Thanks to AXL-Low-Player for the inspiration!
What type of game mechanics should be in a Final Fantasy game? Story, music and characters change, but players subconsciously expect certain gameplay elements. What do they expect? AXL-Low-Player has a few suggestions that could make each game better…
RNG control for drop rates (nobody wants to defeat 50 enemies because they are unlucky with a 5% drop rate):
Solution 1: higher drop rates, but we need more drops. A high drop rate (80%) is less random than a low one (10%).
Solution 2: guaranteed drops if you defeat more monsters than needed on average (for a 5% drop rate, you always get the item after 20 monsters if you didn’t get it before, 40 monsters for the second drop, 60 for the third…).
The RNG drop rate might be annoying, but consider Final Fantasy takes inspiration from Dungeons and Dragons. Developers probably lowered the drop rate, to keep players from finding items too quickly. What about AXL-Low-Player’s solutions? A higher drop rate would make item hunting easier. But for players who like the challenge of grinding, and finding items, this change may not be so preferable.
A lot of explanations:
A tutorial for the battle system and every new gameplay mechanics unlocked.
A compendium that summarize the tutorial and mechanics.
A bestiary with drops and drop rates, stats and location.
No side effect of an equipment is hidden (like the elemental boosts in FFXII).
The effects of every skill must be explained (strength of the move, high or low stun, fast or slow, the exact chance of inflicting a status effect, maybe the frame data if the game is an ARPG).
I think tutorials and information should be plenty too, but optional just in case you’re doing a speed run. Perhaps one of the many things that turned players off to Final Fantasy XIII was the abundance of tutorials. And the tutorials progressed way 20 hours into the game. A question like “do you know what you’re doing” and giving the player an option to choose would be magnificent. An in-game compendium would also be useful. For older gamers, remember when these were in the game manuals?
I agree each Final Fantasy should have a “bestiary with drops and drop rates, stats and location”. It’s frustrating for players to wandering aimlessly until finally stumbling across the enemy needed for the drop. Back in the 90’s, keeping information hidden was the perfect way to sell strategy guides. Nowadays, only collectors really need a strategy guide.
However, should the game explain every skill? What if you want to explore for yourself? Perhaps it wouldn’t be as bad if we had the option to ignore it.
Some gameplay elements:
Every weapon/armor stays useful, they could be improved with materials, experience or by fusing them together (similar to FFXIII, but less grindy and more balanced).
if it’s an ARPG, monsters all have unique abilities, not just basic attacks. Wolves could suddenly dash to knock you down, bombs could send a rain of fireballs, ghosts can turn invisible until they attack, a boss could swipe the ground to force you to dodge by jumping…
Easy, normal and hard difficulties. Maybe very hard too.
New Game +. You can keep your stats, items and party members (their presence isn’t acknowledged outside of battle) if you want. You also unlock a second version of the 3 difficulties with the first monsters having endgame stats. There could be a last difficulty with every monster being at a max level, so you don’t overpower them, the first boss would be as hard as the last one.
Ways to interact with the word (climbing, breaking cracked walls in a cave, burning obstacles). It would give access to hidden dungeons, chests or sidequests. It could also lead to shortcuts between regions. It shouldn’t be needed in the main story for players who don’t like it.
Should every weapon or armor stay useful? Elemental weapons and armors add to the strategy when defeating certain enemies. If every weapon or armor stayed useful, couldn’t this take away from variety as well?
An ‘Easy’, ‘Normal’, ‘Hard’ and ‘Very Hard’ difficulty sounds doable. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII had a similar structure in addition to New Game +. Final Fantasy XV’s New Game + made the game just as fun.
AXL-Low-Player’s other suggestion depends on the programming of the game. As long as Final Fantasy, monster attacks relied on critical hits. This could translate to knocking our characters backward. But doesn’t this happen in Final Fantasy XV? Perhaps Final Fantasy XVI could improve upon this.
Final Fantasy had ways to interact with the world since the first game. Arguably, Final Fantasy XIII didn’t have as much interaction as expected. Final Fantasy XV seemed as if it could have had more. Could Final Fantasy XVI be massive in a less superficial way? Could the surface of the game seem small, yet with several passages leading to hidden dungeons, chests or sidequests? We’ll have to find out for later…