15 years later, Final Fantasy 12’s combat system is still the best


I’m not going to lie, I didn’t like Final Fantasy 12 when I first played it – the first 10 hours or so felt like a real chore. The combat system was different, I didn’t like Vaan, and the story seemed weak – or, at least, it certainly didn’t intrigue me the way FF10 did. I can’t remember precisely when the gambit system clicked for me, but it was at some point during Barheim’s passage after escaping from Nalbina Fortress dungeon.

From then on the gambit system continued to develop on me. So much so that 12 has become my favorite among all the Final Fantasy combat systems. And having recently played Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age, which implements the working system previously only available in the international version, I can confidently say – 15 years later – that it’s still my favorite battle system of any Final Fantasy game.

If you’ve never played FF12 before, the combat differences between this one and the older games seem a lot. You’re not thrown into random battles – you launch them with enemies visible on the field – so you don’t end up in a separate arena, with a battle theme. And instead of having to enter commands into a menu to attack, heal, or cast a magic spell – although you can always do that if you want – you set up gambits that dictate what you want each character to do, depending on the parameters you define.

You define the target (enemy or ally), then an action you want to take. You can further refine this by specifying the variables associated with the target. So for my parts, I usually set the same two attack gambits for each character and build from there. The first is always “Enemy: target of group leader – Attack” followed by “Enemy: lowest HP – Attack”. Gambits are always executed in the order they are listed, so by default everyone should attack the same enemy – the party leader’s target – and the party leader will attack the enemy with the least amount of points. life. This way, if your party leader does something else, like using an item or healing (or dying), the actions of other characters will not be disrupted.

Healing spells work the same and you can set specific allies as targets or any party member who falls below a certain percentage of health. Primary healers should also have their healing strategies above all offensive strategies; otherwise, they will always prioritize the attack. And if the damage-dealing characters have access to any healing or revive spells, I’ll set them below their attack strategies – with a slightly higher health threshold than the healing character – to help use up the mana soon after. the beginning.

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Final Fantasy 12 gambits

Balthier’s theft bet (Image credit: Square Enix)
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Final Fantasy 12 gambits

Fran’s bet focused on healing (Image credit: Square Enix)

Implementing a “steal” strategy means you’ll have plenty of Gil’s to play with, but you have to be a little inventive if you don’t want the thief to constantly try to steal from the same enemy. The configuration I use is “Enemy: HP

There are many gambits to choose from and you can make them as simple or as complicated as you want. I like to put them in place for any situation imaginable and then let my party go and watch how things go. I constantly adjust the gambits as characters learn new spells or abilities, and will manually cast some spells in more difficult fights.

However, not everyone seems to share my love of the gambit system. I knew a lot of people who would hush up the party leader’s shenanigans, so I felt like they had something to do. Their main complaint was that he felt like the game was playing itself. However, you still have to work – you do it right before fights rather than during them. And even then, you will probably still need to make adjustments or perform some actions manually in the middle of the battle if the situation calls for it.

The biggest issue with most Final Fantasy games is how repetitive combat can happen, especially in the later stages when you’re clearing out side quests or getting ready for the final boss, but that’s something. that FF12 specifically manages to deny to some extent. You don’t get into random battles every two seconds, and you’re wasting time having to access a whole new battle screen. And by extension, you don’t have to enter the same spell or attack sequence for the same monster for the 679th time. There are times when you’ll still want to grind some XP for sure, but the fights themselves are a lot less strenuous because of your gambits.

Everyone is different, however, I’m not a huge fan of the direction Final Fantasy 15, and more recently the Final Fantasy 7 Remake, has taken when it comes to combat. Still, I know a lot of people who seem to like it. For me, Final Fantasy has never been a frenetic, action-based fight. I’ll play any main Final Fantasy game Squeenix decides to release, but it was the massive nostalgia journey that drove me to complete FF7 Remake rather than because I enjoyed combat.

Final Fantasy games are my happiness; this is where I can relax with the story and the stress-free combat. For me, the fun of the 12-gambit system is experimentation – setting up what you think will work for whatever you’re about to tackle, then sit down to watch the results.

Final Fantasy 7-13 are games that I will always come back to. And while I would say all of these have much stronger stories than Final Fantasy 12, the gambit system feels superior to the rest even today.

About Johanna Gooding

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