DanMachi Battle Chronicle is Aiming’s latest mobile game adaptation of the popular anime and light novel series, this time not turning the series into a turn-based RPG, but rather a 3D real-time combat RPG, being faithful to the anime as much as possible.
DanMachi Battle Chronicle held a Closed Beta Test recently that was limited to 3,000 players, and in this test, previewed its core features like Story mode, events, daily farming, progression, upgrades, gacha system, and one of its key features, the Battle Royale-styled PvP mode.
While the game was still in an early beta state, DanMachi Battle Chronicle looked fairly polished and could be a fairly entertaining DanMachi game with great production values , fun combat system and a fairly lax progression system that respects the player’s time. Despite that however the game’s PvP mode leaves a lot to be desired, and could be a big detriment to the game’s longevity if it’s such a huge part of the overall package.
DanMachi Battle Chronicle is slated for release in Spring 2023
*This is a review of DanMachi Battle Chronicle’s Closed Beta Test that began on March 30, and features, numbers, and rates are subject to change on release.
▍DanMachi Brought to Life in 3D!
DanMachi Battle Chronicle is a 3D action battling RPG, and it does a great job of bringing the DanMachi universe to life. That’s because Battle Chronicle doesn’t tell an original story, but rather tries its best to faithfully recreate moments from the anime.
This is done through 3D animations, new artwork, anime screens, and sometimes even scenes ripped straight from the anime. This dedication to the source material also translates into its story mode, as it seems that the game is opting to split up its story mode based on sections of the anime, with the story mode in the beta ending at the fight with the Silverback, which is the anime’s 3rd episode.
That doesn’t sound like a lot of content, but the game splits up every event in between these episodes into dialogue sequences and short battles, so it does manage to stretch out these sections and if it ends up following all of the anime, there will be quite a lot of stages.
The game does a good job of recreating pivotal moments, using a lot of snippets from the anime to show some memorable moments, while also having 3D models of the character talk between most dialogue. My favorite part of the story’s presentation has to be when it decides to animate these moments in 3D, bringing to life some of the show’s most memorable scenes like the first time Bell meets Ais.
Outside of the story, the game itself looks solid. Information is displayed neatly in its clean UI, and thankfully this isn’t one of those 3D action games where the characters are Chibi, as the characters are actual fully-sized models based on their anime counterparts, and they’re also quite expressive when the game puts them close up.
Sadly the game doesn’t have a lot of English text when it comes to its UI, but thankfully the interface is intuitive and icons do a good job representing its function, making it easy to navigate for non-Japanese players.
▍Bell’s Adventures and Horrors Right on Your Fingertips
DanMachi Battle Chronicle plays like a standard 3rd-person action RPG. You control a single character out of a party of three, and battle against enemies using basic attacks, their skills, and the occasional dodge roll to avoid attacks, which has a five-second cooldown each time you use it.
In Battle Chronicle your skills don’t have a cooldown, instead as you attack you build up a charge of the skills to use during combat. This means basic attacks fill double duty in both dishing out small bits of damage, while also letting you whip out your powerful skills with unique effects.
Special skills also work this way and come with a bit of cinematic flare as the cherry on top. Outside of that, you can also equip your characters with Scene Cards giving them bonus stats and abilities, such as a massive damage bonus if they’re above 80% health to further improve on their strengths.
However a lot of characters aren’t known for being fighters, and this is where the game’s assist mechanic comes into play. Each character can equip an assist character such as Liliruca, Hestia, Loki, and many more. When called upon they can grant your character a powerful buff, heal, or inflict debuffs on the enemy. This is a pretty cute way of integrating the non-combatants into the game and not just relegating them to cards while letting you patch up the weaknesses of certain characters.
▼ Loki equipped an an assist character to Bell!
Battle Chronicle’s combat is built around its class system. In a nutshell, the game has three core character types, Attacker, Support, and Defender, with variations on these archetypes with some that are more focused on speed, healing, buffing, and more.
