View from the Road: The Lesson of Final Fantasy XIII

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View from the Road: The Lesson of Final Fantasy XIII

If developers take away nothing else from the controversial Final Fantasy XIII, they should learn that easy-to-kill "trash" enemies are just boring.

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Haha, Yes. Some of those monsters in the final dungeon of FFXIII were actually harder for me than the final boss itself. The problem I had with the game's battle system, though, was the fact that 9 times out of 10, the most efficient attack input method was "Auto Attack" so I usually felt like I wasn't actually controlling anything apart from the occasional Paradigm Shift.

It's true that they tried something new- but think about it. Large, LARGE portions of the game consisted entirely of boring, dialogue-less areas where you face monster after monster, where each fight is a slog, and you find yourself really MISSING when you could just breeze through and get to the story.

The Ark, anyone? NO ONE ENJOYED THAT.

Rain_dog:
It's true that they tried something new- but think about it. Large, LARGE portions of the game consisted entirely of boring, dialogue-less areas where you face monster after monster, where each fight is a slog, and you find yourself really MISSING when you could just breeze through and get to the story.

The Ark, anyone? NO ONE ENJOYED THAT.

I sort of agree with this, because you needed to give your ALL in every battle, every battle felt a bit more sloggy than the last and is the primary reason why I have yet to beat FFXIII. Every fight is "such a challenge" that they almost stop being fun.

Don't get me wrong, I am FULLY in favor of "being at your best" to start every battle, I just don't think Squeenix did what they should have with it and made the game a breezier experience rather than poorly paced slog.

Some of those normal enemies were rediculous...although some fun in a way...remember meething the huge things on pulse...that was certainly fun.

I jsut wish it had been less of just hitting auto attack all the time though

Rain_dog:

The Ark, anyone? NO ONE ENJOYED THAT.

That Ark can burn in hell...

Bring the FFX combat back!
It was ace!

Or they could take the "Man up" approach of Demon's Souls: Murderous "trash" + murderous bosses + limited supplies. It's pretty amazing how a simple mechanics choice can turn a game from "action RPG" to "survival horror RPG".

As for FFXIII, I really did not see the hard trash that you mentioned. You could steam roll through pretty much everything, I don't remember a single trash encounter that was "tightly tuned". I'm ok with decreasing the downtime in such a game though. What I'm not ok is with what they did with the endgame content, meaning the optional hunts after you finish the game. After doing such an amazing job of implementing gradually harder hunts in FFXII, as well as a host of different zones where you could grind without getting bored, FFXIII's endgame design felt like a slap in the face. The hunts are generally all easy, until you get to this fucking guy here:

What you have here is a GINORMOUS jump in difficulty with no content in between. If you want to even stand a chance at beating this guy, you need to have a full party of max level characters with max level weapons. This means you have to grind for about 50 hours for XP as well as money, with nothing else to do and with no host of options to do it like in FFXII. Basically the only way forward is to grind Sacrifices for 50 hours. That is bullshit, and it is because of that shit that the game fell flat on its face for me. I went through the rail-shooter Attack-fest that is the main game, expecting a rich, epic post-game, like in FFXII. But no. It's like they suddenly forgot how to please the hardcore fans in FFXIII. Of course what can you say about a developer who moves from something like the schizophrenic sadistic design of the Great Crystal dungeon in FFXII to the rail-shooter that is FFXIII? It's like the game wasn't even made by the same people and had an entirely different species as a target audience...

Lvl 64 Klutz:
Haha, Yes. Some of those monsters in the final dungeon of FFXIII were actually harder for me than the final boss itself. The problem I had with the game's battle system, though, was the fact that 9 times out of 10, the most efficient attack input method was "Auto Attack" so I usually felt like I wasn't actually controlling anything apart from the occasional Paradigm Shift.

I actually really liked that. I guess it takes a while to get used to it, but ultimately it felt like coaching your own sports team...with swords, spears and lightning spells.

But the battle system was the only thing I liked about FFXIII.

Completely healing the party after each battle might make it easier to tune, but also takes away the need to manage your items or manage your mana pool in those 'trash battles'. There are plenty of games that manage a good difficulty in random battles without needing to fully heal after each battle, seems to me like FF13 took the easy way out.

