Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is releasing on iOS in North America. When you first hear the news you're probably like "What? Seriously?". When you watch the video showing some of the touch controls you'll just sort of nod to yourself, quietly thinking that it makes sense, but virtual controls for Monster Hunter? What? Seriously? The shock soon wears off and you're left with a curious, somewhat pleasant sensation akin to eating just the right amount of blueberry pie.
Freedom Unite is the PSP / PlayStation Vita incarnation of the Monster Hunter franchise, featuring just about what you would expect from a MH release, right down to the hundreds of hours of playtime you'll sink into it. The visuals have been "optimized", and all of the things that required physical buttons have been mapped to touch controls. The left side has a virtual analog stick, while the right side has buttons for attacking, dodging and blocking (if the weapon supports it). The lower center portion of the screen has a bar for items (a.k.a. need mega potion NOW). Swipe anywhere on the screen to move the camera. You can also use a handy auto-lock feature to track big monsters without fiddling with the camera itself.
Players of the already released Japanese version say the touch controls work shockingly well. So well, in fact, that using a physical controller didn't really cross their mind. As for co-op, MHFU for iOS supports online play via Wi-Fi for groups of as many as four hunters. Unfortunately, there's no voice chat while hunting, so you'll have to rely on your finely-honed hunting intuition to get things done as a team.
Monster Hunter Freedom Unite for iOS is listed as "coming soon" for North America. Rumors of the possible price range from $12.99 to $19.99. It will be playable at E3, so with any luck Capcom will announce a date at about the same time.