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Monster Hunter Now debuts globally with one of the biggest mobile game launches

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Monster Hunter Now, a free-to-play mobile game, is debuting in its global launch as the latest location-based game collaboration from the makers of Pokémon Go and Monster Hunter.

Capcom‘s Monster Hunter series has sold more than 90 million copies to date, and the Japanese game maker teamed up with Niantic, the creator of Pokémon Go, NBA All-World, Pikmin Bloom and Ingress Prime. All of Niantic‘s games feature location-based gameplay and some feature augmented reality.

Rather than seeking out cute creatures, you’ll be using your smartphone to find monsters in the real world of streets, parks and neighborhoods around the world. And then you’ll go to battle with them, either as solo players or in groups.

The game is available on the App Store and Google Play. Interested players can sign up now at monsterhunternow.com for a chance to be selected for upcoming closed beta tests of the game.

Diablos is deadly in Monster Hunter Now.

For anyone who’s ever dreamed of hunting monsters in the real world, Monster Hunter Now brings that fantasy to life, said John Hanke, CEO of Niantic, in a recent press briefing. He said the game was four years in the making. The design goal was to create something easy to play, difficult to master.

Niantic believes the game will go farther in terms of real-time combat than any other previous Niantic game, as it will have fast action multiplayer combat, said Hanke. Joining other players is seamless, and it represents a rethinking of action and multiplayer, he added. I’ve played it and I found it to be a fun experience that was different from other mobile games.

How it will work

You can track down monsters and take the battle to them.

Taking the role of a hunter, players will venture forth and team up with fellow players in order to take down the fiercest monsters in the world, adding a social element to the thrilling experience. Niantic said the game is for anyone who has dreamed of facing off against epic monsters and battling them with friends.

Sakae Osumi, senior producer at Niantic Tokyo studio, said in a press briefing that the game is a real-world hunting action role-playing game, where players will explore the real world with their partner Palico to find materials for crafting weapons and armor. It is aimed at those who know the series or who are new to the franchise alike.

“It is about the old social hunting action game that we have built it is about you becoming a hunter going out into the real world encountering a majestic monsters,” he said.

The gameplay

It’s a giant frog, brought down by a samurai sword.

Players can investigate monster habitats, and team up with friends to hunt down the monsters.

In the game, you take on the role of a hunter, working in a hunter’s guild, which is the central governing association in Monster Hunter. Your quests are to protect human settlements, maintain the balance of nature, and do research on monsters. Hunters can play solo or in parties up to four people.

As hunters gain skill and experience, the guild assigns them a hunter rank. As they engage in hunts, the hunters rise through the ranks. Fighting isn’t just static. You have to use combos to inflict good damage and you have to use your shield to block monster attacks.

On top of that, he said Niantic wanted to take it a step further by creating a whole new experience of hunting monsters in the real world, in your local park, in your neighborhoods, at your office, all the places you visit in your daily life and beyond. You can gather materials in the real world to make yourself or your equipment stronger. You can upgrade your gear. Each fight will last perhaps 75 seconds. That’s pretty short compared to 10 minutes to 30 minutes in the PC and console games.

Since Monster Hunter Now can be played on smartphones, you can easily invite your friends to join. As to where the friends can be in terms of distance apart, Niantic and Capcom haven’t yet said. There are currently no plans to support game controllers.

The title will be a free-to-play casual game and there are items that you can purchase in the game. There will be a mix of familiar characters and new ones in the game, and it will have stories and quests.

The game isn’t pay-to-win, nor does it have Gacha, or blind loot boxes. Most of the purchases you make in the game are in support of hunting and exploration.

You can also play when and where you want. For instance, in Monster Hunter Now, there’s an item called the Paintball. By using a Paintball on a monster that you encounter, you can bring the monster back home and hunt it alone or with someone else. And even when you’re walking around without playing the game, your companion can mark any monsters you pass by with the Paintball, so you can enjoy hunting them even after returning home.

Built on Niantic’s Lightship platform, Monster Hunter Now uses location-based technology and AR that overlays the real world with fantastical and fierce creatures.

There will be six weapon types available at launch and by collecting materials you can forge new ones and level them up (as well as new and better armor). Different items have strengths against certain types of monsters. You can charge your attacks to do more damage, but you have to dodge counterattacks.

You can distract a monster with a ranged weapon, drawing the monster out while your comrades attack from different directions. And you can change up the ammo based on the type of monster.

The Monster Hunter legacy

Monster Hunter Now sprinkles resources through the real world for you to pick up.

Monster Hunter is Capcom’s most popular video game franchise and is one of the most popular action role-playing game series of all time. Ryozo Tsujimoto, producer of the Monster Hunter series for Capcom, in a press briefing that the game will stand out from other Niantic games with its focus on the world of Monster Hunter and its combat. The AR gameplay is now being rolled out for the test players.

Monster Hunter Now is designed for everyone to enjoy at their own pace, whether you are a long-time Monster Hunter player, someone who hasn’t played for a while, or even a newcomer to the series, Tsujimoto said.

Novel features

Monster Hunter Now lets a trio of players gang up on monsters.

The monsters have a wide variety. Jyuratodus is found in wet and swampy areas. It covers itself in mud for defense. And it spits out sludge to slow hunters and and get them stuck, leaving them vulnerable to attack. The Diablos has a powerful roar that can stun attackers. The Great Girros spits out venom.

Hunters also get help from Palicoes, which are Felynes that have created a pact with hunters to support them in battle. They will help you collect resources as you play and as you travel with Adventure Sync turned on.

On the map, you can pinch the screen to see a bird’s eye of a map of where you are and then walk and navigate to larger monsters. You can explore different biospheres including swamp, forest and desert. Those environments change every 24 hours.

You can also find materials such as ore, monster bones, and plants from gathering points scattered around your location in the real world. You can also refine your loadout over time.

With the AR camera, majestic monsters appear right in front of you, in your real world surroundings. You can interact with them and see their reactions, and easily post on social media. You can make friends using a QR or friend code, or recruit new players using an invitation code.

The AR photo mode for the monsters will be a big test for augmented reality. In that mode, you can take pictures of the monsters you’ve hunted. I asked about battery life but the devs said that they will try to optimize to balance quality and battery life.

A casual audience

Great Jagras sword.

In contrast to the console and PC players, the audience for the mobile game is likely to be casual and much broader. So it remains to be seen how this kind of game will fare in the global market. The idea is to get more people to fall in love with the

Capcom has been drumming up support from entertainers. Takahiro Moriuchi, lead vocalist at One OK Rock, said in a statement, “You get together and play with other people, [Monster Hunter Now] really fits the time we live in.”

Ryota Kohama, bassist for the group, said, “[Monster Hunter] is seriously fun, I can see myself getting hooked.”

“We are making as authentic as possible,” said Kei Kawai, executive producer of Monster Hunter Now, in a press briefing. “This is one of the most delicate areas that the dev team been focused on focusing on. We were really nervous until we got first feedback from the soft launch countries. But so far we are getting positive feedback.”

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