Never played F.Fantasy. Where to start?

CanonicalAbstract

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I don't know about that. I've played hundreds of JRPGs and *every* single player FF game all the way through...

Except for 2. FF2's experience system is infuriating and I hate it. I haven't tried the Pixel Remaster version yet, but I don't know if I want to try.
I've played through, and beaten FF2 on the SNES back in the day, but it took many MANY hours. I think I was somewhere around 80ish hours before finally finishing it. Towards the end, I did a lot of grinding, that much I remember. The experience system I was always "meh" about. It seemed to change more as the newer / later chapters came out. I never played the MMO versions of FF though, since I was playing WoW at the time, and didn't want to sink money per month into FF.
 

Axman

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I've played the first ten FF games, and honestly, the ones that stand out for me to this day are FFVI, FFVII, FFIX, and FFT. I'm including Tactics, here, because it's fucking awesome.

Does anyone even remember the plot of the first five games? "A party of adventurers find four colors and beats the bad guy, but wait, he was the bad guy all along, but they beat him, too, the end."
 

CanonicalAbstract

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I'm talking about Classic FF2, meaning the NES one that wasn't released in America for years.

FF4 (which is SNES FF2) is a great game and I had no problem beating, even back in the day when I only had a SNES.
I see now. I have that one on PSP. I never touched it though (bad habit of buying games and never touching them, go me!) - I should give that a whirl and see what the experience system is all about.
 

Armenius

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I've played the first ten FF games, and honestly, the ones that stand out for me to this day are FFVI, FFVII, FFIX, and FFT. I'm including Tactics, here, because it's fucking awesome.

Does anyone even remember the plot of the first five games? "A party of adventurers find four colors and beats the bad guy, but wait, he was the bad guy all along, but they beat him, too, the end."
It's a little more nuanced than that, but the Final Fantasy series does follow the hero story archetype almost to a 'T' in every entry.
 

Axman

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It's a little more nuanced than that, but the Final Fantasy series does follow the hero story archetype almost to a 'T' in every entry.

I understand, and I will hands-down agree that FFV was better than FF in every way, and the same is true for II, III, and IV, it's just that if we were to summarize the plots of the first five games, we wouldn't have to include spoiler warnings at any point. And if people do have favorites, it's not really because of their stories, but rather, people have faves because of the gameplay mechanics.

One thing I don't understand is that, out of all the "old" Final Fantasy games, a lot of people dislike FFIX. I think it's the most archetypal of them all. The puppet theater comedy, the music, the setting, the tech and magic levels, the perfect cast of characters, extremely typical gameplay systems ... I think FFVIX really captured it all, and by comparison, FFIII, a game that seems to be universally liked, I thought absolutely wiffed it as far as being a particularly true-feeling Final Fantasy game.

ETA: I typod the games, I think FFIX is the good one, FFVIII is the weird one.
 
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Choopyplz

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I understand, and I will hands-down agree that FFV was better than FF in every way, and the same is true for II, III, and IV, it's just that if we were to summarize the plots of the first five games, we wouldn't have to include spoiler warnings at any point. And if people do have favorites, it's not really because of their stories, but rather, people have faves because of the gameplay mechanics.

One thing I don't understand is that, out of all the "old" Final Fantasy games, a lot of people dislike FFVIII. I think it's the most archetypal of them all. The puppet theater comedy, the music, the setting, the tech and magic levels, the perfect cast of characters, extremely typical gameplay systems ... I think FFVIII really captured it all, and by comparison, FFIX, a game that seems to be universally liked, I thought absolutely wiffed it as far as being a particularly true-feeling Final Fantasy game.

I enjoy the story of FFIV -- even if overall it's very straightforward. It's the first one that actually attempts to have real writing and deliver real character development. The music is also pretty phenomenal!

I've still got to actually sit and play through FF8 -- I've probably never played more than 3 hours or so in it ever. All I remember is that it starts very quietly/slowly in contrast to previous FF games.
 

vegeta535

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I understand, and I will hands-down agree that FFV was better than FF in every way, and the same is true for II, III, and IV, it's just that if we were to summarize the plots of the first five games, we wouldn't have to include spoiler warnings at any point. And if people do have favorites, it's not really because of their stories, but rather, people have faves because of the gameplay mechanics.

