Uncharted Collection: An Absolute Must Play

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Review

I sometimes feel silly reviewing these older games, especially when they’ve long been heralded as amazing and I was simply too oblivious or stupid not to try them when they came out. Even though the first game came out nine years ago, let me tell you now that it’s never too late to play these games — especially since they’ve been remastered and the newest game just came out.

I’m going to approach reviewing Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection by giving my brief thoughts on teach of the games, and my overall thoughts on the series so far.

Uncharted PS3 vs. PS4

Remastered for the PS4

Part of me rejoices in the fact that I waited so long, because playing all of them on one disc in the PS4 in HD looks a heck of a lot better than it would have back on the PS3. The graphics for all three games look great. I was telling Graev (who played them all originally when they came out) that if I didn’t know the original game came out in 2007, I would have pegged it more around 2012’ish. The graphics in Drake’s Deception are as good as many games released today on the PS4.

Drake' Fortune

Drake’s Fortune

The first in the series kicks things off strong by tickling that treasure hunter itch. You’re the descendent of Sir Francis Drake (one of my favorite historical figures since I was 7, btw) looking for his long lost treasure. This starts you down a journey that continues to unfold throughout the rest of the series.

Drake’s Fortune features a lot of puzzle solving, jumping puzzles/navigation scenes, but most of all lots of shooting scenes. Back in 2007, the cover mechanics and climbing would have been really quite a feat and were probably pioneered through this game. The story is intriguing, though definitely takes an Indiana Jones turn when it goes a bit sci-fi — a turn that manifests itself in many ways throughout the series.

Overall a very catch story that sucked me in right away.

Among Thieves

Among Thieves

The story continues, sort of. This time Drake is in a new setting. Instead of islands and pirate ships, Drake is navigating the snowy Himalayas and Asia while following the trail of Marco Polo. Unfortunately, there’s very little connection at all to the first game’s plot except for the characters and their relationships. These relationships, however, are a huge element of the game for me and kept me going.

Among Thieves featured waaaaay more puzzles and climbing with relatively less shooting than the original. The story was slightly less intriguing because my interest in Marco Polo’s adventures pales in comparison to Sir Francis Drake. Once again the series takes on a mystical plot twist that I actually feel is sometimes at odds with the rest of the game. Uncharted 2 had a weird resolution for me. With so much build up, I feel like it ends relatively short of the huge story it built up.

Drake's Deception

Drake’s Deception

Easily the best in the series so far, Drake’s Deception brings us back to the story of Nathan Drake’s ancestor and more about the treasure we may find at the end of this long adventure. We see a change of scenery once again. In fact, we see lots of scenery changes in Uncharted 3. The game begins in London and travels all over from France to Yemen to the Rub’ al Khali desert.

Uncharted 3 introduces a lot more fist fighting and a heck of a lot more emphasis on sneaky gameplay. There’s also a lot of quick time events which make for more cinematic gameplay, but aren’t necessarily my cup of tea. Gameplay overall finds a very healthy balance between puzzles, climbing scenes, and fighting. By the end, I did wish for more puzzles. Thankfully the mystical nature here ends up working a little bit better than Uncharted 2, but it still resolves too quickly to have built up for so long.

Uncharted 3 has so many breathtaking moments where the gameplay had me on the edge of my seat. Bri (who is watching me play the entire series) and I would often be like “OH CRAP!” and all sorts of exclamations at scenes where the game threw me into these perilous intense moments that somehow manages to transcend the feeling of a game. It’s crazy what they’re able to enact on the player; On more than one occasion I was awestruck by how the game was so fluid and seamless in its ability to make me feel like I was doing all of these amazing things on my own, when in reality I know that’s the course they meant for me to take.

An Amazing Journey

Playing all three games back to back in less than a month was a blast, and now I’m ready to start the newly released Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (look for my review in a couple weeks tops). Uncharted is now among the top games on my all-time favorites list, right up there with Warcraft RTS and Assassin’s Creed.

