.hack//remaster

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Warren2007

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Hi, all.

I am a complete new newcomer to the .hack series. I remember seeing the name because is was always at the top of alphabetical lists.

From looking around the site, it looks like a more bonkers Final Fantasy. Is that true? Is this remaster worth looking into? Are these games even well regarded?

Any feedback would be lovely.

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deactivated-5b85a38d6c493

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The .hack games are unique, I wouldn't even really know what other games to compare them to. I haven't played much of the G.U. series (planning on with this remaster) so I'm speaking mainly of the series before that, which was also on the PS2. The combat was this weird mix of Action RPG and almost turn-based in a way, but not really. You ran around in real-time but it wasn't pure hack'n'slash. Kinda hard to explain, it's quite unique.

The cool thing about the series is how it simulates an online MMORPG in a single-player game. And it does it well. You read message boards, email and send invites to your AI partners to join you, trade rare items/weapons with other "players" etc. I would say definitely check it out just because it's so different from most other JRPGs.

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Relkin

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#3  Edited By Relkin

Honestly, you can skip the original four games. I enjoyed them at the time, but they felt dated at the time of their release; they probably don't hold up well. If you're interested in the story, look up videos/read a synopsis. The G.U games are much better in terms of gameplay, although I haven't played them in close to a decade, so take that with a grain of salt.

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paulunga

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Hey, thanks for this reminder that the remake is coming out. If I remember correctly the G.U. games never came out in Europe. Always seemed like they were better playing games than the original series. And having them all in one package makes sense if they're anything like the original, since it was basically one game split up into several full price releases.

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Vasta_Narada

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#5  Edited By Vasta_Narada

It's hard to say how well-regarded the .hack games are since they're so niche, but everyone I know that has played them has enjoyed them at least a bit, including me. I guess that's the definition of a cult-classic? I'm not sure what you mean by "a more bonkers Final Fantasy", but .hack is definitely a JRPG, and there's definitely melodrama. The series is set pretty much exclusively inside a fictional MMO called "The World" where bad stuff happens and mystery is afoot (this game was doing Sword Art Online both better and before SAO, but it's that basic plot idea of "if you die in the game, you die in real life"). There's a lot of camp, poking fun at internet/MMO culture, but I think it's a pretty enjoyable story at its core, and has some fun characters. They go all the way in recreating the feel of an MMO too, which was always a pretty unique thing. Characters send you emails you can reply to, check message boards, read news about the out-of-MMO world, etc.

That said, I don't think I'm alone in saying that of the two main game sagas, GU is the worse/more trope-y/more cliche one for story. The other saga is made of four games called Infection, Mutation, Outbreak, and Quaratine, but they're rare-ish games (and subsequently pricey) and don't have a remaster so they're stuck on PS2. The story it does tell is fine, I just don't think it's as compelling as IMOQ's. GU has the better gameplay of the two sagas, however: it's action-based, and the remaster addresses many of the PS2 versions' problems such as slowdown, grindiness, and so on. It's kind of mashy, but it'll get you through the story without becoming too monotonous. Lots of environment repetition, though.

Be aware, by the way, that if you want to get the full story out of GU, there is an interstitial anime called .hack//Roots to watch. In the first GU game, there's a timeskip after the tutorial wherein Roots takes place. I never watched Roots until long after I finished all three games--though I was aware of the basic plot--so I wouldn't call it necessary in any capacity, but just an advisory. You'll also miss some allusions to the quadrilogy, some of which are more impactful than others (character designs are intentionally reused to throw players of the quadrilogy off, for example), but GU stands on its own in that regard even though it's technically a continuation of that original story.

NakaTeleeli on Youtube did a pretty solid playthrough of the quadrilogy and the GU trilogy, if you're into that sort of thing, or just want to click around some videos to get a sense of the series. Here's a link to the Infection playlist, since it's the first one.

Bottom line: would I recommend .hack GU? Yeah. I still have fond memories of the whole series, and I played the GU games a year ago or so? I'd probably give them a 7/10 offhand; not blowing your mind or anything, but fun.

Edit:

They super don't!

@relkin said:

Honestly, you can skip the original four games. I enjoyed the at the time, but they felt dated at the time of their release; they probably don't hold up well.

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Aw man, it's a bit disheartening to see people so down on the original .project .hack// series. I mean, I get it I guess. The gameplay and combat was not great. But it's also so weird and unique that I can't help but love it. I guess that is part of what makes a cult classic though.

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Vasta_Narada

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I totally appreciate how unique the combat in IMOQ is, but it's such a clunky nightmare, and there was so much grinding in order to pad the games out. The story is still better than GU's, even with the stiff VA, but holy hell man. An actual strategy to deal with fast enemies is to continuously cast spells on them and inch your way closer because characters can't move when they're the target of an active spell. Your party members barely have AI, only following explicit individual/team orders and otherwise spamming a basic attack. Those were basically turn-based games due to how long you spent in menus and the fact that time froze while in one, even though you were theoretically supposed to be conserving MP by using a lot of basic attacks and using spells to exploit elemental weaknesses.

