My day job involves staring at many different cell phone screens, a lot. When I wander back to my gamer cave to unwind after a long day at the office, the last thing I feel like doing is staring at the screen on my personal phone device. Add to that my loathing for such wonderful mobile game mechanics as: stamina meters that refill slowly with real life time (or pay to refill it instantly), premium in game currency items you acquire slowly (or pay to buy more), horrible random drop rates on necessary items (or pay for the chance to get it sooner), the need to invite many random strangers as “friends” (more people means more likely payers) and well, you can see why I’ve been avoiding most freemium mobile games.
I’ll admit that I did fall in love with one freemium style game in the past: The Simpsons Tapped Out. I spent over 3 years building my Springfield, and I did shamefully buy things occasionally since I enjoyed the game so much. The truth: I love The Simpsons more than anything else on this earth. I stopped watching the newer episodes after season 20-ish, but the classic episodes still make me laugh hysterically, even though I’ve seen them hundreds of times. This may shock the internet, but Homer Simpson is my all-time favourite fictional character. Yes, you read between the lines correctly: Lightning, my all-time favourite video game character, takes a backseat to the sarcastic yellow donut munching patriarch. I can safely say I wouldn’t be who I am today without the influence of Homer and his dysfunctional family unit (Lisa Simpson is a INFJ by the way).
Long story short, it seems that if I love the original IP of a freemium game, I’m more inclined to overlook those rage inducing “please buy this so you can advance faster” mechanics. I’m still a newbie when it comes to the Final Fantasy franchise, but the few games I have played from the iconic series were special experiences (to date IV,VII,VIII,X,XII, and the masterpiece trilogy of XIII games). The old delusional me had wanted to conquer many Final Fantasy games by then end of this year. I’ll say that quest has been abandoned in my blog’s new era, but my intention to experience all of Square Enix’s glorious FF games is sill a long term goal of mine. In the meantime and on the trusted recommendation of an evil friend, enter Final Fantasy Brave Exvius!
The First Few Hours
Minor Spoiler Warning: These are all my screenshots and the initial story details will be rambled about below.
After the game was downloaded and installed (I highly recommend using WiFi if you’re on a limited mobile data plan), I was impressed by the caliber of story in this freemium game. It follows the quest of Rain and Laswell, two knights of the Kingdom of Grandshelt. Rain seems to be the typical young hotheaded protagonist, while his childhood best friend, Laswell, serves as a stable voice of reason to keep him in line. The game opens up in an expected Final Fantasy way. The brave knights are fighting things on an airship, when suddenly out of nowhere, a crystal containing a young woman descends off the port bow. She begs the brave knights to take a detour from their main mission to help her in her plight. All this is happening as an epic orchestral music track plays, I might add.
The easily sidetracked Rain can’t say no to a pretty face, and the distressed maiden in the crystal leads our heroes to the Earth Shrine. After a few easy battles and many sarcastic remarks, Rain and Laswell make it to the Earth Shrine’s precious crystal. They are powerless to prevent the shady Dark Lord Veritas from destroying it. The helpless crystal maiden saves our heroes from annihilation, and the true adventure begins. After his crushing defeat, Rain is granted the power to summon visions: heroes from different universes that can be freed from crystals to fight in your party. The world soon starts falling apart, and Laswell and Rain hightail it back home to help out their castle.
As the story unfolds, the game introduces you to many of the basic gameplay elements. Combat is simple and very fun at the start. Tap the pictures of your party and watch them attack the bad monsters. In addition to mindless tapping, you can unleash combos and use Limit abilities. The typical Final Fantasy magic spells, summons in the form of Espers, and items also come into play. There are even convenient Auto and Repeat functions during battles, for when you’ve finally had enough screen tapping. Each Stage is broken down into a series of objectives, which are essentially a set of battles to win. Some Stages also have an exploration option, which plays just like a bite sized classic RPG town or mini dungeon to roam around in, complete with random encounters. So far I’ve found these areas are more linear than the great FFXIII, with a few hidden chests and side quests to find.
