This year at Summer Game Fest, I met up with the lovely people at Niantic to try out some new features for their existing games and check out new titles. I charted a route in Pokémon GO, played with the new virtual pets in Peridot, and had hands-on time with Monster Hunter Now. Each experience thrilled a different part of me. For example, Peridot hit my love of cute right in the heart. Having adorable creatures frolicking around is delightful and will lighten any day.
Pokémon GO Updates
Pokémon GO’s new features made me excited to play with my kids: a new feature allowing players to chart their own route between Pokéstops for others to follow. You start at one Pokéstop and begin your journey with GPS marking every few steps to create a surprisingly accurate path; I could even tell which side of the street I was walking on with my route. I stopped my route at another stop, and now anyone who visits my starting location can choose to open my route, follow in my footsteps, and see what I saw along the way. I know my kids are going to love making routes for each other through local parks. Obviously, my first concern is their safety following other people’s routes, but Niantic has a team of real humans who will review routes for safety before posting.
For those who don’t want to ramble while they play, Pokémon showcases are coming soon. Showcases allow players to show off their biggest, strongest, and smallest Pokémon. Each showcase involves a specific Pokémon and a metric of comparison. You submit your best entry for heaviest Litten, smallest Caterpie, or whatever the showcase is asking for. You put up your best for comparison and see what others in your area have to offer. There will be prizes!
A Peek at Monster Hunter Now
If Pokémon GO isn’t your thing, Monster Hunter Now might scratch your more mature mobile gaming itch. Picture Pokémon GO but with active combat, co-op, gear to level up, beautifully detailed monster art, a well-populated world map, and much less required walking. Monster Hunter Now has it all. The map shows a large area fully populated by monsters, gathering points, and changing biomes with unique points of interest. You have an inventory full of the weapon types you love from Monster Hunter, which you can upgrade. Gathering points and different monster fights offer materials for you to use, and the game tells you exactly where you will find them. Selecting a monster within your reach on the world map opens several options.
Obviously, you can fight it; Button mashing is no good, though. You need to touch the screen in the right rhythm to get the most out of your attacks, and each weapon type has its own rhythm. Upon entering combat, a notice appears on nearby player screens inviting them to battle alongside you. You can play with friends or strangers. Speaking of friends, you can play with them anytime you want. Instead of fighting the monster in front of you, you can save it for later. You and your friends can collect monsters when you have a minute during the day, then conveniently get together on your terms to battle the monsters you kept. This is especially nice for players with mobility issues or people who don’t have time for sustained play. Monster Hunter Now is a fantastic blend of Monster Hunter play and Pokémon GO’s goal of getting people up, outside, and social. I cannot wait to play once the game is available to download.
Pokémon GO is available now for iOS and Android, and Monster Hunter Now is launching sometime in September. Niantic is still accepting applicants for the closed beta test on the Monster Hunter Now website.