Made it to level 40 in Granblue Fantasy

granblue fantasy kina currentThe honeymoon period is over and now the grind begins. I will give credit where credit is due and say there’s a lot to do in Granblue Fantasy at all times, but that doesn’t change the fact that to get anywhere fast, you’re going to have to do the same tasks over and over again to get them. Want to uncap your characters’ levels? Grind the trial/Angel Halo quests, grind the co-op quests, grind for crystals and treasures to trade for them, grind for crystals to roll for cerulean sparks to trade for items, etc etc. Want more weapons? Do quests for crystals, do quests for tickets, grind raids and hope to get lucky, then when you’ve done all that, grind for another 3 copies of the same weapon so you can unlock its true power, and on and it goes.

Which is not to say that it’s not fun (for a certain definition of “fun”) or that I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started Grindblue Fantasy. I had some downtime last week, so I played from 8am to 8pm on Thursday, got some good time in on Friday and Saturday and played a little more on Monday and now I’m level 40! I feel a little bit stronger. I can do the Hard trial/Angel quests with ease now (though Grand Order always helps) whereas I got slaughtered the first time I tried them. That’s good. But with that kind of investment, I could have finished or gotten pretty far in another RPG. It would be one thing if Granblue had a definite endpoint, but it’s going to go on forever. I’m not willing to put that kind of time and investment in an endless grind, so I’m dialing back my commitment here.

Aha, so the Black Knight joins you, does she? Thanks for spoiling!

Aha, so the Black Knight joins you, does she? Thanks for spoiling!

Besides, with the way the game works, unless you pay through the nose, people who started years before you (i.e. the majority of Japanese players) will always be stronger than you and run around one-shotting lv. 100 raids like they were nothing. I’m an all or nothing kind of person, so I’d be totally demoralized if I tried to keep up with that.

So my ‘goal’ right now, as far as you can have a goal in this kind of game… was going to be seeing what happened in the story, but since the game is endless, the story is bound to be endless as well. That’s why everyone’s acting all mysterious and not sharing what they know. And it’s kind of ridiculous how every tiny bit of story is preceded and followed by a battle against monsters. But I don’t have anything else to aim for that isn’t a grindfest, so we’ll go with that for now.

Atrocious translation aside (seriously, the developers ought to sue their translation agency) the story isn’t that bad. I’d describe it as “comfortably cliched”. It hits all the usual RPG tropes without trying to do anything radical with them, which is only to be expected when you’re trying to write something that will please millions of people of all ages and keep them spending tons of money on your game.

So stop inflicting it on me!

So stop inflicting it on me!

The upside of that is I can progress without worrying about unpleasant surprises or betrayals (can’t have someone’s favorite character turn bad! They might stop playing!) or deaths (same) or similar dark turns of story. The downside? It’s pretty boring and predictable. There are some interesting characters in there so a good localization could have made something truly memorable out of this, but well, it is what it is.

Unless something really major happens or I drop the game, I don’t think I’ll be giving many more updates on Granblue Fantasy. There isn’t much to say, you see. Day 1: Grind. Day 2: Grind grind. Day 3: GrindOoh, shiny weapon drop that is actually totally useless because it’s the wrong size/shape/color, grind, grind. I don’t mind playing through it (it’s a lot more exciting than I’m making it sound, honest) but it would be boring to write about, so just assume I’m playing it. My agenda for the next couple of weeks/months/till I get tired:

  • Play Unite and Fight and another other events that come my way. Especially if they involve raids. Raids are awesome!
  • Uncap all my characters and watch all their fate episodes, just because.
  • Continue the story whenever I can find the time. Just finished chapter 28. Die, Mithra, die! (Psst: if Mithra ensures that all promises are fulfilled, then why doesn’t the Chancellor just say “Lyria! I promise to capture you and take you back to the empire!” and leave the rest up to the primal beast?)
  • Leech raids because raids are fun.
  • I hate co-op but the rewards are too good to pass up so, ugh, do co-op every day.

And that’s about it. Nothing that requires urgent grinding. My ID is 11330337 if anyone wants to add me, with the caveat that I’m really weak with no intention of growing stronger soon.