The shooting, sneaking, climbing, jumping, cinematics, etc., all of the mechanics are all superb, and only a few times was I ever frustrated by the actual ‘playing’ part of the game. The story is top notch, yet predictable at times; Yet in its predictability it still manages to be told extremely well. All-around a near-perfect series. If you like shooters mixed with historical fiction, a little mysticism/scifi, and and puzzles… don’t make the same mistake I did by passing on these for so long. All 3 games with PS4 graphics at half the price of ONE game? Yeah, that’s a no-brainer.

TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan Review

Mutants in Manhattan Review

Graev and I have been TMNT fans since we were little tykes running around with plastic swords wailing on each other. We loved TMNT on the NES back in 89, Turtles on Time back in 91, and a few of the other games in the 92-93 years. But since those days the Turtles have had a rough go of things, and unfortunately that doesn’t really change with Mutants in Manhattan.

Reviews across the web have been pretty harsh. Graev and I both bought Mutants in Manhattan well before waiting to se what the scores would be, so we were a bit leery that we may have — in the words of Gob — made a huge mistake. Luckily things didn’t turn out quite so bad, but they’re still a long ways from great.

Mutants in Manhattan is developed by Platinum Games who brought us other titles like Bayonetta, Star Fox Zero, and the (hopefully) soon to release Scalebound. Pretty good lineup. Mutants in Manhattan (MiM from hereon out that’s just too many syllables) is a beat’em-up game similar to most TMNT titles. Art style is fantastic, animations are great, combat is excellent (if not a little repetitive), etc. Where the game falls completely flat is in its execution of story and flow.

TMNT Mutants in Manhattan Combat and Boss Fights

There really isn’t a story worth commenting on, as the narrative is completely nonexistent and skips around in an almost incomprehensible way. Levels are loosely based around completing randomized/serializes objectives such as beat up the foot, deliver the stolen cash, diffuse the bombs, or find the sewer hole. These little “side quests” become so mundane and linked together that it’s almost mind-numbing. But the have to be done because doing them spawns the boss of the level which is the only way to progress.

Boss fights are well done. Once you get the hang of each boss’ mechanics, the idea of having to eliminate 4-10 health bars isn’t so bad. All of your favorite bosses and then some are there.

As I mentioned earlier, combat is solid. For a beat’em-up style it has all of the combos I’m looking for, and even some multiplayer combos as well as special abilities to unlock. Each turtle feels appropriate to their fighting style.

I wish that the world was more open like a GTA game, and that I could just be a Turtle roaming the city stopping bad guys while following a cohesive story. That would have been a lot better than the fairly dead and lifeless world they toss you into.

Graev and I both agree that the game is fun enough to play together (co-op works great) and beat up some Foot. Go into expecting a whole lot more and you’ll be disappointed. Thankfully the game isn’t quite full price (Find it on Amazon and all over in the 40’s). Maybe this is a compliment… it’s the best Turtles game in a long time. I know that’s not saying much, but maybe a step in the right direction.

Overwatch: Proof Blizzard Can Sell Anything

My review and thoughts on Overwatch will be straight forward and to the point as many or most of you likely already own the game. Overwatch is a rather generic and mediocre shooter when you strip away the Blizzard logo and look at it critically for what it really is. If this were released as a brand new IP from an unknown company, Overwatch would have gone relatively unknown and stood no chance against its competition in the space; In fact I have a feeling most would have knocked it hard for its shortcomings.

Overwatch is a straight copy of TF2 from character mechanics to game modes and even down to the zany nature of its characters personalities. They innovated some on certain abilities and attacks, tossed in more characters, but left it very vanilla after that.

There’s not much to Overwatch, and unfortunately little room to evolve the model. I’m sure they’ll add hats and gimmicks to the cash shop over the years to keep things fresh. That should work.

Team composition matters too much — probably the only legitimate comparison to a moba that I’ll allow. Have a poor team comp and you’re done. There’s also too much cheese. For example, stack a bunch of Toblerones and it breaks certain maps. Certain heroes have abilities which just aren’t balanced — and no, I don’t count having to swap heroes to take them out as balance. I had this discussion with Graev tonight about playing what you want to play vs playing what you have to play or are compelled to play. I like Hanzo the most, but I simply can’t play him when the enemy team comp won’t allow it or my team refuses to play a comp that stands a chance. If you’re on a team where everyone only picks the one hero they love to play, you’re doomed.

