Niantic is working with a different kind of monster for its next release. The studio, best-known for Pokémon Go, announced a partnership with Capcom to make a title based on the Monster Hunter franchise. The new game is called Monster Hunter Now, and it aims to take the core of that series — you know, hunting monsters — and transform it into the kind of real-world, augmented reality experience that Niantic is known for.
Gameplay specifics were light (Niantic says more details will be available when the closed beta launches in the near future) but it appears that Monster Hunter Now will follow a somewhat familiar formula. The premise is that the Monster Hunter universe has somehow seeped into our world, and players will be able to encounter monsters, along with various resources, on a real-world map.
The twist, it seems, is that the game will utilize the same gameplay cycle that Monster Hunter is known for. Hunting monsters will earn players different materials, which can be used to craft better weapons and armor, which in turn can be used to hunt even more challenging monsters. Combat has always been a major part of MonHun, with long, sometimes exhausting battles, and like in the main console game you’ll be able to hunt with friends in Now. But the mobile game also condenses things quite a bit; battles will last a maximum of 75 seconds. “We wanted to make the combat element simple and intuitive, but still hard to master,” Sakae Osumi, senior producer at Niantic’s Tokyo studio, explained during a press briefing.
Another unique feature: players will be able to hit monsters with a paintball while on the go, tagging them so that they can be battled at home or another location. And yes, the adorable Palico companion creatures will be present in the game. “We’ve worked very closely with Capcom to create an experience that honors the incredible legacy of Monster Hunter,” said Niantic CEO John Hanke. Ryozo Tsujimoto, producer of the Monster Hunter franchise, described the development as a “close collaboration” between the two companies.
You can get a sense of the gameplay in this batch of screenshots:
Ever since the runaway success of Pokémon Go, Niantic has partnered with a number of notable names for licensed real-world games. That includes the likes of NBA All-World and Pikmin Bloom, and since-shuttered projects like Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. None has proven to be the same kind of hit as Pokémon, however, and last June Niantic shut down several in-development projects and laid off eight percent of its staff. The developer is also working on its own original virtual pet game, Peridot, which is expected to launch in May.
Monster Hunter, meanwhile, is as popular as its ever been, with 2018’s Monster Hunter: World becoming Capcom’s best-selling game ever, and a live-action movie that premiered in 2020.
Niantic says that Monster Hunter Now will launch in September on both iOS and Android.