With various gaming and game-store sites offering the release date for the game sometime around September 10-14, I thought it was about time to create the thread for the third and final game in the .hack//G.U. trilogy.
What's .hack all about??
The series, created by Bandai and CyberConnect2, is at it's heart a unique action-RPG. What separates it from others in the same field is that the game is set in a fictional MMORPG in 2010 called The World, with players controlling the main character's player-character within the MMORPG. To progress in .hack, players must both run around inside The World as well as 'logging out' to the main-character's desktop to check both e-mail and message boards for specific word-combinations to access story-involved fields within The World.
The original story itself (spread out in four parts; a novel, an anime, a 4-part game, and a manga) revolves around various players who are drawn (willingly or otherwise) into the growing problems within The World, ranging from unkillable monsters to various players actually falling within comas for no apparent reason. These problems stem back to the creator of the game, Harald Hoerwick...
What's G.U. and do I have to know the original story to get it?
...and how the game is actually a disguised A.I. creation program, using the data created by everyone interacting with The World to put together hopefully the Ultimate A.I.. This A.I., Aura, would be the daughter Harald never could have with poet Emma Wielant whom he was infatuated with. Unfortunately, the A.I.-system in charge of 'birthing' Aura, Morganna, decided to stop Aura from coming into power as she would cease to exist once that happened.
G.U. is a sequal to the original storyline and no, it's not really needed to have played, read or watched anything involved with the original storyline to enjoy it. Those who picked up the special version of Volume 1 here in the States however scored a special movie-disc which shows what occurred in the 4-part .hack game. G.U. itself takes place in 2017, about three years after the final section of the first story. In that gap, a fire in the building that houses The World's servers trash most of them and the data they held. Rather then rebuild, the game's owners decide to merge the salvageable programing with another game they were developing at the time to create The World R:2. This offered a fresh start for gamers in .hack's world and ours.
Who am I in G.U.?
In G.U., players take on the role of this guy, Haseo.
Coming into the first G.U. game as a newb to R:2(and the events of his first months shown in G.U.'s connected anime, .hack//Roots), Haseo grows into a somewhat anti-social player who makes a reputation for himself as a PKK or Player-Killer-Killer (basically a player who kills players who kill other players in R:2). Having a personal vendetta against a PK named Tri-Edge, their first fight soon knocks Haseo from his powerful high levels all the way down to Lv1 thanks to a bizzare not-in-game attack. Forced to build himself up again, the rest of the first volume has him encountering not just other players who have the potential to use attacks just like Tri-Edge but foreign programs in R:2 as well who threaten the safety of both R:2 and it's players. The second volume continued from there by Haseo focusing more on said foreign programs as well as players that either become possessed by them or even worse, seem to somehow control them instead.
Who's Who In G.U.
The Guys At The Top Of Your Buddy List: The Other Members Of The 'Infinity Eight'
While they're not called this name within the game (at least not in the first two volumes), the rest of these player-characters all share something in common with Haseo.
Atoli (AKA The Frustrating Carebear)
: A Harvest Cleric (healing-based Wavemaster/White-Mage) who meets up with Haseo near the beginning of the first volume. A member of the anti-PK guild Moon Tree, she has no problem in lecturing others when it comes to not attacking your fellow players...and not attacking animals on the field...and on how great her guild is...and don't get her started on her squad leader Sakaki!
Kuhn (AKA The Wannabe Online Pimp)
It comes as a big surprise then when she uses the power of her unlocked and possessed Avatar, Innis, to rage against Haseo in Vol.2 since her school and home life seems to be filled with nothing but grief. She seems to be a lot better now though.
: A Steam Gunner (ranged-melee fighter) who's trying his best to put down the current threat to R:2 so that the game can once more be fun...and so he can get his groove on with all the pretty (and legal) gal players in peace.
Yata (AKA The Second Mysterious Guy With Glasses)
What brings Kuhn to the fight besides the power of his Avatar, Magus? It's the motivation of being a coma victim from the crisis that occurred in the original version of The World.
: A secretive Dance Macabre (melee fighter who uses dance-like moves to attack) who barely comes out of his special info-gathering room, perfering to send out Haseo and his friends to do the fighting for him...
Sakubo (AKA The Troublesome Rugrats)
...or at least for the PC Yata. The player behind the bald character however has no problems slipping into the shoes of other characters as he's been seen to do at least twice in G.U.'s story!
: A Shadow Warlock (attacking-based Wavemaster/Black Mage) who's actually controlled by a pair of twins known as Saku (pain-in-the-rear fangirl) and Bo (soft-spoken doormat). Forced to take the bad along with the good in Vol.2, they manage to provide some added magical butt-kicking to Haseo's parties...
Endrance (AKA The Required Bishōnen)
...as well as bring up one big mystery as both twins somehow managed to control at the same time the Avatar connected to their PC, Gorre. While having multiple visors attached to the same character's viewpoint isn't new for the World, this as well as a sudden switch of Saku for Bo in a quest-run does seem to indicate there's more to the two then meets the eye.
: A Blade Brandier (Blademaster/sword-using melee fighter) who butted heads with Haseo in the first volume and then joined up to help Haseo out in the second volume...as well as devote himself to Haseo...and send somewhat creepy E-Mails too if prompted...hmmm...
Pi (AKA The Bossy Fan-Service)
...can't blame the guy though, concidering he's the same player behind Elk, a needy PC from the original .hack game who lost his best friend permamentlly not just once but twice now.