Summary:
People aren’t going to stick with Overwatch long, but they’ll get their money’s worth (the single biggest positive influence on my scoring). Overwatch is a ‘good’ game, but it simply rehashes what has already been seen and done before. If you look past the rage-inducing balance issues, cheese, team stacking, and overly formulaic design, chances are you’ll have a blast.

Minecraft Wii U Edition & Mario Mash-up Pack

Minecraft Wii U Edition

Graev and I picked up Minecraft for Wii U over the weekend along with the newly released Mario Mash-up pack. That pretty much explains where my entire weekend went. The digital version is available for $29.99 on the eShop, and the physical version comes out June 17.

As a veteran to Minecraft, I’ve played a lot of what the PC has to offer. Graev is a purist and refuses to touch mods — he wants nothing to do with them, and says if he wanted something more complex then he would go and play Space Engineers. I haven’t played basic MC in years. I love Feed the Beast, Sky Factory, Tekkit, and all of the mods bundled with them. Minecraft on the Wii U is about as vanilla as it gets, sitting around v1.6.4.

Getting used to Vanilla MC again took me a little bit. I struggled to cope with going from wood to stone to iron, and there being no copper or tin in between. The resources are a fraction of what’s available. Nevertheless, these aren’t things I feel that I should ding the game for since I went outside the game to mod my experience on my own. After a few hours, I finally started to come around to what was available and began to realize there’s still potential to “make cool things that do things” (which is what I like to do in Minecraft), they’ll just take a lot more imagination and be a lot rougher.

My biggest gripe about the game is the lack of gamepad utility. It’s simply a duplicate if what you see on the screen. Huge opportunity missed here for easier inventory management or even gameplay like tapping blocks and placing blocks.

We got multiplayer up and running flawlessly in seconds. Minecraft Wii U edition comes with several texture packs, including the Mario Mash-up one which transforms a lot of blocks into Mario-themed goodies. Sheeps are Koopa Troopas on all fours, Zombies are Koopa Troopas, chickens are Goombas, plants are the Mario plants, flint and steel are the fire flower, etc. The music is also swapped out for all Mario music. It’s a TON of fun. More to come on this version soon.

Lots of other DLC packs and texture packs from with the Wii U version, but there are plenty of other bits of DLC for sale. The Skyrim pack, for example, costs $3.99 and the Star Wars Rebels skin pack is like $2.99.

Last night my wife and I also started our own split-screen world together. She’s never played Minecraft, but quickly started getting the hang of how it works. The hardest part for her is managing the controller. Two sticks at once in a 3D environment was a first for her, but she’s getting the hang of it. We made a little base underground, started mining, and getting the basics all set up.

I’m trying to figure out how to stream from my couch which is across the room from my computer. I think I’ll jerry-rig the laptop to try and stream through my Avermedia Live Gamer Portable. Should hopefully work, and I’ll be able to stream my awful vanilla MC noobiness.

Overall, tons of fun. I think 10 hours was gone in a second. I definitely recommend it for people like myself who enjoy variations on a game like Minecraft and won’t baulk at buying a game you already own on PC in order to experience it differently on a console. And of course the kids will love it too. I also enjoy the Mario goodies on the new Mash-up, and highly recommend you choose that texture pack when creating your world.

I’ll call this an early review, but I intend on showcasing the game more and talking more about the Mario texture pack once I have more experience with the game.

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X released in North America this past week for iOS and Android. Unchained X reveals the origins of Kingdom Hearts, taking place before any of the other games in the series. Unchained X’s story will connect to the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III game.

You are a Keyblade wielder — one of many — on a quest to rid the world of Darkness and fight with your Union over control of the remaining light.When you start the game you get to choose a Union. This Union is your faction of Keyblade wielders and each week your points are tallied to see which Union wins. There’s a neat multiplayer element to KH Unchained X where you get to fight raid bosses with members of your union, though it’s not truly playing with others in real time.

