Monster Hunter collides with Final Fantasy. A concept that only makes sense.
The Final Fantasy series has been struggling to find its feet as of late. For every good entry to the franchise, there are two or three others that come along to tarnish the name.
Enter Final Fantasy Explorers, an open world monster hunting adventure that aims to steal the top spot from Capcom’s very own Monster Hunter franchise. But does it manage to stand among the greats, or does it fall into the pitfalls of mediocrity?
With seemingly no story at all, Explorers takes your custom character and throws them onto an island riddled with beasts and tells you to “go do quests!” And after signing up for the local guild, you begin your never ending quest to become the best hunter around.
You don’t go into these types of games looking for story, so Explorers doesn’t even attempt to hide the fact it just wants you to kill things, and there’s something rather refreshing about that.
Besides you don’t want a Shakespearean novel, you just want to get out there to fight creatures. And that’s where this game supplies in spades.
These games find a way to tap into a certain urge we get as players. They awaken to our primal urge to lay waste to thousands of innocent creatures, before skinning their bodies and wearing their blooded pelts as our armour. We wear these hides as if they were trophies of combat, and charge head first into the battlefield, hoping that perhaps their children will catch a glimpse of you, the very monster who caused their lineage to halt in a fraction of a second. You, who caused their blissful lives to fall to shambles. All before you cut them down to take away their very sense of being, their essence.
Or in other words, kill things to get good armour and weapons. Better equipment means you fight stronger monsters. Things make you strong, makes you feel good. It’s a simple meta game of item collecting and stat boosting that keeps us hooked for hours upon hours, causing many sleepless nights as you try every so hard to find that last chocobo feather.
While the game wears its Monster Hunter fur coat with pride, it has a few tricks that make it stand out as slightly original.
Sticking to its role playing roots, Explorers implements a job system for your character. You can change between a large selection of jobs on the fly that completely change the way you play. And as you play with each class you get a better feel of how they function and how to make the best out of their individual perks.
Whilst levelling has been taken away, it’s been replaced with an SP system that allows you to buy skills for your job and make you more adapt in combat. Some skills can even be mastered and carried over to different jobs, meaning that if you work hard you can have a super tank with healing and buffing spells. It’s a dream come true.
The game also implements a system whereby keeping up a kill combo you can enter a powered up mode that allows instant buffs or even the use of famous series characters’ special moves. While the idea is certainly cool, the implementation of it feels lacklustre and never really encouraged me to try and keep my combo going.
What made up for it was the pet system. If you don’t like the sound of working online with real, actual people, then you can choose to take the essence from enemies defeated and turn them into pets for you to take into battle. There was something really pleasing about marching through the frozen tundra dressed in Sephiroth’s clothing while two giant skeletons followed behind.
Final Fantasy Explorers is a strange one. It definitely scratches that Monster Hunter itch we all get from time to time, and its cute art style certainly helps it stand out as a unique entry in the franchise. But it honestly never does anything truly stand out or incredible. It follows the framework to the point where I felt it was a simple reskin of Monster Hunter without the complexity.
It’s a great starting point for those who want to get into the hunting genre. It’s easy to get into and is rewarding enough to keep you playing for days on end. Just don’t expect anything that reinvents the wheel.