Capcom’s Monster Hunter series is finally getting it’s first truly HD installment, but it’s probably not the next-gen Monster Hunter experience that fans were hoping for.
Capcom announced today that they have granted Chinese free-to-play MMO publisher TenCent Games the license to create Monster Hunter Online, a brand new MMO set in the Monster Hunter universe. While previous games in the series featured graphics that were originally designed for the PS2, PSP, or Wii, Online will feature brand new HD visuals powered by Crytek’s CryEngine 3. In addition to classic monsters like the Rathian and the Plesioth (glimpsed in the trailer above,) the game will feature brand new monsters designed by TenCent. Previous games in the series have been limited to 4-man hunts, but Monster Hunter Online will feature special 24 player hunting missions. In addition to that, Monster Hunter Online will also feature dynamic weather that changes over time.
Instead of being developed by the usual Monster Hunter staff at Capcom, the game is being produced in-house at TenCent Games in China, and has reportedly been in development for over three years. MHO is currently a PC exclusive; the game’s developers are promising that it will play as well with a keyboard and mouse as it does with a gamepad.
As of right now, the game is exclusive to the Chinese market; neither Capcom or TenCent have made any announcements regarding a possible international release.
While it’s great to finally see Monster Hunter in HD, the fact that the game isn’t being developed by the real Monster Hunter team at Capcom makes me question whether Monster Hunter Online will live up to the series’ legendary reputation. Chinese MMO’s aren’t exactly known for having polished gameplay, and Monster Hunter has largely succeeded because of its deep combat mechanics and its carefully balanced, highly addictive, loot-driven formula. This isn’t the first time that Monster Hunter has been adapted into an MMO either: Monster Hunter Frontier (also developed by a different team) was released for Japanese PC’s and Xbox 360’s a few years back, and hardcore MH fans generally regard it as the black sheep of the series.
Despite that, I’d still give Monster Hunter Online a shot in the unlikely event that it gets localized. I love Monster Hunter, and at this point, I’ll buy anything that has the MH logo stamped on it (I’ve got some overpriced Revoltech figures and art books to prove it.)