The game treats these character classes quite seriously, as basically, any character that isn’t a part of that archetype has a huge weakness in those areas. Attackers deal a lot of damage but are very squishy, Defenders are nearly indestructible but deal puny amounts of damage, and Support characters are somewhere in between, but not great at either. Thankfully this isn’t a problem, because the combat is designed around you having all three of these characters to switch to.
Since attacks build up skill charges for all characters, this lets you quickly swap to any of your other party members to unleash their skills during tougher fights. The general idea is to attack with your attacker, then when your defender and supporter can buff, you swap to them, then swap back to the attacker to continue your offense.
This might sound like defenders and supporters don’t have much use outside of buffing, but a defender’s special skill can also knock back enemies which is useful for stopping huge attacks, and supporters run the gambit of having healing or huge buffs. Healing is especially useful because while assist characters can heal your attacker, they are placed on a lengthy 90-second cooldown, whereas the supporter’s healing can be used whenever their skill is available. Since Defenders are also just generally way tankier, you can use them to take the brunt of an otherwise unavoidable attack.
This creates a fun combat flow where you’re buffing up your attacker and swapping to your other party members to stay alive, giving each of them the spotlight and making it feel like the party dynamic is more involved, which is fitting since in the series exploring a dungeon is incredibly dangerous when solo and it’s about the team dynamic, which is explored fairly well here. You could opt to bring three attackers to mindlessly clear away at a stage, but your best odds are combining the strength of the party together to create a super powerful attacker, which fits right in with the lore of the series.
Battle Chronicle also has an auto-fight function and a sweep function which are handy as the game lets you sweep up to 30 times per stage, and you can sweep the daily farming stages up to 10 times. Unfortunately, you won’t get the chance to do that since the game limits you to 2 tries of each daily farming stage, with more tries being available if you spend gems.
Sadly the auto-battling function is very rough, and doesn’t perform as you’d expect. The AI in this game will only stick to a single character, not swapping between them leading to your attacker dieing mid combat, while your other characters stay alive but deal too little damage to clear the stage. The best way to use autoplay is just to let the game move the characters for you, while you attack and swap characters yourself, which kind of defeats the purpose of an autoplay function to begin with.
▼ Sometimes the AI can’t even handle tutorial stages…
The game also seems to penalize your team if you don’t hit the pre-requisite amount of power for a stage, drastically reducing their stats until you’ve upgraded them to that minimum amount. I’d prefer a system where it didn’t penalize you and just left the enemies to be harder, but it is what it is.
▼ Attacking with Bell before, and after hitting the minimum power requirement.
▍So… How’s the Gacha?
Take this section with a grain of salt as DanMachi Battle Chronicle is still not out yet, so its rates and gachas are still subject to change.
Battle Chronicle has two types of rarities. Stars for its units, and traditional R, SR, SSR, and UR rarities for scene cards. Scene cards are essentially equipment cards that you can slot onto a character to give them bonus stats and effects, with up to three cards being equipable at a time. These are called scene cards as they’re based on big scenes from the anime series.
Stars meanwhile behave differently Characters can be given up to 5-stars indicating their power, and in the gacha, you can pick up characters rated from 1 to 3-stars, with the missing ones being obtainable through ascension, done through obtaining duplicates of that character, otr with a certain resource you can acquire later.
Theoretically, this means even if your luck is bad, you can raise your 1-star units to be just as powerful as the much rarer 3-star units. Higher rarity characters are still much more coveted, as they not only have stronger skills but much stronger right out of the gate. I couldn’t tell how much of an extent the star ratings made though as I didn’t have enough time to grind out a character to 3-stars, but the fact that there is even that option does show you can use practically any unit in the game with enough time and resources invested.
On the topic of gacha percentages, since the game would launch with somewhere under 30 total characters and assists, a 3% chance for UR scene cards, and 3% chance for a 3-star character or assist wasn’t bad.
Even if you think your luck is going to be terrbile, Battle Chronicle has a generous tutorial tutorial gacha that lets you reroll for free until you get the desired units. The tutorial gacha also didn’t seem to have a limit on the amount of URs or 3-stars you can pick up, with me repeatedly rerolling it until I got not one, not two, but three 3-star units in the form of Bell, Loki, and Cassandra. Even outside of that, I got fairly lucky with my rolls, picking up Liliruca in the standard banner, twice in a 10-roll.