One thing I don't understand is that, out of all the "old" Final Fantasy games, a lot of people dislike FFVIII. I think it's the most archetypal of them all. The puppet theater comedy, the music, the setting, the tech and magic levels, the perfect cast of characters, extremely typical gameplay systems ... I think FFVIII really captured it all, and by comparison, FFIX, a game that seems to be universally liked, I thought absolutely wiffed it as far as being a particularly true-feeling Final Fantasy game.
Typically people's favorite FF is their first one. FFIV was my first JRPG and it got me hooked nearly 30 years ago. It the best? No but it is my favorite. It is why FF7 is held in such high regards. It was the FF game that finally pushed through to the main stream and was a lot of people's first JRPG. FF8 hate comes squarely from the junction system. Which I too hated. Didn't hate the game but the battle system was one of the most tedious.
 

Armenius

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I enjoy the story of FFIV -- even if overall it's very straightforward. It's the first one that actually attempts to have real writing and deliver real character development. The music is also pretty phenomenal!

I've still got to actually sit and play through FF8 -- I've probably never played more than 3 hours or so in it ever. All I remember is that it starts very quietly/slowly in contrast to previous FF games.
There is a lot of dialogue to get through at the start of 8, and not a lot really goes on until you become a SeeD. The game starts to move very quickly afterward, though.
Typically people's favorite FF is their first one. FFIV was my first JRPG and it got me hooked nearly 30 years ago. It the best? No but it is my favorite. It is why FF7 is held in such high regards. It was the FF game that finally pushed through to the main stream and was a lot of people's first JRPG. FF8 hate comes squarely from the junction system. Which I too hated. Didn't hate the game but the battle system was one of the most tedious.
I like the idea of the junction system, but I agree that I don't think it was implemented too well. You have a hard choice to make: will you cast magic or buff your stats? You can't do both since your stat junction bonus immediately drops when that junctioned magic falls below 100 stock. You can free yourself of this by permanently increasing your stats with Cactuar, but you can't do that until close to the end of the game.

On that note, the leveling system is also a bit frustrating in that you really need to junction the correct GF if you want to build a character archetype early on. Every level only requires 1000 EXP, which means you need to be thoughtful in how you engage in battles and if you have your GF stat up abilities unlocked. I have done the no-leveling until Cactuar strategy before, though, and it makes the end of the game quite trivial. It requires you get the Card ability on Quetzalcoatl as soon as possible to gain no EXP while still gaining AP.

The GFs are amazing, though, and the quests to get them are really engaging.
 

Nytegard

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If you've never played any Final Fantasies, I'd probably start later in the series (7+).

The first 3 are your basic late 80s RPGs (even though 3 came out in 1990). In other words, they're very light on story, and focus mainly on grinding.
Four through six are your typical 16 bit RPGs. They have Saturday morning cartoon level stories. I'd say they're closer to Dragon Quest than modern Final Fantasy. They have a story, but it's really the game that's more of a focus.
From Seven onwards, the story became more important than the game. The games became far more linear, but they have a much more complex story.

Also, the later the game came out, and this includes the remakes, the easier the games become. (I.e. Not only is FF15 easier than FF1 on the NES, but the Pixel Remasters are far easier than their original counterparts).

Which to start with really depends on what type of gamer you are. I'd probably skip the first 3, as retro fans are fairly rare. Then it just becomes a question of whether you want a simple story with a focus on grinding, or do you want a story, with minimal focus on a game.
 

Axman

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I uh, meant to say, FFIX was the typical FF game, where FFVIII was the oddball one. <canada>Soory!</canada>
 

TheSlySyl

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FF8
My problem with the junction system is that if you sit there early on and draw enough magic - you can buff your stats so damn high that everything else in the game is secondary.

Sure is boring as hell though, but my even my young min-maxing brain when the game came out couldn't help myself.

Also the final disc of FF8 sucks because they had to remove all the towns for disc-space reasons. However Triple Triad was absolutely awesome.

Also Laguna's crew had way better characters than the main team. But *shrugs*
 

Youn

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Depends what you like:

Build-Your-Own Party of Silent Protagonists: FF1
Unique Progression System: FF2
Customizable Classes, Guilds: FF3
Romantic, Emotional, Epic: FF4
Corny Humor, Cartoony Feels, Classes Galore: FF5
Depressing, Dark, Operatic: FF6
Techy, Steampunky, Phychological: FF7
High-School Emo/Loner Drama: FF8
Light-Hearted Old-School Fantasy: FF9
High-School Jock Drama: FF10
Classic Fantasy MMORPG: FF11
Darker Fantasy, Political, Semi-Action RPG: FF12
Action RPG (nobody seems to like it?): FF13
Modern Fantasy MMORPG: FF14
Emo Kids Learn to Drive a Car: FF15
 
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TheSlySyl

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FFX-2 : power girl pop stars and dress up (absolutely amazing battle system)

FFXIII-2: didn't like how linear FFXIII was? Go anywhere and any when, also catch monsters Pokemon style.

