The Final Fantasy series, renowned for its captivating narratives and immersive gameplay, has evolved over the years. Thereby continuously pushing the boundaries of role-playing games (RPGs). While turn-based combat has been a staple in many installments, a handful of games dared to deviate from this time-honored formula. In this investigative article, we delve into the Final Fantasy games that ventured into alternative combat systems. We’ll be exploring the innovative approaches that captivated players worldwide. Thus, brings us to the question at the heart of our discussion: “What Final Fantasy games are not turn based?”
Final Fantasy and Turn Based Combat
At the heart of turn-based combat in the Final Fantasy series lies a captivating dance of tactics. The system provides players with the opportunity to carefully plan their moves. Also, evaluate enemy weaknesses and strategically allocate resources during battles. Turn-based combat encourages thoughtful decision-making, requiring players to consider the abilities of their party members. This includes the strengths and vulnerabilities of their foes, and the effective use of spells, items, and equipment. Moreover, this strategic depth adds a layer of complexity and engagement, allowing players to feel a sense of mastery and accomplishment as they navigate challenging encounters.
The turn-based combat system in Final Fantasy grants players a precious commodity: time. In the heat of battle, this mechanism offers a brief respite. It allows players to assess their options, evaluate risks, and plan their next move. Moreover, this pause between actions fosters a sense of anticipation and strategy. It enables players to immerse themselves fully in the moment and feel a heightened connection to the characters and their plight. It also provides an opportunity for players to appreciate the intricate details of the game world, the musical score, and the artistic presentation.
The Final Fantasy series has left an indelible mark on the gaming industry, in no small part due to its implementation of turn-based combat. This classic gameplay mechanic has contributed to the series’ strategic depth, character development, emotional impact, as well as enduring appeal.
And now that the relationship between Final Fantasy and turn based combat has been reestablished, let us now look at some of the titles that strayed away from it so far. Additionally, we’d also tell you why we believe Square Enix made the decision to scrap classic turn based combat on newer Final Fantasy games.
Mainline Final Fantasy Games
Throughout its long history, the Final Fantasy series has experimented with various combat systems, offering players a diverse range of gameplay experiences. Here are some of the mainline Final Fantasy games that deviated from the traditional turn-based combat:
Final Fantasy VIII: Junctioning Magic and Limit Breaks
Released in 1999, Final Fantasy VIII introduced a unique combat system that incorporated the Junction and Limit Break mechanics. Instead of relying solely on traditional turn-based battles, players could junction magic spells to their characters’ stats, enhancing their abilities and attributes. The Junction system allowed players to customize their characters’ strengths and weaknesses by equipping magic to various statistics such as strength, defense, and magic power. The Limit Break system allowed characters to unleash powerful special moves when their health was low. This combination of strategic spell management and high-impact special abilities provided an engaging and dynamic combat experience.
Final Fantasy XI: Online MMO Battles
Final Fantasy XI, launched in 2002 as an MMORPG, adopted a real-time combat system in an online multiplayer setting. Players could form parties with other adventurers and engage in battles against various monsters and enemies. Combat involved executing commands in real-time, with the option for players to create and customize macros for streamlined actions. This departure from turn-based combat transformed Final Fantasy into a cooperative online experience, fostering a strong sense of community among players.
Final Fantasy XII: A Gambit for Change
Released in 2006, Final Fantasy XII revolutionized the franchise’s combat mechanics. Departing from turn-based battles, it introduced the Gambit System—a complex AI programming feature. Players could customize their party members’ behavior by creating conditional statements, allowing for automated combat actions. Overall, this novel system emphasized strategic planning and provided a refreshing real-time experience, making battles more fluid and dynamic.
Final Fantasy XIII: Paradigm Shift
Released in 2009, Final Fantasy XIII introduced the Paradigm Shift system. This unique combat mechanic combined elements of real-time action with strategic decision-making. Players could assign roles to each character, such as a tank or a healer, and switch between various preset paradigms during battles. This dynamic system encouraged players to adapt to different situations on the fly, strategizing and coordinating attacks for optimal efficiency.
Final Fantasy XIII-2: Time-Altering Combat
As a direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2, released in 2011, continued the evolution of combat mechanics. It introduced the “Mog Clock” system, a time-based feature that affected battle encounters. Players had the ability to manipulate time by interacting with the clock, resulting in altered enemy behavior and potential advantages in combat. This mechanic added an extra layer of complexity while requiring players to think strategically about their actions.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn… Literally
While Final Fantasy XIV initially launched with a traditional turn-based combat system in 2010, the game underwent a significant overhaul and relaunched as “A Realm Reborn” in 2013. With the reimagined version, the game shifted to an action-oriented combat system similar to Final Fantasy XV. This transition aimed to enhance the MMO experience, promoting engaging battles in the vast and visually stunning world of Eorzea. The seamless integration of action gameplay elevated the sense of immersion while creating a more dynamic multiplayer environment.
Final Fantasy XV: Embracing Action-Packed Realism
Breaking even further from tradition, Final Fantasy XV, released in 2016, adopted a real-time action combat system. By integrating fast-paced combat mechanics reminiscent of action games, players could engage in intense battles against various foes in a seamless, immersive manner. This shift towards action-oriented gameplay allowed for heightened intensity and strategic decision-making, appealing to a broader audience beyond traditional RPG enthusiasts.
Final Fantasy VII Remake: Real-Time Tactical Action
The highly anticipated Final Fantasy VII Remake, released in 2020, reimagined the combat system of the original game. It introduced a real-time action system with tactical elements, combining fast-paced combat with strategic decision-making. Players could seamlessly switch between characters, execute unique abilities, as well as exploit enemy weaknesses in thrilling battles. The combat system successfully blended the essence of the original game with modern action RPG mechanics.
