Summary: I take control of Reyn before meeting up with Fiora, face near death several times and begin to explore Tephra Cave and the Mag Mell Ruins.
Location: Colony 9
After a customary five minutes reacquainting myself with the menus (still finding needing to do this a little odd), I make Reyn my leader. I switch the order of his arts on the Battle Palette, damage-centric goes on the left, aura and defence-centric on the right. The Aura arts are split into two broad categories; there are Aura arts which provide some sort of buff, and there are arts that can only be used while any Aura is up.
I encounter another Challenge Quest monster on the path to Tephra Cave, but this is one I can handle. It's level was a little lower than the others, but I'm not sure this alone is a good indication of whether I can take it on. It'd be nice to have some way to judge their general strength (i.e. FF Gjryir'f zrgubq bs punatvat gur pbybhe bs gur rarzvrf anzrf qrcraqvat ba ubj uneq gurl jbhyq or sbe lbh) before engaging.
Something I only realised as the chest drop spawned after killing the Challenge Quest monster was that you can determine what a chest will hold depending on how impressive it looks. Basic materials get a basic chest, ether crystals (note, not the equippable gems) and basic equipment get a slightly larger chest, and the best drops come in these fancy containers.
Fiora surprises me at the entrance to the Tephra Caves and is as no-nonsense as ever. I was expecting that she would join soon, but I didn't think I'd see her here. Makes me wish I had gotten her into my party first and then gone on a questing spree. She does at least come at level 10 like the guys and with some AP and SP. Her skill trees are: 1) Daring (Strength Bonus), 2) Courage (Crit % Bonus) and 3) Zeal (% HP Bonus).
I leave her on Courage and wonder if more trees unlock later in the game. It'll take thousands of SP to max the three they have, but it seems very doable. I'm also wondering if the passive bonus for using a given skill tree increases as I unlock more skills in that tree? Critical hit rate up 4% is decent now, but in 20-30 levels time not so much.
As for Arts, I upgrade Screw Edge (inflicts Break) and Lacerate (Bleed Damage) a level each. She's a more offensive, less defensive, non-healing Shulk. Her HP is worryingly low too. I give her any of my left over equipment that's an improvement. It's at this time the game finally gives me the ability to raise my party members from KO.
The Party Gauge will increase whenever I press B at the right time in battle for an Affinity Boost or when I deal critical hits. One block will revive a party member, whereas all three blocks can be used to initiate a Chain Attack, which from it's description could easily be generalised as a limit break.
There's a new line of Monster Quest Parts here being given out by a member of the Defence Forces, and just behind me is a Heart to Heart I can actually do. This one is between Shulk and Reyn, and I notice before starting it that they already have the next level on the Affinity Chart from all those little bonuses I got from completing quests/battle affinity.
Enduring Friendship (H2H, Outside Tephra Cave, Shulk, Reyn):
Reyn: 1) "You know, that one time!" - Shulk: "
Reyn: 2) "You remember why he got angry with us, right? - Shulk: "Of course I do! /
Once more I apparently select the wrong answer on the first question, though it still improves our affinity. I also have to wonder if there are wrong answers or just <i>very</i> wrong answers, as I can't see how I was supposed to guess the correct answer with nothing to go on here and there seemed to be little to no consequences for it. I suppose a strategy guide would state the numerically best answers and getting them all would give you a nice reward of some kind.
Location: Tephra Caves
A bonafide new location, Tephra Cave. It has its own Collectopaedia entry and everything!
It's kind of hard to tell, but has the red location dot on the Bionis moved slightly? Maybe it's not so big after all (though still clearly mahoosive). Another set of tutorial screens pop-up, here dealing with how to determine if monsters will attack on site or not. I just need to keep a lookout for an open eye symbol above the monster (if it will attack without provocation).
The Party Gauge is dropping out of battle, and while that's technically something I'd normally be happy with, pausing to take notes really isn't ideal (I use the home menu to completely pause the game from here on in). It also runs counter to the out of combat HP regeneration, which I have to rely on with only one other way to heal available. I realise this is probably hypocritical with my earlier comments.
This place feels like a proper dungeon, I have branching and narrow paths, dead ends and, of course, deadly ambushes. This challenge quest monster, Cellar Bugworm, spawns after I've run into a pack of weaker monsters. Reyn's attack-all art takes out the minions, but I can't handle the big guy. I'm starting to think I'd be better placed leaving him under AI control. That's not to say I could have beaten it controlling Shulk, but the screen is awash with numbers and attack effects so it's hard to keep track of whether I need to use one of my aggro pulling arts or not. I'll give Fiora a shot in the next part.
Reyn and Fiora go down, but thankfully I had enough Party Gauge blocks for Shulk to bring us back. I then start running and luckily I move outside its area so the battle ends and we can stand around recovering our HP. You know what else was doing this? Yes, the Cellar Bugworm is also fully healed now so I take the other path. Also, unlike in the sprawling Colony 9, monsters that are part of my quests are located in finite numbers and in a very specific place.
A tutorial screen focusing more on Chain Attacks came up during that battle but... it wasn't an ideal time to try it out. Chain Attacks aren't as interesting as I thought, but perhaps they can expand in some way later. Specifically, while it may just be a charge-free art usage, I get bonuses for using the same types of art for everyone, most easily denoted by their colour. Red is damage focused, pink covers arts that inflict breaks, Reyn's aura arts are orange but arts that need an aura are purple, and so on. If I'm lucky, I'll have the chance to chain these attacks, though nothing of the sort occurred this part.
Location: Mag Mell Ruins
I reach the Mag Mell Ruins... which are inside the Tephra Caves? I had thought they said they were through the caves, but maybe I just misheard. It looks like a mining complex perhaps, with brushed metal floors and walls, and certainly not a ruin. Nobody knows what the Mag Mell Ruins really are, but Shulk's theory, from extensively researching this place, is that it could be a vehicle. Dealing with that in a moment, it still doesn't quite work with me that Shulk could be so knowledgeable about these things and be so young. How did he learn about all this? School? Dickson alone? How did he travel to these places as a kid? He's competent in combat, but doesn't appear to be anything special or particularly trained for it like, for example, Reyn.
And now the latter... is it an airship? Please let it be an airship!
That can't be good.
This flashing red light worries me, but I can't interact with it or anything else in this room for that matter. The path leads both to a locked and unlocked door. I can't do anything about the former, and through the latter are these Mell Lizards people have been warning us about (I also have a quest to take them out). And they're... really weak? They don't even look threatening, and even though five jumped me I come out fine.
Scratching my head about this lets their challenge quest big brother spawn right next to me, but I take care of him too. He's quite tough, so I try to keep it's aggro on Reyn then use his Guard Shift art which prevents me from attacking but boosts my defence. Fiora dies just as I fire off another Chain Attack but it doesn't slow me down long.
- Challenge 1 - Complete! (1800G)
- Challenge 4 - Complete! (2200G)
- Monster Quest 3: Part 3 - Complete! (800G)
- Monster Quest 4: Part 1 - Found and Complete! (1000G)
- Monster Quest 4: Part 2 - Found and Complete! (1500G)
- Monster Quest 4: Part 3 - Found and Complete! (1200G)
Next time: Retrieving the Ether Cylinders from the Mag Mell Ruins.