▼ You can re-roll the tutorial gacha as many times as you want, so you can go nuts.
It’s a nice thing that Battle Chronicle doesn’t seem to be that reliant on its gacha in its single-player content. While it will make quite a huge difference early on, the characters you obtain after prolonged play still have the potential to catch up to the higher rarity versions, which is nice since it makes higher rarity characters still incredibly valuable, while making low rarity characters not useless.
However the gacha really comes to a head in the game’s other big feature, and that is…
▍DanMachi Battle Chronicle’s PVP is… Not Great
DanMachi Battle Chronicle’s second most touted feature is its 8-player free-for-all PvP Battle Royale mode. Unlike battle royales where you fight to be the last person standing, the mode has you fighting in an arena against other players, and mobs to see who can collect the most crystals.
The PvP mode was very unbalanced to say the least. That’s because when you boot into the mode you can still use whatever characters you have on you in teams of three, to battle other players. This also means all of your levels, stats, and gear that you bring in carry over, making it fairly pay-2-win as everybody in the sessions I played was rocking Bell with similar cards and other rare units thanks to Battle Chronicle’s tutorial gacha.
That’s not to say skill doesn’t play a role. As you fight and collect crystals, the crystals actually power up your character making them even stronger. Since character and enemy spawns positions are completely random, there’s a chance you spawn next to more enemies than the rest, giving you more crystals to start off with, or you end up in a terrible spot right next to another player scrambling for crystals.
This meant that after a few seconds of scrambling at the beginning, the game devolved into everyone waiting to cleaning up after, or trying to steal the kill before retreating and waiting for another opportunity. If the map was spread out more and players couldn’t see each other, there would be more incentive to head out and look for fights, rather than spy on what everyone’s doing before swooping in to clean up the kill.
I didn’t find the PvP all that enjoyable, and to be fair neither did the rest of the player base. While DanMachi Battle Chronicle’s beta only had 3,000 slots, I was only able to find 2 sessions with several minutes of searching in the afternoon on weekends, and while searching there were multiple times when the entire lobby was cleared out just because players didn’t want to wait. Thankfully the matches I did play didn’t have much lag, but if you can’t even find a game that’s hardly praiseworthy.
Finding a game will probably be a non-issue when the game comes out on launch, but the state of the PvP definitely leaves much to be desired and just made me want to continue with the game’s single-player offering. There was another mode that was locked, and it may balance out everyone’s character power to level the playing field, but as it stands the game’s current tactic of hanging back to steal a kill may become too prevalent in the game’s final release to attract a player base that even wants to engage in it.
It also doesn’t help that the story itself doesn’t offer too many gems, so it seems like the developers want you to collect a bulk of them from PvP, which may turn off players who can’t get good results.
Take this section with a big grain of salt and an open mind, because there is still plenty that can be done before the game’s PvP is released, but as it stands right now the PvP is simply not something I wanted to try after a few sessions, and might not be something you’re looking forward to if you’re not into PvP grinds in other gacha-based games.
▍DanMachi Battle Chronicle is a Great Single Player Experience
DanMachi Battle Chronicle is a very faithful game adaptation of the anime series, beautifully bringing its colorful cast of characters to life in full 3D models with fun action gameplay, a fairly simple-to-grasp progression system, and a gacha mechanic that seems fairly friendly to free-to-play player, with plenty of options that let you skip the grind and let you play the game you want to.
However, some of the DanMachi Battle Chronicle’s questionable additions definitely need a bit of work, such as its auto-battling system and the entire PvP aspect of the game being not very fun makes me worried about the future of the title, since the developers want to make it a big selling point for the title. With some minor tweaks to how PvP works and a rebalancing of characters, I think DanMachi Battle Chronicle could gracefully nail both the PvE, and PvP aspects of the game down to create an entertaining DanMachi game perfect for anime fans.