Final Fantasy Explorers, whilst not a main Final Fantasy game, is one of the many handheld titles released under the Final Fantasy franchise. Released on January 26th 2016 in North America and then on January 29th in Europe, Final Fantasy Explorers is not your typical Final Fantasy game and plays just like a ‘Monster Hunter’ title.
The games’ graphics are not the best on the 3DS and while there are many times where Final Fantasy Explorers does look really good, there are plenty of examples of where the graphics look wrong. A main example of this is when close up, some of the textures look plain and unappealing. The soundtrack is as good as you would expect from any Final Fantasy game with each score as high quality as the music featured in the main series games. This is a big bonus as Explorers is not a major title in the franchise.
Players have the option of choosing a job just like in many Final Fantasy games. The choices include Knight, Monk, White Mage, Black Mage, Paladin, Dragoon, Ninja, Red mage, Time Mage and many more. These are unlockable as you progress through the game. Each job, as you would expect, has various abilities and strengths and weaknesses.
Players can learn various skills and then bind them to up to eight different button combinations to use in battle. Players can also customise their gear as they collect more and more of it while participating in the various quests throughout the game. They can even customise their characters appearance which gives a touch of personalisation to the game.
As mentioned above, the game plays like a ‘Monster Hunter’ title. Players choose a mission from the desk and then approach the gate at the end of town to initiate it. It comes across as pretty clear that a lot of Explorer’s design choices have come from ‘Monster Hunter’ but that is not such a bad thing as the Final Fantasy spin on things does give the game a lot of its own character.
Libertas is the hub from which players will accept missions, buy gear, craft with materials they find on missions and also enlist monsters to do battle with you using Atmaliths. There is also the ability to meet with other players to go on quests with, again, very much like Monster Hunter. Combat is free roam with large areas populated by monsters and these areas are separated with zone lines very much like Final Fantasy XI or Monster Hunter. Players use AP to perform abilities and sprint and recover these points by attacking with their standard attack. These points do however recover on their own but at a much slower rate.
Fighting larger creatures called Eidolons is where the Final Fantasy series takes hold with each of these creatures being one of the many iconic creatures from the series such as Ifrit and Shiva. These are the boss-type of monster and many quests will require you to beat these colossal beings.
Performing combinations of abilities will raise your resonance level which allows you to perform a crystal surge which grants beneficial effects. There is also the trance system which allows you to briefly change into a famous Final Fantasy character depending on the magicite you have equipped. The one thing that really grasped me the most with Final Fantasy Explorers is even though its obviously a Monster Hunter clone with a ton of Final Fantasy flair, it is so much more accessible than Monster Hunter. The combat is simple and besides the rather hit and miss resonance system anyone could be slaying Eidolons in no time picking up the game and you know what? I’m OK with that.
In the end Final Fantasy Explorers, while taking a lot of inspiration from Monster Hunter, does manage to stand on its own two feet and yes the game might not be especially pretty but with it’s charm, music and accessible game play this is one game that all 3DS players should go and explore.