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kid_gloves

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Its a specific trait of japanese genre fiction, its not even particularly unique to JRPGs which IMO are less overrun by hero's journey than they are coming of age stories. A good example would be the Yakuza games, starring a man who starts in his late 30s then eventually is near 50 by the end of his arc, Kiryu is every bit as naive and idealistic as your typical JRPG lead. I think it comes down to a larger focus on ideals as a story telling device, they are less interested in gritty details and minutia and more on bigger ideas that divide or lead people/groups. You point out the plucky heroes but just as common is the well meaning idealistic bad guy who believes what they are doing is for the better of all. I do not see this as a bad thing or even an annoying thing, its just a different perspective on plot and character..... the very good ones do more with it and develop beyond cookie cutter characters and tropes while the lesser games use it as a crutch. As others have pointed out the western style is just as trope heavy and filled with identical plots but just with different tropes they focus on, to me an idealistic romp for well meaning good in a jrpg is an antidote to the countless gruff cynical everyone and everything is fucked tales coming out of the west. They are different types of unrealistic, in the jrpg sense it is realistic that a person would believe those things and work towards them..... unrealistic that they would accomplish much with it; for the western ones its realistic that a world is not black and white and good doesnt always triumph.... but unrealistic that the violent cynics are or would be heroic in any way (I BELIEVE IN NOTHING BUT KILLING THE BAD GUYS).

Anyways its not counter to your criticism of JRPGs sharing a lot of DNA but a game series like the Falcom Trails series or the Suikoden games take those starting points of common tropes, then just go the extra miles developing the characters and situations into being far more complex and interesting. Suikoden with its plots of civil war and family, Trails with its intense focus on developing every character (even npcs) into being fully formed 3d characters. And honestly that is what tropes are for, they are a shorthand so that we can understand a character quickly and get up to speed, the good stuff builds off that. Tropes are not bad.

There are JRPGs that deviate from this stuff, but they are rarely the big budget mainstays. Absolutely never expect DQ to be anything but what it has always been, the series is great but its almost about being a comfortingly similar tale each time, FF is designed to market to the largest base possible. Try stuff more off the beaten path, SMT games are rarely about coming of age (outside persona), the tactics genre is usually not as well so try Tactics Ogre or Front Mission. Radiant Historia is a really overlooked DS (and recently re-released on 3DS) traditional time hopping jrpg starring an adult mercenary with loss issues. The Shadow Hearts games are really good too (getting kinda expensive though) in their strange setting and oddball characters. I would stay away from Tales of games, I enjoy them enough but they are jrpg/anime trope heaven and much of the enjoyment is getting to know the characters and seeing how they will slightly tweak expectations of those tropes game to game.

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kid_gloves

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Gran Pulse was fun for a short while since its open and lets you fully tinker with all the moving parts of the battle system, then I got tired of the battle system and never picked the game up again.

Basically I fell for the same trap you did @zombiepie, people saying it gets better at this point and me pushing myself to get there. But the story keeps falling apart in new and worse ways, why is anything happening? Letting me tinker with the battle system just burned me out on the one thing I kinda liked about the game..... IT WAS A TRAP!

I never continued playing past this point, I asked my brother a week after I got there "does the story ever make any good on any of my numerous questions" and he basically said no so I quit.

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Yes the bosses are harder in games earlier than Ys Seven, but not greatly though. Grinding is a minor thing in these games and doing so can change a boss from seemingly impossible to not that hard (depending on the boss, and patterns). The game pre and post Ys seven are less about trading blows and more about not getting hit and memorizing patterns, if you made it though 6 Felghana shouldn't be too much of an issue.... but I remember the first couple of bosses being harder than normal. Just grind a couple of levels and you should be good to go, thankfully since the games combat is so fast paced grinding a couple of levels shouldnt take more than 15-20 minutes.... something I really love about the series.

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@lentfilms: I only do so if they know they "like" the series. If you plan on playing them all or at least the modern ones then going back to less refined ones may not be the best idea.

I will agree with your choices for the best ones though, I think I may like Celcetta better than VIII just a bit.

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#5  Edited By kid_gloves

@thewildcard said:

Seven was also my first Ys game, and I was pretty smitten with it upon playing it. Seems like a lot of older fans of the series don't care for it, though I couldn't really tell you why.

As a long time Ys fan I can shed some light on why Seven is usually not considered one of the best. There are probably many minor quibbles like: the PSP being the target meant lower res textures and a less technically impressive game, it is the first game to go all polygons for character and enemy models and the old sprite work was great, it being handheld only (for a long time) being a big shift. But really the major reason Seven is considered a lesser Ys game is that it was the first game in the series to do a dodge button (instead of jump) and the first one to have multiple characters with switching and the slash/blunt/pierce dynamic. Now that is not a bad change it just replaces something that had been refined over the course of the previous 3 games and as a result you get a more unrefined experience that isnt as tightly tuned. The next game made (Celcetta) for Vita improved and refined the system and Ys 8 refined it further and are better games because of iteration on the concept. So it isnt that Seven is bad its that its the most unrefined of its combat engine, people have similar feelings about Ys 6 because it was the first with its combat engine too.

