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RPG Battle Systems That Deserve More Recognition

KàIRóS

Member
I know this will mostly be about JRPGs but if anyone wants to mention WRPGs go ahead and do it.

Perfect thread to talk about my favorite Turn Based battle system, Grandia's, if anyone played Child of Light, the combat in that game is inspired by Grandia's.

Best way I can describe it for anyone that hasn't played one of the Grandia games is "Final Fantasy's Active Time Battle System On Crack" pretty much every aspect of FF's ATB is there but better, there's a gauge that dictates the turn order of every Character in battle, both allies and enemies, so off the rip we get the real time aspect of ATB but in a much clearer way as you always know who's turn comes next, every time someone gets a turn the game pauses and you can freely choose what action to take, this is very important in this game because of the biggest difference between the regular ATB and Grandia's, after someone gets a turn they also have "casting time" and you can CANCEL ENEMY TURNS if you attack them before they finish their casting time! if you're really good you can even win battles without ever gettiing hit, characters also move all over the battlefield and special attacks can change their position or delay their turn, this adds so much depth to literally every battle, and the best part is that this is just the super basic explanation because there's more to it, it was way ahead of it's time and I don't why new Devs don't use it.

 

Batiman

Member
My dream rpg would be a mix of fighting game and traditional jrpg. Random encounters turn into a fighting game. You start off with basic attacks and jumps. As you level up you learn supers, combos, skills ultimates etc. With a traditional 3 party member squad with the ability to change like marvel be capcom.
 
Radiant Historia easily:
- enemies are placed on a 3x3 grid and you can push and pull them around as you hit them with your abilities as well as move them to the right or left. The goal is to stack them together and hit them at the same time. Later on you can place traps on the grid and sometimes you need to destroy obstacles before being able to directly attack an enemy.
- your party members have abilities with different ranges, like a straight line, a column, and so on, so you have a lot of creative options for moving enemies to a spot where party members can hit them consecutively.
- furthermore you can change the turn order of party members so that they can act one after the other and pull off big combos, at the cost of one or several enemies attacking first. Planning your sequence of actions is crucial to defeating the enemy. There is even the possibility to break an enemy’s turn. This turn management mechanic is also essential for one-on-one fights where you need to gauge how much damage you can afford to take before retaliating. Instead of getting beat up every time you heal, you can set up your turns in a way that you can recover and attack right away.
- the difficulty is super well balanced with many tough battles that don’t feel cheap or unsurmountable.
- party members have different specialties, useful abilities, and super cool special moves.

Bonus: the spritework is amazing and the music (by Yoko Shimomura) is one of the best in the JRPG realm.
 
Treasure Hunter G has a really nice take on a SRPG system, I don't remember the exact details but you had a pool of action points and every action (attack or movement) takes a different amount of points. So if you were next to the enemy you could attack a bunch, or if you had to move a large distance you may only get to attack once. And movement cost was influenced by how close to an enemy you are, so some enemies had like max movement cost to be near them, so you had to plot your movement around that too otherwise it would take turns just to get next to the enemy.

It is kind of a forgotten Square game, and honestly the game itself is pretty average, but I really wish that battle system got a second chance to really be fleshed out on the PSX.


ALSO Reasonance of Fate right above, hell yeah!

Edit: can't forget one of the best parts about Resonance of Fate, the weapon customization:

 
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SlimeGooGoo

Party Gooper
I liked that in Suikoden 3 battles everybody moved to attack one another. The camera rotating around added some charm to it.

 

Batiman

Member
I like FTLs battle system. I wish more games would use it. I guess it only works in certain types of games though. Man I’d love a sequel…
 
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I like the active elements of the battles in the Shadow Hearts series. I wish more turn-based games included specific timing elements that were either not critically important or even optional.

Edit: even active reloads in Gears of War are akin to this, so it doesn't even have to be turn-based games.
 
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bender

What time is it?
I like the active elements of the battles in the Shadow Hearts series. I wish more turn-based games included specific timing elements that were either not critically important or even optional.

Shadow Hearts judgement ring(?) was really fun.
 

