While it may have been one of the more divisive Final Fantasy releases, Final Fantasy XII still managed to garner a huge fanbase.
Fans and critics alike threw plenty of praise onto the game due to its innovative Gambit and License system, strong vocal presentation, striking visual design and worthwhile story. A few issues hampered the original release though, which is why Square Enix made the decision to update it for an international re-release. That version of the game (Final Fantasy XII International Zodiac Job System) was only released in Japan, however. But in 2017, the true definitive edition of FF XII is set to wow new fans and bring back its loyal veterans to the PS4.
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (which releases on July 11) is set to feature everything that made the game better in the last update and even more notable changes. Speaking of changes, these five improvements for the HD remaster will surely make FF XII even better.
1. Party Members Can Now Progress Through Their Own License Board and Equip a Second Job
The vanilla version of FF XII featured only one License Board that every member of your party had to utilize in order to gain new abilities/gear. The international version of the game introduced 12 License Boards that focused on a job focus that any of your characters could adopt – Archer, Black Mage, Bushi, Foebreaker, Knight, Machnist, Monk, Red Battlemage, Shikari, Time Battlemage, Uhlan and White Mage. After selecting a role for any of your roster members, they’ll forever be locked into that job and adopt all of the abilities/equipment associated with it. Once you progress to a certain portion of The Zodiac Age (defeating Belias in battle), your character can adopt a second job that provides them with even more skills.
2. This HD Remaster’s a Bit Easier Than Its Original Iteration
The original FF XII was known for being a big departure from the elements previous games in the franchise featured. The battle system still included elements from the Active Time Battle (ATB) system and evolved it into the Active Dimension Battle (ADB). The Gambit system and major changes to exploration definitely made this entry a lot tougher than previous iterations. Polygon interviewed the HD remaster’s producer Hiroaki Kato, who made it clear that this re-release will be a lot more approachable:
One of the biggest challenges we faced in Final Fantasy 12 was to ditch the classic random encounter system that we had. In other games, you would go into battle suddenly, whereas in Final Fantasy 12 you saw enemies as you moved through the field. It’s a real-time battle system. It was a big departure from the classic system. We actually got help from Hiroyuki Ito, who worked on the game design for previous Final Fantasy titles. We overhauled the game balance so that it would be easier for players — closer to the feel of a classic Final Fantasy title.
3. High Speed Mode
FF XII’s Ivalice is massive. Exploring every nook and cranny of it may have been a mind blowing experience at first, but it became problematic when players were forced to backtrack over long distances. The International version threw in a simple fix to remedy the situation – High Speed Mode. This mechanic is still present in the HD remaster and all you have to do to activate it is hit the L1 Button. During live gameplay (exploration, battles, loot collecting etc.), you can head into Turbo Mode and progress even faster. You can turn the game back to its normal speed at any time, plus it doesn’t affect the audio/cutscenes in any way.
4. Trial Mode
For those of you who actually enjoyed the high difficulty level FF XII highlighted, Trial Mode will fulfill your thirst for tough encounters. This separate mode from the main scenario lets you take your current party into increasingly difficult battles. There’s 100 battles in total and it pays to keep strengthening your party during the main campaign before you take them into even tougher battles. The encounters you’ll hop into will pit your party against groups of extremely difficult enemies or just one powerful boss creature.
5. The Visuals and Audio Have Been Updated (Obviously), Plus Other Gameplay Changes are Included
On top of all the aforementioned changes, The Zodiac Age will receive a bevy of graphical/audio improvements. The textures/visuals will look that much better, plus 7.1ch surround sound support has been added in. Load times have also been shortened, the original soundtrack and remastered OST can be freely toggled on at any point and the English/Japanese voices can also do the same. RPGSite listed a ton of gameplay changes brought on by the International edition that will be in the HD remake:
– Quickenings no longer require MP and use their own gauge. Characters gain MPs through leveling up rather than by unlocking more Quickenings
– Two versions of New Game Plus: one where characters start at level 90 (Strong Mode) and one where characters never level up (Weak Mode, unlocked after beating Trial Mode). Nothing is carried over into either of these files
– The 9999 damage limit is removed
– Some characters stats and item/equipment effects have been changed
– 16 new gambit options
– Some enemy stats are altered and there a couple new enemies
– Treasure chests respawn by only moving one screen away (rather than three screens away)
– Some treasure chest contents have been slightly changed. Some magicks originally purchased in stores must now be found in chests
– Some magicks have been recategorized. For example, Bravery is now a White Magick instead of a Green Magick
– Some shop listings and Hunt rewards have been altered