FFXIII-3: Final Fantasy Majora's Mask.

I should note that I legitimately love these sequel titles.
 
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kaneO

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Wait until they make one that doesn't require you to pay to play. I understand subscriptions like ESO, don't like it much but I could play without a subscription if I wanted.
 

gamerk2

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I've been doing a FF series playthrough (currently on X); finished the classics right before the Pixel Remasters, of course. My recommendations:

  • Old School JRPGs
    • FFI, FFII, FFIII
  • The best of the classics
    • FFIV, FFVI
  • The grindy one everyone forgets about
    • FFV
  • The GOATs
    • FFVII, FFX
  • The one that split the fanbase
    • FFVIII
  • The one that pretends to be a classic
    • FFIX
  • The single player MMO
    • FFXII
I'd recommend starting with either IV or VI, since those are the two that nailed down what FF was going to be. The first three are classic JRPGs, for better or worse. V is "OK", but a heavy grind fest as you grind the AP necessary to master jobs (which is an absolute requirement; you need those stats to apply to your end-game Mimic jobs).

For the 3d titles, VII is your best bet. VIII to this day is considered the best FF by half the fanbase and the worst by the other half (I'm in the latter camp; it has almost as many mechanical problems as FFII does). IX is a bit of an oddball honestly; it does a bunch right but its SO DAMN SLOW I couldn't wait to be done with it. X is a good game but made a lot of mechanical changes and does hold your hand quite a bit, but doesn't do anything "wrong". I'll be clear on the next one: I DESPISE FFXII; as far as I'm concerned it's a glorified single-player MMO where bots are playing the rest of your raid party.

I'll defer on the later titles; I never 100% completed X-2, XIII or any of it's sequels, and have yet to play XV.
 
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Axman

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IX is a bit of an oddball honestly; it does a bunch right but its SO DAMN SLOW I couldn't wait to be done with it.

I didn't have a problem with that. Grinding is part of FF, and that's why a lot of the remasters seem odd to me. Turns out, a lot of them had their difficulties nerfed. FFVII has way more grinding and way less character/class differentiation than people tend to remember. All the characters are about the same with the main difference being limit breaks.
 

vegeta535

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I didn't have a problem with that. Grinding is part of FF, and that's why a lot of the remasters seem odd to me. Turns out, a lot of them had their difficulties nerfed. FFVII has way more grinding and way less character/class differentiation than people tend to remember. All the characters are about the same with the main difference being limit breaks.
I didn't find 7 very grindy. It was probably the easiest of the PS1 era games. Sure you could make it grindy like I did when it originally came out but I replayed it about a year ago and just plowed through it. It is funny. I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday but remember everything when I replay any of the hundreds of RPGs I played as a kid.
 

Axman

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Sure you could make it grindy like I did when it originally came out but I replayed it about a year ago and just plowed through it.

I agree that it wasn't super-difficult, and you could walk your way to the end credits if you wanted to, but you left a lot of content unplayed if you did that. If you wanted to unlock all or even most of the stuff, you still had to work for it.

FFT was the same way. I think it was part of their strategy to appeal to people who had never played those sorts of games before. You could beat the game in a couple of weekends, but if you wanted to access large parts of the game you needed to put in the time.
 

Nytegard

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My complaints about each one:

1. This was the first one I ever played, renting it from a video store, and I don't believe I ever got passed Garland. I guess at the time I just never really understood JRPGs. Mainly, it was just too grindy for my taste. The Pixel Remaster removes all the grind.

2. This was actually my favorite Final Fantasy, and I believe I'm one of the only people who actually likes it.

3. The last dungeon... You know how JRPGs start out with a small dungeon, and each successive dungeon gets longer between save points? That's FF3 to a T. You screw up in the last dungeon, and you've just wasted several hours.

4. The American version was just way too easy. The PlayStation version I believe included something in between the Japanese version difficulty, but not entirely.

5. Overall not a bad game. But not mind blowing either. Just a by the books JRPG.

6. The pinnacle of Final Fantasy.

7. The game where the series became mainstream. This is where the series started to become less about the game, and more about the story, including the visuals. Not a terrible game, but this is the turning point of the series.