Interesting viewpoint; and whilst I certainly appreciated the way the health system works (though I'd like to point out it was also used in The Last Remnant) I found ultimately that the health system seemed almost broken. There was no risk to dying - (and the fact you could re-try any encounters meant there were no interesting surprises) - all enemies can be beaten easily if you know the right strategy; bar a few difficult end-game bosses, so this style of gameplay forced them to stuff the game full of enemies; and it made getting anywhere a chore. I haven't played Final Fantasy XII, but from what I've seen and heard of it I really wish they'd stuck to that style of game...

Fallen-Angel Risen-Demon:
Bring the FFX combat back!

The combat was the only thing in FFX I can honestly say I really liked.

D_987:

Carnagath:
What you have here is a GINORMOUS jump in difficulty with no content in between. If you want to even stand a chance at beating this guy, you need to have a full party of max level characters with max level weapons. This means you have to grind for about 50 hours for XP as well as money, with nothing else to do and with no host of options to do it like in FFXII. Basically the only way forward is to grind Sacrifices for 50 hours. That is bullshit, and it is because of that shit that the game fell flat on its face for me. I went through the rail-shooter Attack-fest that is the main game, expecting a rich, epic post-game, like in FFXII. But no. It's like they suddenly forgot how to please the hardcore fans in FFXIII. Of course what can you say about a developer who moves from something like the schizophrenic sadistic design of the Great Crystal dungeon in FFXII to the rail-shooter that is FFXIII? It's like the game wasn't even made by the same people and had an entirely different species as a target audience...

Or you could, you know, fight him how you were pretty much supposed to and use Vanille's "Death spell"...The fact it's vulnerable to that move unlike most high level bosses, and that this is pretty much the only easy way to kill him, certainly to 5 star the fight, gives the impression it was deliberate - almost like you'd have to use a tactic besides mashing auto-battle...

The Death spell is not a tactic. I have used the spell more than 500 times on different kinds of enemies that ARE susceptible to it, and it NEVER worked, not even once. Anyone who mentions something that has a 1 out of 1000 change of working as a viable tactic needs a slap in the face :)

The only thing that I hated about FFXIII was the slow start. Everything else, yes, even the codex, was acceptable. Hey, it's not like it's FFXII or anything. Goddamn that game was terrible.

Carnagath:

The Death spell is not a tactic. I have used the spell more than 500 times on different kinds of enemies that ARE susceptible to it, and it NEVER worked, not even once. Anyone who mentions something that has a 1 out of 1000 change of working as a viable tactic needs a slap in the face :)

Really? I've used it against a number of the stronger C'ieth mission monsters and successfully won - often 5 starring them. Guess I'm just a luckier person =P

I liked 13, the music was good and it was challenging. I mean seriously those frigging dreadnoughts. I wandered off during a mission and ran into one. damn that wasnt fun

FF13 completely healed the party after every single encounter.

It does? Huh.

Now I really am interested in FFXIII, because I loved the way BKO handled that mechanic. And I certainly do agree with the other point, as well. It's always frustrating when I have to convince myself not to use some otherwise costly power (not an item, but an ability) because "I might need it later." The balancing around the resultant capability is intriguing.

Wish I had a console to run the game...

Carnagath:

It's like they suddenly forgot how to please the hardcore fans in FFXIII. Of course what can you say about a developer who moves from something like the schizophrenic sadistic design of the Great Crystal dungeon in FFXII to the rail-shooter that is FFXIII? It's like the game wasn't even made by the same people and had an entirely different species as a target audience...

Well... they weren't designed by the same people, different teams have worked on different Final Fantasies for ages. FFXII was initially designed by the mastermind behind the FF:Tactics titles who then had a serious health breakdown at which point the game was taken over by a pair of different directors. I believe that FFXIII was worked on primarily by the FFX-2 team (FFX-2 being considered a side title rather than a key entry in the series).

Tehlanna TPX:
The only thing that I hated about FFXIII was the slow start. Everything else, yes, even the codex, was acceptable. Hey, it's not like it's FFXII or anything. Goddamn that game was terrible.

