Monster Hunter has inspired several competing cooperative action-RPGs over the years, the latest of which is Bandai Namco’s God Eater 3. Whereas the first two God Eaters debuted on portable consoles before moving to PlayStation 4, this latest entry is exclusive to PlayStation 4 and PC. God Eater 3 doesn’t have the development and advertising budgets to compete directly with Monster Hunter World, but it stands out anyway thanks to a stronger focus on story and plenty of post-apocalyptic anime-style weirdness.
God Eater 3 opens with a mildly confusing introduction depicting the custom player character’s unwilling transformation into an Adaptive God Eater, or AGE. These AGEs are super-powered humans capable of battling the Aragami, a race of monsters that has taken over the Earth’s ruined surface. Rather than being revered for their skills, the story’s AGEs are inexplicably imprisoned and forced to hunt Aragami by a shady organization. This sequel could really benefit from a video recap to get players up to speed with the series’ world and timeline à la Kingdom Hearts 3, but even newcomers like me will get the gist of things after a couple of hours.
Initially, a tiny prison cell functions as the hub world between missions, but eventually players will move on to a larger hub. In these hubs, you’ll experience story scenes, talk to a fairly good cast of NPCs, perform crafting and upgrades, and select missions. The hub-area walking speed is painfully slow, but thankfully, the holding the R1 button allows you to run.
Missions in God Eater 3 generally involve either eliminating small groups of enemies or large boss monsters. Regular enemies don’t post much threat, especially since the AI partners you’ll bring along by default are surprisingly competent. The level designs are small and streamlined, vastly more compact than those of Monster Hunter World. As a result, they go by pleasantly quickly. I get the impression that God Eater 3 might have started development with the portable market in mind, but the generally short mission completion time is a boon, not a hindrance, for busy gamers like me.
Combat closely resembles that of other Monster Hunter-type games. Naturally, players select from numerous weapon types, each with their own power, speed, and damage attributes. Each character also brings a gun into battle. Guns don’t harm teammates in this installment. Ammunition is highly limited, but dealing melee attacks will replenish it. The new dive maneuver allows players to fly forward at high speeds, making navigation a snap.
My only complaints about the combat are that the poor lock-on mechanic (hold the camera centering button) makes manual camera adjustments a frequent necessity, and too many maneuvers require button combinations. Remembering button combos in an action title is a pain. Harvesting materials from fallen monsters also takes a bit too long for my tastes. Still, the combat proves quite fluid and satisfying overall.
After completing missions, players receive a variety of materials and blueprints as rewards. Like in Monster Hunter, you’ll need to craft new equipment and/or upgrade existing gear to get stronger. The crafting menus are extremely unwieldy and confusing though, making new equipment harder to create than it should be.
Cumbersome menus appear in God Eater 3’s online mode as well. To team up with other players, you’ll have to create a lobby or join an existing one. There’s no matchmaking here, just a lobby browser. Hosts can set the completion percentage for joining players and vice versa, helping to avoid over- or under-powered players. A frustrating thing about the lobby system is that players can only join a host’s game while the host is at the lobby screen. Once the game is in progress, no one else can join. Thus, replacing a player who leaves will require the host to create a new lobby.
After the host launches a multiplayer game, everyone joins his or her hub-world. From there, the host must select the mission, after which everyone can ready up. You generally need to talk to one or more NPCs between missions in order to start the next mission, so the team will have to wait around for the host to accomplish this.
God Eater 3 has a text chat system, but it’s beyond clunky. To reach the on-screen keyboard on PlayStation 4, one must click in the left stick twice to bring up a particular menu and then press the Options (Start) button. You can then type out messages via on-screen or physical keyboard. Message length is extremely limited, though, so it often takes multiple messages to communicate simple thoughts.
Despite the UI clunkiness and slightly dated visuals, teaming up with friends is lots of fun in God Eater 3. The single-player mode is no slouch, either. Loads of story and side missions will keep players engaged, even when the story gets bogged down with anime clichés now and then. There are plenty of Monster Hunter-style action-RPGs out there (Toukiden 2 is my favorite), but God Eater 3’s quirky Japanese post-apocalyptic aesthetics and fast-paced missions make it a worthy entry in the genre.
God Eater 3 is available now for Playstation 4 and PC. This review is based on a PS4 copy of the game provided by the publisher. Purchases are available here.
God Eater 3
- More story content than other similar titles.
- Unique post-apocalyptic anime setting and aesthetics stand out from similar games.
- Fast-paced action and a wide variety of melee and ranged weapons to wield
- Co-operative monster hunting is always fun.
- Clunky user interface makes crafting and some other tasks a chore.
- Poor lock-on system forces players to manually adjust camera too frequently.
- Online lobby system and chat system are cumbersome.