They introduce other annoying elements to counter their improvements. Yes, I’m talking about Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory’s scout system and item drop rates.
Victory has the most polished combat to date, and actually manages to have some difficulty until you get 4 levels of EXE bar. It’s also much grindier than the previous game, which fell on the easy side. I was wondering why the bosses were so difficult, until I got a new party member and realized that I was underleveled by nearly 10 levels. The problem comes from the fact that each boss has a pretty high stat jump from the last, unlike mk2 where they all felt the same, but the dungeons are still your short, copypasted, 2 floors at most walks in the park. So even if you fight every enemy you encounter, you’d still be underleveled for the next boss because the dungeons are so short. I actually liked fighting the bosses underleveled, so the increased difficulty isn’t too bad.
My main complaint is about the quests, which extends to drop rates and the scout system. The game has a lot of fetch quests, some are even mandatory, and the item drop rates are crap. It gets better when you get some nice chips that give you +drop rate, but for the majority of your first run, item drop rates are terrible. Even the strong foes have pretty terrible drop rates. A lot of the quests also require the use of the scout system, which is a system I could totally do without.
In most dungeons, there is a flag which you can stand or break. You have “scouts” that you can send into dungeons to conduct a search, and they will either bring back money, items, another scout, or allow you to change the dungeon’s drop rates, gatherable items, experience rates, and strong enemy. The strong enemy and gatherable item changes depend on whether the dungeon’s flag is up or down. While this sounds refreshing on paper, it gets frustrating when you need a monster change to complete a quest but your scouts keep returning with harvest shifts or exp changes or even absolutely nothing. Sooner or later, quest will become synonymous with reset fest, since you’ll have to keep reloading to get the scout results you want.
For the true ending, you need to see six events, all of which are located in extra dungeons that can only be found by scouts. That means loads and loads of save scumming, since the scouts don’t even discover new dungeons all that often, and they may find extra dungeons that don’t contain the true ending events.
To add on to the grind, lily ranks can only be raised through battles. Remember how mk2 gave you events that were both fun to watch and rose the lily ranks? Yeah, they no longer exist so you have to grind your way to popularity. There are chips that make raising lily ranks faster, but yeah. There is also a lily rank trophy for everyone, so have fun grinding.
When I planned to type my complaints, I was going to sound much angrier, but I finally triggered the true ending flags, made the delicious maid outfits for the CPU candidates, and am having fun grinding to level 99, so I’ve calmed some of the anger and began to enjoy myself again. I’ll praise the disc-burning system, which is basically a way to make custom accessories using combinations of chips, which provide the accessory’s bonuses. I’m also glad there are enough in-game outfits and accessories to mess around with, unlike certain games which give you a grand total of 4 costumes and make you buy the rest with expensive DLC.
tl;dr: this game is grindy, prepare the save scum and do fetch quests with shitty drop rates. The first playthrough took me 40+ hours going for the good end, which is more than twice as long as my first playthrough for mk2.