Square-Enix Talks FF XIII's Combat
Whenever it comes to a series like Final Fantasy, you can never have enough information for an upcoming installment. This is why everyone's talking about a recent interview with the FF XIII team, conducted by Japanese monthly publication, Ge-maga. The four names on display in the article are Tetsuya Nomura, Yoshinori Kitase, Motomu Toriyama, and Tosirou Tsuchida, and they specifically talked about the combat mechanic that will be featured in the first next-gen FF, according to an outline over at IGN.
Tsuchida was in charge of Final Fantasy X's battle system, and was told he "could do whatever he pleased" concerning its design and implementation. He first suggested they do away with ATB (Active Time Battle) entirely, but that prompted an emergency meeting within the company, after which he was told he couldn't completely abandon the concept. So he came up with the CTB (Count Time Battle), which in many ways, revolutionized the series.
This time around, though, Tsuchida was asked to develop a "flashy, speedy" battle system, and he didn't think command-based systems would allow for that to happen. At the same time, Square-Enix wants a game that plays as fast as an action title but still allows the player to input commands. Tsuchida says the new system will allow for more control options - even though it's faster - which means we'll be able to choose between a simple slash or a charge-and-slash. And in the vein of combination-like attacks, we'll also be able to string together melee and magic skills (Fire 2 combined with Quad-Cut?). Furthermore, because we'll be linking and blending our actions, the game will institute a new animation process...which sounds totally sweet.
But the real question is, how close will this be to XII's battle system? Is it a progression, or something altogether different? Well, it appears it's something in between, as certain elements will be a bit different. For example, the encounter system isn't "quite encounter based" and "not quite seamless." Let the imagination take you away on that one... The bottom line is we will once again have a new way of encountering enemies, which is something fans of the series will debate until they're blue in the face, we're sure.
Toriyama described the battle system as a "party battle system" (you may remember all that linking and combination talk), and hinted at the idea that battles might be more meaningful. The enemies you encounter should also reflect the game's current situation, so depending on where you are and what's going on, the enemies will change. These foes will also be "categorized with much detail," according to Tsuchida, and Kitase elaborated further by saying certain enemies will even have their own background story.
Finally, Kitase finished by talking a bit about the much-ballyhooed "White Engine," the engine Square-Enix has adopted for Final Fantasy XIII. He says they're considering using the engine for future titles, so that Unreal Tournament 3 engine they licensed won't just pop up in one game. For the time being, the next FF is shaping up to be awfully interesting, and perhaps even more groundbreaking than XII was in its execution. We can't wait to hear more as time goes on!
Related Game(s): Final Fantasy XIII
3/2/2007 Ben Dutka