Unlike the previous ten installments in the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy XII no longer supports a turn-based battle system. Instead, there is no shift in the screen from exploration to battles which helps make the game flow much smoother. Because of this, other enemies may enter the fray at any time to add to the difficulty, but you can also utilize the environment and your surroundings to your advantage. This new system takes some adjusting, so you can always set the battle option to “Wait” from the Preferences menu.
During a battle, pressing X brings up the Battle Menu. Scroll up and down to sift through the menu by using the D-Pad and make a choice by pressing X. After an action is selected, a bar appears next to the character’s name which shows how much time must pass until the action will take place. The “Speed” attribute of a character will affect how fast or slow it takes for the bar to complete.
Since battles are no longer random and you have the opportunity to move around enemies, the player can choose to avoid battles altogether. Although this may seem like the safe path for a novice player, anybody that has been through the series will know that grinding has its payoffs. Since enemies rarely, if at all, drop gil, the player must rely on the loot that an enemy drops after they are defeated.
If you accidentally aggrivate an enemy and provoke a fight, you have the option to flee the battle by holding R2. Your characters will sheath their weapons, cancelling any actions that are being performed. After the party flees, enemies will most likely chase after you for a certain distance. Before you get the Charge technick, you can flee a battle to slowly regain your MP, or Mist Points.
As your fighting an enemy, you may notice a character’s HP, or Hit Points, being slowly depleted. If a character’s HP is fully reduced to zero, they are knocked out and must be revived to join the battle once more. Here are a couple ways to restore your lost HP or MP.
During a battle with a foe, the three members that are taking part in the battle are a part of the battle party. They must utilize their skills in attacking, magicks, or technicks to bring down the foe to gain experience points (EXP) which are fundamental to levelling up, and licences points, or LP. The party leader, or the member designated by the red flag next to their character portrait, is the member that the player will control. If this lead player loses all of his or her HP, the player must designate a backup lead member.
The three members who are not taking part in a battle are the reserve members. At any time that a character’s name does not appear in red, they may be switched out through the main menu by pressing Triangle and substituted by a member on the Reserve Party. Members of the Reserve Party do not gain EXP after a foe is defeated, but they will gain LP. Because of this, it is always a good idea to keep three Golden Amulet accessories handy for any Reserve Member so they can gain twice the License Points after a battle.
Throughout certain parts of the storyline, a character may join your group as a guest member. These characters come with their own set of gambits that can not be edited, nor can they be removed from your battle party. It is always a good idea to save challenging Hunts or other battles for when you have the fourth member in your party.
There are two types of status effects: positive and negative. Not really necessary to the survival of your party in the first half of the game, beneficial status effects play a much larger role toward the end of the game as the enemies have gained a few levels. All beneficial status effects can be cast on a character by using magick or by striking the character with a Measure, or a special type of weapon that is low in attack power that has the added effect of a status effect. Some beneficial status effects include Bubble, Protect, Shell, and Haste.
Like the positive status effects, negative ones can also be cast on an enemy by using magick or any weapon that carries a status effect as an added bonus. Most of the time, these will be used against a foe, but there are times where they can help your party. For instance, Exodus’ final attack is achieved only if he has less than ten seconds remaining of Summon time and he is under the Immobilize status. A partial list of negative status effects includes Poison, Stone/Break, Slow, and Sap.
Every time that you defeat an enemy of the same classification as the one before it, the battle chain counter increases by one. However, if you defeat a different classified enemy, then the chain will restart to zero. The battle chain will level as more like enemies are defeated in succession. As the chain levels up, the rate that rarer items or loot will drop increases and the party may also restore a small amount of HP or MP as they pick up an item dropped by an enemy.