The presentation is in the form of a fairy tale. In the very beginning (while the game is downloading a good amount) you are presented a fairy tell in popup book format. Kairi’s Grandmother is telling her a favorite story from the past (the story you’re going to be playing) about how the whole thing got started.

KH Uchained X is free to play. The cash shop doesn’t appear to be too invasive. I’m not super far into the game by any means, but from what I can see it all appears to be cosmetic/”I want to be in the top 100 players” kind of stuff. It  doesn’t appear necessary for the story gameplay at all. Medals can be purchased with in-game currency in a form of random packs, and I feel like the game gives you plenty of in-game currency to avoid needing to spend money.

Gameplay happens in “quests” or missions. So far they seem pretty quick, taking no more than a couple of minutes to complete. These missions involve a main objective like killing a particular encounter. Combat is handled well. Tap the screen to attack, swipe to area attack, and drag medals off of your Keyblade to use abilities. Combat in general is somewhat turn-based. Each action you take rotates the medals in your Keyblade. When the enemy’s action comes around, they take a move. So you’re trying to utilize your actions knowing that the enemy’s action is likely to come around soon.

Customization is pretty good too. You’ll get to slot the medals you want, customize our character’s looks/outfit, and level things up with a bit of choice as to what you combine. Overall, a decent system. It’s like a mix of Days and CoM.

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X comes across very well on mobile devices. The story telling methods they use work for both mobile and the KH narrative. There are plenty of familiar faces, lots of Disney which is great, and the feeling of Kingdom Hearts is all there. The price is right, and KHUx is one of the most ‘complete’ feeling mobile games I’ve played.

Miitomo

Nintendo’s first ever mobile app just launched. I’m still trying to find my words here. I don’t know what to make of Miitomo. I don’t know what to make of Nintendo’s strategy. I guess let’s start by looking at a video I took while playing this afternoon.

You start by linking your Nintendo Network ID with your app, or signing up for a new account. I was able to link my same account that I’ve used for years, which is the same account on my Wii/WiiU and on the new My Nintendo.

Once you have your accounts created or linked you can import or design your new Mii. After that, you’re all set! You enter the world of Miitomo which, from what I can tell, is pretty much just your one room apartment. Maybe I’m missing something here, but I can’t figure out how to leave. I just walk around this room.

The main “gameplay” — a term I will use looser than I have ever used it before — is about answering questions and divulging all of your information to Nintendo’s marketing team your friends. The point? Um, to share? I guess?

My wife and I are “playing” Miitomo together. We’re friends. She will occasionally stop by my place and ask me questions. I’ll give her answers, I’ll ask her questions, etc. It’s just a swapping of information regarding the strangest topics. We enjoy the cuteness of answering questions for each other.

You earn coins for answering questions, and you spend them buying your Mii outfits. You can also buy your coins with real money, but I can’t imagine why you would. I’m reminded of the Xbox Live avatar stuff. You can also spend your coins or tickets on playing games that remind me of Pachinko. You’ll earn goodies and clothes by playing.

Being completely honest, it’s kinda dumb. I’m trying to figure out their play. This wreaks of ‘Weird Nintendo’ which might be a mixture of Japanese culture and tactics for hitting some demographic with which I can’t identify. I want to be prophetic here and say that I foresee this as being just a tech demo or a test of their tech to see if they can integrate My Nintendo with an app. We’re all part of some experiment that will eventually contribute to the world’s best social integration mechanics ever. But then again, it could simply be nothing more than Nintendo being weird.

I’m giving this a 5/10 because I think there’s a small chance I might have missed something. Otherwise, I’m not sure this can even be reviewed.

Yo-Kai Watch Wibble Wobble

wib-wobs

Graev has been bugging me for a week to download this game called Yo’Kao Watch Wibble Wobble. I couldn’t pronounce it let alone tell you anything about it. I had never heard of Yo-Kai Watch. I finally gave in, and I’m sure glad I did.

yo-kai-watch-wibble-wobbleYo-Kao Watch Wibble Wabble — I still have no idea what that means — is a matching game on mobile devices that apparently mimics something similar that released on 3DS. Its absolutely free, and so far I haven’t ofund the need to spend a single cent.

