I’ve been gunbreaking for about five minutes (on this character...) and already the quest is fantastic.
The characters are solid—I like both Radovan and Sophie immediately. It seems like it’d be real easy to be tropey with them; c’mon, you all know a lot of real-life couples where the man is a tank and the woman is a healer, right? And it’d be easy to make her the delicate flower and him the brave protector. But these two’s relationship feels firmly...well, it’s like the writers didn’t write a relationship per se, they just wrote two distinct, characters, and let them be themselves.
I like that they managed to fit a history lesson in organically. Radovan brings it up once they’re back and town and off the clock; Sophie dozes off while he’s talking. Not in a Nashu, comic-relief kind of way, but in a “I’ve already heard this a million times, I’ma do my own thing for a sec” way. When you get to Ul’dah, she’s already dressing like a local, and Radovan is grumbling about finding work. I guess, you can say that they gave the characters personality traits without making the traits be their personality.
But also I’m hugely biased by the lore, and, as we later find out, how it ties into the Bozja story. When it was revealed, I was totally into Gunbreaker—not because of FFVIII, I hate Squall, but because it’s a gun plus a sword, and it’s a tank, and, y’know, it’s new. Then when I played it, and it turns out their origin is they fight the Allagans?! Sign me the fuck up.
Also, the solo duty you get in the first quest. It’s substantial. You walk for a bit and fight a lot of guys, and they keep coming in waves so the fight feels like a real fight. Not the normal “step into the purple and kill two guys, then maybe one more appears” thing. In the first encounter, you talk to some NPCs, including Y’mitra, Y’shtola’s sister and the SMN trainer. When bad guys attack, the other NPCs run, but Y’mitra joins the fray. That was a cool touch. And then in the last encounter against the miniboss, there’s a bit where you have to soak orbs. Radovan provokes the mob off you so you can go do that, and then when you hit the mob again, he actually shirks you. I think it’s an awesome, tiny detail. They could easily have just totally scripted the fight to force aggro changes. They probably still did, just added an animation for it.
Also, in like two sentences, Radovan demonstrates more foresight and planning skills than Raubahn had throughout Operation Rhalgr’s Beacon. He questions locals, he searches for ambush locations; he laments not having the time to conduct a more thorough investigation. Also, with Radovan and Sophie, they avoid the whole “let me help” “no it’s too dangerous” bit. He tells her to hold the fort, she says “Fine by me.” Then later she suggests moving on to Ul’dah, and it’s Radovan that’s just “Ul’dah it is, then.” Like, the whole vibe I get is that these characters are totally comfortable with one another. So often you get a dynamic where they’re trying to prove themselves to one another.
And this is all just in the first quest—like I said, it’s substantial. And it’s good. This is your first impression to the World of Gunbreaker, so it needs to make a splash—and, in my opinion, it does. I’m so impressed by the first quest that if the rest of the story is just phoning it in, I’m liable to give it a pass. I like it now, so, I’m biased now, and I’m happy to be that way.
....geez I talk a lot.