I will be honest. I’ve been playing this consistently for the past week, even though I just recently acquired the expansion to Diablo 3, Reaper of Souls. As a avid fan of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series in whole (Final Fantasy Type-0, the one we’ll never get), I can almost see what they attempted to do with last game in the FFXIII trilogy. Story-line wise, it feels as if they cleared up certain things, retconned others, and potentially made even newer topics or notes of debate. The story is not the reason why I’ve been on this kick as of late; The battle system and it’s mechanics is the shining beacon in my eyes.
In Final Fantasy XIII, the battle system was in a way slightly unforgiving in the case that if you, the leader dies, it’s game over. You had a choice of leader, whereas the rest of your party was AI controlled in certain times may be for the best or worst. Paradigms (Class Roles) was a factor in how your strategy would be applied in battle. Moving to Final Fantasy XIII-2, the mechanics were revised to the point where it was less unforgiving with a hint of flexibility. The big difference? We went from a party of 6 to 2, alongside a AI companion in the form of Monster Taming. The option of being able to change leader mid-battle was a draw, as well as if the leader was downed, it would automatically switch to the other playable party member. Here in Lightning Returns, the Active Time Battle system was modified to the point where it could have simply been it’s own individual concept.
One word can summarized what sold me on the new battle system: Freedom. Free movement across the battlefield and the ability to manually block/counter in real time. Coupled with the Schema system (Costume Party!) in which certain garbs that Lightning acquires tends to have different various stats set to them, it makes for the game to be a little more engaging. Away with the preset commands of Paradigms as they had in previous games and in with the ability to set your own skills and actions to any of the four face buttons on your controller. The returning aspect of this system from its previous titles is the ATB Meter, in which every action you take in battle will deplete your meter, some actions will do so more than others. At most, I’ve seemed to notice that this game in particular encourages you to go after various weak spots instead of just simply one, and in all honesty I feel like i’ve barely scratched the surface with explaining this newly called Style-Change Active Time Battle system. I will more than likely write up a follow-up piece to this with more details behind the mechanics.
For a week I’ve been reloading one particular save and simply just running out into the Dead Dunes or the Wildlands and go after some of the bigger enemies I could find. Literally all week. Experimenting. Laughing at my do’s and don’ts. Main thing is…it’s fun. I can honestly say it’s been a while since I’ve had fun like this, and I haven’t even completed the main story yet. It’s a big difference when I was playing a few titles over the past few months just to pass time, but as of recently I may have found that slight spark again.
Now, back to running across these Wildlands on this Chocobo.