Even Final Fantasy Can’t Make Me Enjoy The Monster Hunter Formula

Even Final Fantasy Can’t Make Me Enjoy The Monster Hunter Formula

After years of trying to get into Monster Hunter, I thought I’d finally found my opening. If any game could get me into co-op monster slaying, it would be Final Fantasy Explorers. It was a good try.

I don’t blame Monster Hunter for failing to engage. I appreciate the idea of venturing forth with a group of like-minded hunters, working together to take down massive prey. I appreciate that some folks enjoy the hell out of going on missions to hunt materials to craft new weapons and armour to be able to tackle tougher missions.

I’ve played Monster Hunter games on the PSP, the Wii, the Wii U and 3DS. I’ve even played Monster Hunter Freedom Unite on iOS. The key here is that while I’ve played them all, I’ve never played them for very long.

Maybe it’s because the grind is so well telegraphed. It only takes an hour in any Monster Hunter game to realise that you’re going to need to hunt a hell of a lot of monsters to accomplish anything great. That leads to a lot of wandering the same areas killing the same things. Plus I’ve never really felt like I’ve accomplished much of anything. Perhaps if I pushed myself harder, stayed in the game longer that feeling would have surfaced.

Even Final Fantasy Can’t Make Me Enjoy The Monster Hunter Formula

Once the initial excitement of playing a new game with Final Fantasy in its name wore off, my experience with Explorers followed much the same path.

I’m an adventurer on an island hunting for crystals. That’s all the setup I was given before being presented with the first in a menu full of missions at what looks very much like a fast food counter. It’s an excellent metaphor for a game like Explorers versus traditional Final Fantasy fare. Normal FF games seat you at a table with a lovely view. The waiter reads you the menu, going into each item in exquisite detail. Between courses you and your companions share stories and chit chat. The entire meal is an experience. Final Fantasy Explorers stands impatiently behind the counter as your order, hands you a bag and sends you on your way.

There’s nothing wrong with a little fast food now and then, and I enjoyed my first few bites of Explorers quite a bit. Those early quests, when I was just getting used to a combat system I found much simpler and intuitive than the game’s obvious inspiration, were a bit of fun.

Even Final Fantasy Can’t Make Me Enjoy The Monster Hunter Formula

The Resonance mechanic was particularly compelling. Beating up creatures using a combination of standard attacks and dodges and button-combo abilities slowly builds up the Resonance meter. Once it reaches a certain point the player can activate various Crystal Surges, providing benefits to their party and often transforming basic abilities in nifty ways.

The mechanic gives players an excellent excuse to trash every monster they come across on the way to their quest objective. Or at least until your online teammates start getting frustrated that you’re not making a beeline to the end of a quest and start spamming pre-generated messages to get your arse moving.

Even Final Fantasy Can’t Make Me Enjoy The Monster Hunter Formula

There are plenty of excellent ideas in Final Fantasy Explorers, and only most of them are cribbed from other games.The flexible Job system gives players a template of skills to help define their role in a party situation, while still allowing enough ability customisation to really make a character that suits your play style. The ability to replace other players with collectible monsters from Final Fantasy lore is incredibly welcome. I was even briefly excited at the notion of hunting down parts to craft and upgrade my weapons and armour.

But soon that same feeling of tedium started creeping in. Another trip to the quest counter. Another look at my “shopping” list. Another adventure in the same place I adventured before. Doing more things to get more things to make more things to do more things.

I can see how the idea of Final Fantasy Explorers would be enticing to the right sort of players. Folks with an established gaming group, friends joining together to take down a tough enemy or comparing equipment. Or at least people prepared to frequent forums dedicated to the game and share their experiences with others. Traditional Final Fantasy games come with their own rich stories. In Final Fantasy Explorers players have to make their own.

I don’t blame Final Fantasy Explorers for failing to capture my imagination. I’m actually disappointed that it didn’t. I figured slipping Monster Hunter between a couple thick slices of a series I love would be enough to mask the taste, but that flavour’s just too strong to ignore.


  • I don’t blame Monster Hunter for failing to engage.

    As an aside; it’s strange how certain most people are that it’s ALWAYS the game’s fault when someone’s preferences don’t line up with a game’s approach. How likely is it that the average person would be able to discern this to an accurate degree compared with how often it’s stated?

    It is a weird structure, though. I’m not sure i’d have been into Monster Hunter if my partner hadn’t.

    • I don’t really agree, but my view is heavily based on game design. When I don’t like a game, I can always find objective faults in the game’s design that caused me to dislike it. Your response might be that it just doesn’t appeal to me, but then I think we’ve crossed from a design discussion to an art discussion.

      • I cannot really agree with your take either Lucas.

        When developers begin to sand down all the “rough” edges from their games, they tend to lose what makes them special.

        Have you got any examples of games you disliked? Specifically to do with their core game design.

      • The rebuttal to this argument is pretty simple. If you hate a type of game, no amount of good design elements will make you like it. I used to love top down shooters. I always hated bullet hell top-down shooters. No matter how good the BH shoot was, I still wouldn’t like it regardless of whether it’s top-down or not.

  • As a big Monster Hunter fan who picked up Explorers because it looked like it was a monster hunter game, It’s in fact almost nothing like Monster Hunter.

    It really only keeps the Mission and crafting structure from MH, otherwise it plays more like Phantasy Star Online. There are clear roles in the game (Healer, Tank, DPS), and small dungeons that lead up to bigger bosses. Monster Hunter rewards more technical skills, knowing when to dodge and when to attack, while Explorers rewards more strategical knowledge, where every member of the team has a clear role.

    I am really enjoying FF Explorers, but it’s not actually that great of a game if you can’t handle the grind, if you want the feeling of an MMO without tedious quests then it delivers on that, but if you are looking for something to get you into Monster Hunter games, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is still the most accessible one to date.

      • Better tutorials, guides on how to best use all the abilities and attacks of your weapons, more basic mission guides.

        Gameplay wise, its no more accessible than any other, its what they did to teach players.

      • Much better in terms of educating new players and the difficulty gradient of the monsters is pretty smooth (except fucking Pink Rathian fucking shit). They have dedicated and pretty informative tutorials for each of the individual weapons as well. It is hands down a much better game and much gentler on the rear ends of us filthy casuals.

        • Monster Hunter still suffers from explanation issues, for example;

          +9 Health stat does not give you +9 Health. However +10 Health stat gives you +20 Health.

          You’ll get skills like Biology, Avarice, and Fate, and you’ll wonder what the hell they mean.

          In all, http://kiranico.com/en/mh4u becomes a friend for first time players, just like http://minecraft.gamepedia.com becomes friends with first time Minecraft players.

          • True yes but I feel the armour skills are an intermediate concept whereas the previous games could break people in the beginner stages.

  • Just checking, but you know that ‘whelp’ is an actual English word that gives your image a fairly different meaning, don’t you?

  • I don’t understand people who can’t get into/do not like Monster Hunter. The gameplay is fun and engaging and makes you remember physically when fighting monsters of what attacks they might do next. It’s hard but a very good challenge, with online being almost flawless. It’s almost like hunting a real dragon/monster monkey/unknown. First time round you have no idea what you’re getting into, but during the battle you learn their attacks and where they attack from most, etc. It keeps you on your toes and makes you remember what they do, which makes it all the more challenging when you randomly encounter a monster in an area where anything could happen. It is best to have a few friends along for the ride, so you can experience it together. Along with multiple weapon classes and the need for new armour, the Monster Hunter series is up there with Capcom’s greats.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!