Wings Over Ivalice

A convenient method of transportation whenever you’re not in Jagd.

Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age is an impressive remaster which introduces a number of new mechanics and provides an enjoyable experience throughout. I’ve already shared my thoughts on the new job system, but there are quite a few changes besides the inclusion of tantalising character builds. Most of these changes affect how you progress through the campaign, what certain Magicks are classified as, how you acquire some of the rarer equipment, and make the bazaar a more prominent feature for various reasons.

I’m mostly in support of these changes.

However, there are some, as previously mentioned regarding the job system, which do feel slightly imbalanced. Grinding is still prevalent in the earlier locations, but becomes almost non-existent as much of the higher level equipment can only be found. So there’s never a comfortable break even point. You’re either ridiculously poor or you’re obscenely wealthy.

The actual story campaign is as good as it ever was. You’ve still got the gorgeously vivid, freely explorable, incredibly detailed open world that will engage you for dozens of hours. Overflowing with side quests, rare monsters, optional marks, and more. Graphically, even without the remaster, Final Fantasy XII still holds its own. There are dungeons which take literal hours to fully explore, filled with traps and puzzles and not nearly enough save crystals. But I do feel as though something is missing from The Zodiac Age. I’m currently sitting on 10-15k Licence Points across the entire party, but I can’t spend them due to completing all of my boards, and so even though I’d like some characters to learn new abilities they can’t, which is eternally frustrating.

I’ve greatly enjoyed exploring the world, uncovering its secrets, experiencing the main story, and being able to relive what I consider to be one of the best instalments in the series. But I do miss the freedom of the original Licence Board. That said, it’s still an incredibly good remaster and (mostly) highlights what made Final Fantasy XII so engaging. Gambits remain one of the best AI mechanics in the entire series and allow so much customisation of who does what and when they do it. Ultimately giving characters unprecedented levels of autonomy in battle.

Espers are pretty interesting, too.

They’ve changed slightly in The Zodiac Age but their premise remains the same. They can be temporarily summoned to provide assistance in battle, and they have a range of different abilities which are strengthened by the proficiency of their summoner. They’re also very rarely used in environmental interactions. Which is another thing that Final Fantasy XII does very well.

Despite disagreeing with some of the changes in the remaster, Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age is still a great entry point for new players and will provide an 80hr+ campaign if you’re looking to see and do everything. Even if you’re not you’re in for quite a long run. There has always been such a unique visual and musical style to Final Fantasy XII which really encapsulates the feeling of classic Final Fantasy instalments. It’s still much broader, more diverse, and has more depth than even the newest instalments. Which is a testament to the incredible amount of work that went into developing the original. Even now, twelve years later, it’s still one of the most exhilarating adventures in the Final Fantasy series. It’s absolutely worth your time!

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

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Licence to Adventure

My life would be more interesting if I had one of these.

Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age is an interesting adventure if you’ve ever experienced the original release. Unlike the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster which keeps most of the core mechanics intact, Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age introduces a shiny new job system. Which, to be fair, was present in some versions of the original but definitely not the version I had. However, unlike other instalments with a job system, such as Final Fantasy III or Final Fantasy V, there is no need (nor any ability) to switch jobs after they’re chosen.

Which means you need to choose wisely.

But it also means that you don’t necessarily need to use every single job that’s available. Some offer little benefit other than access to another class of weapons which may or may not offer any noticeable difference. For instance, the Bushi, which primarily uses katanas, benefits from the Uhlan as they can use spears. As spears can hit flying enemies where katanas can’t.

That said, the only magick that combination could cast would be Black Magick unlocked via Espers and Quickenings. Which means that, unless you’re comfortable giving up the Esper, you’re essentially making a character that can only cast very limited Black Magick. Not that there is any requirement to have each character cast magick, but it does present an interesting issue when they’re going to gain increasing amounts of MP as they level. Something that is also prevalent with the Knight. The Knight is a class that will usually naturally develop low level healing magic, but in this incarnation they need to use Espers to unlock even the most basic White Magick. Of which their overall selection is quite limited but does prove useful.

I’ve never met a chocobo I didn’t like. Even this one.

For that reason I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this job system. For newer players it’s probably easier to digest than the original Licence Board, but for more experienced players I feel as though the job system takes something away from the experience. Especially when numerous jobs have access to Green Magick which seem to be almost exclusively unlocked through your Clan Rank. So there are several Licences you’re going to get little benefit from until much later in the story but they’re available fairly early on the board.

It’s natural that high level equipment would be saved for later.

But it does feel as though there is an imbalance between the progression. Some rapidly progress through equipment and HP Licences to become much more powerful earlier on in the story, while others seem to lack any kind of punch until much later. Like the Black Mage. Which was a secondary choice for me but didn’t become relevant until after the second board was available.

I don’t hate the new system. In fact, I welcome it. It’s interesting to see the difference between the two approaches. But it would be nice if they would allow you to access the original Licence Board, too. For those who prefer that system. Or want to experience it for the first time. I’m still enjoying my time with Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age regardless. It’s a huge adventure that never stops giving even when you think you’ve explored a fair chunk of the world. I’ve discovered hidden Espers, locations, and more while casually exploring the various locations that seem to be appearing as quickly as I clear them. I also decided that I’d put my thoughts down in writing. So, here they are. My thoughts. In writing.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Accelerating Rate of Change (Pt. 2)

Changing habits like Infusions on your weapons in Dark Souls III.

