When Final Fantasy Explorers was announced last year I felt like Square-Enix had taken a step backwards, copying the ever popular Monster Hunter series. Anyone who’s played Capcom’s giant RPG will most definitely find many similarities between both MH and Final Fantasy Explorers. Though the latest spin-off in the Final Fantasy series may have things in common with Monster Hunter there are some original ideas along with some very polished mechanics. From the initial hour of the game players will find the game’s flow a little underwhelming, with your basic RPG start that many games have today. The game’s story is nothing unique, with the discovery of a new island, one that has huge energy sources based in crystals. Explorers from all over the world flock to the newly discovered island to find crystals and resources. If you’ve played any of the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles on the Gamecube, Wii or DS then you’ll be familiar with these amazing power sources.
When starting the game the player has a few choices to make, like name, character look and more. The game opens up with initial tutorial quests which are easy to beat. After finishing the tutorials the player has freedom to do whatever they want. Like Monster Hunter there is a quest guild that offers different categories of quests based on difficulty levels. At the same quest counter players can also take on sub-quests and other jobs. The number of quests in the game is pretty huge, and I found that the different difficulties we’re well staged, easing players into different mechanics. Many of the quests can be attempted with friends or people online similar to Monster Hunter. One thing that makes the quests in Final Fantasy Explorers different than Monster Hunter’s is the choice of different challenges you can place on every quest. For instance by taking a quest a player has an option of adding challenges to the quest, like enemies having double life & attack, shorter time limits, or no items can be used. These little factors along with many of the quests having secondary sub-quests gives every quest plenty of replay value.
I found the combat in Final Fantasy Explorers to be much easier and less stressful than Monster Hunter’s cumbersome control mechanics. Simply press the 3DS (Y) button to do a basic attack. Spells and abilities can be custom set, and accessed via the (L) & (R) buttons. After scoring combos and using different abilities and spells players can charge up and use a special ability, which a set to the games many different job types (character classes).
Graphically Final Fantasy Explorers is a mixed bag. For starters it doesn’t use the 3D abilities of the 3DS at all, except on the 3DS home-screen where you see the Final Fantasy Explorers startup screen. You heard right, no 3D at all in the game. According to the games lead designer they did this to keep the game running at 30 fps. I was a little disappointed when discovering that the game had no 3D, but there are some saving graces to the graphics. The world is well detailed, with huge open fields to run around in. The monsters are more varied and numerous in comparison to Monster Hunter. The backgrounds and scenery are also decent, with moving clouds, lava streams and other affects that reach a level of quality you’d expect from a Final Fantasy game. While I do wish the game supported 3D I did get use to playing without it.
The Jobs and class types in Final Fantasy Explorers is worth mentioning. You start off as a freelancer at the beginning of the game. Eventually other jobs become available. After only a few hours I switched my class to a dark knight, opening up a bunch of new abilities and stats. Job types and equipment can be saved to presets which can be accessed and set later. Changing your class / job removes all your equipment and abilities/spells, so having the ability to save the presets is a nice feature.
Final Fantasy Explorers music has all the tunes from previous Final Fantasy games, from the victory anthem to other well known tracks. There’s not much to complain about in the music / sound category for Explorers.
Final Fantasy Explorers allows players to have monster allies, which can accompany the player on quests, up to 3 at a time. I started off with a giant frog, a goblin and a floating eye. Monsters owned by a player level up and gain more power / abilities the more their used. I found this feature to also be similar to Monster Hunter, but having monsters from the Final Fantasy universe is worth mentioning.
Final Fantasy Explorers has a decent online and local play option. Similar to Monster Hunter’s online, Final Fantasy Explorers has you choose a room with a maximum of four players to a room. Quests can be cooperatively worked on like Monster Hunter. One thing that I didn’t like is it’s much harder to chat and communicate with other players. You have to set up chat pre-sets, and the character limit is pretty small. Monster Hunter has a full featured keyboard, from which it’s easy to send other players full messages. In Final Fantasy Explorers it’s much more restrictive. Besides the communication issues I enjoyed the online mode, it’s very fun to run around the world with other players.
In conclusion I found Final Fantasy Explorers to be a nice comparison to Monster Hunter. The world of Final Fantasy translates well into a formula of hacking & slashing, quick spells and quest taking. Graphically Monster Hunter is way superior, with solid animation work and the option to have the 3D all the way up. The online communication of Final Fantasy Explorers along with a few graphical shortcomings take away from the game only a little, as I found myself playing for hours, sometimes repeating a quest with one of the challenge modifiers. If you’re a big Monster Hunter fan try out Final Fantasy Explorers, while not as good in some areas Square-Enix did provide a quality experience with some unique takes on the basic mechanics of quest flow.
Final Fantasy Explorers Review Scores
- Gameplay : 8 / 10
- Graphics : 6 / 10
- Sound / Music : 8 / 10
- Replay Value : 9 / 10
- Final Score : 7.7 / 10