God Eater 3 is expressly aiming for North American and European audiences with its focus on console play. It’s the first game in the God Eater series that won’t be released on Sony’s portable consoles, not that it will be missed on the platform outside of Japan.
If Monster Hunter World’s success is anything to go by, players enjoy teaming up with friends and strangers to hunt giant monsters, even if it’s not on the go. Whether that will translate into success is something we’ll wait to wait and see, but my biggest takeaway is that even if the chance is slim, God Eater finally has a chance at breaking big in the West.
During my hands-on time with the game at Tokyo Game Show 2018 earlier this year, I saw firsthand just much effort Marvelous and Bandai Namco is putting into God Eater 3. Compared to the past games, which were developed by Slant (Who are now working on Code Vein) God Eater 3 is greatly benefiting from the console-focused approach. Character models look great, and the animations looked smooth in my short playtime. It’s a step up from the jagginess present in earlier titles and leads to a strong first impression.
Compared to previous games in the franchise, where you played as a member of an elite military unit fighting against biological lifeforms called Aragami, God Eater 3 is grittier. Which is saying a lot, considering that humanity was on the verge of extinction already. In the years since the previous game, nearly all infrastructure has been lost due to the Ashlands outbreak, which turns nearly everything into ash. In addition to making tougher Aragami, it has also created a new breed of soldiers who can wield more powerful weapons, called Adaptive God Eaters, who are treated like prisoners.
In the demo, that meant your cell served as your primary base, where you could choose from a handful of missions. The one I played focused on the new Ash Aragami, particularly God Eater 3’s flagship monster, Anubis.
Using one of the new weapons, a pair of short blades that transform into a double-edged naginata, I jumped into the fight alongside three NPC allies. Classic God Eater attacks return in expected form, including Slash, Shoot, Defend, and Devour, but it’s one of the new attacks that truly steals the show. Called Dive, it’s an attack where you rush an opponent at high speed with your shield out. It can be used to either execute a shield bash attack or can simply be utilized as a way to jump back into combat quickly. More than anything else, Dive epitomizes the frenetic action of God Eater 3, as I found myself lulled into a rhythm of dodging followed by a blistering assault thanks to it.
Burst Arts also shake up the formula by changing how you use the powered up Burst mode. Consisting of three equippable abilities that can be assigned to ground, aerial, or dash attacks, Burst Arts add flashier attacks and increase damage when you enter Burst. They’re critical to maximizing damage output, something I did not get a full handle on in my brief time with the game.
The developers also highlighted a new gun type, called Ray Gun, in the demo. Rather than pressing a trigger to fire a shot, you merely have to take aim, fire and watch as a beam deals continual damage to your target. It’s fire and forget at its simplest, though I wish there was a way to better control the flow apart from pressing it again to shut it off.
All these new additions are needed, as Anubis itself highlighted the new tricks players can expect to face when up against Ash types. Ashborns are able to launch special Predator attacks that drastically weaken the target while simultaneously powering themselves up via their own Burst modes. The player left standing is in a bind for some time after, as they cannot be revived by teammates or make use of other characters special abilities. And the Burst mode itself is nothing to scoff at – NPC allies fell in a couple of hits, and there were far fewer opportunities to fight back with a Predator attack of my own.
Yet through trial and error, Anubis did fall. It’s been a long time since I played God Eater, and I forgot just how frenetic the action can get when you face a particularly tough Aragami. Fighting Anubis in the demo was a reminder that God Eater’s strengths lie in just how fast the action is compared to similar titles. That said, combat did feel a bit too floaty compared to what I’ve grown used to, and attacks didn’t feel like they had power behind them. I want to feel like I’m carving up an Aragami, instead of feeling as ineffective as I did.
Despite that, I enjoyed my brief demo with God Eater 3. It looks much more compelling from the start than past entries, and the changes to combat have made it flashier and more engaging at the same time. God Eater 3 launches in Japan on the PS4 on December 14th, and it will launch internationally on PlayStation 4 and Steam on February 8th, 2019.