The cinematic release of Godzilla introduced us to a monster that terrified the globe. As soldiers geared up to battle the prehistoric, gigantic menace, Victor Rausk left us with a memorable line “I guess we are monster hunters now”. You could say the same when playing Niantic and Capcom’s latest addition to the Monster Hunter franchise.
In its literal definition, Monster Hunt Now is a game that sends you on a quest to track down elusive creatures. The game leverages Niantic's time-tested formula to craft an augmented reality experience where monsters lurk in your very surroundings.
Could this be the next big thing—a Pokémon Go successor? Will you finally clock in your steps' goal on your Apple Watch while playing this game? Let's find out below in our Monster Hunter Now review.
Monsters of the World
Monster Hunter Now is a precise adaptation of The Monster Hunter franchise that takes you back to the basics of hunting the beasts. The striking difference is that the hunt takes you away from your console and out of the house.
At the core of the geolocation game is a story that gives meaning to your quest. The monsters from the franchise's realm have invaded your surroundings, and with just your phone, you get to track and put them out.
You play as a hunter in the hunter's guild. The guild is the primary governing department in Monster Hunter. You must protect the humans and their settlements from destruction by these near-mythical beasts. In your hunt, you get the lovely aid of a Felyne known as Palico. The Palico vows to help you on your hunt after you save its life from three monsters.
In Monster Hunter Now, you get three biomes (forest, desert, and swamp) that the creatures call home. Each biome holds different species of monsters. And the best part is that if you're not in the mood for a commute, the game rotates a new biome into your vicinity every 24 hours
Unlike GO, with empty streets and the marked dots in Pokémon, you can find the monsters in biomes. The biomes were an upgrade feature in Pokémon Go that amplified the game's wholesome experience.
In every Monster Hunter game, the goal remains the same. Become a skilled hunter, venture into the monsters' territory, and take them down using bows, swords, and hammers. But Monster Hunter Now delivers a fraction of this experience. It simply tones down the action.
In a press briefing, Niantic's CEO revealed that the game's design focuses on pick-and-play gameplay that's also challenging to master. True to their vision, Monster Hunter Now is a game for seasoned hunters and newbies alike. At its inception, the game gives you a feel for what the hunt entails. Your hunting experience takes place on familiar ground. You could be on your way to work or taking an evening stroll. The hunt is synchronized with your everyday life and environment.
Although the game lacks a linear direction, you get quests to keep you moving. The quests, ranging from gathering items to slaying monsters, earn you rewards in the form of HRP.
Thanks to its one-handed play, you can walk the dog or hold your partner's hand and stay in the action. But of course, the game comes with a fair warning to ensure you are in a safe place before playing. So it's best to avoid busy streets. All this while, the game's AR Camera Mode unveils the monsters right before your eyes.
But before you can enter your hunting role, you must get the right tools.
Monster Hunter fans have a reason to smile. The game has a couple of weapons from the franchise, including bow guns and the hammer long sword. The game gives you six weapon archetypes, but you can forge more. How? Well, this is where you really need to get out of the house.
Items you need for crafting appear in your environment. This grants players the freedom to tweak their weapons as they please. You can forge ranged weapons or greatswords. But you should note that every thought you put into your design affects the weapon's ability. For instance, the heavier it is, the slower your strike will be.
Items such as Monster Bone and Iron Ore are ingredients for powerful weapons for taking down the most vicious monsters. Plus, the more monsters you fight, the more resources are at your disposal. If you require more resources, simply stroll into a different biome. The game also considers players who want to stay in the comfort of their homes. You can still access resources at home.
Moreover, leveling up unlocks your weapons' special features. For instance, in Grade 2, your weapons' special skills become accessible. Instead of randomly aiming, you can target a creature's head or tail and snap it into two. Plus, players will also be able to choose their weapons while hunting, thanks to the game's loadout feature.
Monster Hunter Now's combat uses the franchise's formula with a progressively challenging take; however, the strategy remains the same. The 75-second battles have you aggressively pressing the attack button until the creature glows red. This is your signal to duck. The glow means the monster is readying up for an attack, and with a swipe maneuver, you get yourself out of harm's way. Once it cools down, you return to spamming the button for another successful kill.
But don't be fooled by the simple play style. Over time, things get challenging, and you'll have to pick the right gear for battle. If you pick gear that is too weak, you'll die. Thankfully, potions can revive you during combat.
But that's just about it. Although the game has a research angle where you study the monsters, there's nothing further than that. The takedown is pretty much the same, despite the monsters' different looks.
A notable difference is the creatures' attack techniques. For example, in wet and swampy areas, you can find the Jyuradotus, which uses mud as camouflage and spits out sludge that traps you. The Great Girros spew out venom, while Diablos can stun you with their grand roar.
Moreover, the game also uses a familiar feature that made Pokémon Go famous. The paintball makes a return, and just like in the previous title, it keeps a tag on your monsters. So if you find a monster but don't have the time for a satisfactory kill, your Palico uses the paintball to put a tag on it. This way, you can return later and finish what you started at your own pace.
Monster Hunter Now's social interaction is no different from the Pokemon Go experience. Prepare to cross paths with fellow adventurers in no time. What's even more exhilarating is the game's cooperative gameplay, which lets you team up with a buddy for epic hunts.
If a creature overpowers you, you can call on a nearby hunter to help. Plus, you can recruit friends to your squad with the QR codes. Each team can have up to four players, and you know what they say – the more, the merrier. Team up with your pals and reap the rewards, including valuable items like paintballs and life-saving potions. Suppose you want to team up with a friend who is miles away. Fret not; you can join parties with hunters, but not within your vicinity.
As a mobile game, Monster Hunter Now's graphics and RPG mechanics feel adequate. Of course, as an avid console player, it took some time to appreciate this, but it grows on you. The simplified creature-combat mechanic borders on repetition. However, the hunt-adventure of walking out your door gives it a refreshing feel.
The game's familiar formula appeals to fans of the franchise. Plus, the recognizable weapons add to the thrill of slashing the beasts. If you're new to Monster Hunter, the game's pick-and-play design will soon grow on you.
Lastly, you will encounter microtransactions, but none that are too demanding. You can use items to unlock boosts and elevate your experience. The developers have also announced more weapons and characters coming to the game, with a major update to the world slated for release this year.
Monster Hunter Now Review (Android & iOS)
A Revamped Classic Monster Hunt
When all is said and done, Monster Hunter Now isn’t just a game; it’s an adventure that beckons you to explore the world around you like never before. Capcom and Niantic redefine your gaming experience by seamlessly blending the digital and physical worlds.
Over the years, Niantic’s hunting formula has proven successful for uniting players in an augmented reality adventure, from casting spells in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite to catching furry-friendly creatures in Pokémon. Aficionados of this gameplay have more reason to smile, as another hunt is already here. So gear up, step outside, and embrace the thrill of the hunt.