Next up, I don’t think I have it in me to finish my Stranger of Sword City replay, so I’m just going to be honest with myself and shelve it. Sakura Taisen 3 I’ll get to it when I get to it. Which leaves me with starting something new on the PSP/DS/PC. I’m thinking Shiren the Wanderer 5 or something similar where I’ll die quickly and move on. We’ll see.

Okay, so I started Granblue Fantasy

granblue fantasyBecause I said I would, and because there’s a joint event with Sakura Taisen going on. Said joint event is really boring, so I just grabbed Sakura and got out of there. I’d rather play the real thing if it’s all the same to you. The fun in ST is watching all the different characters play off each other, and you don’t really get that here.

But I digress. So I started Granblue Fantasy two or three days ago. I skimmed briefly through the guide teasel sent me, but I really prefer to play games blind where I can. The way I see it, if I can’t figure the game out just by playing it, then it’s the game’s fault, not mine. So far it’s easy enough to understand. Grind for rupees, grind for crystals, grind for uncapping items, grind for weapons, grind grind grind. It’s not that different from other free-to-play browser games, just with nicer music and graphics. Also there’s a story in there somewhere. I like stories, even done-to-death “Mysterious girl with mysterious powers and the valiant hero who throws everything away to follow her to the ends of the earth” stories like this one.

granblue fantasy2Right now I’m not sure how long or how seriously I’ll be playing Granblue Fantasy. I don’t find the battle system all that exciting, and all the limit breaking and upgrading and uncapping and class leveling sounds like a massive pain in the glutes. I’m only at Rank 13 right now so AP refills easily, but I’m soon going to run into the old “Play 5 minutes, Wait 5 hours” issue that characterizes most free-to-play games, at which point I’ll either stop completely or just log in a few times a week.

Because of that I’m a little hesitant to join a crew (a guild by any other name) even though that option just opened up to me a few minutes ago. I’ll see how far I can go crew-free for now. If I play another couple of days and get more excited about the game somehow then I’ll think about taking things to the next level. I really should finish Sakura Taisen 3 and Stranger of Sword City this week so I can move on to other ‘proper’ games.

Still playing Sakura Taisen 3 & Stranger of Sword City

New-Interpretation-Stranger-of-Sword-City_2016_05-01-16_001I thought I could finish one of them quickly and post an update, but I just haven’t had the time to power through them like I thought I would. Sakura Taisen 3 I haven’t played in a week and while I do play Stranger of Sword City every day, it’s only for about 15 minutes at a time. SOSC reminds me why I don’t usually replay games, at least not so quickly: I get bored! Especially on New Game+ where all the maps are open and laid bare in a dungeon crawler where half the fun is exploration. No good, no good. If I delay any longer I’ll end up not finishing it at all, so I’ll try to carve out bigger chunks of time this week since I’m almost done.

What keeps me going is that I skipped all the bonus dungeons last time and I’d really like to explore them this time and pick up some good loot ahead of a possible third playthrough in a year or two after the expansion pack “New Interpretation Sword City” comes out. Ahhh, I want to quit playing both games and start something new!!!!! But no, I’ll be disciplined and stick things out (plus all the “something news” I want to play are on the late lamented 3DS anyway) so this has been your obligatory “I’m still alive and still playing games” post. Happy Mothers’ Day!

Sakura Taisen 3 – Hmm, who to pick?

sakura taisen 3 ericaSakura Taisen 3 is still going pretty well, no major complaints yet. The enemies have gotten tougher but I haven’t gotten my usual upgraded bots and beefed up special attacks yet, so they’re giving me a tiny bit more challenge than usual. Which is a good thing. I’m pretty happy so far.

I’ve only been playing for 10 hours, but I’m already in chapter 8 of 11. Chances are the last 3 chapters are going to be super-draggy, but even so now’s a good time to start thinking of which girl’s ending to go for. I was all set to go for Erica but now I’m not so sure.

