Import Showcase: God Eater 2

The Monster Hunter genre is insanely popular in Japan, so naturally, when Capcom moved Monster Hunter from a Sony series to a Nintendo series, fans were crushed. However, companies saw this as a chance to fill that void with their own Monster Hunter like game. Since the Vita first launched, we’ve seen Lord of Apocalypse, Ragnarok Odyssey, the updated version Ace, Soul Sacrifice, the upcoming update Delta, Toukiden (closest to Monster Hunter) and now we have God Eater 2. So far none of these titles have matched the same success as Monster Hunter, but will this change with God Eater 2?

Overview:

Unlike Monster Hunter and most of the games in this genre, God Eater 2 is a story driven title. I would like to say this is a good thing, but it really isn’t. The game takes place after the events of God Eater (some argue it largely ignores what happened in Burst) and mostly follows a new cast of characters. Most of the story is pretty convoluted and while the cutscenes are cool (especially the anime ones), it isn’t something worth your time. The story also just ends, with several people claiming it will be continued via DLC. Not only is that annoying if you care about the game, it’s a serious hassle for anyone with a Vita and an account that isn’t part of the Japanese network.

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Beyond story, God Eater 2 suffers from a number of serious problems.  Easily the biggest problem in God Eater 2, is the lack of importance placed on stats. Ever since the like 10th story stage, I’ve gone into every mission using the “same” sword. At the time, it just suited my build and gave me combo master (increased damage after each hit), which allowed me to mindlessly hack and slash the Aragami. As I upgraded the sword, it eventually gained a new ability called “hold”. Now, hold is an awesome ability, because it adds a chance to stun (hence the name hold) Aragami and allow you to heal/issue commands/take items/continue your attack. I typically stayed on my offensive, which worked almost too well. It wasn’t uncommon for me to stun an enemy, knock them down, stun, break something (also stuns them a little), knock them down again, stun and then, if they’re still alive, the Aragami can finally fight.

Because of the aforementioned problem, a lot of missions include several Aragami, who tend to rely on area of effect skills. This gives the game a cheap feeling, which can really damper your enjoyment. More often than not, if an Aragami managed to hit me, it was due to a wide range attack I just wasn’t expecting. It can be hard to juggle two or three enemies at a time, especially when you need to keep your distance to avoid taking damage.

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These two problems come full force in the Magatsu Kyuubi mission. Not only do you have to kill the Magatsu Kyuubi, but you need to do so with a Fierce Kongou and Sekhmet too. If you’ve never played God Eater, then a Fierce Kongou is an enemy with a lot of lighting AOE attacks and has a roll that gives off electric shockwaves. He also has good hearing, so your priority is to take him out. Sekhmet isn’t too bad, though he also has a lot of ranged attacks, is pretty fast and most/all of his attacks can stun you. Once they’re both dead, it’s finally time to take on the Magatsu Kyuubi. Let me reiterate, fighting the Magatsu Kyuubi with either of the aforementioned Aragami alive and angry with you, is going to be a stressful time sink. Now, the Kyuubi isn’t a terrible boss. They’re fast, have a lot of ranged moves, run around, have a homing attack, but they can’t pack a punch. Unlike a lot of other bosses, getting hit by the Magatsu Kyuubi isn’t going to kill you. It might take four or six attacks, instead of two, like Sekhmet can do. What makes this mission awful, is the Magatsu Kyuubi’s special attack.

Unlike the regular Kyuubi, the Magatsu Kyuubi can make these orbs appear, which have a field around them. These orbs follow the standard, the closer you get, the more deadly they’re rule and are extremely cheap. To put it simply, the orbs suck your life BAR away. It’s important to note, they don’t suck your life force per se, but they do lower the literal bar. So, if you have 1,000 HP before the orbs appear, you will have as little as 1 HP after. Getting knocked out gives you your full life bar back, though getting knocked out is a huge gamble. If your partners die, you’re too close to the orbs or don’t get revived in the time limit, you could lose one of your three respawns and lose material/cash/be closer to failing. Besides the cheapness of the attack, the field will also limit the places you can go. It almost always appears next to the Kyuubi, which means two things. The first thing is that where you confront the Kyuubi is very important. Doing this near your spawn is the worst thing you can do, since it will put you at a serious disadvantage if you die. In fact, that alone is enough to fail the mission. The other problem is that the AI will continue to attack the Aragami. This means you not only need to escape the attack, the Kyuubi and find safety, but you also need to issue a dissipate command. Needless to say, this mission relies heavily on luck and while there are ways to make it easier, one screw up can result in failure.

