One interesting difference between “conventional” MMOs such as Final Fantasy XIV and mobile games with MMO elements such as Dragalia Lost is how they handle side stories and multiplayer “raid” content.
In your average MMO, raid content — typically defined as a series of significant challenges that are dependent on a much larger group of players than the game’s usual multiplayer aspect — remains present in the game after its introduction, but gradually declines in “relevance” as time goes on. In cases like Final Fantasy XIV, where there’s a significant narrative component, it remains worth engaging with to enjoy the story, but the more time that elapses since its original launch, the less helpful it becomes to players in mechanical terms.
In mobile MMOs, however, raid content is typically a limited-time affair, confined to an event that offers special rewards to everyone who participates for a short period of time. And that’s exactly what’s going on in Dragalia Lost right now.
Continue reading Dragalia Lost: Loyalty’s Requiem
A week later than originally intended, here’s the fourth episode of The MoeGamer Podcast!
We’re a week late because last weekend I’d been struck down by some sort of hideous plague that made me want to go to bed at 2pm in the afternoon and just not get up for most of the weekend. Thankfully that appears to have mostly passed! Stupid summer flu.
Chris unfortunately wasn’t available to join the discussion this week for non-illness-related reasons, so instead I’m joined by a special guest: Joe, host of EriChannel over on Twitch! Hit the jump for the episode and synopsis.
EDIT: The episode is back up under a new YouTube ID! Thanks for your patience and understanding. Hit the jump to watch/listen.
Continue reading The MoeGamer Podcast: Episode 4 – Servant to the Gacha
The controversy over microtransactions in full-price triple-A games has been brewing for a few years now, but it finally came to a head with EA’s release of Star Wars Battlefront II.
To recap: Reddit poster “MBMMaverick” was frustrated to discover that he had paid $80 for the game only to find that a favourite character, Darth Vader, was locked behind either an extremely long grind or having to pay further real money for a chance of unlocking him through the game’s loot box system. And with the variable character abilities and other unlockables in the game, this meant that the game most definitely had an element of “pay to win” about it, since those with the cash could simply pay up and get better things with which to dominate other players.
EA’s response became one of the most downvoted Reddit comments of all time, sitting at a mighty -676k points — that’s minus six hundred and seventy-six thousand — at the time of writing. And things didn’t get any better from there.
Continue reading Microtransactions: The Battle Isn’t Over
Granblue Fantasy is filled with an enormous variety of awesome characters, most of whom are playable characters that can be drawn in the gacha.
From the very outset, though, you have two faithful companions who never leave your side: the protagonist’s feisty baby dragon-type thing Vyrn, and Lyria, the latter of whom in particular is a big reason I find myself continually drawn back to the game.
While initially appearing to be the same sort of “mysterious young girl” character seen in a wide variety of Japanese role-playing games over the years — and particularly in mobile-social RPGs such as Granblue Fantasy and its peers — Lyria quickly distinguishes herself as a thoroughly pleasant character to have around, making her an ideal companion for you, the player, as you proceed on your journey around this fantasy world.
Continue reading Granblue Fantasy: Spotlight on Lyria
One interesting thing about Granblue Fantasy when compared to a more traditional MMO on computer or console is the fact that what we’d typically regard as the “endgame grind” is actually spread out throughout the whole game.
This is partly due to the game’s overall structure and progression: you’re not levelling up a single character and thus there isn’t a “level cap” to reach because at any time, you can switch out your party members, your weapons and your summons to create a new experience for yourself.
Aside from this, however, it allows players to get into the multiplayer content — often restricted to high-level play in other mobile-social RPGs — almost right from the outset.
Continue reading Granblue Fantasy: The Grind Never Ends
Japanese mobile-social gacha-based RPGs — or “mobages” as they’re colloquially known today, after the social network many of them are hosted on — were originally described when they first appeared as “card battle” games.
Looking at Cygames’ previous title Rage of Bahamut, it’s easy to understand why. Everything about the game had the feel of a collectible card game about it, from the simplistic battle system (which primarily consisted of ensuring your numbers were bigger than the enemy’s) to the fact that the main incentive to collect all the available units (through blind draws) was to see the beautiful artwork. About the only thing missing was the ability to actually trade “cards” with other players.
In recent years, while the basic structure of these games has remained similar — draw cards, level them up, upgrade them to higher rarity versions, challenge more and more difficult content — there’s been a noticeable shift away from the “card game” feel in favour of something a lot more interesting. And Granblue Fantasy is a particularly good example of this evolution.
Continue reading Granblue Fantasy: More Than Just a Deck of Cards
Japanese role-playing games have long been known for having some of the most memorable soundtracks in all of gaming. And, surprisingly, mobile takes on the genre are no exception.
The news that Cygames’ incredibly popular Granblue Fantasy has a fantastic soundtrack will probably not come as a surprise, however, given the incredibly strong pedigree of the talent behind it. The work of longstanding Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu and his bandmate Tsutomo Narita from the Earthbound Papas, Granblue Fantasy’s soundtrack covers a surprisingly diverse range of musical styles, and is clearly one of the areas that has had the most love and attention lavished on it.
That sounds like a good excuse to enjoy some of its finest moments to me!
Continue reading Granblue Fantasy: Sounds of the Skydom
With any big online game — particularly one that has been around for several years — it can be difficult to know where and how to get started. Granblue Fantasy is no exception.
With that in mind, I thought I’d outline my experiences over the last three weeks as I learn about the game, how it works and what I can expect from it in the future.
This is by no means an attempt to say “this is how you should play the game” — doubtless the more hardcore players out there will have strong opinions about how “best” to progress! — but rather a reflection on the experience of one timid newbie and his attempts to understand the many hidden depths of this surprising phenomenon.
Continue reading Granblue Fantasy: My First Three Weeks
Last time, we looked at where Cygames’ mobile hit Granblue Fantasy came from, and how it’s become such a phenomenon.
Today, we’re going to look in more detail at the game itself: how it works, how it plays, its similarities and differences from other popular mobile games, and what newcomers can expect from its early hours.
Given that it’s effectively an MMO of sorts, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the game has become a surprisingly sprawling, complex and somewhat daunting affair after three years of active development. But that doesn’t mean it’s completely inaccessible — nor does it suffer from the common MMO problem of new players being too weak to be able to participate in anything.
Let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading Granblue Fantasy: First Steps in Phantagrande
There comes a point where something becomes so popular that it’s impossible to ignore, even if your initial reaction to it is “I’m not sure I want to get involved with that.”
Such is the case with Granblue Fantasy, a free-to-play mobile game developed by Cygames and published on the popular Japanese Mobage platform.
Granblue Fantasy is an interesting case because not only is it still immensely popular on its home turf even three years after its original release, it’s also managed to pick up a significant English-speaking following, even without an official release on high-profile digital storefronts such as Apple’s App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android.
So why this game? What sets it apart from the myriad other free-to-play games on the market? Only one way to find out: let’s take an ongoing look at it from the perspective of a newcomer.
Continue reading Granblue Fantasy: Acknowledging a Phenomenon