What’s that coming over the hill, is it a monster, is it a monster?!
- Developer: Marvelous
- Publisher: Bandai Namco
- Genre: 3rd Person Hack and Slash Adventure
- Release Date: 12/07/19
- Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, Switch
- Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
- Game Supplied by: Publisher
Nothing frustrates me more than being dumped right into something that I have no idea about, and expected to get on with it and be happy. That pretty much sums up how I felt in the first hour of God Eater 3, and frankly, I was massively underwhelmed.
There is no explanation, little exposition or story set up. You have a weapon surgically attached to you, and you wake up in a cell, hands in elaborate cuffs, and are told to get on with it and go kill monsters for the man. I had to go online and search websites to actually figure out what this was all about.
Even then, the game or its official website doesn’t explain if it’s a direct sequel, new world, or anything inbetween! I find this lack of explanation very sloppy and poor in today’s medium of gaming.
So, with no real reason to understand why, I set out to defeat monsters because I was told to, around an utterly boring and lacklustre narrative provided by my whinging cell-mates. If only they could find a way to escape this tedium, and return to a better time than this dystopian, broken world. Yeah, you read my mind, Dorothy!
What happened next though, is the penny dropped. Fighting monsters isn’t just good, it’s outstanding! As an aficionado of hack and slash games, I’d like to think I know a thing or two about what makes a good one, and this is better than good, it’s great!
A brilliant hack and slash game enables the player to express themselves quickly, fluidly, accurately, and most importantly, with instant controls. God Eater 3 has these attributes in abundance. The combat is excellent.
There are a lot of weapon types to choose from in your hub world in the cell, which allows for numerous different types and styles of combat, permitting the player to take down the same enemies but with different weapons, and therefore in different and entertaining ways. Stunning, slashing, bashing, and dashing, are not the names of Santa Claus’ new reindeer, but just some of the glorious methods of attack in God Eater 3. It didn’t take long for me to really start getting into flying around the screen slaughtering massive beasts in any style or method I so chose.
Bolstering the tactical aspect of gameplay, you also have ranged weapons, guns, grenades, etc. You can send the tank type players into battle with a set of basic team leader controls to enable you to sit back at a distance and pound the enemies with ranged weapons, or switch the system around completely the opposite way. The third combat ability, as well as melee and ranged weapons, is the ability to use a shield (wow fancy that, Darksiders)! The choice is yours.
Boss fights were tougher, simply because bosses took more health to wear down, but even the basic monsters in the world are excellent challenges to face.
Defeating more monsters unlocks new materials for you to upgrade both your weapons and your character. It’s a loot based system, much akin to Destiny and Monster Hunter World. As the game progresses you can then bring along more members of your team. Initially you begin in teams of two but work up to teams of four.
My only real gripe about the combat is that there are systems to use, such as burst arts, engage, and eating the souls of the enemies. It was utterly confusing at the start in terms of how to do these, and quite crucially, when it was beneficial to use each system, from a tactical standpoint. Some monsters were tough to get close to so it made tactical sense to wear them down from afar, before charging in melee weapon in hand. Seeing as the game has a theme of not explaining itself, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that this was poorly explained as well.
Using burst arts can and will then unlock new burst arts, (special moves to you and me). These are only applicable per weapon; not per character (again something I had to research online to figure out). However, there are many forms of burst arts, both on the ground and in the air, and each can be previewed in the in-game menus, categorised by weapon, with a training area to try before you buy!
“Engage Effects”, are again poorly explained, but are basically in-game passive buffs that you can assign to players for the benefit of the player, or everyone in your team. For example, one player buff is “Shared Supply” which extends the effects of consumables to each player. Another is “Insatiable Appetite” which increases the power of devour attacks to a single person by 33%.
There is an in-game database that does in fact explain all of this, including the world, but first of all you have to find the database in the menu systems, and then there is a lot of reading. Although the game does ease you into a few of the game mechanics, it doesn’t explain many of them in depth, and it’s beneficial to spend an evening reading through the contents of the database to fully get to grips with the world, your weapons, and how to get the maximum out of them in order to be rewarded with more enjoyment from the combat.
Finally, the graphics, looked sharp and excellent even on the small screen of the Switch that I was playing this game on. The movement was especially impressive with superb character transitions. Walking to dashing to fighting looked organic and natural with a superbly realistic weightiness to it all. Weapons slashing into beasts felt satisfying and powerful. The visual effects to accompany these attacks were also very satisfying.
The outside world is a little bland, with not a huge amount of graphical detail or rendering (something a lot of Japanese developed games suffer with), but where it counts, is in the monster and character detail and movement.
The audio was also excellent, again with fantastic combat sounds and exciting background music. But it was also there in the details. Whilst in your cell, the sound of water dripping through the ceiling, splatting onto the concrete surface around your feet, is amazingly authentic.
After all this, you can take your adventure online and in co-op or locally. Co-op you can invite friends into your game to play through the story with you but you can only play missions you’ve both completed to that point. I.e. if you have played up to chapter 4, and your friend is only up to chapter 2, they won’t be able to join your game to carry on. You can also lock your online game with password protection to allow only your friends with that password to join you.
The real fun happens in the 8 player “raid” like missions. The fighting is organic, the pace frantic, the loot rewarding, but most impressively and importantly, the boss fights thrilling and they all worked extremely well. There was very little, if any, drop in the frame rates, despite the on screen action.
Unfortunately, the player base is sparse, and it can be very difficult to find or indeed host games of any type, but when you do, it is worth the slash-tastic wait.
This is going to be a really tough game to score, as this boils down to what type of experience you prefer. If you are the type of gamer who enjoys the grind and not at all fussed about the whys and wherefores of what you’re doing, then I’d encourage you to fill your boots with this game’s excellent combat and deep progress system.
If, however, you want more than just combat, and get bored of repetitive missions and want an exposition and reason for your actions, you will be utterly bored to death. There is very little middle ground here, it’s all or nothing, yin or yang, black or white, yes or no. The world this game is set in is actually quite an interesting one, but you do have to research to find this out, rather than rely on the game presenting it to you.
Players who like Monster Hunter will enjoy this game as it’s a much purer form of the genre, but that being said, it’s not as deep, and frankly, it’s all about the combat and not much else.