The matching gameplay is paired with a combat system where you’re fighting an opponent and they attack you every so many seconds. You have to match quickly in order to combine your wib wobs to form bigger versions of themselves. Clicking them deals damage, but clicking multiple combined wib wobs in succession will combo dealing more damage. Then there are special abilities that wib wobs have, and the whole thing becomes a lot more than matching.

Although F2P, and spending money is easily avoided, you can spend money to play more often or to make playing a little easier. Essentially you can play so many matches until they regenerate. I haven’t quite figured out why, but my matches regenerate faster than I can use them, and if they ever were to run out I could spend some free currency and buy 50 more.

The matching can be frustrating for me as it’s not perfect. The wib wobs move a bit, and my reflexes and hand-eye coordination aren’t what they used to be so sometimes I mess up my combines or fail to see obvious ones. The matching is really, really generous too. Sometimes the wib wobs don’t look close at all but you can connect them — learn this early and you’ll breeze through the first matches. There’s a lot of customization when it comes to picking your team of 5 wib wobs — It can be frustrating to figure out the best combo or what they do at first.

I like collecting the wib wobs by inserting coins into the machine — pretty satisfying. There are also daily missions and plenty of incentives to keep playing regularly. Again, I haven’t hit a wall. Graev has played for 5+ hours and hasn’t hit a wall. In fact I think this has become his main game now and he hasn’t hit a wall in a week of non-stop playing.

Definitely a fun game, and for what it is I can’t find many flaws. Apparently there’s a TV show that Graev says is worth watching. Going to check that out.

Clash Royale: My Latest iOS Addiction

Clash Royale

Clash Royale MenuMy latest iOS game addiction is Clash Royale by SuperCell. Clash Royale is a real-time 2-3 minute battle game where you are matched up with an opponent and duke it out to see who can destroy the other person’s towers before the time is up. Each player has a deck of ‘cards’ comprising their “Battle Deck.” Your Battle Deck can have up to 8 cards at a time that must be carefully balanced around Elixir Cost and tactics.

During battle you generate Elixir in real time up to a total of 10 Elixir. You can then play cards that cost elixir at any time. Elixir is constantly regenerating, and toward the end of a match (again only 3 minutes long) it will generate even faster. Cards are placed into your hand 4 at a time. As you use a card, a new one comes out of your deck into your hand.

Each “Arena” has two lanes. You and your opponent are positioned on opposite sides. You can drag your units onto the field anywhere except within a radius of enemy towers. Destroying enemy towers means you can put units onto the field on their side of the Arena. Units are pre-programed to simply move toward the enemy base and attack units or towers. Gameplay then becomes about pushing lanes, countering pushes, countering units, and out-thinking or simply out-playing the enemy’s hand.

Clash Royale BattleSo the gist of the game is very simple. Build a good deck, play cards onto the field by dragging them out of your hand, and outsmart your enemy. There’s a lot more depth here than one might initially think, and as Syncaine points out in his post it’s definitely more than rock, paper, scissors. Units have stats, aoe damage, some generate more units, there’s strategy behind putting a tank ahead of a DPS, and even concepts like blocking and flanking.

Clash Royale is free to play. The cash shop system seems, at least to me thus far, fair enough. You can have up to 4 chests at a time and be opening one of them at a time. A chest could take 3 hours, 12 hours, etc., based on quality to open up. You can open them immediately by paying gems. Cards can also be purchased with gold which — surprise — can be purchased. I haven’t felt at a disadvantage YET. I imagine the disadvantage will come later when people have cards that are higher level than me because they’ve bought more of that card. I guess that brings up a good point that when you open chests and get more cards, duplicates go towards leveling up your cards. So if I have 1 barbarian card and get two more barbarian cards, the barbarian can be upgraded to level 2 — 4 more upgrades to level 3, etc.

I’m enjoying the simplicity and straight-forward gameplay enough that I enlisted in a Clan. I joinedd up with Syncaine’s “Supreme Cream” group and I’m enjoying myself.

