It’s been a while… a hundred and sixty in-game hours to be exact since I first booted up the game and saw my favorite Nep-Nep, blasting my ears with her jokes and the usual skits that never gets old. It never changes and I sure hope it doesn’t but to be completely honest so does post-game content. It’s the usual colosseum fights and spirit-breaking grind for levels and gear but just to make it fresh, dungeons now have a certain mechanic to which I find endearing but also frustrating. Rank challenges as they call it… is a so-called dungeon feature that increases enemy levels based on your progress. This makes dungeon runs and the boss fights within that particular dungeon a little more challenging but also very repetitive. As each and every dungeon must be ranked up separately and can’t exceed a max of three each time. And that’s why it’s really frustrating, it’s the same damn thing over and over again. Same boss, the same set of skills and same setup to murder the living hell out of it. But I guess the only saving grace for this is the fact that new players can skip ahead to higher levels of difficulty if another player has already set a high rank, to begin with.
But it isn’t really all bad as the battle mechanics while it got more heavy on the use of a menu, I find it more intriguing as you can tweak your combos to fit your needs. One such example is the ability to pick the combo skills you use in a chain since most group of enemies will most likely never be weak to one such element that it might be a good option to really just pick the ones that will be most effective. The other thing that I find good about the new system is being able to do more actions per turn by spending the Action Points that a character gets at the start of their own turn. Although it is but a double-edged sword as more actions lead to a longer wait time for the next turn and in most cases the boss would sweep the floor with you as it builds up AP in its next turns to unleash devastating attacks and if that doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will. And that can even be the negative side of the new battle mechanics since I end up getting stuck in the same skill rotation with little to no variation to what I’ve done the first hundred times I’ve fought them. As enemies grow in levels pretty fast depending on the Rank Challenge Level you’re at so a risky play deals more bad than good and sticking to what works is kind of like the only option many of us will take. Although I’ve tried other ways to enjoy the battles like Blanc’s provoke and counter defensive states which can be pretty good to negate incoming damage but at certain times doesn’t work despite the fact I’ve used both physical and magical type counters. So instead of taking a big gamble on something that may or may not work, I am stuck doing the same skill rotation which starts off by having my frontline deal some “wait damage” to delay an enemy’s turn then switching to my rearguard to use a knockback skill from its backside. This forces a boss to face the attacker and have its back exposed to my damage dealers. Next, a full meter paralysis is applied for a longer lasting effect as well as slip damage to deplete quite a huge chunk of HP later on then have all my characters deal some massive damage by using their main special skills. Then once an enemy finishes its paralyzed turns and damage from the slip, I’d have Blanc go in full rage to deal damage and finish it off with a provoke skill to force its next attack on her. And the rest is history, as an enemy would face the full wrath of every damage dealer I have in line. Bosses grow in level pretty fast but because your weapons can be ranked up to have higher stats, it doesn’t make much of a difference really whether you’re in Rank 100 or Rank 300. It really just comes down to how well you manage your own turns and force enemies to skip their own.
Now, gear and equipment also play an important role to how you can deal a lot more damage than what others might use on a whim. Because it’s not all about the looks anymore as each piece of equipment has their own parameters, damage and defense values, to even the unique status only they can provide to something as simple as providing higher damage while having a specific character active to something like surviving fatal damage by cancelling HDD and recovering a percentage of health back to the character. There’s a lot of things to choose from and sadly they’re all depending on the RNG Gods if they would favor you or not. You might get something as terrible as STR VIT and TEC that would be pretty good for most physical type characters but would be terrible to someone like Rom and Ram that uses magic and the fact that there’s a Rarity System at which higher rarities would provide higher stats overall but would be weaker compared to something of lower rarity but with the right combination of stats. It’s a terrible system and only favors the patient as crafting can take as few as one to as much as infinity to get the “Ultra Rare Perfect Stat Weapon” you so desire. But get a few more ranks in and you’ll be scratching your head a few more hours crafting the next “Perfect Weapon” or you’ll be going on a killing spree waiting for the next “Ultra Rare” drop.
And while there are strengthening materials available in the game, spending them in equipment over Rank 100 is more of a pain than it sounds as Ultra Rare Strengthening Materials are a little too hard to obtain from bounties and crafting them takes quite a large amount of materials especially since you’d probably have ranked up over 50 by the time you need an equipment upgrade.
And as an advice when it comes to gear, make a viable build based on your weapon. An example to this is Noire’s weapon “A-MN Noire” that has “Critical Damage and Critical Rate” along with either “Infinite Slash Attack+” or “Diagonal Blade Dance Attack+” so of course it’s obvious that you’d want something like Critical Damage attached to your Game Disc and have as much STR, VIT, TEC as well as Physical Damage+ on your other gear specifically on the accessory piece and if lucky, her swimsuit costume can sometimes roll a Physical Damage+ to deal as much damage as possible along with the obvious ACP+ to be able to use either skill as many as possible per turn. And again, this provides a negative effect when it comes to the battles since you can only have one “Special Attack+” on a weapon so using any other special skill for DPS will provide some pretty pathetic numbers. But other than that, status effects like paralysis can be very beneficial in skipping turns for enemies which can be done by Uni and slip damage for some nice tick damage during enemy turns which is available for Ram’s Absolute Zero which can also deal tons of damage with the right stats of her weapon.
So what is really the end-game here? “Ultra Rare” collecting? Technology Level 99,999? Online Dungeon Ranks? Honestly… I have no idea! I’ve reached the point that I question the very core of the game’s goal if there’s even any. So while I can’t find a reason for gearing up as much as I had, I’ll just take this time to challenge you to get as much rank as you can, beat my scores and possibly let’s get better together! Because if there’s one thing I know, it really helps to have more people do different dungeon rank challenges instead of everyone sticking to one as we would all be able to have an easier time getting higher ranks on all dungeons. So see you on the leaderboards!