I’ve never considered myself to be a mobile gamer. My phone is primarily a social media device that I sometimes use to text my friends. Any time I download a mobile game and play it for more than 10 minutes, I find myself patting my pockets as I look for the phone that’s in my hands. I know there’s the method of getting a tablet and using it to exclusively play mobile games, but I can barely justify owning an Xbox One let alone a tablet for endless free-to-play games.
In an effort to expand my knowledge of gaming, I’ve jumped headfirst into the app store and promised that whatever game I choose, I will play every day. My game of choice was Final Fantasy: Brave Exvious, a mobile title that launched worldwide in 2016. If you’re wondering why I chose this game it’s because it seemed to be a firm balance of a familiar franchise with a hardcore community backing. This piece isn’t meant to be a review of the game, I don’t feel I understand it enough to even do that. Instead, I’d like to describe my first experience playing a game of this type.
First off, to understand this type of game, I had to learn what the term “Gacha” meant. In an attempt to mimic the randomness of a coin-operated toy capsule machine, Japanese developers began implementing the feature in their social games. Evidently, this was a big hit and involved mixing a free-to-play baseline with the option to potentially get better results if you put money into the game. Finding a balance between the two has always been a struggle. Any gacha developer will tell you that free-to-play players have the same experience as paying players except they’ll see results much slower.
In the case of Final Fantasy: Brave Exvious, players are able to Summon new party members, with one free summon a day given to every player. These characters are rated by stars, which determines not only their rarity but also their max level and strength in battle. In full transparency, I have not put any money into the game and if that has anything to do with my confusion then that’s an easy fix: uninstall it. I have yet to draw more than five-star unit after playing every day for over 6 months. However, I can see where the thrill of summoning units can take over based on my excitement after summoning a five-star Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII.
Summoning daily units and using the random Summoning Tickets that I gain for doing absolutely nothing is where my understanding of how this all works ends. The story is as basic as they come, there are two knights on a quest and they meet a girl who has magical abilities so they head out to stop and a strong individual from destroying the Earth Crystal, which he ends up doing and then it’s back to the drawing board. Along the way, the story introduces various small role characters who will send you out quests, but honestly, it’s all more of the same and nothing really screams out to me that this is a story that every Final Fantasy fan needs to play.
Battles can be a joke sometimes and I end up using the “auto” option through most of them. This was a surprise to see because I hear that this is a “must” in all gacha games. The option to completely removes the player from any gameplay experience as a must-have is beyond my way of thinking about video game mechanics. However, I’ve done my research and I know that there are a lot of tough opponents in this game and various required equipment tricks that will make them far easier, but that goes down a nerdy path that I just don’t see myself going down, ever.
Also, there are events that I get Push Notifications about from time to time to tell about a limited time enemy to fight in order to get some special item. I’m sure you can guess that I am always met with defeat the second that I see an attack from my entire party knock off 1% of the enemy’s health. Perhaps it’s because I’m late to the party with this game and I’ve missed out on a handful of powerful units, weapons, and upgrades, but I’m starting to feel left out.
So when it comes to the gacha games, where’s the appeal? I really want to find the find the “fun” in these games so when I see people playing at events I can communicate with them in a way that they’ll understand and they’ll think, “Oh, this industry dude knows his shit, good for him.” Blame it on my gamer ego, but I like to consider myself partially skilled and knowledgeable with every genre and platform. Mobile games have eluded me for years and I’ve been pushing them off over countless titles, even fighting back against the Pokémon GO craze.
I’ve done everything I can with Final Fantasy: Brave Exvious: I’ve logged in every day to get the bonuses, I’ve done the entire “Step-up Summons”, I send my friends gifts, I complete quests, I go on expeditions, I Fuse characters and strengthen my equipment, I go to the Vortex and do whatever the hell that thing is, but I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing in this game other than mindlessly making my way through an auto-battle summon fest that sometimes requires me to wait until I have enough energy to proceed.
Honestly, from writer to reader, I just don’t want to be considered a Mobile Casual.
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