The God Eater series has always been developer Bandai Namco’s answer to Capcom’s Monster Hunter franchise. While it never reached similar heights to the goliath Monster Hunter series, it garnered enough fan support to be considered successful. Now, Bandai Namco have released God Eater 3, which is actually the first game in the series not made for a handheld device. Does it fare well enough against Capcom’s juggernaut series, or can it stand on its own as a quality experience.
God Eater 3 puts you in the role of a God Eater, a hunter of monsters known as Aragami. In this installment the character you created, alongside three other companions, are stuck in prison folowing orders to eradicate Ash Aragami. Thankfully, the four of you are acquired by a caravan owner who tasks them with transferring a very important cargo to its destination. This story is nothing to write home about and is probably the weakest link of God Eater 3. Characters seem to be also just like one-dimensional cardboard cut-outs and the narrative benign at best.
It’s a shame the story is not as memorable as the other games in the series, because there’s a great amount of voice-actors delivering their lines with aplomb. I just wish they would have expanded the narrative more to better suit their voices, as much of it comes across as awkward delivery. The pacing is also not well done and while cutscenes can be skipped, almost always after accomplishing a goal you’ll have to run around the HUB world (caravan) looking for a specific NPC, which can be time consuming.
What makes God Eater 3 more different than its contemporaries is the speed of combat and your character. You are able to jump high and dash incredibly fast and comes down to cornering an enemy and then barraging them with attacks. You’ll probably then go into the wilderness to find another hunt while gathering resources.
Characters can wield a variety of weapons known as God Arms. Those weapons can vary from blades to mallets, and each has their own unique benefits. Gun Arms have the ability to morph into ranged weapons as well, ranging from shotguns, sniper rifles, and ray guns. While snipers are great for handling enemies from afar, shotguns are, of course, good for handling clothes to my father.
The most unique feature of God Eater 3 are how the Arms are able to transform into a living Aragami and devour an enemy to absorb its energy. If the devouring itself is successful, Burst mode is granted where players can execute special attacks. I found the combat to be incredibly deep and somewhat convoluted, making everything seem overwhelming. Missing is an in-depth tutorial that would have been nice for practicing training techniques instead of only performing during the missions themselves. But, most missions only last between five to ten minutes alone, so not much practicing would have been accomplished anyway.
Controlling your God Eater can also be complicated with many underlying gameplay systems in place. Some weird button presses are used for the more advanced skills and this can lead to frustration when a certain move you’re trying to perform is not working. Pressing both face buttons together in order to switch between a shooting weapon and a slashing weapon is not unintuitive system for a control scheme that is not full-proof.
One of the joys of successfully completing a mission is being able to collect rewards, either by picking up items in the field or by devouring enemies after they perish. Then by going to the terminal where you caravan is located, it’s possible to upgrade weapons, craft new gear, and also obtain now abilities. My main gripe with this system is that finding the items necessary to upgrade your weapon is rather difficult. In fact, it’s more worthwhile to craft a new weapon since it will cost much less.
Graphically, God Eater 3 has some great animations, but also has some rough spots. I do like the character models and the fact that you can make your own anime protagonist is pretty awesome. Many of the environments have a post-apocalyptic feel to them with dilapidated ruins or deserted buildings and factories. The only problem with that is while they look great, they’re completely barren and I wish they were teeming with more life to provide for a more engaging experience.
The orchestral soundtrack fits the setting nicely and provides for increased gravitas during certain sections. While it’s not necessarily memorable, with my favorite track being of the opening title screen cinematic, there are plenty of quality tracks that go well with the action-packed gameplay.
God Eater 3 can also be played with up to four players, and it does require a lot more cooperation to stay alive since there are no reliant computer controlled allies to heal players when needed. In addition, there are unique assault missions that can be played with upwards of eight players. Unfortunately, not only is matchmaking not possible with these, but they’re also much shorter than the regular missions with less of the content.
Overall, God Eater 3 is the type of action-based experience that I’m really glad can be saved by its gameplay. While everything else is done properly, the story, pacing, and graphics are good to mediocre at best. It’s a shame so much of the game doesn’t stand out as much, because the actual gameplay is fun and engaging, and experimenting with a huge variety of mechanics can be extremely rewarding. If you’re a fan of the Monster Hunter games, or of action titles in general, you should find something to like and enjoy with God Eater 3.