Final Fantasy XVI: The New Age of FF Games
Square Enix has been transparent ever since the announcement of Final Fantasy XVI on how the series will be moving forward in the future. They are now actively shedding the connotation of being a JRPG in exchange for the action RPG genre. Yes, some of the elements from its predecessors will still be there. However, they aren’t as prevalent anymore compared to previous titles. Final Fantasy XVI is now a bonafide action RPG. Similar to games like God of War: Ragnarok or the Witcher series. And sadly for turn-based lovers, the next generation of Final Fantasy games will seemingly be just the same.
Spinoff Final Fantasy Games
In addition to the mainline entries, the Final Fantasy series has also seen various spinoff titles that offer unique combat experiences. Here are a few notable examples:
Final Fantasy Type-0: A Military March into Battle
Final Fantasy Type-0, released in 2011, introduced a unique blend of real-time action and strategic elements. Set in a war-torn world, the game focused on group combat, allowing players to control a team of characters simultaneously. Each character possessed distinctive abilities and roles, demanding careful coordination and tactical maneuvering. This departure from turn-based combat injected a sense of urgency and intensity, aligning with the game’s gritty narrative.
Final Fantasy Tactics: Tactical Brilliance
Breaking away from the mainline series, Final Fantasy Tactics, released in 1997, took a turn towards tactical gameplay. Inspired by the strategy RPG genre, the game emphasized grid-based combat and intricate battle planning. Players controlled a group of characters, each with their unique abilities and classes, navigating them across a battlefield to outmaneuver enemies. The shift to turn-based tactical combat added depth and complexity, appealing to fans of both Final Fantasy and strategy games.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Cooperative Quests
Released in 2003, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles introduced cooperative multiplayer action RPG gameplay. Set in a vibrant and immersive world, the game allowed players to team up with friends to complete quests and overcome challenges. Combat in Crystal Chronicles featured real-time action elements. Indeed, it requires coordination and collaboration among players to defeat enemies and protect their crystal. This multiplayer-centric approach deviated from traditional turn-based combat, promoting social interaction and teamwork.
Final Fantasy Dissidia: Dynamic Arena Battles
Final Fantasy Dissidia, originally released in 2008 for the PlayStation Portable, offered a departure from traditional combat through its arena-based battles. This fighting game spin-off brought together characters from different Final Fantasy titles to engage in intense one-on-one battles. Moreover, the combat system emphasized real-time action, acrobatic maneuvers, and special attacks, creating a fast-paced and visually impressive experience.
Why Did Square Enix Choose to Deviate From the Classic Turn Based Combat System?
Video games have witnessed a constant evolution in gameplay mechanics, striving to provide immersive experiences that captivate players. One significant aspect of this evolution is the combat system, which plays a crucial role in defining the gameplay dynamics and the overall experience. Square Enix, a renowned game developer known for its iconic RPGs, has historically embraced the turn-based combat system in many of its beloved franchises. However, recent times have seen a shift in their approach as Square Enix explores new combat mechanics. Here are a few reasons as to why they made the decision:
Adapting to Changing Player Preferences:
One of the key reasons behind Square Enix’s decision to replace the classic turn-based combat system lies in the evolving preferences of players. As the gaming landscape has grown and diversified, so have player expectations. Many gamers now seek faster-paced, action-oriented gameplay that provides a greater sense of immediacy and engagement. Square Enix recognized this shift in player preferences and opted to adapt its combat systems to cater to a broader audience.
Enhancing Immersion and Dynamic Gameplay:
Square Enix’s foray into new combat systems can be attributed to the desire to enhance immersion and deliver more dynamic gameplay experiences. Real-time combat mechanics allow players to actively participate in battles, making split-second decisions, and executing actions with precision. This shift offers a greater sense of control and responsiveness. It draws players deeper into the game world while fostering a more visceral connection with the characters and their actions.
Appealing to New Audiences:
By moving away from the classic turn-based combat system, Square Enix aims to attract new audiences. Perhaps those who may be unfamiliar or uninterested in traditional RPG mechanics. This strategic decision opens the door for players who may prefer more action-focused gameplay. Also, it allows Square Enix to expand its fan base and reach a wider demographic. Furthermore, it aligns with the company’s goal of bringing its beloved franchises to new platforms and engaging players who may have different gaming backgrounds.
Evolving Technological Capabilities:
Advancements in technology have played a pivotal role in driving Square Enix’s decision to explore alternative combat systems. Modern hardware capabilities have empowered developers to create visually stunning and complex battle sequences that were previously limited by the turn-based format. With the advent of more powerful consoles and PCs, Square Enix can now leverage these advancements to create breathtaking real-time combat experiences that showcase the full potential of their game worlds.
Staying Competitive in the Market:
The gaming industry is highly competitive, with developers constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation to stand out. Square Enix’s decision to replace the classic turn-based combat system can also be seen as a response to stay relevant and compete with other studios that have successfully implemented real-time combat mechanics. By embracing new gameplay styles, Square Enix ensures it remains at the forefront of the industry, thus, captivating players and keeping its franchises fresh and exciting.
The Final Fantasy series has undergone significant development since its beginnings. It progressed from traditional turn-based battles to more dynamic and real-time gameplay mechanics. This transformation has introduced a heightened sense of thrill and involvement in the gameplay. Thus, elevating the overall experience for both individual players and those in multiplayer parties.
As we gaze into the future of the series, we anticipate additional advancements in combat systems, while preserving the hallmark elements of compelling storytelling and exceptional voice acting that are synonymous with the Final Fantasy brand. Regardless of the specific battle mechanics employed, one thing remains consistent. That being each installment of Final Fantasy continues to deliver an unparalleled and unforgettable gaming journey.