Amiga

Member
Turn based battle systems should be based on strategy.
Favorites are:

Vagrant Story, the deepest system.
Transistor is my all time favorite, semi-turn based.
Valkyria Chronicles
Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits
 
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DonkeyPunchJr

World’s Biggest Weeb
FF XIII is one of my faves. It’s fast paced, challenging, and rewards you for playing well. Every single ability, buff, and debuff has its uses even in non-boss battles. It has some fun risk/reward choices, lots of “can I keep this combo going or should I retreat to a defensive stance?”

Plus I thought it was really cool how your party members get smarter. They probe for weaknesses and test out every element/debuff. Then once you’ve identified their weaknesses they exploit them.

Idiots criticized it for “playing itself”, but putting your gambits together and using them the right way was a hell of a lot more challenging, strategic, snd consequential than the shit you do in turn-based JRPGs where you have full control of your whole party.
 
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Daytonabot

Member
Vandal Hearts II comes immediately to mind. How that never was a PSone Classic is beyond me… other than “because Konami.”
 

Ozzie666

Member
I really enjoy the Turn Press battle system in Persona 3,4 and 5. I'm not sure if they used it previously.

I find it very addictive and sublime, you get into a real zone and suddenly hours have passed by. Knowing the enemy, knowing their weaknesses, critical hit, knockdown and getting that extra turn, then tossing in the 'all out attack' and music. It all works so well, probably my most enjoyable of all time.
 

Danjin44

The nicest person on this forum
I really enjoy the Turn Press battle system in Persona 3,4 and 5. I'm not sure if they used it previously.
I would say if you really enjoyed Persona 3-5’s battle system then I highly recommend you try mainline SMT games like Nocturne, SMTIV and SMTV.

Persona 3-5 battle system are enjoyable but they are not actually “Press Turn”.
 

april6e

Member
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Many people considering FFT to be one of the best JRPGs ever. Advance added a fantastic twist to that combat with the Judges.

All powerful, invincible arbiters that reside over encounters to ensure combat is being done in a manner that doesn't breach morality in that area. The game had regions that had different judges. These judges, like in sports, had different personalities and different rules they enforced. One might forbid magic during a fight or such. If you break a rule in combat, you might be awarded a "yellow card". Or if you severely break the rules, you are given a "red", the Judge removes that unit from combat, are put in Jail and they cannot be used for a small amount of future battles.

There was a metagame to this. For example, you could purposely break a rule knowing that the Judge ruling over the match was soft and was slow to give red cards. Or bait the CPU into committing a red card offense. Or just break a hard rule with a unit you didn't care about just to win a crucial battle.
 
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F31 Leopard

Member
Since Resonance of Fate was already posted I enjoyed Ring of Red's system with the accuracy timer, determining mech positioning, soldier placement and class type for battles.
 
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pramod

Member
For me the combat system in KOTOR was a perfect mix of real time and strategic, it never gets boring, for some reason they haven't been able to duplicate that in any other RPG.
 

Moneal

Member
Legend of Legaia for ps1 had a great turn based system. Attacks are input as combo strings. Each character had certain combos as special attacks. As characters level, they gain more attack slots to input more attacks. This allowed for combining special attacks and stronger specials.
 

PanzerAzel

Member
I’ve always found Vagrant Story and Parasite Eve’s combat system to be intriguing, and I would have loved to have seen an expansion of it.
 

alf717

Member
I really like the card combo system from Baten Kaitos Origins. The announcer pumping you up while you select cards from your deck is great. I also enjoy how fluid the characters move in Baten Kaitos Origins while performing these combos. Must be why I love Xenoblade's battle system so much. I get pumped when I pulled off sick combos in either Baten Kaitos Origins or Xenoblade and the announcer / your team cheer you on.


 

Trumpets

Member
The Fairy Tail RPG isn't amazing but it does have a very good battle system. It's grid based and your spells (pretty much all attacks in the game are spells) target different patterns of squares in the grid:



so you need to choose your spell based on the placement of enemies, as well as the usual HP, elemental weaknesses etc.
 

