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Old Mar 27 2012, 06:04 AM   #1
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Default Is action the way forward?

So some of you might remember the somewhat controversial statement by Final Fantasy producer Yoshinori Kitase that the gravitation of RPGs towards action was a trend, and that "you ignore things like that at your peril." Final Fantasy seems to be leaning more towards an action tone in recent history, with XIII trying to replicate the smooth cinematic nature of Advent Children and both Type-0 and Versus XIII being heavily based on action gameplay.

But is turn-based combat really dying? Is this the sort of direction you want to see the series taken in? I for one can see the pros and the cons. The move away from turn-based combat and closer to action helps to engage the player more strongly in the gameplay, with a sense of urgency. It allows for dynamic action, rather than simply scrolling through a menu. But the distancing from turn-based straight RPG systems is something that I'm concerned kills a lot of the feel of JRPGs that first drew me to the genre.

In an action-oriented game, there tends to be less thought and more twitch. The sequences in combat tend to be less visually impressive for the sake of fluidity. I would equate it to moving away from a game of chess and into a game of ping-pong. To me, the systems are that dissimilar, and I enjoy both quite a lot. However, it seems in today's market that ping-pong is the most popular choice, and that chess will become a lot less common as a result. While I certainly understand, I can't help but miss the personality of the turn-based system that first drew me to the genre and indeed to games in general.

What do you think? Are more action-oriented systems inferior? Superior? And should RPGs- and more specifically Final Fantasy- follow this trend?
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Old Mar 27 2012, 06:11 AM   #2
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Personally I don't mind as long as I still have a choice in combat. I see people in VII remake threads talking about how they want the battles to look like those in AC and think "but they look good because they're choreographed. I don't want a choreographed battle in my RPG. I don't just want to press X to initiate a staged portion of the fight, no matter how good it looks. Whatever direction you go in, you need to retain the strategic element.
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Old Mar 27 2012, 06:25 AM   #3
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Xiii is one of my most hated games. So please no
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Old Mar 27 2012, 06:27 AM   #4
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Xiii is one of my most hated games. So please no
XIII was actually completely turn-based, though. It only got a mention because it was stated to attempt to capture the visual 'feel' of a more action-packed title.
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Old Mar 27 2012, 06:33 AM   #5
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Visual wasn't the only thing. It was kept linear and the gameplay comprised of nothing but battles...because it was action oriented(I believe an attempt at Cod? If I remember right). They may as well have taken out walking/jogging as it did nothing but serve to get you to the next battle.
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Old Mar 27 2012, 06:37 AM   #6
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Visual wasn't the only thing. It was kept linear and the gameplay comprised of nothing but battles...because it was action oriented(I believe an attempt at Cod? If I remember right). They may as well have taken out walking/jogging as it did nothing but serve to get you to the next battle.
Actually, that was because the game was intended to focus on a character-driven story rather than on side-quests and other filler content. At least, that's what the creators told us about the linearity. That was a result of story-based gameplay, not action-based gameplay. What you're remembering is an interview on release windows. Square-Enix wishes to mimic Call of Duty's quick releases in order to make more of a profit.
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Old Mar 27 2012, 06:41 AM   #7

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I strongly believe it comes down to player's gaming preference. In a video gamer prespective, I do not find turn-based games inferior or superior to action-oriented ones or any other genre for that matter. Interms of business and marketing, however, I can understand if the people at Square-Enix would highly consider the transition in their video games to more action-oriented because it is more profitable (or "superior" in this sense) when they take into consideration the consumer and critical popularity and sales of action-oriented game series such as Assassin's Creed, Uncharted, and Mass Effect.

Personally, I prefer action-oriented games such as the God of War or Kingdom Hearts series. When I was younger and got to play Final Fantasy VIII, I like the option and patience to choose what I want to do in battle. The whole realsim and fast-pace aspects of action-oriented games did not influenced me that much then. Not until I got Kingdom Hearts for Christmas and God of War demo and made a lasting impression on me. But, I still hold the good ole turn-based Final Fantasy titles dearly like VIII, for example. Turn-base games provide a unique experience that action-oriented games do not and this is conversly true. I like to have the best of both worlds .