Yeah, FFXII was terrible. After all, it only had the most massive, open, populated and varied world to ever appear in a JRPG, did away with the combat transition cutscenes that everyone outside of Japan loathes, and had the deepest customizable party AI system ever developed, which allowed for some fiendishly clever boss tactics (such as Omega Mk.12), a system that Bioware shanelessly copy pasted into Dragon Age but completely failed to utilize. Oh well...opinions, right?

Carnagath:

Yeah, FFXII was terrible. After all, it only had the most massive, open, populated and varied world to ever appear in a JRPG, did away with the combat transition cutscenes that everyone outside of Japan loathes, and had the deepest customizable party AI system ever developed, which allowed for some fiendishly clever boss tactics (such as Omega Mk.12), a system that Bioware shanelessly copy pasted into Dragon Age but completely failed to utilize. Oh well...opinions, right?

You forgot to mention the deep history and realistic political plot populated by well motivated villains who had good reasons for what they were doing and didn't just fall into generic JRPG villain tropes like trying to destroy the world because of mommy/daddy issues.

Admittedly I did often find myself getting into a battle and just pressing A A A A to auto attack...with the occasional Paradigm Shift. Some battles were stupid like against the Adamantoise or any other variation.

Also, most battles gave very little Crystarium Points I found...I would run up and down the same corridor for ages just killing the same enemies (a prime example of this is getting enough for Fang to use Highwind just before I fought the Proudclad for the first time).

I liked FFX-2's battle system. Dress-spheres aside, I liked the ATB gauge, but also the fact that more than one character could attack at a time. Was always fun if like...a wolf was running towards me to attack and I'd sword it in the face first.
About the only good thing about that game...well, that and Gippal.

Behold; the entire point behind regenerating health and check points unmasked.

I am a huge Final Fantasy fan, but the worst part about FFXIII is that they stripped all the best parts of Final Fantasy out of it!

Good story: GONE! (this is just my opinion, but I'd prefer a story where all the characters are not depressed over being devoured by a terminal illness the entire time, it's a little hard to enjoy the story when you're constantly being reminded "oh right, none of this matters because I'll be dead in like 3 days")

Exploration: GONE!

Sidequests: GONE!

(Exploration and sidequests came into play when 95% of the games main story and narrative was done, even then, it was just exploring small patches of grassy wilderness and taking "go kill this" quests from FUCKING STONES, seriously, who at Square came up with THAT one. I would have loved to visit an actual shop at an actual town and see some normal NPC's that weren't trying to throw me in jail so I can spend the last six days of my life before I become a monster in a jail cell! JUST ONCE! I never thought a game could make me miss traversing towns filled with mindless NPC's, but somehow FFXIII achieved that.)

Oh, and this isn't a main point, but from my experience, Final Fantasy has two great equipment systems:

1.) The materia system (FF7)
2.) The Job System (FF Tactics Advance 1&2, and FF9?)

They should stick with one of those.

The ONLY redeeming factor was that you were healed after each battle, but when talking about major issues like the above, that's nothing. It's like having your legs eaten off by wolves, and then given a lollypop, the candy does NOT make up for the fact that you just had your limbs ripped off by a pack of savage animals!

For basically the entire game I was waiting for that I'M OUT OF MIDGAR! WOOOOOOOO! moment where it stops being linear and you're free to explore a giant world and take on meaningful missions, and when it never came (not in any significant way, it only existed as a half-square mile of grassy plains populated by rocks that just felt tacked on), it just left me going "what the hell was that!?" when the game ended.

I kept wondering, why was the game so linear? Until I saw the article with the rediculous statement that: "A new FF7 would take 40 years to make". Assuming that is true, and that Square plans to release a new Final Fantasy every 5 years at the longest, that means that because of their graphical standards, they will never make a game with even ONE EIGHTH! of the content of FF7 ever again. (and that's not considering the fact that all of the groundwork for FFVII is completed, and balanced appropriately) I for one am not alright with that, JRPG's have been nearly killed by new Western RPGs, and if they try to cut the content down by 90% for the sake of graphics, they're screwed.

PS: I didn't think that restoration after battle hurt the "hardcore" aspect of the game, but only being able to control one character was stupid, and DID water it down.

