Worst Gacha Ever | Episode 2 - Ni no Kuni: Cross Worlds
Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to coexist in a world filled with millions of other players, masterfully crafted by Level-5, the very same group of talented people behind the incredible Dark Cloud and Dark Chronicle games, Dragon Quest 8, and set within the magical universe of Ni no Kuni?
Because that’s what I feel like we all expected from this. Regardless of whether you enjoy the game or not, for better or worse, what we were ultimately presented with was quite different.
Hey, my name is Stix and welcome to another episode of “Worst Gacha Ever.” A video series where we play through every single Gacha game and analyze what the game does right.. and what it does wrong.
Ni no Kuni Cross Worlds is a gorgeous new MMORPG developed by Netmarble in collaboration with Level-5 Studios.
It is currently available on PC, Android and iOS devices, but to play the game on PC you need to download it on your mobile device, connect it to something like your Google account as an example, proceed to download the PC client and connect to it via your PC to the same Google account.
You cannot download and play the PC iteration of the game on its own. You are 100% required to connect via Mobile first.
This is quite the topic of contention online. Many potential players don’t want to have to download and install it on their phones first, and I can relate. I’m already recording footage for Azur Lane, Epic Seven, Arknights and Blue Archive. My iPhone has very limited storage left!
Whichever platform you choose to commit to, upon logging into the game you’ll be presented with 5 unique classes, all of which are unfortunately gender-locked. As is popular in Korean MMOs.
The Swordsman, a melee damage dealer. The witch or Mage, a.. well, a magic damage dealer. The Rogue, who.. despite what you’d think upon first inspection, is an archer. The Engineer, which plays the role of support, healing DPS that stand in AoEs. And finally, the Destroyer. The meat-shield.
Choose your class wisely though! Because if you have regrets later, there’s hours and hours of tutorials you’ll be forced to sit through in an attempt to catch up.
You’re presented with a basic selection of customization options when creating your character. Eye and hair colors. Skin color. Hairstyle. This is elaborated on as you unlock Outfits later in the game.
After unlocking Outfits, you’ll have a selection of full-outfits, hairstyles, hair decorations, accessories, and makeup to unlock and equip. You can also dye your costumes, adding a slightly deeper layer to customization depth. And that covers customization.
After logging in, you’ll be greeted by an immensely large open world. The intro is something right out of Breath of the Wild. Ganon is upset with Zelda. You run in. Stuff happens. Fast forward a few minutes. There we are, on a grand adventure.. with.. the dollar store Navi.
Immediately, you’ll be greeted with a message telling you to use auto-pathing. And let me stop there for a moment. I know what you’re thinking – “wait, auto-play? I hate auto-play, this is trash!” I dislike auto-pathing in my games, too. I don’t loathe it like I do with auto-combat, because at times auto-routing definitely has its uses.
But this game priorities utilizing it. If you don’t, you’ll often find yourself lost with no real direction. You’re given the option of disabling each and every single auto-feature within the game. So before some of you complain “But you can disable it, so you don’t NEED to use it,” I’m aware.
But when a game is built around auto-mechanics, it is often limited by them. There’s a noticeable difference in terms of quality between a game built to play itself for you, and a game built to have you play it.
After auto-pathing to your first quest objective, you’re greeted by your first real quest. And your first taste of combat. The combat had my attention for the first moment. I couldn’t wait to see how this game played.
It looked absolutely stunning up until this point – but upon seeing my character begin moving towards the enemies and casting her abilities on her own, I came to the realization of what kind of game this was.
Yes, you would auto-path to your quest objectives. But at the same time, you would also auto-engage enemies in combat. And over the course of the next 8 hours of playing, I wasn’t required to pay a single second of attention to any fights whatsoever.
You equip potions in the shortcut bar across from your level and HP bar, so if you ever find yourself taking damage you will immediately heal so long as HP potions are equipped.
Despite fighting monsters, bosses, I never saw my HP drop below 80%. In 8 hours of playing, I happened across not a single moment of challenge.
Although if I’m being entirely honest, in 8 hours of playing, maybe 15 minutes was spent in combat. Approximately 4 hours was spent in cutscenes and chat windows. 2 hours sifting through all of the horrendous forced mobile tutorials.
And the final hour and 45 minutes being required to raise my reputation by running around the town talking to all the village idiots. And that was 8 hours worth of gameplay.
Don’t get me wrong – there is plenty to like about the game.
I haven’t seen many mobile games that have the aesthetic appeal that this game does. This game is astonishingly beautiful. The character models are high quality. The animations are fluid. The environments are crisp and smooth.
The game is voice acted – with the same quality English dub that you’d find within the original Ni no Kuni games. I personally loved it – but I know there are some people that found fault with it.
The narrative is better than I expected. Typically, mobile games are a snooze fest. Very rarely are you compelled enough to read through or listen to the story unfold. Which is the opposite for Cross Worlds.
Yet for what the game does right, it does so much more wrong.
On the one hand, there’s too much text present within the game. Every quest, every side quest. Every tutorial has countless windows to make your way through. So much so that you often spend more time closing windows, skipping conversations than you do playing the game.
There is a functional Skill system present within the game. You have access to Class Skills, Special Skills and Passive Skills. You can level them up, and equip them onto your incredibly tiny ability wheel. As a Mage, I had access to various elemental abilities, allowing me to focus on a specific affinity if I were so inclined.
This provides you with some freedom and unique class identity.
There is a Mount system present, which carries with it the potential to be very pay to win, as each mount provides Combat Power to your character – and as Mounts are typically sold within Cash Shops, the rarer, more powerful Mounts are most definitely going to provide an added statistical advantage, as is evident by what is currently available.
It has your typical mobile equipment system. You auto-equip gear and get bags of materials to upgrade, enhance or awaken them.
There’s a Familiar system – which is where the Gacha elements come in to play. There are varied rarities for Familiars – with base Combat Power effectively increasing for every additional star your Familiar has. As an example, I had a single 4* little tadpole thing. It provided 16,000 Combat Power as opposed to the 1* that offered only 1,000.
You can see how pay to win this system is going to be. The more powerful the Familiar, the more powerful your character. When combined with Mounts, you’re going to have the potential to be exponentially more powerful than free players. Given you can equip 3 Familiars at a time, the power gap is going to become unreasonably large.
There’s a Guild system present in the form of “Kingdoms,” allowing players to join a unified force and fight for the betterment of society, protecting your Kingdom from monstrous invasions in the Kingdom Defense game mode. Which unfortunately I didn’t get to participate in because I’m a Ronin. And people don’t like me. But more the former.
Like every Mobile game, there are Dailies you can take and complete every day, and worse than dailies: Reputation quests. Unfortunately the story – and subsequently progression is gated behind reputation, meaning if you are to continue with the story, you’re going to first be forced to complete all of the reputation quests to further your reputation.
I find this an arduous process to have to partake of. I dislike having progression be gated behind content I’m not particularly fond of. I disliked this recently in Tower of Fantasy, and dislike it equally as much here.
There are various Challenge modes you can do. Chaos Field. Dimensional Border. Labyrinth of Dreams. Field Bosses. After 8 hours I had only unlocked the Labyrinth and Field Boss modes, and honestly.. the Labyrinth was a single room with waves of enemies that you auto-battle. So it’s a game mode you let run while you’re playing other games.
And Field Bosses were just never alive when I attempted to find them. Even swapping channels.
I wish I’d managed to unlock the PvP game mode, but unfortunately after 8 hours it remained locked. Maybe I’m just slow, I don’t know.
Netmarble also confirmed that they are going to be implementing both Blockchain into the game along with NFTs over the course of 2022. Which – I get it – they want to make as much money as they possibly can. But I don’t think you could’ve made a worse design choice if your goal was longevity.
Because once implemented, any person that genuinely enjoyed this game is going to leave, and it’ll be filled with people who’s goal is to make a quick buck.
Is Ni no Kuni Cross Worlds the worst Gacha game of 2022? Hardly. The game has a focus on and prioritizes both auto-pathing and auto-combat, meaning there is little in terms of manual play required.
Again, you can disable these but why would you? The game is built around them as a feature, and it feels clunkier without it. Yet it’s also absolutely gorgeous, with a compelling main story – not all of the side content. Those forced side-conversations can go die in a fire.
Ultimately, I feel as though the game is largely filled with too much fluff. Too many unimportant things to do. We don’t need 30 poorly designed features. We need a few really good ones to keep us entertained – enthralled with what is available.
Unfortunately, nothing in Ni no Kuni Cross Worlds does that for me. At the end of the day, this is a very average game, and with the upcoming Blockchain and NFT implementation, it’s going to become a trash one.