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Breaking news: dangerous creature to invade Monster Hunter Now

Senior producer Sakae reports that a dangerous creature is set to invade your local neighborhood in the new Monster Hunter Now update.

Monster Hunter Now interview - key art showing a hunter fighting an Odogaron as a Deviljho comes in from behind

Good morning, good evening, and welcome to PTND (Pocket Tactics News Daily). We’ve received a concerning report that a terrifying creature is on the loose, embarking on a global rampage, and it’s set to invade a neighborhood near you in the new Monster Hunter Now update. As such, Niantic and the Hunter’s Guild are issuing a call to arms for all hunters brave enough to take on this terrifying threat.

Sources state that this update marks a fresh season entitled ‘The Vernal Invader,’ which not only sees two familiar foes from the Monster Hunter series tear onto the scene, but also introduces an infamous invader, hellbent on unleashing chaos and gobbling up any unsuspecting citizens that cross its path.

The aforementioned monsters already offer enough of a threat. First is the Tzitzi-Ya-Ku, otherwise known as ‘Dizzy Bird’ or ‘The Photography Raptor’ (or, at least, that’s what my hunting team calls it). First showing up in Monster Hunter World, this agile bird wyvern may look relatively small and inoffensive, but it also possesses the unique ability to blind both its prey and adversaries with dazzling flashes.

Sakae Osumi, senior producer of Niantic’s Tokyo Studio, warns that “when you stand in front of Tzitzi-Ya-Ku, you want to be careful not to get flashed with its flash attack, otherwise the entire screen will go white” – important words to keep in mind when facing this troublesome terror.

Monster Hunter Now interview - an image showing the three monsters coming in the new update, the Tzitzi-Ya-Ku, the Odogaron, and the Deviljho

The next new offender is the Odogaron, a fearsome fanged wyvern also known as the ‘Cruel Claw Wyvern,’ ‘Blood Puppy,’ ‘Clifford,’ or ‘Big Red Dog.’ Large and muscular, the Odogaron is a relentless and agile predator that also made its first appearance in Monster Hunter World.

Sakae has some choice advice for this brutish beast, too, stating that it has “very beautiful animations, but also a very dangerous claw attack which can put you into a bleeding status, during which your health points will slowly drain – so you want to be careful not to get hit by those gigantic claws.”

But these two new Monster Hunter Now monsters are nothing compared to the real threat lurking around the corner – the Deviljho. Otherwise known as the ‘Violent Wyvern,’ ‘Picklejho,’ ‘Pickle Joe,’ or simply, ‘The Pickle,’ this large brute wyvern leads a nomadic life, and first stomped onto the scene back in 2018 as a part of a free update to Monster Hunter World.

It’s known for attacking just about anything, often initiating turf wars with other heavy-hitters like Diablos and Bazelgeuse. Fearless and utterly frightening, this meddlesome monster can and will invade and take over battles while you’re out hunting other beasts, forcing you into combat with it.

In battle, the Deviljho can enter an enraged state, during which its body begins to glow a bright red. An enraged Deviljho doesn’t just look scary – it also deals more damage and can unleash powerful breath attacks, so you better brace yourself!

Luckily, there’s a way to know where the ‘jho will show, as it only appears in unstable areas. Sakae explains that “unstable areas appear in different habitats like the forests, deserts, and swamps, and it makes those habitats look different with an irregular, glowing visual effect” – so don’t worry if you’re in or near an area that is currently unstable, you’ll notice as soon as you open the map.

Monster Hunter Now interview - key art showing two player characters wielding the new weapon, charge blade

On top of that, there’s also a new weapon coming alongside these new beasties to help you in battle – the charge blade. If you’ve played previous Monster Hunter games, you should be familiar with this powerful weapon, but if not, allow Sakae to break it down for you.

“Charge blade is a very unique weapon that can transform from sword and shield into a huge ax. By ‘charge blade’ it means that, when you’re in the sword and shield mode, you can attack monsters and charge up the energy at the same time. Once you have enough energy, you can switch to ax mode and unleash the charged energy to do more damage to the monster.”

However, he also highlights that this new Monster Hunter Now weapon is “very tricky, but also fun at the same time.” This is due to the fact that the sword and shield mode is quite agile, making it easy to dodge and move around, whereas the ax mode results in slow, heavy movements, so you need to be careful and pick the right time to unleash that energy.

If you do manage to master the charge blade, you’ll be glad to know that it’s a very useful weapon to counter the Deviljho with. During a call, Sakae showed us a video of a hunter using the charge blade against ol’ Pickle Joe, stating, “unleashing [the charge blade’s] special move can make you invincible against the Deviljho’s breath attack, so it can be used very tactically.”

Monster Hunter Now interview - screenshots of the new Tzitzi-Ya-Ku and Odogaron armor

Of course, fighting the new beasts also allows you to unlock brand new armor sets, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. So it’s a good thing that the new season also raises the limit on how many loadouts you can save from five to ten. Sakae says that “with the new weapons and armor coming this month, we believe that hunters will need more loadouts to set up different weapons with different armor sets, skills sets, and elemental types to use against different monsters. So, with the start of season one, hunters will immediately have access to an expanded loadout.”