8. Unskippable cutscenes. Plus, the battle system was just too different. Enemies scaled with you, and you could miss out on certain items and draws if you grinded.

9. I would say rather than trying to go back to being a classic Final Fantasy, it rather tried to merge classic Final Fantasy with modern Final Fantasy.

10. I just hated this one. This is my least favorite Final Fantasy. It took me over a decade to actually beat it.

10-2. Pretty Princess Dress up.

11. Never played

12+ This is just where the series went off the rails for me. I prefer Dragon Quest nowadays to Final Fantasy. The modern FFs are just too different.
 

gamerk2

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I didn't have a problem with that. Grinding is part of FF, and that's why a lot of the remasters seem odd to me. Turns out, a lot of them had their difficulties nerfed. FFVII has way more grinding and way less character/class differentiation than people tend to remember. All the characters are about the same with the main difference being limit breaks.
VII isn't that grindy, aside from unlocking all the limit breaks. I typically did that outside of Wutai, since the enemies give good XP and drop X-Potions. Outside of that I never have to grind aside from Ruby/Emerald prep or if I go for all-Master Materia. It's also worth noting the PSX script in particular isn't great; I use a patch that imports the better (though still flawed) PC translation.

AP grinding in IX isn't the problem; that fact you can set up double AP reasonably early and there are lots of 2AP encounters makes it not a huge problem. The real problem (at least for the PSX version) is both the ATP gauge and loading into battles is SLOW; its 20 something seconds just to load into a battle, and the slow AP gauge doesn't help. And don't get me started in the RNG that is Chocobo Hot & Cold; at least you could manipulate Triple Triad rules relatively easily.

As for the remasters, the early games are using the updated EXP/Gold tables that remove the worst grinding. In FF1 in particular I think they also have the changes that make Thief suck less (and arguably too strong relative to the INT fix nerfing Red Mages hard).

In regards to grinding in particular, I'm fine with "optional" grinding. For example, grinding Materia levels which "just" gives access to the Master Materia, which you can also optionally get via beating Emerald Weapon. Or the AP skills in IX. Or grinding multiple sphere grinds in X (which is only really needed if you are doing the Battle Arena). That's fine. But grinding just for the sake of padding game time is not OK in this day and age; I value my time too much to bother with it, and when it's forced for game progression I just cheat for faster XP gains (Cheat Engine is your friend) and move on with my life.
 

gamerk2

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8. Unskippable cutscenes. Plus, the battle system was just too different. Enemies scaled with you, and you could miss out on certain items and draws if you grinded.
I *think* most all items would show up on some enemies somewhere, or at worst you could refine Cards. I forgot about enemies scaling against Squall, which does have the downside of having the rest of the party typically a bit underpowered (though of course, drawing 100 spells early makes that a non-issue).

10. I just hated this one. This is my least favorite Final Fantasy. It took me over a decade to actually beat it.
X is a bit on the slow side, but does do a *very* good job using Tidus as a narrative device to explain Spira; the story was actually well done. I'm also fine with the battle system, although it does probably trend too easy outside of the Battle Arena. I like it, but do recognize it's flaws and differentness.

It's also worth noting X was the last FF to have the same Producer the entire way through development, and it shows in every FF after this one.
10-2. Pretty Princess Dress up.
X-2 has issues, but it is worth noting the battle system is actually not bad. The rest of it is a hot mess though.
12+ This is just where the series went off the rails for me. I prefer Dragon Quest nowadays to Final Fantasy. The modern FFs are just too different.
XII is just horrid, *especially* the pre-Zodiac versions. It's a single player MMO, which appeals to some people, but even putting that aside the narration is a mess, the difficulty scale is a mess, the entire package is a mess.

And yes, I've always been a DQ guy, and while DQ has lagged FF in mechanics/story for pretty much it's entire existence, they've consistently been better *games*. Especially since VIII. I'd be more worried about what I'm hearing about XII if it wasn't for the fact Hori has such a bank of cached trust that he won't screw it up.
 

Armenius

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I *think* most all items would show up on some enemies somewhere, or at worst you could refine Cards. I forgot about enemies scaling against Squall, which does have the downside of having the rest of the party typically a bit underpowered (though of course, drawing 100 spells early makes that a non-issue).
There are some magic that you cannot get once you pass some levelling points in the game. I don't remember which ones they are, but I am pretty sure there are 2 or 3 of them. That excludes the lower level versions of Fire, Blizzard, etc. I know that you can still get any GF you forgot to draw at bosses when you reach the end of the game.
 
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