Nothing in life is truly free, and the developers have decided to go with the profitable free-to-play model. You won’t even notice it until you reach Rank 8, but there is something called the NRG that depletes when you take on an objective or dungeon. When it’s gone, you can’t play anymore. The more you progress, the more this becomes an issue. NRG refills slowly over time, but you can totally spend 100 precious Lapis to refill it instantly (the game’s real world money resource). Lapis are also used to buy inventory and unit capacity upgrades. If a monster happens to wipe the floor with you, 100 Lapis can be used to revive everyone and resume exactly where you died. Of course you don’t need to buy Lapis. I’ve been earning them at a decent rate by clearing Stages and events, but it doesn’t take long to spend them all.
Here’s where I think the game tries to trap you the most, by capitalizing on nostalgia – Lapis are also the primary way to summon the crystals that contain everyone’s favourite Final Fantasy characters from across the many universes. Once a day, you can spend 250 for a rare summon (500 a piece thereafter or a bulk deal if you’re rich). You better start praying to the game’s greedy RNG god if you have a certain character in mind. Most of the protagonists and popular characters have abysmal drop rates. I know a certain badass with pink hair has a 0.5% drop rate. I’ll likely never see her, but the RNG god really didn’t have to rub it in my face.
In addition to the main story, there are also Arenas (I haven’t tried these yet), special limited time events, daily loot for logging in, trophies to earn, and of course a random friend system. You have the option to bring along a random stranger’s party leader whenever you take on a battle. I’m incredibly selfish and have been using high level players with sweet characters to my full advantage. After the battle you have the option to add them as a friend. Some nice folks have added me too, and I have been exchanging daily gifts with them. Friends points are also earned by using people. When you have enough friend points, you’re granted the opportunity to summon horrible low grade characters that nobody cares about.
One last annoyance: The game requires an online connection to play. I guess this is to prevent hacking and whatnot, but I hate having to rely on a server somewhere to always be up and running. Technology fails frequently (which is a good thing for my job security). I’ve encountered small loading wait times, but nothing game breaking.
I’m just going to focus on the main story until I finish it, get bored, or hit a paywall. I only play once a day for about 20 mins, so the NRG meter means nothing to me. With my terrible past history in dealing with RNG gods, I know I’ll never get my favourite character, unless I spent $500 real world dollars on Lapis, but I’m happy with the party I’ve thrown together. I do like Mr. Snow (and all the hapless L’Cie from XIII) so I’ll settle for him. I’ve been spending most of my Gil fusing him with units I don’t care about to level him up. He’s been good at kicking ass so far! I also have this unfamiliar Luka person, who happens to be a great healer with Curaga and a full party heal/buff as a Limit ability.
The fights are starting to get a bit challenging now. A lot of the monsters are using status ailments and no one I have knows the Esuna ability. I guess I’ll have to buy some status cure items until I find such ability. My weapons/armor are also terrible since I don’t have the patience to farm silly items (and waste NRG) to craft better ones. I’ve been hording my Lapis and only using them for the daily half price rare summon. I have a small hope that the developers may strike with a special event that has an increased drop rate for you-know-who.
Stats thus far
Party Levels: Laswell (2 Star, Level 27), Snow (4 Star, Level 35), Rain (3 Star, Level 10), Luka (4 Star, Level 20), Chizuru (4 Star, Level 19)
Units summoned: Tellah, Maria, Snow, Refia, Medius, Penelo, Roselia, Trey, Sabin, Arc, Ludmille, Xiao, Krile, Clyne, Gaffgarion, Duane, Freya, Zidane, Luka, Miyuki, Bartz, Kefka, Hope, Chizuru, Eldin, Rakshasa, Exdeath, Kenyu, Thancred, Mercedes, Locke, Maxell, Leon, Sarai, Minfilia, Biggs, Elle, Shiki, Warrior of Light
Espers Acquired: Siren and Ifrit
Where I’m At: Lechios Hills – Great Planes
Wannabe Writer’s Notes:
– Every unknown character I get reminds me how little Final Fantasy I’ve experienced. I guess that explains why I love the FFXIII Trilogy so much. I’m just a huge n00b who has no idea what the great games in the series truly are.
– After I’m done with Brave Exvius, I plan to check out Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Final Fantasy Record Keeper. Mobile gaming appears to be moving in a positive direction, but it’s still my least favourite gaming platform.