While Pokemon is my brand for RPGs I have been a bit of a fan of the Final Fantasy series since I picked up Final Fantasy VII. I would say my favorite may have been Final Fantasy XI Online. Sure the skill leveling was crap and waiting for a party at Valkurm Dunes was the worst before they patch the EXP distribution (I think they fixed it. I never got to see it, so I was left out because of level gaps and lack of friend privileges) but what did make the game my favorite was the friendly part of the community, especially the Linkshell Group (which I was a part of).
However, while I have drifted from the series (Especially after playing Final Fantasy XIII which only left me with boredom, disappointment, and confusion). I have been meaning to go back to the fantasy. And Final Fantasy Explorers caught my attention once I saw the games announcement via Nintendo Direct. And now that I have played FFE, I can say it is a completely different beast from what I expected, and I love it.
The gameplay is heavily inspired by “Monster Hunter” in a lot of respects. You go around the island Amostra to collect resources for equipment and upgrades while handling quests. The base of operations/Home Point is the settlement of Libertas tucked away in the southern area of the island. Here you’ll have set up your equipment, job, and abilities (which you can mix if you meet the requirements and meet the ability load amount.). The Central Crystal is where you will spend some of CP (Crystal Points) to learn abilities from the jobs you’ve unlocked and change your magicite (used for Trances) and thankfully learning abilities is as easy as Final Fantasy Tactics where you just spend the points without going around a board or the metaphorical skill hallway (Crystarium; Final Fantasy XIII).
On the east side of the crystal are the shops. The Fortune-Teller will give you an expert augury after coughing up some gil or Play Coins for good fortune. The Workshop is the place to use your resources for both forging new equipment and upgrading. Upgrading requires a lot of CP and materials, but it helps in the long run, and the process is painless compared to Final Fantasy XIII’s system. The general shop sells you items that you can use on the field such as Potions and Phoenix Downs as well as equipment that you forged so you can save your materials for upgrading other things.
There’s also the Migrant Moogle Merchant that sells a rotating stock of goods but he accepts Play Coins as well which is nice for those of us that walk for Streetpasses. At the Monster Lab you can create Ally Monsters using atmalith (a sort of essence that is randomly dropped from a defeated fiend.) and manage a party of them. Around the south end of the settlement you will find the airship where you can get a ride to a zone that you have discovered. Be careful when embarking on a quest because, as the game has warned, you will need to be ready for battle the moment you land, especially with a quest such a the 10 Dragons one.
The main quests and side quests can be taken up by the Quest Desk. You can only take on one main quest at a time (though you can repeat it as many times as you like.). Nevertheless, you can still take several side ones if you have the gil to afford the fees. On the right side of the Quest Desk is the Order Desk which you can issue orders to other player characters you’ve exchanged licenses with via Streetpass or your own monsters. A main quest will have a time limit (with roaming the island always set for a one-hour limit). The time limit can be annoying but completing a task quickly will reward you with more CP as a time bonus. Aside from taking on a quest with monsters you can party up with three other players locally or over the Internet.
Since the game is akin to “Monster Hunter” battling is similar with a few things that make it feel like a Final Fantasy game. After selecting a target to beat up you can use a standard attack or bring up one of the two ability lists. Abilities will cost Action Points (AP) but will replenish quickly when successfully hitting the enemy with each standard attack. By linking your abilities together you raise your Resonance, which will make your ability effects more efficient when it gets higher.
After getting resonance above 100 a Crystal Surge can be triggered, which can come in different varieties and cause mutations (additional effects) in your abilities, which you can later purchase as a custom abilitie. Custom abilities are very handy since you can use them without having to trigger another Crystal Surge for the one you want. There is special surge variant called “Encase” which upon defeating an eidolon will create a magicite from its power. Magicite in this game grants a player the power of Trance which is similar to Final Fantasy IX’s. The Trance Gauge fills by receiving damage or using abilities. Once it’s full you can trigger it and receive bonuses such as a Power Burst (Stat increases), Full HP and AP recovery (plus unlimited AP), and special Crystal Surges. After completing the Trance training quest you can get special Magicite with past Final Fantasy heroes to equip.
The graphics in “Final Fantasy Explorers” most certainly have that Final Fantasy signature to its art design. The island consists of different biomes from the green fields of Leggi Steppe to the fiery caves within Loithus Isle. The non-human cast of enemies most definitely looks like the ones from previous games. While some may look a bit corny like the Goblin their design does help add to the immersion of a world from the franchise. The player avatar and human characters have a similar design to the DS remakes such as Final Fantasy IV, but they are more detailed thanks to the 3DS’s capability. Armor and clothes are very stylized with the Final Fantasy fashion, and includes equipment previously worn by past characters such as Sephiroth
Voice actors were used but only for short audio executions for greetings. They do help add some personality to the NPCs (even making the Monster Lab clerk seem mad.) and make them a bit rare. The Migrant Moogle even has a deeper, smooth voice which actually makes him more unique when compared to the others in his race. Tsuyoshi Sekito (music composer of other games such as “The Last Remnant” and “Bravely Default“) has lent his talent to the soundtrack for this game, and it is certainly on par with the series. Some of the tracks such as the main battle theme (March of the Brave) rocks out with a guitar thrown in like you would hear in some of the track from Torchlight II. Personally, I actually like this sort of direction since it makes the track more memorable while adding a bit of excitement to battling.
When I started playing this game, I was concerned on how the controls will work since I only have a Nintendo 3DS with no Circle Pad Pro peripheral to work with. After playing it for a few hours I can say I have more confidence with the controls in this game, than I have with games such as “Kid Icarus Uprising”. For the buttons, there are the shoulder buttons for ability lists and Crystal Surges (holding both shoulder buttons down) with the face buttons for attack, sprint, item menu, and field check. The Circle Pad moves the avatar around while the D-Pad operates the camera which can zoom in and out on your character by holding down the L shoulder while pushing up or down.
The camera can also be operated with by the Circle Pad Pro. The touch screen is used to switch between maps and log (similar to MMORPGs.), targeting enemies and allies (which can be switched between using the left and right directions on the D-pad.), and triggering Trance. The controls are great, but the targeting will take some time getting use to.
+ Accessible to Monster Hunter players.
+ There are plenty of challenges and things to do in FFE
+ You can roam what areas you’ve explored before taking on a mission for materials, gil, and CP.
– Targeting takes some time getting to get used to.
– You will need to grind for resources for upgrading and skills if you want to solo all the way.
Replay value: 3.5/5
I’m sure that MH players and others are a bit skeptical at how too similar this game plays but I personally think that Monster Hunter’s gameplay and Final Fantasy’s theme complements each other in this title. Explorers takes the mechanics from Capcom’s hunting adventure and implements it into something that gives the best of both world. While some would like to hunt great beasts others, like myself, would like to explore and get into fights with god-like beings.
Title: Final Fantasy Explorers
Developer: Racjin Co., Ltd.
Genre: Action RPG
Resolution: Played on a Nintendo 3DS – 800 x 240
Release date: 2016-01-26
Spent time: 6+ hours
Average grade internationally: 69.40% Gamerankings.com
PEGI/ESRB age rating: PEGI 12/Everyone 10+
The Gaming Ground
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