For the OP, these were all issues fixed in GU :P

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#8  Edited By ConfusedOwl

If you really want to compare the gameplay of G.U to another series I would maybe compare it to the Tales Of combat? It's not nearly as complex but they are both action focused combat systems. Also the story is anime as fuck if you're into that sort of thing.

I would say the remaster is worth looking into but I'm biased because I'm a big fan of the franchise. Own most of the anime's and manga's and all the games including that Japan only fighting game they made.

@boonsong said:

Aw man, it's a bit disheartening to see people so down on the original .project .hack// series. I mean, I get it I guess. The gameplay and combat was not great. But it's also so weird and unique that I can't help but love it. I guess that is part of what makes a cult classic though.

I love the original games story and would probably even rank it above G.U, but maaan those games are hard to play nowadays. The virus core grind that you need to do after almost every single story mission is really draining. I still haven't finished Quarantine after all these years because of it.

Also god help you if you get into an encounter with enemies that can revive each other in the original series.

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Vasta_Narada

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@Confusedowl said:

Also god help you if you get into an encounter with enemies that can revive each other in the original series.

Oh my god, for real. The only consistent answer is to data drain one of them, but if you run into too many in one go, you're shooting your infection rating super high and then you're more likely to have something backfire or get a game over. Is that fighting game any good by the way? It's made by the people who did the 3D Naruto games, right?

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@vasta_narada: Those are all very fair points. I think why I personally hold the IMOQ series higher than G.U. is because of the story and characters. I just couldn't get into G.U. because it just felt so generic comparatively. I also have a generally high tolerance for broken/bad gameplay mechanics, so I guess I kind of can look past some of the more frustrating moments in the original series.

One thing both series shared was the shitty VA, as you mentioned. I wish IMOQ had not locked the Japanese voices behind a New Game+, would have been so much better without the English dub.

Also god help you if you get into an encounter with enemies that can revive each other in the original series.

Oh fuck, you literally just gave me flashbacks of some repressed memories.

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@vasta_narada: It's alright, maybe not worth the $60 or so I spent on it in hindsight but it's definitely a neat thing to have on the shelf next to everything else. It is by the same people who made the Naruto games as far as I know. If you've played the Ultimate Ninja Storm games you have a good idea on what it's like to play it. The character roster is also extremely limited. It has 8 characters and 4 of them are re-skins of kite/duel dagger users.

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Warren2007

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Cheers, everyone. It definitely sounds like something I want to try! I'm off to read the story of the first games.

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#13  Edited By Dixavd

Even at release, these games seemed archaic in design. Fittingly, they feel like a tighter, mid-2000s MMO with action-focused combat... but they're not as polished as their single-player contemporaries.

Nevertheless, these games always felt earnest in their aim of evoking the fantasy of playing an MMO only to be thrust into a real-world conspiracy. There is a lovely sense of community just existing in the game, especially reading your messages and seeing hints of the outer world.

Over the last decade, there's been a resurgence of games that mix daily-life into the atmosphere of the game (like Persona) along with story-telling that focuses on AI, hacking, and our interactions with gaming (especially post-VR). In the modern landscape, I think .hack could fit in very well.

Plus, most of all, my sister is extremely excited to revisit these games. As a kid, these games (especially GU) represented a feeling on belonging others felt from MMO without the harassment that comes with being girl in these online spaces. Do I'll always respect these games for giving her that.

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Vasta_Narada

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@boonsong said:

@vasta_narada: Those are all very fair points. I think why I personally hold the IMOQ series higher than G.U. is because of the story and characters. I just couldn't get into G.U. because it just felt so generic comparatively. I also have a generally high tolerance for broken/bad gameplay mechanics, so I guess I kind of can look past some of the more frustrating moments in the original series.

One thing both series shared was the shitty VA, as you mentioned. I wish IMOQ had not locked the Japanese voices behind a New Game+, would have been so much better without the English dub.

@confusedowl said:

Also god help you if you get into an encounter with enemies that can revive each other in the original series.

Oh fuck, you literally just gave me flashbacks of some repressed memories.

I think a lot of why the VA in the series is so awkward is because the line timing is locked to what the Japanese timing was; it's not like nowadays where scenes are redone to match English VA. To be honest, I didn't even know JP audio was a feature in IMOQ. I have a quirk where I never do NG+ because I really enjoy the progression in JRPGs from dumb broadsword to Shiny Sword of Ultimate Destruction, advancing skill trees, etc.

@vasta_narada: It's alright, maybe not worth the $60 or so I spent on it in hindsight but it's definitely a neat thing to have on the shelf next to everything else. It is by the same people who made the Naruto games as far as I know. If you've played the Ultimate Ninja Storm games you have a good idea on what it's like to play it. The character roster is also extremely limited. It has 8 characters and 4 of them are re-skins of kite/duel dagger users.

8 characters? What the fuck? I might pick it up for like $20 just to collect it, but holy shit. I guess it was a pack in with that CG movie, but jeeeeeeeeez.

