By Theresa Afful
Are you a Pokémon Go fan or a Monster Hunter fan? If you are a fan of either of these two iconic series, you will enjoy the immersion of the new mobile offering called Monster Hunter Now, which was released on September 14. It has the same dynamics as Pokémon Go, where you travel in the outside world trying to catch as many pocket monsters as you can. But in Monster Hunter Go you hunt scarier, bigger monsters that have been introduced in previous collections by Capcom.
I spent the last two weeks playing the game. At first, I thought it would be some boring game where I would walk around yelling, “GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALL!” After a few days, I got invested; I not only wanted to get all the 14 creatures in the game. I wanted to unlock every monster so severely that I would play while going to school, hoping to run into some new monster around the area or even have enough to help complete the quest and move on in the story. To make the game even more interesting for me, I would challenge my brother to try to hunt down more monsters than me. In the end, I won. Since my school was a decent walk, I got to hunt many monsters on my way there.
While playing the game, I noticed it has similar designs to Pokémon Go, such as the satellite map showing your exact location and dealing with, say, a Great Jagras, a big ass iguana, near you. Still, in Monster Hunter Go, they changed the land to match each monster’s different environments—for example, the Barroth is only found in the swamp and desert. I also like how each time I open the app, it warns me to watch my surroundings, which is helpful since many people are always on their phones and don’t mind where they’re going. This puts their lives and the lives of others in danger. The graphics are pretty good, in my opinion, compared to other games like it.
Combat is relatively simple – at first. When you enter battle early on (by tapping a monster near you on the map), the controls are simple: tap the monster before you to attack and swipe right or left to dodge his attacks. It’s straightforward, and initially, I could win almost every battle by swiftly tapping on the being in front of me. However, as I leveled up and advance through the tale, the fighting becomes more complex.
The “hunt” aspect of Monster Hunter is missing. I feel I don’t need to understand anything about my prey or master a particular combat style to be successful, and there’s not enough time in a battle for much differentiation between the species. They may appear different, but defeating them is essentially the same. Outside of combat, there isn’t much to do except mine for resources at real-world locations of interest, which you may use — along with monster components obtained in a fight — to enhance your gear or create new items.
The soundtrack is okay, but after hearing it over and over again, it could get a bit tiring. Changing the sound up every time someone opens the game would make the experience better for the player. The sound changes to something more relaxing and soothing when playing at night instead of its regular, intense theme song played during the day. In fact, the general tone of the soundtrack is more chill than most, whether it’s during battle or during hunting. Other than that, I like how the sound effects in the game match the action, objects, and animals. For example, swinging a sword sounds like really close to how you would imagine it would.
So far, the game’s performance has been outstanding. There hasn’t been a single crash, and everything runs smoothly. It can get annoying when I’m trying to get out of the app by swiping up, and the screen moves too. The frame rate is consistent and doesn’t change even when I leave my home and WiFi for the outdoors.
The design feels natural, and the controls are easy to learn. I didn’t require further explanation once I unlocked certain moves that require new controls to be learned. Even those controls feel natural. The logic used in the game seems to make sense. We, the players, are hunters hunting down these monsters and collecting minerals to create new and more potent weapons and armor to make hunting easier.
The game does have a plot, which is about the Monster Hunter realm invading our planet. The narrative isn’t that compelling. It feels like the story is moving nowhere, and when you think you are close to the end, the game just hits you with another quest to complete before reaching the finale. The writing itself isn’t that bad. It keeps people guessing, but I think it could be better since I don’t feel like I need to read the text to know that all I will do is fight monsters until I reach the next level and am given another quest. While playing, I didn’t notice any voice acting like in the other games, but I think the game would be much better if some voices were involved. There are two characters that I have met in the game so far: a calm hunter who would help me on my journey to hunt down all the monsters and a Palico who is an energetic feline that colors monster trails for later battles.
Monster Hunter Now looks beautiful, has a fast battle system optimized for smartphones, and even contains some pretty innovative quality elements, such as paintballs that allow you to mark monsters in the field and battle them later from home. There’s plenty of space for expansion, and given how Pokémon Go introduced crucial features years after its debut, Monster Hunter Now might follow a similar path if it’s successful.
Bronx resident and NYVGCC intern Theresa Afful is in her first year of high school after graduating Mott Hall III middle school in June.
Over 95% of the reviews and essays on NYGameCritics.com are created by our paid student interns and mentors who have taken our classes. Donations help support our incredible student writers.