Final Fantasy Explorers Review
Developers: Square Enix, Racjin
Publishers: Square Enix
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: December 18th 2014 (JP)/ January 26th 2016 (NA)/ January 29th 2016 (EU)
-A Middling Adventure Made Slightly Better With Co-Op-
For the newcomer to the monster hunting genre, Final Fantasy Explorers would seem like the perfect entry point to begin at. I would know because I am the newcomer for titles such as these– I’ve never played Monster Hunter or any other game belonging to the genre before. Unfortunately, Explorers turned out to be a cumbersome adventure, in which, I found myself with no desire to see the game through to its end. However, though I did managed to complete the game, I couldn’t have been happier to finally be rid of the repetitive combat, non-existent story and the uneventful experience this title presented me with. I do have to admit, the online portion is the go to way for players to get the most out of Explorers.
Explorers was developed with a focused mindset towards an online component, meaning solo players probably won’t view this title the same as someone who constantly parties up with others. Indeed, the first few days I played through Explorers, I found myself bored of its repetitive combat and simplistic nature of the game. It wasn’t until I partied up with some randoms that I saw how this game was meant to be played but even co-op play wasn’t enough to hold my interest for long.
Players start off by creating their unique character, everything from gender, voice, skin tone, eye color and the type of hairstyle to start off with. Take heart in knowing character’s looks can be altered at any time throughout the game from within the menu sidebar; changing genders does requires payment of 10,000 gil (in-game currency) though. The character creation feature offers up enough of a selection for the character models presented in Explorers but sadly, no additional customize options become available at a later time. Still, the cutesy designs fit the mold well and I can’t truly give any major complains about the character customization.
After creating a character, players are thrust into the world of Amostra and quickly sent to Libertas, the main hub town area for players to gather allies, new equipment and more. Libertas can be explored early in the game but won’t truly be open up for players until specific quests have been accomplished first. Eventually, new shops become accessible but these shops have no significant bearing on how players experience the game. At some point, I stopped using the shops because there was nothing of value to be found that trumped my current equipment. Even creating creature AIs to assist in battles felt pointless; this feature offered absolutely no incentive to invest past the initial creations.
Besides the tutorial quests, subquests act as grinding missions that require players to search for X amount of items or defeat a specific number of enemies. These missions can be done in tangent with main quests objectives as well, so there’s never a reason to tackle these separately. Main quests not only help unlock mechanics within town to utilize but also rewards players with new character jobs after certain quests are finished.
In total, 21 different character jobs exist in Explorers, which can be swapped out at any time. Players start out in the Freelancer class, the standard job that can use all kinds of equipment but has no special effects. After testing out a few jobs such as the Knight, Monk, Ninja and Geomancer classes, I eventually made the Dark Knight class my main job to stick with (yes I am not Batman). Each class has more strengths than weaknesses but for a game that’s not difficult in the slightest, I can’t really say I’m surprised. Honestly, the only downfall players can expect to see when switching jobs is not being able to use certain equipment/abilities.
The meat and potatoes behind Explorers comes when players step outside of Libertas and into the field…the combat. When taking on a quest or just going out to farm for items, players will have plenty of practice when it comes to combat. Simply put, the game is a button mashing hack and slash venture that doesn’t have much in the way in regards to learning curve. Truly, after the first few missions, I had a clear cut understanding of how the game’s mechanics worked. Even when new additions to said mechanics were introduced, I had no problem implementing these features into my routine. Explorers comes across as a title suffering from barebones syndrome– for a game that supposedly has a lot to do, I found myself bored quite often.
This game has the same problems I find often with titles within the Musuo genre. The combat system, while easy to understand, didn’t have the holding power I hoped to find here. Having to break my play sessions into small bursts just to find the desire to work through this title speaks for itself; there was no incentive to play Explorers for long periods of time. As someone who played a majority of Explorers solo, I do understand how I put myself at a sort of disadvantage. Though, the few times I played with random folks didn’t deliver any justice either. I found myself bored as easily as I did when playing through the game by my lonesome.
What truly annoyed me about Explorers was the amount of traveling I had to do from one objective to another. Whenever I play some sort of open world title, I always use fast-travel because I find the time in between reaching objectives to be dull. Only on rare occasions do I enjoy traveling open world environments (i.e. Mad Max) but Explorers forced me to travel far and wide, in order to reach my next objective during the later parts of the game.
For example, say players get a quest to defeat three bosses. Now, these bosses just so happen to at three opposite sides of the map where players are required to travel through multiple areas. Sure, players can start close to the first objective but when it comes time to head on over to the other two? This is when the running marathon begins. Once on the map, there is no way to fast travel towards other locations unless people cancel the current quest, which would be kind of redundant at that point. I certainly wasn’t a fan of having to run from one bland side of the island to another, avoiding enemies simply because I couldn’t be bothered engaging in lackluster battles. The lack of fast travel definitely didn’t make me feel any better about playing through this game.
+ Easy to pick up and play
+ Co-op adds fun
– Hollow plot
– Lack of fast travels
– Combat is repetitive and bland
At the end of the day, I didn’t fully enjoy myself with this title. While I did recognize the potential, this game just never reached me. At some point, I thought of playing through the game as a chore and something to get done rather than feeling enjoyment. Final Fantasy Explorers is decent enough to play if reliable friends are constantly available. My first full-time experience with a monster hunting title left me quite unimpressed, though I am aware of the beginner nature of the title. Perhaps I’ll have to give a proper monster hunting title a shot one day.
Relatively Low Recommendation
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