A Day with Namco Bandai
I rocked up to the Namco Bandai office in Waterloo yesterday not knowing what to expect. This is a place I walk past every day on my way to work, but I had never been invited inside… until now.
Introductions were made, a can of Coke was gifted to me (probably because Matt had told them I talk too much and it was an easy way to keep me quiet… or maybe just because they’re a hospitable bunch over there, who can say) and I was given a quick overview of the games on offer. Kingdom Hearts 2.8, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, Sword Art Online, Dragon Quest Builders, Tekken 7 and Final Fantasy 15 were the titles I was able to sit down with, and boy did I get my (theoretical) money’s worth.
The first thing I noticed was that every single chair in the Namco office is a rocking chair. As someone with a passion that borders on obsession for rocking chairs, this made me incredibly happy. Not relevant to any other part of my article, but worth saying. If you ever get a chance to visit the offices, do it, and sit on all the things. After sitting on every single chair in the room, I settled myself in one of them and started to play some games.
The one that stood out to me the most (apart from FF but I’ll get to that later) was Dragon Quest Builders. This is basically Minecraft in the Dragon Quest aesthetic with a storyline that drives your actions. Intending to only spend a bit of time with it, I found myself sucked into the world and gameplay for far longer than I had planned. Each completed mission gives you a new recipe to play with, and the thrill of finding out what that was going to be was enough to keep me hooked. Add in a vast world to explore and mine on top of humorous banter between characters and this is a title that’s going to appeal to the masses. I can’t wait to see more!
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 strikes me as similar to most other Dragon Ball games. You pick your character and you fly around and smack the crap out of them with a bunch of flashy lights. The demo build I played had limited characters and environments however everything looks great and runs smoothly. I personally couldn’t tell what was different between this title and the one that preceded it, but maybe that’s just me.
Sword Art Online (based on the popular novel series) is a console based J-RPG that looks and plays similar to an MMO. With a UI reminiscent of a range of MMORPG titles, this game had me running around in a forest bashing stuff about in order to fulfill quests for other people. Unlike an MMO where it’s just you, SAO has 3 other characters follow you around, and you all kill stuff together. The graphics look great, the controls were easily picked up and if the story is anywhere near as good as the novels then I think this one is going to be a winner.
Tekken 7 was one I was incredibly excited about. Due out in Q1 2017, this game will be released on PS4, Xbox One and for the very first time: PC. For Street Fighter fans, it features Akuma who has his own story mode to play through, as well as a range of brand new characters and old favourites. Controls are just as slick and intuitive as ever, character movement is refined and the whole game just looks polished and amazing. I cannot wait for this to be released, so I can have all my friends over and inevitably get my arse kicked. And then ridiculed. And then maybe cry a bit. I think I need new friends.
Finally, the game I played the longest and enjoyed the most, was Final Fantasy 15. I sunk 2 hours into this title before I realised what the time was, and had an absolute ball. Going in I wasn’t sure I’d appreciate this game due to the fact there are no playable female characters, but the four blokes who make up your party bring a lot to the table. A female just wouldn’t have fit the dynamic the game was trying to go for, which, now that I’ve played it, I understand.
Like all FF games, the graphics in this are absolutely breathtaking, but that’s where similarities between this game and past iterations come to an end. Gameplay wise, this plays very differently to other FF games we’ve seen before. It’s open world, with both story and side quests sending you all over the place. Battle style is reminiscent of FF12, where the enemies appear in the world before you and all you have to do is walk right up to them and bash their butts, however it’s a lot more fast paced and fun in this one.
Random points I enjoyed were:
- The day/night cycle, and how the world changes to reflect that (people won’t just sit in a restaurant at 3am- they’ll leave and return in the morning).
- Banter between the four guys is pretty damn funny. Although at one point one of the characters said the phrase “totes adorbs” and I wanted to punch him in the face. But apart from that, the characters dialogue is varied, witty and light-hearted (for the most part) and interesting to listen to.
- As you’re driving around the world you have the option of listening to the radio, which has a range of tracks from various Final Fantasy games. It makes travelling around the world just that much better.
- There’s a range of dialogue options when people ask you a question. How you answer these will affect how much EXP you receive, and the various reactions you get from the public.
- There’s a lot of items and objects to gather. You can collect herbs to cook with and also rocks and scraps, which I assume will be used for crafting down the track perhaps?
- Finally, the most important point… you can do a side quest for a cat. This involved me playing the fishing mini game, becoming incredibly frustrated over it and quitting. Then realising I couldn’t let the kitty down, so going back to it and mastering fishing. (Ok it was less “mastering” and more a total fluke, but whatever. I caught the cat his fish)
I don’t want to give too much away, as I think a lot of the appeal in this game is going to be experiencing it yourself. So all I’ll say is: get excited, guys. For fans and newcomers alike, I think this game is going to breathe some life back into the franchise that FF13 almost killed.