Final Fantasy Explorers (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Brandon (Michael) Howard 30.01.2016

Review for Final Fantasy Explorers on Nintendo 3DS

Riding the wave of action RPGs that have flooded the market since the rise of the Monster Hunter series, Square Enix throws its hat into the ring with Final Fantasy Explorers. As Square Enix has tried quite a few different variations of the RPG genre with the franchise before, it doesn't exactly break new ground. While several of its previous ARPGs have ridden the back of a strong narrative, this entry delivers more on the multiplayer and questing aspects that have found so much success in similar releases. Following an early look at the game late last year, now it is time to deliver the final verdict.

Final Fantasy Explorers is set in a world where powerful crystals have allowed the human race to thrive and innovate unlike ever before. During this time, adventurers known as Explorers seek out new crystals to help mankind achieve even greater heights. On one island, Amostra, many new crystals have been discovered, guarded by powerful monsters. As a new explorer arriving in the land, the adventure of a lifetime unfolds.

As inferred from the title, exploration plays a large part in the overall gameplay. Each area has a variety of monsters to fight, treasures to uncover, and quests to undertake. While the map doesn't start off very large, it does expand as certain missions are completed. Certain areas are even blocked off early on to prevent unwary explorers from roaming into dangerous territory. The speed at which new areas open up can be a little slow at times, and coupled with the daunting grind present in later parts, it makes for a very long adventure.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy Explorers on Nintendo 3DS

The biggest threats during exploration are the roaming monsters that litter each map, each hailing from some entry of Final Fantasy's extensive bestiary. These monsters don't generally seek out explorers unless they stray too far into their territory, although some enemies and bosses are a little more aggressive in seeking out adversaries. All monsters drop some sort of material, and when combined with the random items found in fields and caves, new gear can be crafted back at the main town.

Despite all the quests, monsters, and areas to explore, finding new materials to craft more powerful gear is the constant objective in Explorers . Like other games of its ilk, new gear is needed to defeat ever more powerful foes, and some of that can be quite an undertaking to craft. While some equipment might just need a few pieces of locally obtained iron and bone, others will require multiple runs of bosses to drop a single piece of a dozen items needed to craft the next item in the line.

Luckily, the combat is enjoyable enough to prevent this from becoming a total slog. With the twenty plus jobs available throughout the course of the game, there's likely to be a play-style to fit what most are looking for. Since a large amount of the gear can be shared between jobs, there's room for experimentation if another specialisation looks appealing.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy Explorers on Nintendo 3DS

Each job has a large amount of skills available, and that list becomes massive when the unique Crystal Surge mechanic comes into play. After stringing enough skills together, it allows for a special property to affect some of the skills currently equipped. This effect changes on each map, and isn't even consistent across plays of the same area. Once used with their various Crystal Surge counterparts, the altered skills can be bought and used separately, allowing for a great deal of customisation.

Choosing when and where to use skills can be a bit of a learning experience, as different skills have different ranges and properties, and nothing really ever explains how each plays out. Each weapon does have unique basic attacks, but they don't serve much use other than to recharge the skill gauge. While combat is fun when creating clever combos with skills, it wears down a bit when the camera doesn't co-operate. The camera isn't ever locked in the direction the player facing; rather it stays in one place until manually moved or a button is tapped to re-centre it, which becomes frustrating during extended fights with large groups of enemies, but does manage to work okay outside of prolonged combat.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy Explorers on Nintendo 3DS

There isn't much going on in the way of a narrative, though. While there is an overarching plot that does tie some of the more notable encounters together, very little of the story is memorable or worth writing home about. While Final Fantasy may be known for its storytelling, this entry really delivers more on the side of monster fighting and character customisation rather than any detailed, epic tale. It's a departure for the series, but it does manage to hit at least some of the right notes.

The multiplayer does become an attractive option as the game ramps up the grind. While AI-controlled monsters can be recruited during the single-player mode, they are not particularly reliable, and during intense boss fights that can be a bit of a problem. Fortunately, the multiplayer is mostly user-friendly, whether it be local play or online. Partnering up with friends to take down bosses or even just to show off gear is a definitely rewarding experience.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy Explorers on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

While Final Fantasy Explorers isn't exactly a first, either for the series or RPGs, it's still an enjoyable game that can be experienced either alone or with friends. Some of the controls do hold it back, and there definitely could have been a bit more effort put into the storyline, but there are some very interesting and deep mechanics to experience here. Despite being a bit of a grind later on, it's definitely worthwhile when that perfect skill combination is found, or a flawless set of gear is crafted. Whether alone or with friends, Explorers is a worthy investment for those looking to scratch that RPG itch.

Final Fantasy Explorers can be bought from today in 3DS card format, or digital eShop codes can easily be purchased for any region.

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Square Enix


Square Enix


Real Time RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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