Would XII be considered a hybrid?
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Old Mar 27 2012, 08:19 AM   #8
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Depends on how relevant they want to be in the grand scheme of things. They can keep on doing what they're doing if they don't care about sinking into the background and having their major products becoming cute little niche things that remind the nostalgia-obsessed of times past. Alternatively, they can look at things like Dragon Age, Skyrim and even Kingdoms of Amalur and make something that people will throw money at like no one's business.

Truth be told, I don't care what they're doing with Final Fantasy at the moment, I'm far more interested to see what their new Montreal studio is going to be working on. Unless... their new Montreal studio will be making Final Fantasy XV! Holy shit!
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Old Mar 27 2012, 09:00 AM   #9
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I don't think any from both is superior or inferior. As Whip said, I personally don't mind as well as long as it doesn't take away the strategic element of the system, it is fine to implement action elements in it. XIII did good in doing this, but there was not much freedom. Yes, you can manually input abilities but as the ATB bar's limit gets longer the player is more forced to use the auto battle instead since the battles in XIII are fast-paced. There were the paradigms that retain the strategic element, but that was all. Which is why I laud them for the improvements they made in XIII-2, where you have more choices, but I won't bother going through them specifically. XIII-2's battle system is what I'd say an almost perfect blend of a heavy influence of turn-base and light implements of action.

Adding action-oriented games in the series is not bad; Type-0's battle system was excellent and possibly one the best battle systems, Versus XIII's looks hell of a lot of fun, but I'd like them to keep the strategic feel and turn base in the main-numbered titles.
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Old Mar 27 2012, 09:18 AM   #10
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Alternatively, they can look at things like ... Skyrim
For the love of god, no! Combat in Bethesda games is so tedious.
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Old Mar 27 2012, 10:27 AM   #11
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For the love of god, no! Combat in Bethesda games is so tedious.
My post was was more general than just "the buttons you press to make things dead".
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Old Mar 27 2012, 01:48 PM   #12
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I know, I just saw the opportunity to complain about the combat in Bethesda games. But then you had to ruin it.
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Old Mar 27 2012, 02:17 PM   #13
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FFXIII was as turned based as its predecessors so I don't understand why people seem to complain about the franchise becoming more action oriented when it's not true. Would I rather see smooth transitions between commands and running around so that it feels like they're fightining all the time like in actual battle rather than wait patiently for their turn? Hell yes, but one option doesn't make it any less turn-based than the other, it just looks prettier.

FFXIII-2's battle system especially was perfect. It was turned based, but it was also nice to watch them fight as opposed to, say, FFX, where battles looked like they were playing capture the flag.
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Old Mar 27 2012, 05:33 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Whiplash View Post
For the love of god, no! Combat in Bethesda games is so tedious.
A million times this. Bethesda combat is so basic and a resounding big NO from me.


I would like to see more turn-based combat games in the vein of X-2 or XIII-2's battle system. They keep you on edge with their slick, fast combat, but the combat is still turn based. They deserve credit for implementing fun, strategic systems without dragging on for too long like Dragon Quest or *dun dun dun* Lost Odyssey.
**XIII-2 gets points for chaining combo attacks, which was a pretty cool feature for a turn-based RPG and making the paradigm system way more fun this time around
**X-2 gets points for the loads of traditional attack choices + fast combat + dem outfits

I don't know if any of you have played Grandia II, but it has one of the best, most fun turn-based RPG battle systems to this day too. Check that shit out.

