed attacks
  • Speed attacks defeat Power attacks

If you and your Monstie use the same attack type that results in one of you winning a Head-to-Head attack, you’ll both perform a Double Attack instead.

The winner of the Head-to-Head strike will significantly damage their enemy. If you win a Double Attack, you’ll cancel your enemy’s strike. Succeeding in these one-on-one encounters is essential as you can completely stop an enemy from pulling off a powerful attack. Learning how to recognize when you have an opportunity to win a Head-to-Head confrontation is an important skill to learn early on.

A combat screen from Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
An orange line shows who an enemy will attack
Image: Capcom via Polygon

When an enemy is targeting a specific member of your party, a colored line will be drawn between the monster and its target. If an enemy is targeting your character or your Monstie, then you need to choose the type of attack that will beat theirs.

Combat tips

Most enemy monsters have their preferred type of attack. So in time, you’ll learn which attack types to use against each of them. When fighting a monster for the first time, pay attention to what attack type they choose. Your character generally isn’t targeted during the first round of combat, so this gives you an opportunity to learn what attack type the monster favors.

Some monsters will enter a rage state after taking a large amount of damage. When they do, your enemies will change the type of attacks they perform. Be sure to pay attention to which new attack type they are using. If you are still using the types of attacks that worked on monsters in a non-rage state, their rage-induced attacks may now beat what you’re using.

Remember that your Monstie will always attack on its own, however, if you choose the Monsties option during combat, you can choose which attack your companion will perform. If your Monstie’s special abilities do not counter your enemy’s preferred attack type, you can use the same menu to switch to a Monstie that will counter your enemy. This is why it’s important to diversify your Monstie squad.

Understanding the Kinship gauge

As you attack monsters in combat, your Kinship Gauge grows. This meter is represented by a circle near your health bar. The more you attack a monster, the more the meter will fill up with a light blue color.

The Kinship Gauge in Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
A Kinship Gauge near capacity
Image: Capcom via Polygon

Each weapon’s special attacks, plus your Monstie’s special abilities, require points from your Kinship Gauge. The best way to fill up your Kinship Guage is to win Head-to-Head battles against monsters. You’ll gain even more charge if you win a Double Attack.

How to use special weapon attacks

Each of your weapons has different requirements to use their special skills. Our Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin weapons guide breaks down the differences between each weapon, but outside of their different attack types, each weapon has different special skill requirements.

While each weapon uses the Kinship Gauge to perform special attacks, some weapons have special gauges to keep track of as well.

A screenshot of weapon abilities in Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
This Great Sword has one charge, so I can use Charged attacks
Image: Capcom via Polygon

Depending on which weapon you’re using, you may need to perform attacks to not only build up your Kinship Gauge, but you’ll also need to fill specific charges per weapon. For instance, the Great Sword can perform a combo of attacks that plays out during multiple turns by performing Charge attacks first. These Charge abilities add to a gauge that then lets you performed Charged attacks. To use these skills, you need to use both a portion of your Kinship Gauge and Great Sword charges.

Each weapon has different requirements to use their skills, so check out our Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin weapon guide to learn more.

How to use Monstie special attacks

You can use your Kinship Gauge to also have your Monstie perform special attacks. By selecting the Monsties combat menu, you can see what available attacks your Monstie can perform.

Each Monstie specializes in a different attack type, so keep in mind which you use once you figure out what attacks your enemies are using. If your Monstie doesn’t perform special abilities that counter your enemy, use the same menu to swap to a different Monstie.

How to ride your Monstie

If you manage to completely fill your Kinship Gauge, you can ride your Monstie. Mounting your Monstie completely refills your character’s health while restoring your Monstie’s health based on your character’s health. While riding your companion, you’ll gain increased attack and defense. When you are atop your Monstie, you’ll be able to perform a one-time attack that expends the Kinship Gauge.

An explanation of riding in Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
Not only does riding let you do special attacks, you regain health
Image: Capcom via Polygon

Taking a ride on your monster pal is a great way to turn the tide in battle. If you’re fighting a difficult and powerful monster, it may to your benefit to hold off on using your Kinship Gauge so you can gain restore your health for free later in the fight.

By riding your Monstie late in a fight, you’ll restore your health and gain access to a powerful attack. Staying alive is important in Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin, even though there is a system that helps you stay in the fight longer if you lose health.

Understanding the hearts system

If you lose all your health in a fight, it’s not game over. You and your Monstie share a trio of hearts that can be found near the Kinship Gauge. Your NPC battle buddies also have three hearts.

Each time a rider or Monstie loses all their health, one heart is spent. Instead of being knocked out of the fight, that character gets revived with full health and the fight continues. After losing a heart, your Kinship Gauge refills at a slightly faster rate.

If either pair of characters lose all three hearts, then you’ll lose your fight. When all hearts are depleted, you will be sent back to the last village you visited. From there, your hearts will be restored and you can continue your adventure. To restore hearts otherwise, you can visit a village or combine items that restore hearts.