Final Fantasy Explorers is an action RPG entry in the Final Fantasy Series, like many of the Final Fantasy games Explorers is set in its own universe in which you take the role of a player created explorer. Final Fantasy Explorers takes on a feel very different from other Final Fantasy games as it is a quest based game, complete with a quest teller, hometown style base of operations and co-op features. I do feel a number of influences from other games as I get deeper into the quest and job systems.
My main comparison from the beginning was two of my favorite game series, Monster Hunter and Phantasy Star Online. The quest teller as well as the action RPG style combat with item gathering and crafting are all very reminiscent of these franchises. The Monster Creation system in which you create monsters (surprising, I know) and have up to 3 monster companions is much like the Cha cha companion from MH3U and the Felyne companions in MH4U. While reminiscent of Monster Hunter and PSO, the feel of the overall game as well as the combat/abilities system are still very much Final Fantasy.
Your explorer will have a large variety of jobs to choose from and switch between which will dictate the weapons you can wield and the skills you can use. Skills are tied to weapon and magic type. However so far most classes can use magic alongside their weapon skills giving you the ability to customize your explorer to fit your play style. Of course a White Mage will always be the most effective White Magic user it is interesting to see that as a Knight I can cast Cure on myself or Fire on the enemies. Another unique and Final Fantasy-esque mechanic of the game is the Resonance system, which very similar to Limit Breaks where using abilities will build a meter that allows for what the game calls Ability Mutations. This will add some extra buffs to the abilities and allow your explorer to learn a Custom Ability later for the cost of CP.
Final Fantasy Explorers features single and up to 4 player online or local co-op. Players can organize themselves in the classic MMO party roles of Damagers, Healer and Tank which lends to a more cooperative dynamic. However nothing is stopping you from going in with any combination of jobs you and your friends favor.
I haven’t gotten far enough in the game to see if there are any quests where you’ll be needing to have a dedicated tank, healer and dps but I do really hope these roles play a large part on harder quests. I attempted to solo my first Eidolon fight and can definitely see the benefits of having a full party. After completing the fight and realizing that I would be battling the Eidolons frequently if possible I was quickly wishing for a LFG button and realized how much FF:Explorers is like an MMO. You can solo many of the quests and possibly solo the boss style Eidolon battles, but a party will make it easier and an organized party taking on roles will make it fun and simple adding a more cooperative feel than many of my hunts in Monster Hunter have proven. There are many chat features I have yet to try and hope to enjoy soon.
While I had failed to see the appeal in the early part of the game, which really seemed like a shallow version of Monster Hunter. As I got further into the game and explored the mechanics I found a bit of a level of depth in the game that has gotten me enthralled in the experience, but isn’t completely a game I’d tell all my friends to get so we can play together. Its fun and definitely going to be a good game to play when Deviljho hunts have me frustrated.
TL;DR : Final Fantasy Explorers is a fun game with similarities to Monster Hunter and PSO but keeps the feel of the Final Fantasy Universe and recommend a try, but isn’t a must play.