PedroSteckecilo:

Carnagath:

Yeah, FFXII was terrible. After all, it only had the most massive, open, populated and varied world to ever appear in a JRPG, did away with the combat transition cutscenes that everyone outside of Japan loathes, and had the deepest customizable party AI system ever developed, which allowed for some fiendishly clever boss tactics (such as Omega Mk.12), a system that Bioware shanelessly copy pasted into Dragon Age but completely failed to utilize. Oh well...opinions, right?

You forgot to mention the deep history and realistic political plot populated by well motivated villains who had good reasons for what they were doing and didn't just fall into generic JRPG villain tropes like trying to destroy the world because of mommy/daddy issues.

RAWR! HULK PISSED, HULK SMASH THINGS FOR NO REASON!

PedroSteckecilo:

Carnagath:

It's like they suddenly forgot how to please the hardcore fans in FFXIII. Of course what can you say about a developer who moves from something like the schizophrenic sadistic design of the Great Crystal dungeon in FFXII to the rail-shooter that is FFXIII? It's like the game wasn't even made by the same people and had an entirely different species as a target audience...

Well... they weren't designed by the same people, different teams have worked on different Final Fantasies for ages. FFXII was initially designed by the mastermind behind the FF:Tactics titles who then had a serious health breakdown at which point the game was taken over by a pair of different directors. I believe that FFXIII was worked on primarily by the FFX-2 team (FFX-2 being considered a side title rather than a key entry in the series).

They may not have been designed by the same people, but were they designed by people!?

3/4ths of the ideas that went into this game were awful.

I disagree strongly with the main point of this article. The fact is that yes, designers had more leeway after healing players for every fight and capping their level progression until certain chapters. You know who has even more control over their audience's experience? Movie directors and authors of best-selling novels.

But I wasn't reading a book or watching a movie. I was playing a GAME. Developer control is something I could care less about. I want to be in control, and I wasn't in control of FF13. It sucked.

Hmm. I personally agree with Yahtzee on this one.

Of course, I also think that Final Fantasy instantly took a topple to the bottom of the trash heap after VI so...
Square's trying to drag it back up, but (again, IMO)just like VII dropped the series to a low point, XIII did the same. (I never played after X).
*Flees from FF fanbase*

PedroSteckecilo:

Carnagath:

Yeah, FFXII was terrible. After all, it only had the most massive, open, populated and varied world to ever appear in a JRPG, did away with the combat transition cutscenes that everyone outside of Japan loathes, and had the deepest customizable party AI system ever developed, which allowed for some fiendishly clever boss tactics (such as Omega Mk.12), a system that Bioware shanelessly copy pasted into Dragon Age but completely failed to utilize. Oh well...opinions, right?

You forgot to mention the deep history and realistic political plot populated by well motivated villains who had good reasons for what they were doing and didn't just fall into generic JRPG villain tropes like trying to destroy the world because of mommy/daddy issues.

I didn't play all the FFs but I talked about FFXII positively to friends based on its story and setting. Although it does have some standard JRPG tropes, it feels less "juvenile", all in all, than the story in other FFs like VII. I also like the battle system and gameplay (although I didn't finish it yet). In my non-FF-fan perspective, I really don't know why people complain about XII so much.

I fought everything in that Final Dungeon.

I figured, "If I can't handle this, how will I handle the boss?".

So, I fought them all.

Then spent 2 hours of dying and retrying on the boss, over and over.

Fang, Lightning, Vanille wasn't working...I actually had to use...HOPE.

Fang. Lightning, Hope. I went as long as I could without using that brat. Yes, I knew he was THE BEST medic and ravager in the game (Sazh is still a better SYN, imo)

Some say he grows on you. He never did for me.

PedroSteckecilo:
You forgot to mention the deep history and realistic political plot populated by well motivated villains who had good reasons for what they were doing and didn't just fall into generic JRPG villain tropes like trying to destroy the world because of mommy/daddy issues.

Woah, you must have played a different FF XII than I did, those villains were awful. I don't even remember their back stories or motivations at all.

I'm not saying XIII had better villains, in fact I'm not entirely sure there even was a villain in that title.

All in all though, this thread proves that people don't like change. FF has constantly reinvented itself with each new title, but the hate remains the same.

Have fun playing the same FPS corridor driven frag fest, I'll be enjoying something different.

