The Daily Gamecock

Review: 'Final Fantasy Explorers' a simple, fun installment

<p>Courtesy of Square Enix</p>
Courtesy of Square Enix

"Final Fantasy Explorers" deviates from the traditional Final Fantasy formula. There are no memorable characters, there is no world-ending plot device at play and there’s hardly a main character. Instead, the game emboldens itself with a cooperative and customizable monster-killing experience.

The plot of "Explorers," which was released Jan. 26 in the U.S., can be summed up in four words: Kill all the things. Your character is an explorer on an unexplored island, charged with the task of committing monster genocide in order to best allow the local community to strip-mine crystals from the land. It’s a light narrative, but it serves to justify the gameplay.

The game starts off slow, feeling like a generic action RPG. But as the player unlocks additional features, armors, skills and classes, the true scope of the game is eventually revealed. The game offers near endless customization, allowing each player to remain distinctly different from their friends as they murder countless goblins, dragons and deities. There is a total of 21 classes to choose from (20 of which offer unique skills) and each class features its own unique mix of skills and equipment choices — creating a variety of playstyles to choose from.

There are three main avenues of customization in "Explorers": equipment, class and skills. Like other monster-hunting games, the player is forced to hunt and gather various items in order to construct new gear. This gear serves as the principle means for powering up the player’s character, with several hundred various pieces of equipment to choose from based on class and playstyle.

Likewise, the player is given eight button mappings to place a small handful of the skills allotted to each of the 20 classes. But the player can also choose to mix and match the skills from the game’s variety of classes, creating hundreds if not thousands of possible class and skill combinations. "Explorers" then then takes this one step further, allowing each skill to be mutated with custom characteristics up to 16 times. Even if you managed to come across another player with the exact same skill loadout as you, the skills would still act differently — a testament to "Explorers'" individuality-first mindset.

Although "Explorers'" customization is top-notch, the gameplay itself can be repetitive. You’ll often find yourself repeating a mission several times for a specific material or you may find some boss-level fights difficult — especially as you approach the most difficult quests. The game expects you to die frequently against harder opponents with generous time allotments and a minimal death penalty, but it also allows you to ease your burden with various monster companions for the times you’re unable to find any friends to play with.

For those who are looking for a narrative experience similar to other "Final Fantasy" games, you’ll probably want to skip this title. But this is the perfect title for the player looking for a "Monster Hunter"-lite experience with a "Final Fantasy" skin and little commitment. The game isn’t the best game in the franchise, but it serves as a unique take on a 29-year-old formula. "Final Fantasy Explorers" "Final Fantasy Explorers" deserves a solid B- for its addictive fun.