Clash Royale is a fun, high-intensity, deeper than it looks game that you can pick up and play for 3 minutes or 3 hours. Definitely the right price to download and give it a try. I’m struggling to find any flaws with the game other than the principle argument of whether or not a cash shop is ultimately fair or unfair based on paying to win.

The Division: Very Early Impressions

Graev and I picked up our copies of The Division yesterday to fill the gap in our list of evening co-op games that we like to play together. Prior to purchasing the game I kept seeing people referring to this idea of “massively multiplayer” and even weird hints at open-world and even elements of DayZ. Those are definitely way out of left field because The Division is neither a massively multiplayer game, nor anything remotely like DayZ or a survival game.

The Division is a third-person shooter game with hints of RPG, but definitely not a game I would ever comfortable say fits the RPG bill. RPGs have choices, and The Division is more of follow the story experience where you shoot bad guys, get gear, and level up. If there are decisions in the game, I certainly haven’t seen any.

The world is a mixture of seamless lobbies and mission phases. For example, safe houses contain other players. You walk through the door and ‘bam’ you are suddenly faced with a few dozen other players. You walk out that door and they stay there and you’re in your own world. If you group up with people then you’ll see them outside. There’s only one area of the game where it’s more about PvP and seeing other people, and that’s called the Dark Zone.

The story is intriguing. I like the idea that someone created an epidemic in New York causing the entire city to go into chaos and be quarantined. This special group of people who are like good guy sleeper agents are activated to go in and fix things. Fun premise.

The engine is fantastic, and gunplay is very tight. I really like the cover system — especially being able to select different cover and then automatically transfer to it even when it’s far away. Gear has a nice level of customization and variety/diversity. I think finding cosmetic items and weapon/armor upgrades will be fun, especially in the Dark Zone areas where you have to export your gear safely in order to keep it.

One critique I have about the shooter side of the game is that the enemies are spongey. They’ll soak up lots of bullets despite looking like normal people — I think they ARE normal people. I don’t know many humans who can take a full clip from a M4 and still be running around. Head shots really, really matter in The Division. Putting it on Hard Mode makes the spongey feel way worse.

The missions are neither here nor there so far. Focusing on the gameplay model too much would actually be a detriment to the game for me because it ultimately boils down to running around a world to find quest markers. If I were to think about it really hard, technically the game is about forming groups and going out on missions with the “open-world” being more of a pseudo-open-world experience — almost an illusion. But again, don’t overthink it. You’ll find encounters and more of an “open-world” experience the further you progress, but it’s definitely not an Elder Scrolls kind of open-world experience.

Co-op is fantastic. Graev and I have had no problems grouping up together and running missions. The Division really integrates nicely with the PS4 friend list as well as the Ubisoft accounts.

Bugs have been annoying. I had a glitch where right in the first 5 minutes of gameplay I was halted for an hour trying to interact with a laptop to “activate” my agent. I had to do a work around where I ran 200 meters away, did a matchmaking gimmick to find a group, then fast travel back to the house to activate it in a different phase. How that made it past QA boggles the mind.

The Division is, so far, a great third-person shooter with light RPG elements. Definitely worth the buy. I’ll integrate these thoughts with later thoughts for my more formal review. So far, I’d say 8/10.

Final Fantasy Explorers Review [3DS]

Final Fantasy Explorers

Take the classes and abilities from Final Fantasy with the basic gameplay from Monster Hunter, and you get Final Fantasy Explorers. The premise of the game should be very familiar to Monster Hunter fans. Your goal is to advance your character by running quests, crafting better gear with drops, and mutating abilities. While really not even close to MH’s depth, FFE strikes a chord with me that MH wasn’t able to — FFE’s pacing is way more my style.

Basic Questing / Gameplay

The game takes place on an island with diverse areas/tilesets to explore. The main hub of operations where the player upgrades gear, obtains quests, and advances the very thin plot is in the town of Libertas. From Libertas you can accept quests to go out and slay summoned monsters, bosses, etc., in an overall effort to gain more crystals. I guess you might say it’s Crystal Chronicles meets Monster Hunter.

