Sunday, June 30, 2013

Classic RPG Combat - Objectives

This is the final post in a three part series.

My first and second posts rambled on about different combat systems and their resources respectively. Now we will finally tie them together: how do they work together to make a game that is both challenging and fun?

RPG Combat Objects

Ask the following questions about every battle that you are in:

  1. In what way do your choices effect combat?
  2. How do your tactics vary between battles?
  3. What distinguishes a boss battle from a regular fight?

I am going to select three games to answer each question. Obviously there are many more games with many more answers, but this blog series has already gotten really long, so please feel free to add to this list by posting in the comments!

1. In what way do your choices effect combat?

Chrono Trigger - Often in Chrono Trigger enemies will have specific elemental weakness that trigger debuffs. For example, dinosaurs are weakened by lightning attacks, and ogres with hammers lose their weapon when attacked with fire. This means that you must choose your party so that you have access to the magic types needed to beat select areas.

Final Fantasy 7 - You equip your characters with Materia that gives them magic abilities, your characters then learn these abilities over time. Because any character can equip any Materia, you get to decided which characters will learn defensive spells versus offensive spells. This means that you can custom and choose who will eventually fill the rolls of healer and DPS.

Fire Emblem - You must choose what characters to bring into battle, which characters to level up, and which characters to let die. The choices you make with every move impact more than just the battle itself, it will impact the course of the entire game.

2. How do your tactics vary between battles?

Mario RPG - Combat is simple, but the timed attack system offers variety with every battle. If you choose to pay attention in battle, your timed hits and dodges can completely make or break your chances of succeeding in combat.

Lufia 2 - In Lufia 2 you have two types of ability resources: a standard mana bar that drains down with use, and a SP bar that builds up based on damage taken. The fact that you can not always rely on both resources being available for every fight means that you will not always have access to all of your spells. This forces you to mind your resources and alter tactics based on their ever changing availability.

XCOM Enemy Unknown - Yes, XCOM is a tactical RPG! In the latest version of XCOM, different missions will take you on to different types of terrain. When out doors, my snipers dominate the field of battle, claiming the vast majority of kills for my squad. However when force to play in door missions, my snipers line of sight is greatly reduced, and I am force to use other character classes such as assault and support to complete the mission.

3. What distinguishes a boss battle from a regular fight?

Golden Sun - Most regular battles in Golden Sun are both quick and easy, where as bosses often pose a significant challenge. In regular battles enemies are dispatched with your first round of attacks, in stark contrast boss battles require you to cycle through your Djinn (summons that double as status buffs) in an exercise of both endurance and strategic planning.

Might of Magic: Clash of Heroes - All battles in Clash of Heroes are essentially a puzzle game. Boss fights vary the combat by completely changing the standard object of the puzzles. Against bosses you often have to target specific moving targets. In puzzle challenges you have to complete battles with a predetermined set of units in a finite number of moves.

Final Fantasy 6 - FF6 is full of little tricks to make boss battles distinct. At several points in the game you have to command three groups of characters at once on a tactical battlefield, forcing you to create balanced parties of characters that not only fight off multiple groups of enemies but also defeat and end boss. Additionally, they have fights like the Phantom Train, where the use of a phoenix down can defeat the boss with a single blow.

That is (finally) all I have to say about that.

Game on,
Tom

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