Cheers, everyone. It definitely sounds like something I want to try! I'm off to read the story of the first games.

Hope you enjoy it! If you find yourself wanting more, .hack was always conceived as a transmedia franchise, so there are a few anime/novels/manga to check out as well. Off the top of my head, the relevant materials are .hack//Sign (anime, prequel to IMOQ games, extremely dialogue heavy and very not for everyone), .hack//AI Buster (novel, prequel to IMOQ games), .hack//Liminality (anime, occurs at the same time as IMOQ), and of course .hack//Roots (anime, prequel-ish to GU). There's more, but you don't need the rest of it for the larger story IMO.

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deactivated-5b85a38d6c493

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Is anyone playing this? I just finished Vol 1 and generally enjoyed it. I recommend to anyone who is annoyed by the English VA to switch to Japanese audio, it's not as bad imo.

I was surprised by how extremely easy the game is, at least in the first volume, and that would be my main criticism. The game wants you to do a bunch of side quests and go through dungeons outside of the main story content but the problem is you level up so quickly that you become overpowered in no time. Practically every type of offensive or defensive item/spell became useless because I was one hit killing almost every enemy. Only time I even had to worry about using a healing item was at the last fight but even then there was no real fear of failure. It's almost a complete opposite to the unbalanced difficulty of IMOQ.

That said I enjoyed the fake MMO aspect of the game. Reading the message boards, e-mails etc. The story is pretty fun but man is it cheesy sometimes. The MC is also a real edgelord.

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DonChipotle

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Oh this came out? I played G.U. 1 and 2 back in the PS2 days but never got around to 3. I remember them being...enjoyable in spite of itself. I might pick 'em up.

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@donchipotle: Yeah it's out on Steam. They added a new 4th volume as well.

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Zeik

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@boonsong: Yeah, the difficulty balance was my main criticism of the combat when I originally played it. If you're fighting enemies around your level the combat can be fun and reasonably challenging, but outlevel by even a couple levels and fights are a joke. It sucks that the remaster only seems to have added modifiers to make it even more stupidly easy rather than any way to up the difficulty.

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@zeik: It's a shame they went that route. They should have added a Hard mode or something. Though there is something to be said about one shot killing a boss and everyone in the next cut scene acting like it was a big challenge. Feels like you're playing on New Game+ or have a GameShark code activated.

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#20  Edited By Efesell

With the new exp curve just tend to avoid the optional areas everyone sends you to level up on and you generally stay on pace for a normal difficulty.

I understand why some seem a little frustrated with it being made a bit easier but if all three volumes are here in one package I'm gonna need each one to move a bit faster.

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#21  Edited By ConfusedOwl

I can't help but shake my head at the decision to the lower difficulty further. I don't remember anything in the original games being so hard that justifies doing that. If they really needed to make it easier than at least make it an option instead of forcing it. Difficulty options exist in other games. It feels like the only reason I'm using any of the games systems other than mashing the attack button is so I can get the achievements.

Other than that I'm enjoying it. This release reminds me of why I fell in love with this series back in 2007.

@boonsong said:

That said I enjoyed the fake MMO aspect of the game. Reading the message boards, e-mails etc. The story is pretty fun but man is it cheesy sometimes. The MC is also a real edgelord.

I also love the MMO stuff. They went way further with it in this series compared to the first four games. I love that they have an art forum where you can download peoples fanart and use them as desktop wallpapers. I also really like Haseo, he starts out as a major asshole but matures a lot throughout the series. You can also kind of see why he is the way he is if you look into his back story. Though I'll admit that 13 year old me was totally into that edgy "Terror of Death" shit back in the day.

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I'm really enjoying playing it again. Some parts of the story seem pretty corny as an adult, I thought a player-killer-killer was so cool as a kid. Hope this leads to more .hack stuff in the future.

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Zeik

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@confusedowl: Wait, they made the base game easier too? I thought it was just through the optional modifiers? That's...the exact opposite of what they needed to do with G.U.'s difficulty curve.

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Efesell

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#24  Edited By Efesell

There's a flat increase to EXP gained and damage dealt, enemy defenses might also be weaker. Personally I don't notice it all that much because I don't do content that will level me past what the story wants me to be but if you go that route it is real easy to blaze through everything.

The actual cheat mode is really bad because it's just like...what if you had a cheat table or trainer and forced every option to be always on.

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@confusedowl: The amount of detail that went into making the message boards, news section and all that stuff seem real is honestly pretty impressive. Like seeing callbacks to previous threads, members that are regular posters etc. I especially like how there is one thread early on about wanting CC Corp to bring back The World R:1, basically the vanilla version, and people arguing whether or not that version was better or if it's just based in nostalgia.

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Efesell

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The news section also did a really good job of basically showing us what our current VR was going to look like.

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Zeik

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#27  Edited By Zeik

@efesell: That's still kind of mind boggling and a little infuriating to me, because the unbalanced exp curve was one of the biggest problems with the original game. To hear they not only didn't fix it but made it worse is one of the most baffling decisions I've heard in awhile.