I was getting along so well with the Paris Troupe, then in chapter 7 Sakura, Sumire and Iris came over to France from Tokyo and I was reminded afresh how awesome my Tokyo girls are. I miss them all so much! Don’t get me wrong, the girls in Paris are great, but they can’t compete with two games worth of relationship-building. When you’re dealing with one group of people who are pleasant but a little distant and wary and then the game introduces another group who like and trust you unquestioningly and vice-versa, suddenly the first group doesn’t seem so welcoming after all. I can’t wait to finish my stint in Paris and head back home (perhaps this was Sega’s intention all along?).

sakura taisen 3 glycine vs sumireIn the meantime I still have Sakura Taisen 3 to finish. It’s lucky for me that the Tokyo girls who came were Sakura, Sumire and Iris instead of my favorites Kanna, Maria and Li Kouran. Especially Kanna, if she had showed up I would push for a Forever Alone ending. But since she didn’t show up, what happens in Paris stays in Paris, non? So who to pick? Coquelicot (too young), Lobelia (too abrasive) and Hanabi (too bland) were eliminated from the running early on, but Erica and Glycine are still running neck and neck with a slight edge to Erica. She’s funny and friendly but it looks like chapter 8 is going to make her all sobby and weepy and stuff, not looking forward to it. Glycine is more stand-offish, but she looks like she’s falling fast, plus I’ve already gotten her drama out of the way so it should be all smooth sailing from here. Decisions, decisions… That forever alone ending is looking better and better all the time.

In other gaming news, I’ve started a New Game+ playthrough of Stranger of Sword City. I boosted the difficulty up to Normal and reclassed everyone at least once, so I’m fielding a party of level 8-14 adventurers against level 39-49 mobs. I’m holding my own pretty well, if I do say so myself, though it’s mostly thanks to the good equipment I picked up in the final dungeon and the White Palace. The only sucky thing is that I’ve lost access to all the Divinity Skills I picked up last time. Nooo, my awesome Light Veil!! I’m going for the Dark ending this time, dumb as it is, but since I’ve got all the maps unlocked, this shouldn’t take long. Will comment again when I’m done.

Sakura Taisen 3 – Off to a good start

sakura taisen 3 lq coverWhen I started Sakura Taisen 3 I swore up and down that I would never like the new cast. Never! Never you hear me? Give me back Sakura and Kanna and… hmm, okay I guess Erica isn’t so bad. Okay, Erica can stay but the rest of the new cast…Pfft, resistance is useless, Glycine!…awww, Coquelicot is so cute! …and before I knew it the new cast had grown on me. Okay I like them all so far, on with the game!

“So far” is only 3 chapters and roughly 4 hours into the game, but things are going pretty well. Ichiro “Ladykiller” Ogami from Sakura Taisen 1 and 2 is in Paris to take command of a new group of demon-busting mecha-riding beauties posing as stage dancers. There isn’t much of a story beside that, but the Sakura Taisen series is more about getting to know the girls better and ultimately saving the world than about the finer details of a story. Besides, I already know from experience that the first crop of bad guys are just decoy and the real baddies will show up much later, so I’m just coasting right now.

sakura3_02The timed choices and night patrols are largely the same as in previous games, except this time you can roam around the whole Paris instead of just the theater. Either I’ve gotten faster at reading Japanese or the time given for answers is more generous because I have a lot of time to read all the possible answers to a girl’s questions before selecting the best one this time, which helps a lot. Maybe it’s just because I’m playing the game on a TV versus a tiny PSP screen this time. Either way I like that a lot.

sakura taisen 3 combatBattles are the same old easy fluff… though I probably shouldn’t get cocky after just 3 battles. They did away with the grids and menus in favor of an Action Point system. You start every turn with 8 AP and can move/attack/heal/defend as much as your points allow. IIRC healing takes like 6 AP, charging takes 3, attacking takes 1, etc etc. So you can move forward, attack and move back, or heal and move, or heal and attack, and so on and so forth, whatever combination catches your fancy. It’s not much different in practice from the systems in the previous games, except it feels a lot faster and more streamlined. Almost makes me wish there were more battles in the game instead of only one per chapter.

So I’m off to a good start with Sakura Taisen 3. I like everyone in the new cast so far, I’m not having any trouble with the gameplay and I’m really enjoying the battles, brief as they are. I have a lot of faith in Sega as an RPG publisher – they did produce my beloved Phantasy Star Portable and 7th Dragon games, after all – so unless they do something really stupid with the story I think I’m going to like this game.