The new season also introduces a new layered armor system, which is a popular feature from previous MH games. This allows you to craft different layered armor pieces by using specific materials, so you can dress up your hunter however you like without having to compromise your stats.

On top of all of that, Sakae also confirmed that the plan is to introduce a new weapon with each new season. Unfortunately, though, as the team were focused on perfecting the charge blade and making it work in the existing weapon line-up, there aren’t any further weapon balances coming with the introduction of this update – so it sounds like the poor sword and shield, and light bowgun, are still going to be at the bottom of the pile when taking on endgame content.

However, he went on to explain that they intend to “see how [the introduction of the charge blade] goes and how it’s accepted by the players, and if we need to make any adjustments after seeing the feedback for usage of the charge blade, we might consider adjusting the balance between different weapon types.”

In addition to more monsters and a new weapon to try out, the fresh season also brings in the new season pass system, which allows you to collect tier points in-game in order to raise your season tier and win exclusive rewards. Sakae confirms that this season pass is set to run for around three months (until the next update), but should only take about a month or two to complete, so don’t worry if you don’t play every day.

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The season pass has both a free plan and a premium plan that you can pay for, and offers a variety of useful materials as well as some cute cosmetic layered armor items such as an adorable pair of black kitty ears, paw-like gloves, and a tail. Because, come on, who doesn’t want to fight a pickle monster while dressed as a cat? Man, I love videogames.

Sakae muses that “the season pass adds a new dimension to the progression of the Monster Hunter Now gameplay,” highlighting that, unlike the main ways you progress through the game, the season pass isn’t blocked by urgent quests or difficult challenges – instead, “the more you play, the more you earn.”

But don’t worry if you don’t want to splash any cash on the premium pass, as Sakae clarifies that the “premium plan may add a little bonus or boost, but I can confirm that you can still hunt the most dangerous monsters without the premium plan.” On a personal note, we’re happy to see that the kitty ears are available on the free plan – though you have to pay for the premium version if you want the paws and tail to match.

With all this exciting news, we couldn’t help but take the opportunity to sit down with Sakae and have a chat, discussing the new Monster Hunter Now season and beyond. As the game approaches its six-month anniversary, Sakae revealed that Monster Hunter Now has achieved over ten million downloads so far.

Monster Hunter Now interview - a photograph from Niantic showing a group of people sitting around a replica camp fire from Monster Hunter playing the game on their phones and smiling

When we asked how he feels about the download numbers and the player engagement so far, Sakae says “with ten million downloads, we think that we have a decent amount of hunters across the world engaging in both solo and multiplayer hunts. We are happy with that number and feel fairly confident that we can keep entertaining those hunters with the upcoming season, new content, and live events.”

He also highlights that “Japan may be the most popular in terms of the Monster Hunter franchise presence, but we have a fairly decent amount of players elsewhere, especially in North America and areas of Asia like Hong Kong [and] Taiwan. So we would like to continue engaging with those fans through events, but we also want to reach out to a wider audience around the world, especially in the UK and Europe.” So, is anyone up for a monster huntin’ tour of Europe?

Leading on from this, he also highlighted that the main thing they’ve noticed during the first six months is the large volume of multiplayer hunts, especially in densely populated areas like Tokyo, Taipei, and Hong Kong. He states that the team were “very happy and excited to see a lot of hunters hunting together, and we want to expand that ‘hunting together experience’ throughout the rest of the world.” In fact, you can see that in the new series update, too, as there’s a new matching lobby on the way. In this lobby, you can see yourself and other hunters, allowing you to see their loadout and show off your own.

However, Sakae also reflects that “the opportunity to play in multiplayer kind of relies on the population density, so we want to kind of mitigate the gap and allow everyone to enjoy the multiplayer,” even outside of the large cities.

We were also curious how Niantic decides on which monsters to unleash into the world next and why the team landed on the Tzitzi-Ya-Ku, Odogaron, and Deviljho as the latest additions. Sakae tells us that they “chose the line-up of monsters based on game design projection, through which we aim to add variety in weapon types, elemental types, and the monsters’ AI behavior,” highlighting that the main focus is to “make the hunting experience more fun and add width, depth, and variety to the gameplay. […] For example, Deviljho is a very unique one that appears in front of you through an invasion cutscene, so it’s like a surprise. So we chose these monsters to add new flavor and experiences to the gameplay.”

While there’s lots of new content coming to Monster Hunter Now, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there’s any crossovers planned with other games at the moment – so unfortunately no The Witcher 3 Geralt or Sonic the Hedgehog layered armor right now. But don’t be too disappointed, as it’s not completely off the cards yet, with Sakae smiling and saying “maybe later? Of course, the main franchise did, but we’ll see.”

Monster Hunter Now interview - a picture of a Deviljho popping its head out of a fridge with a sign saying 'danger beware of pickle'

And that’s it for our PTND report on the new Monster Hunter Now update. We’d like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Sakae Osumi for his sage advice, and recommend that you note it down when facing these beastly brutes in your backyard. If you need some more assistance getting prepared for season one, be sure to check out our Monster Hunter Now codes to see if there are any freebies you can snap up. Remember, the Picklejho could be anywhere – even in your own fridge – so please stay alert!