Final Fantasy, meet Monster Hunter! If you love games with hundreds of hours of gameplay, real-time combat, a variety of weapons, abilities, items, gear, and a quest focused game, then this game is just for you. Final Fantasy Explorers takes all of these elements and in addition allows you to create other party members from defeated monsters along with customizing special moves. With all of this content, there is plenty to cover.
The story begins with the player character arriving in the town of Libertas on the island of Amostra. A lot of crystals has been discovered and fellow explorers come in search of them. Eidolons are protecting the crystals from the explorers to prevent from them being harnessed. While I found the story to be somewhat vague, I was certainly interested in exploring the island to find any crystals. I was only able to get a small amount of time logged but I feel confident that the story narrows down as the quests get completed. While going through the main quests, additional ones became available to explore the north side of the island, and taking down new monsters appearing.
There are plenty of areas that the player can customize to fit their needs. These areas include the character job, special abilities, and gear. The job is a classification of abilities you can learn and additional bonuses for particular stats. For example, you can unlock the black mage job, which then allows you to learn magic such as fire, thunder, ice, and poison. These abilities are not exclusive to this job, but other jobs may prohibit the player from using all magic abilities. In addition, if you selected your character job as a black mage, those abilities do additional damage to enemies. While this may sound complex, I found it to be very simple. When I changed jobs, all abilities and equipment were automatically removed. When I was selecting abilities to choose, green texted items indicated that new job’s abilities, while red meant the selected ability could not be selected.
The abilities are not immediately available to use right away either. They need to be purchased with the collected CP the player has. CP is earned by completing quests or roaming the world. It is incredibly easy to come by and I found no issue earning this special currency. To learn abilities, the player has to go to the main crystal in Libertas. You have the option to learn any available ability, but I had to keep in mind what job could use that ability.
One of my favorite aspects was how to further customize the learned abilities. While on quests or roaming the world, the player can trigger a crystal surge. By activating this trigger, particular abilities can pick up new forms through mutation. For example, when the crystal surge becomes available, the player will have one to four options. These options may be fire affinity, ice affinity or dark affinity. You can only select one option, and say that the fire affinity was selected. Your abilities like fire magic, thunder magic or say a sword attack like aura cutter will be highlighted green. If you use those abilities, it will gain a burn mutation. After the mutation happens, you can learn this custom ability with the mutation you want. If you learn the custom ability, you will use the mutated ability. So thunder magic will continue to strike enemies with lightning, but would also take additional fire damage from the mutated ability. This new ability can be further mutated with different crystal surges.
While gear can be pretty straight self-explanatory, there is the matter how it is acquired and also how it can be enhanced. The gear is crafted at one of the shops within Libertas. The materials come from the defeated monsters or finding them. The best part about acquiring materials is that the player character does not have a limit on how much they can carry. The materials are not only used for forging new equipment or gear, but they can also be used to upgrade current weapons or items. The items can be upgraded by increasing max hit points, accuracy, defense, AP, or resistances to elements. AP is the ability meter and it will decrease if sprinting or using abilities. It will replenish slowly automatically or with set amount from ethers.
The last major portion of the gameplay is the ability to create a party from defeated monsters. On a rare occasion, a monster will drop a special amulet. Within Libertas, there is a monster shop that will take your CP, gil, and this item in exchange for a level one person of that monster. This same shop will also allow you to level up your existing monsters. I really enjoyed this aspect as I was able to create a balanced party with a healer and a melee fighter. When I found a monster with stronger abilities I was able to relinquish older ones.
A typical flow of how it all works together is that you will always start in Liberitas. From there you can modify your job, equipment or learn new abilities. Once that is all prepared, you walk up to the main counter to look over the available main quests and subquests. The main quests are required to move forward the story while the sub-quests are completely optional. I found that I could only take on a single main quest but up to six subquests. I even found the order of the main quests to be somewhat whacky. For example, I received a quest to defeat Ifrit, but one of the requirements was to defeat him. It was not until later that I received the quest to defeat Ifrit without having any prerequisites. After a quest. Is selected, you can leave the town via the main entrance, or take the airship to a previously traveled area. Each main quest is timed so you will need to travel quickly.
Once the main quest objective is complete, you are returned to town automatically. It is at this point where your game is saved. I would prefer to be able to save the game at my leisure or at least at any point while in town. I think this would be better as then you I can prepare for the next quest by changing/learning abilities, changing jobs, crafting new monster and basically being ready to just start a quest. After the game saves, there are system messages that will tell you a new job may have unlocked, new abilities are available, or even new equipment to be crafted. That is why I would think you should be able to save the town so prior to your next session, you can be ready to just accept the next quest and be on the move.
The gameplay can seem quite overwhelming with so many options and so many things to do. The battles that take place while adventuring are all live action. The basic buttons can do simple attacks or run, however where it gets a little complex is the special abilities. These are assigned to L or R command menus. They are accessed while holding either L or R and then you select the one you want by pressing Y, B, A, or X. You can have up to eight abilities to choose from. There is a resonance meter that increases with each ability used. When it reaches around a hundred, a crystal surge can be activated by holding both L and R and selecting the affinity with Y, B, A, or X. I found this quite complex and did not understand initially. While one of the first quests is to activate a crystal surge, I did not quite get how to raise the resonance meter. However, I soon found the special abilities menu.
The overwhelming issue at the heart of it is the repetition. If you want to grind out materials, learn all the complex moves, further customize them or just seeking out amulets, it is all repeating actions over and over. Normally I do not mind grinding for experience, but when you are trying to create better weapons, armor, special moves, or creating a party of monster allies it becomes tedious. This is why I do not enjoy the Monster Hunter games, and also why I did not enjoy Final Fantasy Explorers. If you do like those kinds of games, then I would easily recommend it. If not, then you are not missing too much.
FINAL SCORE: 5.0 out of 10.