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Unfortunately, this isn’t the only mission that bends the rules to give you a challenge. Several other missions include enemies that can’t be stun, have high stun resistance and even one enemy is immune to blade attacks. This can make the game frustrating and in a lot of ways make the Kyuubi mission feel like the end for you.

A lot of this goes back to the aforementioned weapon problem. Despite there being hundreds of weapons, there was never a reason to change my play style. Most of these weapons simply accommodate other builds, though this boils down to how many times you want to fight the same enemies and how you want to fight them. Believe it or not, my build wasn’t even the most broken build in all of God Eater 2 either.

Thanks to a lack of balancing with blaster guns, the ability to make your own bullets with special commands/blood arts/powers and all the crazy power ups, it is entirely possible to completely break the game. A number of Japanese wiki’s detail methods to make your bullets do 100,000+ damage. Using my current build, one of those bullets does roughly 10x more damage than a premade bullet. With skills like trigger happy (reduces cost by half), burst (can get up to 35% increase) and an ample reserve, you could in theory beat that Kyuubi mission in less than 2 minutes. No doubt you’re thinking this would take a while to do, but that’s not actually true.

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Unlike almost every other game in this genre, God Eater 2 doesn’t make you “work” for your materials. This is due to two or three key problems with the design. The first issue is that most materials are assigned to specific parts of the body. This means breaking a specific part will either give you the material or another material related to that part. Several parts have a single drop, so instead of farming a mission, I just had to make sure a certain part was broken. This made my average farm time about an hour to make a weapon. Once you get the next tier in an items evolution, you just need upgrade stones to power them up. To get an upgrade stone, you just had to trade in a lot of materials to hit a specific goal. Since I never needed new weapons, I could freely piss away all my materials and this boiled down to just farming high ranking missions for materials. Even then, I could get 2 – 3 rank 9+ upgrade stones in thirty missions. The only real challenge is figuring out how to unlock that recipe. Now this can take quite a while to figure out, but the actual farming and gathering of materials is fairly quick.

For this reason alone, I never felt the need to finish every single mission. Due to this I missed out on several unique Aragami variants, though I can’t honestly say that cheapens my experience either. Honestly, what’s the point of fighting unique enemies, for easy to obtain materials, to buy high-level equipment that I don’t actually need? Yeah, there is the sense of fulfillment, but I could play a better game like Toukiden, Lord of Apocalypse or even Soul Sacrifice and at least have to work harder to be imbalanced.

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God Eater 2 feels like a half-baked idea. An honest effort was made with the story, but it’s currently incomplete. Even if they do plan on finishing it with free DLC, I would have much rather had the game delayed to enjoy it all in one go. They tried to make farming a quick and rewarding process, though I spent more time figuring out where the item was, than ever trying to obtain it. All these things make the experience feel hollow and the lack of online multiplayer, which is being added in an upcoming patch, just makes it seem like a poor mans Soul Sacrifice or Toukiden.  I thought the game was woefully imbalanced with the AI, so shudder to think how bad it would be with three people or how drastic the game will change to make online co-op work.

Accessibility:

As previously stated, there are a lot of powers and abilities in God Eater 2 and they’re extremely important. Looking at my character, all six equipment slots can have up to four different abilities (up to 24), there’s a a link skill that every character has (you can have up to four on a mission), blood arts (around 60+ per weapon type), bullets that have literally thousands of options, and each character has some kind of perk if they join you on a mission (Ciel for instance gives you a vague idea how much health an enemy has). This is a lot to keep track of and even if you know what it says, that doesn’t mean you know what it does.

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To give you an idea, one skill is called “gourmet.” This skill gives you a better chance at getting rare materials, though this is not something you would just assume. There are also skills that might sound or look good, but actually have negative effectives. Similar to gourmet, another skill is called “exposure up.” While the name suggests it makes you more noticeable, it actually increases the amount of damage you take in burst mode. This is such an important part, that you’ll have to either hope for the best and make it work or spend a lot of time looking/translating Japanese wiki’s and reading forum posts. Thankfully, some very dedicated users on GameFaqs have translated a number of things, but it’s still a long way from being complete.

Beyond abilities and knowing what to farm, it must be reiterated that this is a story driven game. Most missions are unlocked by talking to people in the base and it will be trial and error until you finally talk to the right person or do whatever needs to be done to continue. At two parts in the story, you need to bring a specific item to someone, which is something you might never figure out without outside assistance. I posted a guide on how to do the harder one, though it’s small things like that that will hold you back.

Not to mention, every character has a side mission that does something. For instance, Ciel unlocks blood arts for bullets. This is something you wouldn’t figure out without the Internet or simply trying everything in order to proceed/stumble on what is needed to progress. So while it’s theoretically possible to beat God Eater 2 — or even platinum it — without reading any/much Japanese, it will be a hollow experience.