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We Had A Chance To Check Out Final Fantasy Explorers

We Had A Chance To Check Out Final Fantasy Explorers

Written by Darryl — 06 Jan 2016

We've been reporting on Final Fantasy Explorers since mid-2014 when it was announced and even then, only knowing the base premise, I could tell it was a game that would appeal to me. It was introduced as an Action RPG where there are multiple job classes and tons of monsters to fight. Nothing revolutionary there, well, not until they started mentioning the clear similarities it would share with the popular hunting sub-genre.

You see, I'm a bit of a sucker for games like Monster Hunter, Toukiden, God Eater, Soul Sacrifice, etc. And quite a few years ago, when Final Fantasy Type-0 was still Final Fantasy Agito XIII, it was referred to as a rival to Monster Hunter. Now that it’s out and we’ve all experienced it (ok, not all of us have), it's clear how untrue that comparison was. Final Fantasy Explorers looks to rectify that and give me the game I've been craving ever since I was teased by those unfair comparisons.

Staggering the release of Final Fantasy Explorers has made those cravings grow. After all, the game released over a year ago in Japan. I was therefore rather pleased when I was given the opportunity to go and check out the game first hand a little early, right before Christmas. I’d finally get to see how the game plays and whether it lives up to my expectations within the genre.

Following on from a short introduction, which I'm sure will make sense after ploughing plenty more hours in, I started right at the beginning of the game. This meant arriving at Libertas as a relative nobody and receiving some useful advice from Cid about taking certification exams to help broaden my horizons as an adventurer.

The certification exams are essential for learning more about how the game works. They teach you the base mechanics and put you in scenarios where you need to do certain things to progress. In the first instance, this just relates to killing a few enemies. However, it quickly progresses to understanding the mechanics of "resonance" and using Crystal Surges to turn battles in your favour.

Although you can use standard melee attacks, much of the gameplay relates to the use of magical abilities. Each job class, of which there are six to choose from initially (Knight, Monk, Ranger, White Mage, Black Mage and Red Mage), has specific abilities and eight can be mapped at any given time.

During combat, you will be encouraged to use these abilities as much as possible. Each ability has a cooldown, so you will need to switch between them to ensure you are dealing or preventing damage in a consistent fashion. Your only hindrance comes in the form of AP, which reduces when using abilities or running. You can either leave combat to gain it back or go back to using standard attacks instead. This helps to present a risk/reward mechanic to the gameplay, as if you go a bit gung ho you will end up running out of AP, requiring you to get closer to the enemy to get it back using standard attacks.

Abilities can also be enhanced by the aforementioned Crystal Surges. By performing abilities, you will build up "resonance". When this reaches a certain number, you are able to perform Crystal Surges. You are often presented with a few options, each of which will change your abilities by giving them added effects.

It's quite a lot to take in during the game's initial moments, but once you start taking quests everything starts to feel natural in no time. Missions are issued by a booth in Libertas, but they can come from citizens throughout the town. As with many other games of a similar ilk, they are graded using a star system, whereby once you get quite far into one star-level, you will unlock the next. Quests are also available, and these ask you to complete certain objectives, such as obtaining items or achieving a certain resonance score. By completing these, you will gain points that are used to unlock new abilities for your job.

From the missions we played (it was a two player co-op demo), many of the 1-stars were related to killing a certain number of enemies or gaining materials. However, things got a little bit harder when we took on a Red Dragon. This represented something more akin to a boss fight and required a bit more strategy.

If you don't have the option of playing co-op, the game does look to accommodate for this. By visiting the Monster Lab in Libertas, you will be able to create local companions that fight by your side. These monsters level up as you do and rather useful allies.

Although the demo was quite short, I would say it helped me to gain a decent taste of what Final Fantasy Explorers will offer. I checked out a few job classes, but I will certainly be interested to see how some of the additional job classes play. Likewise, I’ll be very curious to see how the game expands and keeps interest as it progresses. Games like Monster Hunter have to be careful on this front to avoid monotony becoming an issue, so it will be interesting to see how the developers tackle that problem in the full release.


Final Fantasy Explorers is due for release on the 26th of January, 2016 in the USA and the 29th of January, 2016 in the UK on Nintendo 3DS.

Darryl was playing Final Fantasy before he was even born - quite a feat! Often very opinionated on the Final Fantasy franchise, you will often find him musing about small details. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.