: A Tribal Grappler (hand-to-hand melee fighter) who helps Yata out as the Major Kira to his Captain Picard. It's hard to tell what's been harder for her; fighting the foreign programs herself before Haseo and Yata came along or keeping her hands from Haseo's throat for calling her old.
Ovan (AKA The First Mysterious Guy With Glasses)
Those who've been following the reports from the Vol.1 bonus disc, the Terminal Disc, have been probably been curious as well as how she's managed to run around with the PC bearing the Avarar Tarvos since the guy who wrote up the reports said he hid it away from anyone working for CC-Corp, like Pi's player..
: A Steam Gunner who saved Haseo from his first disastrous venture into R:2, who invited Haseo into his guild only to disappear for six months, who's been popping up mysteriously all over R:2 to prod Haseo to get stronger in order to beat Tri-Edge for putting their mutual friend Shino in a coma...
The Guys At The Top Of Your Ignore List: G.U.'s Villains
...and who turned out to BE Tri-Edge all along. Oh, and who seems to have ganked Haseo at the end of Vol.2 after he got killed off by Haseo final-boss-wise. Bummer.
It's easy to hate the following for one reason or the other as they give a level of griefing to players in R:2 that not even the GMs can handle.
: Head of one of the seven groups that make up the Moon Tree guild, Sakaki is probably the worst role-model in R:2 Atoli could have picked. He gets under Haseo's skin right away with arrogance-flavored sermons and follows it up with actually saving Haseo from a PK-incident! Of course, it's not like his fellow members in Moon Tree are immune to his attitude as he's been making waves when it comes to who oughta be leading the guild.
Good thing it turns out he's been controlling a good deal of the foreign-program attacks on players (thanks to Tri-Edge) as it gives Haseo a legit reason to kick his butt. However, it won't be easy to get rid of him as he somehow has powers from the programs in both R:2 AND the real world as his teacher, fellow students and a certain online reporter found out the hard way.
: A seemingly-unkillable PK who's PC looks a lot like a certain character from the original .hack storyline. First announcing his presence in R:2 by leaving triangular marks on the game's surface-graphics, Tri-Edge is guilty of attacking players and sending them into comas in the real world somehow as a result. Left incapacitated by the end of the first volume, he rested up while a pair of similar-looking friends (also looking like two characters from the original storyline) showed up to handle business...
...that business however being foreign-program-killing in R:2 and actually saving Haseo in the process one time to boot! With Ovan revealing himself to be Tri-Edge all along, one has to wonder who these three guys really are and who's side they're on.
: The foreign programs mentioned a lot in this OP. AIDA has been showing up since Haseo's time in Ovan's guild, The Twilight Brigade. Looking at first like single-cell amoeba, they've been taking on more and more pronounced animal-like shapes, especially those who take over the minds and bodies of innocent players online and off. Becoming strong enough to actually create their own virtual server at one time, one has to wonder what exactly these chaotic A.I. are after and why they have to use R:2 to achieve their goals.
I played the first two G.U. games. Anything new in the last volume?
G.U. Ver 2.3 Patch Notes
-New Root Town - Breg Epona
One also has to wonder what ties them in so well to the Avatars as it seems more then half of the I-8 have ended up possessed by them at one time or the other. And do their actions truely begin at Sakaki and Tri-Edge or is there someone higher up the food-chain?
: As to be expected, a new Root Town (AKA the safe hub for players on a server) will open up for players in Vol.3, allowing you to access fields who's monsters range from Lv100-150. A new town will also mean a new Quest Shop to start side-quests at and most likely a new home for Haseo's guild, Canard. There's rumors that there might be an extra Root Town out there however, one not officially endorsed by CC-Corp...
-New Awakening - Avatar Awakening
: Vol.3's story will have players implementing once more the Data Drain skill on regular enemies as the original game once did. To break out this Avatar-used-only skill though, a new Awakening (group attack) will be added to allow Haseo to take what he needs inside of enemies' programming. If it'll have dire effects on him to do so repeatedly is unclear at this time. The results of this unusual game-hacking move however will lead to nice benifits for those who visit the Lost Ground (mysterious field that are mostly untouchable by CC-Corp's programmers), the Great Temple of Caerleon Medb...
-New Form - Xth Form
: For Haseo, it was thought the limits of his character's growth was reached once he unlocked all his weapons and abilities available to him as an Adept Rogue. As seen on Vol.3's cover though, Haseo will manage to transform once again and earn the right to sport these weapons alongside his others. While these guns (which sport blades) require ammo, they'll still come in handy as you can break out their skills on top of regular skills in a new gameplay mechanic called the Double Trigger. How much more they add to fights is unknown for now.
Other Updates And Changes(Subject To Change During Beta Testing)
-Haseo's buddy list will end up holding 22 players total by the end of the game.
-New field/dungeon locations to prowl around in.
-New ranks to the Books Of 1000, offering more bonuses to gameplay as well as new music, wallpaper and viewable movies on the Desktop.
-Special bonus dungeon known as the Forest Of Pain will open up by the end, a grueling multiple-floor run that hold more then one boss, taken straight from the G.U. anime, //Roots.
-Wedding bells will ring out for two of the PCs by the end of the game in a ceremony held within R:2. Who they are depends on you..
-More characters from the original .hack storyline will appear in new R:2 PC-bodies.
-While it's just a rumor at the moment, it seems as if a special //Roots episode will be created and included within the game-disc, an episode much like the //SIGN special, Unison.
-New episodes of the special Internet news-show, Online JACK.
For more on the third volume, including spoilerish screenshots, movies and art, check out this link right here..