So I would recommend that 6 or seven be peoples first game in their respective engines (6, Felghana, Origins are the same engine Seven/Celcetta/8 are the same engine) because then you get to see the combat improve along with playing through them, going backwards might be more difficultt.

edit: Also welcome to the Ys series! There isn't a bad game in the bunch and they are all an old-school joy to play. No dev currently working understands what people liked about jrpgs in the 80s/90s more than falcom (i guess because they were making them then too!) and they are keeping the classic spirit alive.

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The story in this game is one gigantic shrug. I actually enjoyed Faith's area and plot, it was dumb and cheesy but struck the right tone as if it knew it was silly. I did Jacobs last and it was just bad, and the ending (resist) was just bad. I didn't really care by that point I had finished all my open world shenanigans and decided to see the plot through.

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I will suggest that people definitely get a couple of health upgrades early on, the game seems balanced around you not ignoring those even if you are stealth first and some of the story missions can be hard if you do not take them... especially the final story missions in the first area (John Seed).

@rorie Early on I had the same problem with VIPs but at some point they are no longer much of a problem at all.... It is odd since there is no real damage upgrade other than maybe better weapons. The weapons system though seems more geared towards what types you prefer more than greater damage. I found that automatic weapons are definitely better than semi-auto for rifles, the damage increase is far outdone by the dps of an auto weapon.

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#8  Edited By kid_gloves

The story is all over the place, it isnt so simple as "the story is bad" its more like it wildly goes between interesting and decently executed moments to jarringly poorly executed and out of place moments, the end result may be "another mediocre unimportant video game story" but moment to moment it is never mediocre. I will say that visually the game is doing a bang up job at all times, it is colorful and interestingly presented, so maybe more style over substance here.

The gameplay is by far the best the series has ever had, I have recently played a good chunk of Far Cry 4 and I can say that it seems they have really ramped up the wacky sandbox who knows what is going to happen next stuff. I have been saving videos of all the insane open world moments I have had and its been a lot so far. Exploring the world is a delight, if you dig just poking around a big beautiful world then this is fantastic for that. The preppers caches are a small but very very good addition that makes the world and exploration feel more worth it.

People haven't been talking about the OST much but it is really fantastic. You may have heard some of the classic country, bluegrass, and folksy stuff from some videos or previews (it plays all the time in the menus) but the game also has some really weird genre mashups that I dont even know how to really describe, some ambient... some electronica, some real creative and good stuff there. Of note to me is in one of the game areas that is heavily about the drug aspects of the game the music often takes on a kinda disturbing dissonant tone that is kinda rad.

If you can ignore or just kinda tolerate the main plot stuff (and some groan worthy jokes in some side missions) then the game is kinda fantastic, the best of its kind. If you dont think you can do that or if you are absolutely burned out on Far Cry style games then look elsewhere. The game makes significant improvements to the Far Cry formula but doesn't fundamentally change what the fundamentals are of the series.

Edit: I forgot that yes the game is buggy in that open world AI sort of way, a bit more than the previous couple of games have been. I find that stuff to be often kinda hilarious, but it can at times be annoying.

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#9  Edited By kid_gloves

I am actually coming around on the story a bit right now, the first area I did (John Seed) was.... really jarringly dark and I was totally seeing what everyone was criticizing about the tone. But now I am about 75% of the way through the Faith Seed area and I.... kinda love this shit? It is goofy and dumb and suddenly it seems to know it? I highly doubt it will continue this way and I bet knowing what details are in the game about the final area that its going to be more like the first one, but man I kinda love the stupid hippie nonsense shit that is happening right now.

The marshal being all drugged out and going on about how the real world sucks while constantly putting his hands together and bowing is fucking killing me. Also I find the whole "Why are you fighting us? We mean you no harm, you are hurting innocent people!" shtick to be highly amusing in how silly it is considering they are kidnapping, heavily drugging people, and turning people into mindless zombies.

I will say that I came in with no expectations of enjoying any of the main plot, and have been looking at it like I am watching a cheesy B horror movie so your mileage may vary there.

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Definitely a new Horizon: Zero Dawn game for me. One thing people rarely talk about with that game is how it flirts with Bioware-esque or Witcher-esque side mission type stuff (never fleshed out to the same degree though) and dialogue system. I would love to see them expand that aspect of the game out more and make the second game a bit more RPG.

I really enjoyed the world being dangerous and not just a thing you walk through to get to icons, but I can see how people approaching it from a sandbox game direction would find that tedious.....

The concept of them going back to Killzone is..... I mean you should just put those ideas to rest now and save yourself the mental effort. The most popular game in that franchise is 2 and the ones after it were diminishing in quality and hype. Even if they move on from Horizon (which they will absolutely not do) they will not return to Killzone again any time soon, the next time a game in that series gets made (if ever) it will be a full on reboot once its firmly in its nostalgia phase.