Here Are the Most Dramatic Changes Made in Final Fantasy Games
I’ve played a lot of Final Fantasy in my day — honestly, maybe too much. The only I one I didn't play in depth was Final Fantasy XI, and that’s because I was an EverQuest man (TELL NO ONE OF THIS!). But while the Final Fantasy series should be lauded for its great plots, gameplay, and characters, they also try to innovate between each installment. Let’s take a look at some of those innovations, shall we? Here are the biggest changes from the Final Fantasy:
Leveling through actions, Final Fantasy II
A system that SquareSoft ended up doing away with by the next game, Final Fantasy II had you improving your stats by actually using them. It actually makes a lot of sense — you get stronger by doing things to boost your strength, you get tougher by having people beat on you, and you get better at magic by casting sp-- uh, just joking, magic is obviously not real. Ha haha ha...
The job system, Final Fantasy III
The "job" system that is employed in Final Fantasy V, XIV, and the Tactics series originated with Final Fantasy III. While the original Final Fantasy also featured classes/jobs, you were locked into them. Starting with Final Fantasy III, everyone started as the same class, and then let the players change to a new one as they met different qualifications. Other game series would borrow this system over the years, so this is actually a pretty big invention.
The scope of the story, Final Fantasy IV
Prior to Final Fantasy IV, every game in the series had mostly been "Go to this town, beat this dungeon, go to next town, blah blah blah until you fight the last boss, who is some form of ultimate evil." But then Final Fantasy IV came along and changed the game — now characters where multi-dimensional, there was actual drama, and the game was long; very long. I know people who still say tFinal Fantasy IV is their favorite Final Fantasy story (which is wrong, because Final Fantasy VI is the best Final Fantasy story.)
Open endedness, Final Fantasy VI
While the first half of Final Fantasy VI is pretty linear, the second half makes the world your oyster. You can rebuild your party however you want, recruiting past characters in whatever order you want, or even skip re-recruiting them altogether! You can finish Final Fantasy VI with only a party of, like, six (though it’s hard as hell), and none of this includes all of the side quests that give players the best gear in the game.
Graphics upgrade, Final Fantasy VII
The polygons, the FMV, the incredibly massive spectacle that was the summoning materia — it’s hard to emphasize just how big a deal all these changes were when Final Fantasy VII launched. Hell, Sony had a massively successful marketing push based all around the game's amazing graphics.
Voice acting, Final Fantasy X
It’s ironic that Final Fantasy X introduced voice acting to the world of Final Fantasy when it has some objectively terrible voice acting. That’s okay though, because it gets a lot better as the installments go (though I’m not super into the idea of older games being remade with voice actors — there’s no way Cloud is going to sound the way he does in my head in the upcoming remake, y’know?)
Going full MMO, Final Fantasy XI
Taking the once entirely single player Final Fantasy into the world of MMORPGs with was a bold choice, especially when you remember it predates World of Warcraft by two years and thus didn’t have the most popular MMORPG of all time to break them into the mainstream. Final Fantasy XI was more Evercraft than WoW though, as opposed to Final Fantasy XIV which feels very much like a WoW-style MMORPG.
Linearity, Final Fantasy XIII
Spending dozens of hours essentially just running down corridors sucked and I’m glad Final Fantasy XIII was the only time they did it.
Almost everything, Final Fantasy XV
First of all, Final Fantasy XV went full action RPG; it very much has a quasi-open world feel (kind of like The Witcher III) with a whole bunch of weird stuff tacked on. I’m not big on the fishing/ photography/ cooking stuff, but it does have Chocobos, and materia. Really, Final Fantasy XV doesn’t seem that much like a Final Fantasy game — Square emphasizes at the beginning of the game’s load screen that it’s for new and old players, but you can really feel them shooting for the "new players" part of that.
Unlike these games, I will never change.