Over 3 million of you might have pre-registered for Monster Hunter Now. It’s launch, no matter means you come at it, goes to be enormous. Niantic and Capcom have put their heads collectively to whittle the now-famous MonHun method right down to scrumptious 75-second chunks, and let me let you know: this extra compelling a cell recreation than Pokemon Go ever was. Injecting an augmented actuality gimmick into the core gameplay has executed wonders, and boiling down the reward loop and condensing the entire expertise solely serves to indicate how refined the core hook of Monster Hunter has turn out to be.
It is a cell recreation I’ve already put 10s of hours into, and I can assure it’ll take 100s earlier than I’m even near being bored with it. It’s already making me take my canine out strolling extra, and it’s forcing me again into the streets of London, like PoGo did all these years in the past. That is cell gaming perfection – a recreation that utilises its platform with aplomb, and understands how each players and Monster Hunter followers work. It’s the very best cell recreation I’ve performed all 12 months.
And it’s not simply because I’ve acquired a penchant for stalking and skinning the Pukei-Pukeis, Tobi-Kadachis, and Rathalos of the world. There’s a very elegant, well-tuned recreation beneath the Monster Hunter pores and skin – one which’s much more participating and demanding of your consideration than Pokeemon Go ever was. Like its console/PC brethren, Monster Hunter Now principally revolves round fight: you and as much as three different hunters can group as much as convey down the eponymous monsters with a collection of the weapons (although not all of them) from the mother or father collection.
However as a substitute of a sophisticated moveset sure to a full recreation pad, you do all the same old Monster Hunter antics – slide and roll and hop and minimize and carve – together with your index finger. It boils right down to faucets and holds and swipes higher than it has any proper to. Dodging a Paolumu’s dive bomb and countering with a charged greatsword feels nice; watching it stagger and fall as its huge puffy mane breaks… it’s a thrill that by no means goes away – even after the higher a part of 30 encounters.
After all, none of this feels nearly as good because it does on console, however the animations, the graphics, the haptics, the sound (when you’re an anti-social weirdo that performs cell video games with sound) – it’s all there. All of it helps draw you into this baffling world of Palicos and monsters within the palm of your hand, makes you give up to the fantasy of it.
The primary distinction for longtime Hunter followers is the timing. You may have 75 seconds to take down even probably the most harmful of beasts – like a Rathalos, as an example. Provided that the graphics and the animations are taken from Monster Hunter World (will we ever get a World 2?), Niantic has had room to work on honing the fight to make it work. You’re by no means going to be stood on the sidewalk trying awkward for greater than a few minute, and that’s for the very best.
The expertise is condensed right into a rock-paper-scissors recreation of dodge-block-attack. It’s intuitive and comprehensible, parseable even for probably the most greenhorn hunters. Put a monster to mattress and also you’re itching for an additional – and simply as effectively, since there’s often about 20 in a five-minute radius at any given time. You possibly can ‘paintball’ monsters for later (you get a couple of free, however then they price you, and that’s my largest concern with Niantic on this recreation), and also you’re AI companion Palico also can ‘paintball’ as much as three monsters per day – although you don’t get a selection of which it chooses, actually.
My solely gripe with the entire expertise is the monetisation. We’re seeing firms like HoYoverse rejuvinate cell premium video games, however Niantic (at the moment entrenched in a long-running battle with the Pokemon Go group over its premium choices) is now, someway, a part of the ‘outdated guard’. That is evident in Monster Hunter Now. Well being will regenerate between battles, and also you get 5 free mini-potions per day. Not dangerous if you wish to simply play the place you land, however it targets FOMO: see a monster you should progress a quest, however out of therapeutic gadgets? You haven’t any choice however to drop some money.
Paintballs – gadgets which have been defined to me at preview as important to the expertise, and are very important to your having the ability to play on the go – are solely obtainable throguh dear premium foreign money. The cynic in me thinks the Palico’s restricted auto-paintballing is so hit-and-miss deliberately to strain you into shopping for your individual. Storage expansions (which price £20 to max out) are locked fully behind IRL cash, too.
I do know freemium video games are designed to siphon money out of your pockets, and I don’t thoughts grinding for my weapons and armour (at about 20 hours of playtime, I can let you know that you may unlock all of those with out dropping a penny, thus far). It’s Monster Hunter, for Christ’s sake: grinding is a part of the enjoyable! However the monetisation leaves an undeniably ugly blemish on what’s in any other case a fairly flawless expertise.
To return to that beginning quantity: there are 3 million pre-registrations for the sport already. That’s 2 million shy of Niantic’s purpose for the pre-launch, however it’s not dangerous information: that is nonetheless a reasonably area of interest IP, and the genre-defining cell trailblazing that Niantic is so good at does plenty of the legwork. Even for non-MonHun followers, it is a recreation that may stay on your own home display screen, booted up everytime you’re ready for a mate in a bar or on both facet of your commute, ready so that you can grind a bit bit extra. Make a bit bit extra progress. Immense your self within the infinite, dwarfing world of Monster Hunter, wherever you might be.
I’m going to be taking part in this recreation for weeks – months! Years! – to return. I simply hope it finally ends up being widespread sufficient for Niantic to handle my considerations about its ties to your real-world coffers.
Monster Hunter Now is free to play, and sees its worldwide launch date on September 14, for iOS and Android. You possibly can pre-register for Monster Hunter Now on the App Retailer for iOS and Play Retailer for Android now.