Fuz

Member
Kind of an easy answer but... Chrono Trigger.

My favourite system ever. Not overcomplicate, like JRPG seems to like nowadays, simple and effective, and the multi attacks were amazing. I find it really strange that no one copied it successfully.
 

Filben

Member
Cosmic Star Heroine.

It has only a few RNG elements and you'll see the effect of your attack beforehand, order of battle participants is always clear and you have lots of variation though different characters and different "builds". It's also fast, responsive and feels good when tactics work.

I also really like the classic Fallout combat system while it's objectively probably not that good. But it feels awkwardly satisfying to inflict damage or kill enemies and it's so basic and simple without too much to consider or things that overwhelm you. Landing a critical hit with a shotgun up close and tear flesh from these little sprites just feels great. Or, if you have that quirky perk, you literaly punch a hole into your enemies if you went for high damage unarmed combat.
 

Fredrik

Gold Member
I really like Vagrant Story’s battle system, it was a unique twist of stationary turn based combat with realtime combo mechanics, and you could hit specific body parts, plus making your own weapons and name them was fun.
 

cireza

Member
Grandia and Radiant Historia are good picks.

Lightning Returns has the best modern battle-system I have seen. It is absolutely brilliant, offers a lot of possibilities and good strategy. The XIII trilogy has some pretty good battles overall, but LR is absolutely fantastic, and way better than anything 100% real time I have seen. 100% real time is shit 100% of the time anyway.

Panzer Dragoon Saga has excellent battle system as well. A bit like Lightning Returns, it flows real time and you have to use gauges to launch attacks, then wait for them to fill up. It also handles movement at 360° around the enemy and strategy is largely built upon being in the right position.

In terms of classic turn-based game, Lost Odyssey is super solid. It handles very well having two lines, the necessity to protect the casters, the delays when being hit, as well as the "virtual" defense wall made by the characters in the front. Very, very good turn based game.

In terms of T-RPG, I also want to talk about Shining Force because it is very simple and super enjoyable. Often T-RPG tend to become overly complicated with a ton of factors and systems, while Shining Force keeps it simple while combining this with much higher budget than equivalent games back then, so you have very nice animations for attacks, a good story telling and great characters. Sometimes simpler is better.

Valkyria Chronicles feels a bit like modern Shining Force. It is semi-real time, has a pretty nice budget which helps having very varied battles with different situations, and strategy is also pretty good.
 
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Western RPG: Temple of Elemental Evil. To me, it's still, to this day, the best video game implementation of 3rd ed DnD.

JRPG: Xenogears and Grandia 2, with Chrono Trigger close behind.

Honourable mention to the Neptunia series; I wasn't really expecting anything when I started it almost a decade ago, and sure enough it didn't "blow my mind" or anything, but it was much better than expected. The Super Neptunia RPG spinoff is pretty interesting combat-wise, very different than anything I've played.
 

NanaMiku

Member
I quite enjoy the battle system in Legend of Legaia

I really like the card combo system from Baten Kaitos Origins. The announcer pumping you up while you select cards from your deck is great. I also enjoy how fluid the characters move in Baten Kaitos Origins while performing these combos. Must be why I love Xenoblade's battle system so much. I get pumped when I pulled off sick combos in either Baten Kaitos Origins or Xenoblade and the announcer / your team cheer you on.


Woah, I haven't played Baten Kaitos and didn't know the announcer on Xenoblade 2 is from this game.

The Fairy Tail RPG isn't amazing but it does have a very good battle system. It's grid based and your spells (pretty much all attacks in the game are spells) target different patterns of squares in the grid:



so you need to choose your spell based on the placement of enemies, as well as the usual HP, elemental weaknesses etc.
Wild Arms 5 also have grid battle system (called HEX), kinda forgot how it works though.
 

Spukc

Member
Final fantasy 5 get a jub system

Breath of fire fusion system

Disgaea series insane tinkering system
 

Kev Kev

Gold Member
shining force 1 and 2 SRPG battle system is fun. it has some depth, but its extremely simple and mega fun. i wish they made more SRPGs with shining force's battle system.
 
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