With Thanksgiving having come and gone this week, I thought I’d look back at a few of the games I’m most grateful to have had the chance to play over the years. Like the Duck of Indeed, there’s more than a few games on that list: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for getting me started, Super Mario 64 and Kingdom Hearts for fueling the fire, and Mass Effect for making me want to do more with gaming than just playing the games. Those are the major ones to be sure, but as I thought about I realized that there’s also several games that taught me how to be a better t player. With that in mind, I’d just like to say I’m thankful for Final Fantasy XIII!
Final Fantasy XIII did a few things differently than its predecessors, most notably in how we interacted with its world and especially in how its battle system worked. The linear corridors always left me wondering why I’d even been given control of the character if I was essentially just walking to the next major encounter. Sure there were random fights to be had, leveling up to do, and resources to gather, but the traversal always felt a little hollow to me. It was as if the world I was asked to care about wasn’t really a world, but rather just a space for me to occupy as I went from fight to fight, which made it hard to really get invested in what was going to happen to it. This was the big flaw for me though, as the battle system and characters were more than enough to keep me going.
The paradigm system was actually the aspect of the game that kept me going through it. It was such a new way of approaching battles for me that I couldn’t help but find it absolutely fascinating. I’d never thought of each character in my battle party as having a role to play in each encounter before, so it was a tough system to get a handle on. As I played however, the game showed me not only that there are roles that need to be filled, but also what each of them is meant for and can do to advance the battle: tanks for taking damage and drawing enemy aggression, healers to keep health up, supporting characters to buff allies, and debuff enemies. These were all foreign concepts to me until FFXIII. I’d played games that focused on those roles before, in fact Dragon Age: Origins had come out a year earlier, and I remember being mystified as to why the battle system gave me such a hard time. FFXIII changed that, playing drew back the curtain and showed exactly how a more complicated game like DA:O needed to be approached!
Final Fantasy XIII was a simple game at its core I think. The battle system definitely did not have the kind of depth many fans were looking for at the time. In my case though, I’m gad that it turned out the way it did. The battles themselves were fun (even when they suddenly spiked in terms of difficulty), and if had been anymore complex I can’t help but wonder if I would have been as easy to pick up on how each character role worked and apply that to other games I was playing and have played in the years since. So, thank you Square Enix for Final Fantasy XIII, for without it I wouldn’t be the RPG player am today!
What games are you thankful for? Which ones made you a better player?