Not that I ever really changed my Infusions around. I was originally toying with Chaos for the fact that I wanted to be a sort of Pyromancer, but ultimately decided on Heavy because I was using a broadsword and a shield. Strength was also my primary attribute. So it kind of made sense to lean on Heavy. Not that anything about that build made sense in the end- especially when facing bosses- as the shield was pretty much a hindrance. It did make clearing the majority of the content easier, though. Until I reached the DLC content.

Then my Unkindled was the lone resident of slaughter city.

I’ve mentioned previously how the last few months have been good for creative content, and so, in this post, I’d like to talk about how gaming content could potentially change. I’ve been thinking about focusing on individual aspects of certain titles and writing posts about them. This first occurred to me when I thought about playing through Dark Souls again.

I’ve already got a post that summarises how I felt about Dark Souls, but I’ve never actually experienced the Artorias of the Abyss DLC despite fighting the Hydra and likely having access to it with my first character. I’d also like to go back and experience a different way to play the original. Maybe with Miracles. Or spears. Or a spear with Lightning Spears. In the same way I could look at the different DLC for Dark Souls II and Dark Souls III as well. It was just an idea I had for highlighting content that I may have missed the first time around. It also illustrates how my personal focus is changing back to what it used to be, and how I’d explore certain games more than others or play through them multiple times. Dark Souls as a series is perfect for this, too.

Thinking about this chocobo makes me sad.

I’ve also been playing a lot of the Final Fantasy series in the last couple of years. Most recently I finished the main story for Final Fantasy XV but have yet to start on any of the DLC. Mostly because I’d already been playing for near enough 100hrs and didn’t want to rush through it, which meant it was probably best to return with fresh eyes. I’d also probably enjoy it more if the story wasn’t as vividly present in my mind. It’s like getting to experience it all over again. Which is one of the nice things about having Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age.

I can finally revisit one of my favourite instalments in the series.

This will mean that there will be more gaming content but I’m not going to stop creating other kinds of content as a result. I’ll still be sharing new creative efforts, random updates, and explanations of why I should never go to the local art store. This will just be occasional additional content which highlights things that I find interesting. Or fun.

Or a compilation of how many times it’s feasibly possible to die against the Nameless King while desperately trying to tank him with a greatshield. It’s technically feasibly possible to die infinitely as long as you never stop attempting it. I am known to be stubborn, too. I don’t usually feel this comfortable with whatever this is that I do and so I’m just stretching out a little. Like when you’re laying in a really comfortable bed so you stretch outwards. Only to find that you can’t stretch to the left as there’s a cat on the bed with you, nor can you stretch to the right as there’s another cat on the bed with you, and so you sit quite content with the purring sounds of your furry friends. Who never want to move, either. So making that bed will almost always be impossible.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

An Evolving Narrative

It’s a natural and beautiful thing.

As part of my seasonal tradition this year I’ve been playing through Final Fantasy X once again. It’s one of those adventures (and stories) that’s just as fun to experience a second (or a third) time as it was the first, even if you’re already aware of the plot twists and turns. You might even make more sense of the events the second (or third) time, too. It’s equally as interesting when you consider that many of the changes in Final Fantasy X shaped the series as a whole, with later instalments taking note of what worked and what didn’t.

There has definitely been a greater emphasis on presenting stories since then.

From Final Fantasy XII where no character was individually crucially important as each had their own role to play, to Final Fantasy XIII where the world was secondary to the development of the characters found therein, to Final Fantasy XV which seems to be building around both aspects but still focusing on the party and their development through their adventures.

Of course, as I don’t own a PS4, the information about Final Fantasy XV is pieced together from things I’ve seen through to roughly the third chapter of the main story. But what I have seen I’ve liked the idea of, as, even though I’m not playing this myself, I’m interested to see how the characters change. How they develop. If they develop at all. How that will impact the story and whether there are choices within the story that affect how it ends, or whether the ending is set no matter what you do. It’s an interesting change of pace for sure. It’s also interesting to see a similar battle system from Final Fantasy XII making a return, albeit without the Gambit system (if I remember correctly) but with party specific interactions at the very least.

We're in a different business these days.

We’re in a different business these days.

It’s also interesting to think that Final Fantasy XIV, their second MMORPG, has a particularly story based approach as well, often requiring you to complete things individual to your class to progress even as far as requiring you to venture into dungeons. Something that isn’t typically present in those kind of things. That said, I feel like Final Fantasy always had great stories to tell it’s just that they were harder to convey with the older technology. You can certainly show a wider range of emotions with hyper realistic 3D models.

You can also have tens of thousands of polygons for just their hair.

On the other hand, I feel that Final Fantasy IV still has one of the best collection of characters in the series which is equally as dynamic as it is interesting. Often times characters will leave, return, leave again, and then return for the last time. Or they might die. But each event actually changes the characters or the remaining party to some degree. It has a great story, too.

It’s been a fairly nostalgic year in many ways and I’ve been looking forward to experiencing Final Fantasy X again, which makes it a nice way to spend the festive season and to end off the year on a more positive note than has been present throughout. Took up the Expert Sphere Grid, too. I did use that system for about five hours back on the PS2 after I finished it the first time, but I never got much further than that. I’m not entirely sure how different it actually is (in terms of statistics and abilities) but it does seem more flexible. Seems easier to build characters who are proficient in a range of different abilities and spells than simply their default load out, which for some is actually somewhat confusing. Like Wakka. I don’t know what to do with him.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie