While simply describing God Eater 3 as a Monster Hunter clone might be a little disingenuous, it does comfortably sum up the core tenets of its gameplay. Much like Capcom’s seminal slaying series, you’ll explore pre-defined areas and face off against monsters of varying sizes. You’ll hack off body parts and use the resources you loot to craft more powerful upgrades and, just like Monster Hunter, you’ll hunt some monsters either solo or as a team. There’s even a time limit ticking away in the background. It might sound like a knock, but God Eater 3 takes a formula you know and simply riffs on it to create something loud, bombastic and rewarding.
First launched on other platforms back in February 2019, Bandai Namco hasn’t rushed the transition to Switch, and with good reason. God Eater Burst and God Eater 2 were originally designed with handheld hardware in mind, but this latest entry was the first to discard the limitations of PSP and PS Vita in favour of current-gen consoles. And while the version that now graces Nintendo’s hybrid machine features visuals that have taken a little bit of a hit - there’s noticeable blurring and screen-tearing at times - from a performance perspective, the God Eater series has retained the agency and synergy of its previous iterations in portable form.
You’ll begin your story as an AGE (or Adaptive God Eater), a human who’s been biologically bound to a giant mystical weapon because reasons. With the world having been overrun by a series of monsters known as Aragami, it turns out these oversized weapons - called God Arcs - are the only sharp implements capable of slaying them, so it’s up to you to do your masters’ bidding and go hunt you some monster. While you could fashion new weapons based on the fallen body parts of beasts in the Monster Hunter series, God Eater 3 really runs with this idea. God Arcs are multi-faceted devices that possess multiple forms that can be accessed in battle.
There are eight melee forms, four gun-based forms and three shield forms, but the catch is you’ll need to customise your God Arc with blueprints and monster materials before you can access them all. As a conceit, it’s a clean and simple way of tying the cycle of combat and upgrades together and one that will see you pursuing both Story missions and Optional quests, with each one assigned a rank depending on their difficulty. While Story mode is there to further the narrative (and unlock further ranks), Optional is where you’ll find God Eater 3’s long game. Loot drops are based on a percentage, and luckily your chances of getting some sweet new resources are calculated for you.
Whether you’re playing with the default design for your God Arc or with a souped-up version, you can ensure you take down Aragami that little bit easier with a new style of special attack called Burst Arts. Similar to the Blood Arts found in God Eater 2, these moves see your weapon grow an actual mouth and take an actual bite out of your current foe. From here, you can then access a variety of ground, air and step-based manoeuvres that do large amounts of damage in suitably dramatic style.
You can play through the entire campaign solo (with AI companions) or you can cooperatively tackle missions with up to three other players locally or online. There’s even support for eight-player raid-style missions, where you’ll take on much larger Aragami as part of a bigger team. We hope God Eater 3 forms a strong online community because this is easily the most enjoyable way to experience its team-based battles. Assault missions are also a brilliant way to team up with a friend in co-op.
As a port, God Eater 3 is a real joy. That aforementioned downgrade to the visuals is perceptible, but not overwhelming. Sure, there are a few too many generic and drab maps to explore (most of which have a forgettable Darksiders feel about them), but that’s a fault of the game’s initial design, not the Nintendo Switch alone. By accepting a few aesthetic sacrifices, God Eater 3 runs incredibly well. We only experienced a few brief moments of slowdown, and that was only when playing online. Even then, these were very rare instances and in no way reflective of our overall experience we had with the game.
Most of the time - even in eight-man raids - the frame rate tends to sit at a stable 30fps. God Eater 3 joins the likes of Mortal Kombat 11 as a multiplatform port that’s retained much of a game’s quality in the transition back to handheld hardware. Not only that, but Switch owners can play through the campaign in local co-op - a feature you won’t find on PC or PS4. This is very much on par with other versions of the game, so Switch adopters won’t have to worry about investing in an inferior iteration.
While God Eater 3 has taken a bit of a knock in the visuals department, it’s a sacrifice that’s more than worth it for mostly consistent performance and a steady framerate. The inclusion of local co-op is a real boon for Nintendo Switch owners, especially as there’s no telling how the game’s online community will fare in the months to come. With all the current content updates and patches included at launch, you’re arguably getting a version as good as - if not arguably better than - those on PC and PS4. If you’re longing for an alternative to Monster Hunter and you can’t wait for Dauntless, this is your next port of call.