It would be sad to see turn-based combat die out completely, sure games and combat systems need to evolve, but there are only so many iterations of action styled combat that keeps the industry diverse and interesting.


but to answer the posed question, is action the way forward? That's probably the direction most companies will go in to "keep up", but in the long run I don't think action-oriented will make for a better game than turn-based (or vice versa). They just have to figure out how to 1) market/make a great game and 2) capture the fun that comes with having a load of customization and power evolution options in an RPG
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Old Mar 27 2012, 06:10 PM   #15
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Speaking of RPGs with good turn-based battle systems, Persona 3 says hi. I haven't played 1, 2, and 4 though, but anyways, Persona 3 has a fairly good battle system.
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Old Mar 27 2012, 07:03 PM   #16
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Depends on how relevant they want to be in the grand scheme of things. They can keep on doing what they're doing if they don't care about sinking into the background and having their major products becoming cute little niche things that remind the nostalgia-obsessed of times past. Alternatively, they can look at things like Dragon Age, Skyrim and even Kingdoms of Amalur and make something that people will throw money at like no one's business.
So you really don't think a turn-based system has the ability to be great any longer? Isn't there the possibility of evolving the system itself into something more advanced without sacrificing its key elements? That's what XIII tried to do- albeit, in my opinion, ineffectively- and I'm personally of the opinion that there's plenty of room for that sort of system if developers are just willing to provide it more polish. I don't believe it's the system's fault that the genre has stagnated.

I can certainly see where you're coming from, though. Name a game in recent history that's been a blockbuster and not borrowed heavily from action. You can't do it. Even the 'RPGs' are shaving away RPG elements. Mass Effect dropped its loot system and pared down its ability system in favor of stronger shooter elements. Dragon Age severely dumbed down its leveling system. I would say Skyrim is the purest RPG in a while, and it does everything and excels at nothing, as most Bethesda games do.
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Old Mar 27 2012, 08:15 PM   #17
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I would like to begin by saying that I feel that while action is not the sole way forward, I do feel that it should be at least partially embraced. Much in the style of 10-2, 12, and 13/13-2, I feel that combat should feel more and more 'alive' and classically speaking turn-based games simply can't achieve this feel. I agree with quite a few of the points made in this thread by Ramenzilla, Simon, Chat Noir, and most of your thoughts on the subject DP.

However, I have to slightly agree with Dunham (I feel a little sick) about the negative points of keeping on with turn-based RPGs. I think that the genre could be reinvented or revitalized, I do, and I think it still has a lot of potential. But a turn-based game seems more likely to fail in America and western Europe, from what I've seen, and those are pretty big markets to take into account. I've met people who won't touch a game that isn't "roguelike" or whatever that incredibly hipster term is for games that use free-running, and people that disregard games that don't have a certain amount of hack and slash violence to them. The interest in games in the style of older Final Fantasy is going down, and I have to express my doubts on any studio being able to successfully bring it back.

My point in case are 13 and 13-2, (as well as 10-2, the system they are apparently based off of very heavily) which despite their fresh and live-action take on turn-based battles have seen so much hate and rage because they feel that no skill is required to play it. Let's be honest, a lot of gamers have turned into snobby types obsessed with the challenge. If a game is made with beginners in mind, it may not necessarily be able to achieve the level of challenge they desire and therefore becomes uninteresting to them. This was already incredibly easy with RPGs (as stated many times in the chatbox, they are largely games of numbers), and I think it has become even easier with turn-baseds in the face of combat like that of Bethesda games. Yes, Skyrim has incredibly basic, boring fights that are incredibly tedious. But they give people an illusion of choice, and in many cases the fights are drawn out by the clunkiness of the system to give the feeling of it being much more of a challenge than it really was.

So in summary I have to say no, action is not the way forward. But unless Square Enix and similar studios can wise up and bring something astoundingly inventive to the table, it may be the only way left to them.