FFE OdinThe questing system is straight forward. You get to accept one main quest and any number of sub quests. The main quest is something like “Go kill Ramuh” and a subquest can be to use a certain ability during the fight.

Combat is much more intuitive for me than MH. Although deep enough to incorporate positional attacks and skill shots, the interface and execution are easier. Hold LB and RB opens up submenus with X, Y, A, and B for each. So you can basically bookmark 8 abilities, a basic attack, sprint, and item menu. This is way easier than having to remember combos, and it works so much better too.

Battles play out much like a standard RPG or even MMORPG in real time. Combat mechanics include tanks, heals, boosters, and damagers with a variety of ways to execute each. Monsters fight back using the typical, though a tad unoriginal, mechanics too. You’ll see lots of AOE attacks, charging monsters, and ‘get out of the red circle or instantly die’ mechanics. Despite being a little contrived, they work.

FFE Classes

Classes & Abilities: FFE has lots of them

Knight, Monk, White Mage, Black Mage, Dragoon, Paladin, Thief, Ninja, Red Mage, Time Mage, Bard, Hunter, Dark Knight, Beastmaster, Geomancer, Machinist, Alchemist, Sage, Blue Mage, Samurai, and Freelancer. Those are your class choices in Final Fantasy Explorers. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a variety of tanks, heals, dps, and boosters (buffers) to play, and a variety of ways to satisfy each play style. Want pure burst dps? Go Machinist. Want a traditional Tank? Go Knight.

I like how the abilities, in some cases, can be used cross-class. I can use Cure on my Knight to help heal myself in a pinch. Eventually you can master a class and obtain access to additional weapons and abilities.

Mutating and upgrading abilities adds a whole new level of customization. As you use crystal surges (special abilities on timers) you can then use other abilities that, when used in tandem, spark a mutation. Mutations can stack and build custom abilities. Let’s say you use Guard during a mutation opportunity and it adds Haste. This creates a NEW abilities that will give you both Guard and Haste at the same time. It’s like ability stacking, and you can ultimately walk around with all of your abilities no longer basic simple skills but mutated abilities. The customization here is overwhelming, but if you simply focus on making abilities you think are cool and useful then you’ll get by just fine.

Single-player & Multiplayer

Graev and I have been playing FFE together almost exclusively. Multiplayer works flawlessly without any lag at all. Final Fantasy Explorers works great solo, don’t get me wrong. You can create monster pets to act as a companion and do just fine in the game solo, but I think the true spirit of the game is best felt in multiplayer with up to 4 players.

FFE teamwork

Again, combat is designed for that typical ‘group’ gameplay. Graev is playing a Time Mage with lots of support abilities and heals, but a healthy dose of damage too. Remember, you can customize your character quite a bit, so he has made a character that fits his style. I’m playing a Knight (standard tank) until I unlock either Red Mage or Dark Knight. I think both of those sound most fun to me.

Teamwork and synergizing together, planning attacks, etc., are all beneficial in FFE. We did a boss fight against Ifrit and realized we hadn’t properly planned. Neither of us came in with the abilities we’d need to synergize a good combo or to output enough damage. Fixing that issue, we defeated Ifrit again in half the time.

More to Come…

There’s a little much to put here in a review. You know me, I like to keep these short and to the point with a bit of info to satisfy your questions and whether or not you should buy or skip. While FFE’s scope is easier to grasp than MH, the depth is there for at least 100 hours of gameplay. I’m going to try and rig up a way to stream FFE and/or record a video so that you guys can see it in action from my perspective.

I highly recommend Final Fantasy Explorers. Go into it expecting a game all about playing interesting classes and beating bosses. This is a game about grinding for loot drops to craft that perfect weapon, customizing your abilities to make your character feel just right, and simply enjoying to thrill of the hunt. Just don’t expect a plot — there really isn’t one — or anything close to a traditional Final Fantasy game. But trust me, you won’t miss it. Looks for whatever videos I can come up with soon as they’ll answer more questions and provide more insight into gameplay.

P.S. I highly recommend you purchase FFE on Amazon. Gamestops are sold out, and Best Buy laughed at me. Amazon had it to me in 2 days.