For a genre which feels impenetrable to the common player, the God Eater series has managed to release a couple titles in the last few months. God Eater 2: Rage Burst brings a sequel with improvements to mechanics, but perhaps not as fulfilling on the story side as the original. The key factor is the accessibility this title brings, giving new players a much needed place to start in the hunting game.
For those who have not been keeping up with the series, God Eater is a hunting game akin to Monster Hunter. The tropes which haunt these types of games are what make people either love or hate them. The cycle of preparing your squad, hunting down gigantic beasts, and repeating said hunt for materials required for the next piece of shiny gear is one that has a certain niche appeal. I’m simplifying here but the grind is real and this is what has kept me away from sticking with games of this nature.
The God Eater series itself plays in the realm of futuristic fantasy. A world sundered by demons called the Aragami and defended by a small group of elite soldiers who wield giant weapons called God Arcs. God Eater 2: Rage Burst features a special forces squad called ‘Blood Unit’, tasked with protecting humanity from the ever growing populace of Aragami. What you need to know going into God Eater 2: Rage Burst is that there are big monsters to hunt down and well, “eat,” in a sense, because otherwise they will take over the planet. Fortunately, if you ever need a refresher on anything, the game provides an encyclopedic sized database you can stuff your nose into.
One of the title’s biggest inconsistencies, for me, lies within the strength of the story. I was interested in the plot of the original, but Rage Burst doles out an underwhelming story at a stagnant pace. Twenty hours in and I’m still in the same area, with a couple more characters, and the story has gone no where. It’s worth stating that this time investment represents little to no grinding with a focus on completing story missions. After each mission the story progresses, but at a snail’s pace, and ultimately feels quite drab. I was interested in where the story went onward from the previous God Eater games, but God Eater 2: Rage Burst doesn’t deliver on this front.
The gameplay loop for the game goes something like this: 1 . Prepare for your mission. 2. Hunt down one or more Aragami. 3. Once defeated, eat said Aragami 4. Digest materials into beautiful new God Arcs (weapons) 5. Repeat.
Now I don’t know what is so engrossing about this simple premise, but God Eater 2: Rage Burst has managed to scratch the hunting itch and package it into an accessible action RPG. Since the hunt is more combat based versus tracking based (as seen in Monster Hunter), it keeps players engaged. This may be a tradeoff you’re not willing to take if you are a Monster Hunter veteran, but I’d rather spend five minutes fighting and defeating an Aragami than chasing around a beast for fifteen minutes.
The combat is simple, chaotic, and fun. God Arc weapons can swap between melee and ranged forms, and also come equipped with a shield. Ranged ammo is fueled by Oracle Points, which are then filled by successful melee attacks. The Oracle system forces players to switch back and forth between ranged and melee, which sets the pace of combat to a fun dance between you and the Aragami. It’s not elegant but it is satisfying enough, especially when the newly featured Blood Arts are integrated.
Blood Arts are equipable skills which add both passive and active abilities to melee weapons. Each weapon has a skill tree full of Blood Arts which can be equipped before a mission to change a characteristic of the weapon to do more damage, add an elemental attribute, or a powerful special attack. Blood Arts are leveled up through use, opening up new paths in the tree and giving access to new skills for the weapon.
The final piece of the game is the crafting, which can be as deep or shallow as you want. The pursuit of materials for better gear is really the motivation for playing any hunting game. God Eater 2: Rage Burst has systems in place to limit the amount of grinding required to craft and upgrade weapons. This is something for which I can’t thank them enough since the game already recycles maps and monsters when playing naturally. Of the six melee weapons, four guns, and three shields that make up the God Arc arsenal I didn’t have a favorite. I tended to upgrade what I could, when I could, and used the weapon that suited the mission best. It all felt natural, and maybe it speaks to the depth of the game, but I wasn’t looking to get bogged down in alchemizing the perfect loadout. I simply wanted to slay monsters with over-sized weapons and this is a great place to do so.
I want to touch on some of the superficial aspects of God Eater 2: Rage Burst. One of the biggest draws of the game was being able to play God Eater on a non-handheld platform. Even though hunting games are rooted in the mobile culture of Japan, the preference in the West is online play, making the console/PC ports a welcome addition. Playing on PC looks great with a locked 60 FPS, but unfortunately this does not cover the handheld origins of the game. The environments are small and empty with textures reminiscent of the PS2 era. Again, all of this is superficial but is worthy of note as I find it weird that the series has made the jump to new hardware, but has yet to shed its handheld skin.
Although the game is fine solo, the hunting genre is all about co-op play and God Eater 2: Rage Burst is no exception. This is even more apparent since the AI in the game is lobotomized and act as meat shields while you cut away at the Aragami. If you can, you should convince a crew of 2-4 people who are interested in stepping into this style of game, because the game feels like it is designed around playing with a semi-dedicated group. Craft up some weapons to compliment each other and assign roles, like heavy hitter, ranged expert, support healer to really get the most out of your god eating.
I’m happy God Eater 2: Rage Burst exists, but I had hoped for a larger effort from a sequel. The recycling of assets and obvious handheld wrinkles makes it feel more like an expansion; a sidestep rather than moving the series forward. The addition of Blood Arts adds a new layer the simple combat, but I can’t help but wonder why they weren’t integrated into the remake, God Eater Resurrection. If you are wondering about playing through Resurrection before Rage Burst, I would opt for going straight to Rage Burst; much of the content from the first is included, and the Blood Arts are a necessary addition to the combat. Rage Burst is a great entry point into the genre and series. If you and a group of friends have been afraid to tackle Monster Hunter I would say step into the buffet line and start feasting on some deities. God Eater 2: Rage Burst grew on me. It is flawed, but it fills the need for an accessible hunting game. Just be ready for anime, lots and lots of anime.