Whenever a game I play receives a big update that I feel like changes a lot about the game, I will revisit it. For Closers, this is the major update that removes fatigue because it puts everything in the game in a new context and suddenly, old problems are no longer a problem anymore and can be assets. The only games I have done multiple reviews like this prior to Closers are for Atlantica Online and Marvel Heroes. This update will only focus on the major changes.
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Everything leading up to the International Airport is pretty much exposition. The events that take place during the International Airport events sets up a proper antagonist for the first time in the form of Irina, who appears as a rainbow winged woman with a crossbow. She is not as formidable as Ash and Dust, but there is a lot more revealed about her than the others, making her the first true antagonist of the story. Post International Airport, the Black Lambs and the Wolf Dogs join forces against the group that eventually become known as the Anti-Closers. In addition to that, the portals that have opened are bringing in continuously more threatening enemies from beyond the Planar Gates. With fatigue gone, the story becomes a lot more enjoyable because it is something you can move at your own pace. You no longer have to wait for your first week's daily fatigue boost or your weekly reset to make some progress.
The graphics of the game uses cell shading to give it that cartoon look. As of the Sky Ship update, there are fewer repeating enemy types and more diversity overall, which gives even sections within each area a more unique feel than before. The combinations you encounter from wild animals to evil ghost like entities within the same area gives a greater sense of diversity that did not exist in the game before.
However, there is an issue with the camera. Once you unlock Special Agent on a character (only 4 are available right now), the EX skills look much more flashy than before, but this can cause camera issues as the game will attempt to zoom out, zoom in, or rotate in strange ways that may make you lose focus of your character. On top of that, many stages now have twists and turns, where the "Go" arrow cannot seem to find its direction and the camera makes it difficult to hit enemies in the background where they are not lined up with you. It is a small issue, but it can be annoying. With the way some new enemies behave, a better zoom would have been a massive improvement, but the game is the one who decides the maximum view distance in a given stage.
The game is Dungeon Fighter Online with updated graphics, but you can move in any of the eight directions. You can attack left and right, but some skills allow you to aim diagonally. With the recent updates, the "hit lag" that often causes Misteltein to freeze enemies is gone as well. The result is that the game feels more responsive as the delay between action and enemy reaction is greatly reduced. But, with the introduction of Harpy, Tina, and Violet, controls have become more complex as holding down the key to some skills are required to activate their additional effects now instead of just pressing a skill multiple times.
Stages are slightly longer once you get to the Refit Sky Ship. However, it is for the wrong reason. One of the ways the game has created a sense of difficulty is by reducing your stats. Every enemy after a certain point will take reduced damage from criticals. It does nothing to help combat the fact that critical damage is dominating the game. It does not make penetration builds, back attack builds, or chase attack builds more viable. It just results in an overall damage reduction until you get the new gear that essentially negates the penalty. This is a lazy way to create a sense of difficulty and I feel that it could have been done better by increasing the effects of penetration rather than reducing the power of criticals. The problem is not that critical builds are too powerful, but rather the other types of builds are useless because everything has super armor and it makes chase damage useless for anyone who is not Tina.
With fatigue gone, one major change is that the marketplace suddenly seems a lot more viable. The big problem before was that you needed Quality Assurance Seals, an item that drops from non-Planar Gate stages, in order to put up some items on the market. The result was that you had to choose between farming for your end game gear and farming to be able to sell used items on the market. The result is that the Black Market (marketplace) is more viable, but there are no items worth selling as almost all end game items are character locked. The result is that even raid loot is pretty much worth nothing once you get the gear from the raid boss on your character. If the game had more items that could be sold that were not from the item mall, then there might actually be a sustainable economy here. Instead, players rely on repeatable quests to get items like potions.
I also noticed that I now actually take the time to clear more of the quests on my list. When I take a look at my second and third characters in the form of Seha and Yuri, I found that I still had a lot of incomplete side quests, quests that I had skipped due to the fatigue cost associated with it. They were essentially quests that I deemed not worth completing. When I take at my new Violet, the only quests I did not complete are the Training Programs. I purposely went out of my way to complete almost all the quests available, something I did not do before.
One way the game has tried to deal with the issue of costumes granting power is by offering more fibers to make higher tier costumes and a lot more daily bonuses. But, I feel this is a mistake. The game needs to sell its cosmetics for money and they should not be giving them away from free. They should not be handing out Dark Command trial pieces with every event. They should be for something special. Instead, the costume upgrading system needs to be more consistent rather than luck based (100% for 1* to 2*, but 75% for 2* to 3*). Upgrading from two to three stars should not be by chance considering how hard the materials are to come by. They should be guaranteed, especially if you want people to be able to make them. It would even be fine for the fibers to cost more, especially the Synchro Fibers needed to combine the two costumes for a chance at Dark Command stuff.
End game is mostly restricted by daily entries, with the best gear coming from the current raid at any given time. The raids are the same as many other games. There is a single boss with high HP and at certain HP intervals, it will trigger certain attack patterns and repeat that cycle until the next trigger. However, some attacks feel very cheap due to their instant kill potential, especially in the current end game one where the boss has a habit of just knocking everyone on one side of the ring right off for an instant death. As I said before, I am very against instant death in games because it feels like the best way to make a game hard is to force the player to have zero mistakes and that just feels lazy to me. As a result, the raid feels more frustrating than challenging because the challenge is less about the boss and more about the limitations of the movement system within the game.
One of the biggest changes that I like about the game is that suddenly, having extra characters even if you do not play them, feels less like a burden when getting them up. Instead, even if you are solely raising them to benefit from their passive to the rest of your characters, it feels like something worthwhile and less tedious because you do not have to rely on fatigue, a resource that all your characters previously shared, in order to level them up. The result is that the cost of leveling a character was suddenly a lot lower since fatigue is no longer an issue. It now feels like I want to try more characters and I want to level them up to at least see what they can do for everyone else, even if I do not plan to use them. As of the increase of the max level to 80, the passives have become even more powerful and are now viable substitutes for those that do not have access to the powerful Dark Command set.
I do wish that any stage would give you PNA experience instead of just the Planar Gates. I understand the restriction behind it, but I feel that it would have been a lot better if players did not have to make a pit stop in the Planar Gates to level up their PNA to 40 since a lot of the later stages past the Planar Gates just flat out give you Completed PNA pieces. It would make sense to let any stage give PNA experience once you unlocked it.
Updated Score: 8/10
The game has improved a lot since its initial release back in November (I am using that as a base because that was when they were charging people money and had an item mall). The weird lag between attacks are gone. End game content feels a lot less restrictive and thus more enjoyable with others. There is a larger story finally in place instead of a fragmented one. End game content is still mostly gated by daily entrance limits (and Sticky Residues!). However, one of the big advantages it has over other games like it now is that there is no more fatigue, so you can progress at your own pace now. With the account wide passives, leveling other characters can be a good substitute for the lack of good item mall and costume gear. The only downsides are that the Black Market is still kind of useless for anything other than item mall gear and that critical remains the only viable build.