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Yes, you can manually input abilities but as the ATB bar's limit gets longer the player is more forced to use the auto battle instead since the battles in XIII are fast-paced.
I would like to point out that you can set the ATB rate of the entire game to a slow speed, which makes it much easier to manually input commands even during the more frantic late-game fights. There were also a shitton of intricacies to the battle system that were simply never explained in-game like offset chaining, the ATB Refresh system, and how Cut/Keep work. In fact, most of us would still be in the dark about these things if they hadn't been expressly mentioned in the 13-2 strategy guide as having existed. And I dunno, I found the equipment system to be good for strategy. Not a replacement for tactics, but they do add a strategic element.
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Old Mar 28 2012, 02:33 AM   #18
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It is difficult to do real time action combat with a group without minimizing control. Bioware helped by letting players pause the game to issue commands. Mass Effect only gives you direct control over Shepard and limited indirect control over squadmates. Final Fantasy XIII has the paradigm system so that the computer can control the rest of the group. As the action gets faster the extent of the players control is minimized.

A thinking man's game is lost when turn based combat is tossed in favor of more viscerally satisfying action combat. That need not necessarily mean that action combat must always be brain dead simple any more than turn based combat is always deep and complex. But audiences today demand the sort of viscerally satisfying excitement that action combat provides. So, yes, action combat is becoming the norm over traditional turn based battles. It's a market trend. Many western RPGs such as Mass Effect are more shooter now than RPG to varying degrees, for instance.

Final Fantasy did a pretty admirable job of adapting the ATB system to make for more satisfying action combat. Tactics and strategy mostly go out the door in favor of dumb luck or simply having to know the secret trick to defeating a particularly difficult enemy.

Hopefully, someday, someone can develop an intuitive action system that does not sacrifice the need for brainpower.
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Old Mar 28 2012, 03:20 AM   #19
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I'll make this short and sweet because I still have homework to do.

I think that turn-based systems work best for Final Fantasy games. And by turn based, I'm referring to something akin to FFX or FFVII. Don't get me wrong, I loved the combat of XIII and XIII-2. But that's what I feel that the series is defined on. It got it's start from turn-based combat, and that's what made it so renowned.

I think the series is long overdue for a major overhaul. A lot of games nowadays lean towards the action-style combat, and I don't think that Final Fantasy should necessarily just jump on the bandwagon. I'd be pleased if they went back to turn-based strategy, but then again, a lot of people don't feel the same way. The market has changed significantly, and as much as I'd like to see turn-based strategy make it's return to the series, I don't think that will happen anytime soon. The day that a new turn-based Final Fantasy hits shelves will be a day that I rejoice.

So, basically, everything that DP said in his opening post.
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Old Mar 28 2012, 04:25 AM   #20
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So you really don't think a turn-based system has the ability to be great any longer? Isn't there the possibility of evolving the system itself into something more advanced without sacrificing its key elements? That's what XIII tried to do- albeit, in my opinion, ineffectively- and I'm personally of the opinion that there's plenty of room for that sort of system if developers are just willing to provide it more polish. I don't believe it's the system's fault that the genre has stagnated.
Turn-based is, by very definition, a staggered system. It's always going to be that the participants stand around doing nothing for a little while, throw something out and then standing around again. People don't expect that any more and I would say it's because the so-called Western RPG has been reborn with a bigger action focus and they've really taken to it. Then when Japan throws out something turn-based, people do realise that turn-based is, in some ways, antiquated and stilted.

It's the flow of it. Something like Dragon Age, you're ha-ra-raing away with your attacks, chuck a poison on, drop a skill and go straight back into attacking. It becomes about how you prepare and how you execute the finer points of strategy, like placement - and, in Dragon Age's case, how you set up your party's actions - and timing of skills and shit like that and that's what lets it flow better. Turn-based wants nothing to do with that and focuses on what, exactly, you do.

They can, I believe, improve the flow of turn-based, but there's going to be a point where it's just why even bother having a turn-based system at all?

I could be wrong and in 10 years I'll be bowing to my turn-based overlords, but I doubt it.
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