Monster Hunter Now really feels like a Monster Hunter title, made Mobile

Chances are you've played one of developer Niantic's other mobile projects - but the upcoming Monster Hunter Now is breaking new ground for the company. Developed by their Tokyo team, the challenge they've chosen to tackle is to attempt to shrink the Monster Hunter gameplay loop into a mobile game form factor. So far, it appears to be a success in the making.

I'm no stranger to both Pokemon GO and the mainline Monster Hunter series; heading into my Summer Game Fest appointment the question at the front of my mind was "exactly how are they going to incorporate Monster Hunter's gameplay into their usual framework?" - the answer, surprisingly, is "almost seamlessly". Weapon combos have of course been simplified for play on a phone, and hunts have been streamlined to take a total of 75 seconds.

Most of the aspects of Monster Hunter's core gameplay loop was to be found during our hands-on session; combat is handled via a combination of taps, drags, and swipes - surprisingly, it all felt closer to the console entries of the series than we had expected going in. While you can build up a meter to automatically use an especially strong attack, there are certain combo strings you can execute to get to the same abilities on your own - such as with Greatsword's iconic True Charge Slash.

Palicoes act as a means of automatically activating gathering points, but also have the ability - through Adventure Sync - to log monsters with Paint Balls for later use. Paint Balls in Monster Hunter Now tag monsters, but unlike in the series entries before Monster Hunter World, they don't merely leave a mark of their location on your map; instead they "save" the encounter for later, including days into the future. Found a tough monster that you don't think you'll be able to handle on your own? You can use a Paint Ball to be able to setup a local multiplayer session with friends when you get the chance.

Naturally, the materials you gain from fighting monsters can be used to craft and upgrade your equipment, and Niantic confirmed to us that the "raid" equivalent encounters for MH Now will center around Elder Dragons; though we weren't told anything specific about what the game's monster roster will look like at launch. During our session we fought a Pukei-Pukei and a Barroth - both utilizing models based on their Monster Hunter: World incarnations - and although we didn't get the chance to engage them ourselves, we spotted a Kulu-Ya-Ku and a Great Jagras on the game's map; obviously, players can expect series mainstays like Rathian and Rathalos, though anything more than that we'll have to wait and see.

Many questions remain about the title, of course; what's the end goal, and are there any other gameplay aspects that players can expect come the endgame outside of Elder Dragon hunts? We were unable to get answers to those questions today, but if you're either a Monster Hunter fan, a Pokemon GO player, or especially both - it's looking like Monster Hunter Now may just have what you're looking for in your next mobile RPG.