Interesting point, and I can agree on the part where cannon fodder in most RPG's can use a little beefing up, but I think that's simply a by-product of FFXIII's railroading.

It's not just health, it's how strong you were, it's what equipment you had, it's the spells and abilities and tactics available to you; everything in FFXIII was so tightly controlled that, unless you choose to royally screw yourself, you're always at the exact point the developers wanted you to be, which meant every fight goes about as well as they wanted it to go.

In another game, I would have praised the challenge, but in FFXIII I say they simply wanted more dramatic battles, because that's what this game needed, more cinematic action!

To each his own, I suppose. Since Final Fantasy XIII didn't have towns (at least within the first thirty goddamned hours as far as I know), having your health refill is fine, but in the more conventional RPGs, you encounter an oasis/village/town every so often, and it's a lot more revitalizing if you didn't heal up after every battle; that a long crawl through a dungeon actually felt like it was a long crawl.

Onyx Oblivion:
Fang, Lightning, Vanille wasn't working...I actually had to use...HOPE.

Fang. Lightning, Hope. I went as long as I could without using that brat. Yes, I knew he was THE BEST medic and ravager in the game (Sazh is still a better SYN, imo)

Some say he grows on you. He never did for me.

I'd prefer Hope to Vanille, at least he sort of acted like he was from some planet roughly resembling Earth. Vanille was either an alien or really, really high all the time.

No what was obnoxious was that they confused "Hard" for "Lots of Health" no battle I encountered was hard just looooooong. I always had a strategy to beat a boss, I just died when I decided I didn't want to spend 3 hours doing it.

John, Id just like to give you fair warning that linking to TVTropes will soon be considered a crime against humanity, seeing as how it can cause workplace to grind to a stop as people open page after page, link after link, stopping our progress as a species until society collapses entirely.

Or something.

The part I didn't like about FFXIII battle system was that even if I had completely maxed my grid thingy for that specific area of the game, sometimes I come across fights that came purely down to luck. Anyone remember the Bomb enemies? Yeah if I wasn't quick with them they would self-destruct all at once, leaving me with no chance of surviving at all.

Its articles like this that make me want to play this game less and less. I don't know what Square Enix thinks the point of games are, but I've always understood it to be freedom. You're free to walk over here, talk to this guy, or not talk to this guy. If you want to enter this house and look for treasure chests, you can enter that house and look for treasure chests. Is there something cool at the end of this hall? Let's go see. What happens if I use a bomb on this wall? Hey look, its a secret cave with an Ice Rod. That's where the sense of adventure comes from: a new world for to be free and play around in.

The more forced the experience feels, the less enjoyable the game is for me. I don't want to walk through a straight path knowing exactly that some developer explicitly to fight six toilet monsters and find exactly two pieces of toilet paper. I want to find the toilet paper myself, and kill the toilet monsters when I want to kill the toilet monsters. If by Mt. Gagazet I'm on level 70 or 20, it should be MY choice: I either level grinded like a maniac, or ran from every battle. It may not go like the designers wanted, but SCREW THEM. Their job is to make the world, the rest is my experience, my enjoyment, and my emotional reaction. A game is a two-part experience, the story is made by both the player and the writer. You can't just create the entire experience, or else all you've created is a movie with a few extraneous bits of interactivity.

This isn't something to marvel over, its something to puzzle over. Its so wrong on such a fundamental level of what a video game is supposed to be, that it may even be something to laugh over.

Carnagath:

Tehlanna TPX:
The only thing that I hated about FFXIII was the slow start. Everything else, yes, even the codex, was acceptable. Hey, it's not like it's FFXII or anything. Goddamn that game was terrible.

Yeah, FFXII was terrible. After all, it only had the most massive, open, populated and varied world to ever appear in a JRPG, did away with the combat transition cutscenes that everyone outside of Japan loathes, and had the deepest customizable party AI system ever developed, which allowed for some fiendishly clever boss tactics (such as Omega Mk.12), a system that Bioware shanelessly copy pasted into Dragon Age but completely failed to utilize. Oh well...opinions, right?

You forgot to mention the bone dry and incredibly boring plot.

But yes, opinions. Potato, potatoe.

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