A battle, also known as a fight or an encounter, is an event in the Final Fantasy series and one of the key modules that make up a game. A battle can be triggered from either the Field or world map modules, most commonly through the random encounter system. In simple terms, a battle is commonly made up of a player party and an opposing party. The common objective of a battle is to defeat the opposing party by utilizing the abilities on the command menu. A unit is removed from battle when its HP stat reduces to 0, imposing the Knocked Out status.
Battles are made up of a large number of intricate systems and devices that affect the way the game is played. Each game is usually defined by its primary system, known simply as its battle system. Different battle systems vary on the time gauge, or lack thereof, and the order of attacks launched by each individual unit. All of the games have a status bar that include the player's important stats, such as HP and MP.
On this bar is a command window that appears when a party unit has a chance to select a command. The commands have different effects, affecting a varying number of targets, and may make use of different elements and statuses. Outside of battle, players can incorporate support abilities into the mix, where a player automatically has an in-battle effector equipped.
While the enemy party only varies in its abilities, and in some games its level, the player party has many more components that affect their performance in battle. The player's equipment allows them to use different strength and strains of weapon for different purposes. They also have different types of armor to protect against enemy attacks. Many games in the series also emulate an accessory option, which allows players to add support abilities and resist or absorb different statuses and elements.
Further things that develop as the party progresses are the leveling systems. In the majority of games in the series, players increase levels based on the Experience Points gained. In a smaller number of games, abilities are learned by gaining Ability Points. After the player party defeats the enemy party, they will receive these rewards, often in addition to gil and any Item drops the enemy may harbor. These are often displayed in the Battle Results screen. If the player should lose, with a few exceptions, the player will receive a Game Over.
- 1 Encountering
- 2 Types
- 3 Battle layout
- 4 Systems
- 4.1 Battle systems
- 4.2 Abilities
- 4.3 Stats
- 4.4 Elements
- 4.5 Status effects
- 4.6 Equipment
- 4.7 Summon
- 4.8 Limit Break
- 4.9 Critical hits
- 4.10 Enemy sourced abilities
- 4.11 Control
- 4.12 Inventory
- 4.13 Gil
- 4.14 Limits
- 4.15 Other special attacks
- 4.16 Other systems
- 5 Conclusion
- 6 Musical themes
- 7 Gallery
A battle can be entered from either the World Map screen or the field screen. The most common type of encounter on the World Map is the random encounter, however, some games have a number of fixed encounters on the World Map, such as Ruby Weapon, Emerald Weapon, and Ultimate Weapon in Final Fantasy VII. The field is where most forms of battle encounters are engaged, particularly in dungeons.
Random encounters are the primary method of engaging in battles in most games in the series, and the primary source of Level grinding. The World Map is covered in random encounters over different terrains. Usually encounters are avoided when traveling in vehicles. Different places have different encounter rates, for example, the lower areas of the Deep Sea Research Center in Final Fantasy VIII have a more intense encounter rate on the descent to Ultima Weapon, but after defeating it, there are no encounters on the way out. There are also a number of support abilities that affect the encounter rate; Encounter Half and No Encounters.
Sometimes there are one-off random encounters, such as the Mystery Ninja found in forests in Final Fantasy VII, Ramuh found in the forest west of Istory in Final Fantasy V, or the friendly monsters of Final Fantasy IX. These often yield results, such as the recruiting of a new party member, the recruiting of a summon, or other healthy results.
Enemies spawning on the field
In the later games in the series the random encounter method of initiating battle has been dropped, replaced by enemies that can be seen on the field. Getting close to the enemy initiates a battle, but the player also has the option to try and avoid battles by steering clear of the enemies on the field.
In the Active Dimension Battle system utilized in Final Fantasy XII, the transition to a battlefield no longer happens, but all battles take place on the field. After an enemy has been killed the player usually has to travel far enough away for the enemy to respawn. Some enemies, such as the trophy Rare Game, never respawn once killed, akin to the one-off random encounters detailed above.
Fixed encounters refer to encounters fought when a player moves into a set position. There are two primary types: the invisible, and the visible. Invisible fixed encounters can be found in the entire left area of the first floor of the Cavern of Earth in the original Final Fantasy.
These are often used to protect treasure chests or to hinder progress through dungeons. Visible fixed encounters are visible things the player can see before they move into it. Visible fixed encounters are used to allow the player to choose their route to avoid traps, such as the webs in the Cave of the Gi that trigger an encounter against the Stinger enemy in Final Fantasy VII. They are also so the player knows there is something to gain, like the Cerberus boss in Final Fantasy VIII that leads to obtaining the Cerberus summon.
Some fixed encounters remain after the battle is engaged, while others disappear after being encountered once. One-time only fixed encounters are used for boss battles or semi-boss battles, like the Iron Claw boss battle in Final Fantasy V, or the Four Fiends encounters in Memoria from Final Fantasy IX. Permanent fixed encounters can be exploited as a quick source of grinding as the battle can be reentered in less steps than random encounters, and often hold more rewards.
Script encounters differ from normal fixed encounters as they are not an instant battle. Instead, after moving into a trigger area, or onto the trigger screen, a scene ensues. These are often used for boss battles. An example of this is when the player returns to Baron and the party converse with Baigan before encountering him in a boss battle (2D and 3D) in Final Fantasy IV.
Action encounters are encounters that require the pressing of an action button before a battle occurs. An example of this are the Pirate enemies in Pravoka, encountered when the player talks to Bikke in the original Final Fantasy. Due to the options involved, the player can easily withhold from these battles before they happen and Menu grind before starting them. Action encounters are a common method for boss battles.
Action encounters are exploited by the game through treasure chests spiked with Monster-in-a-box.
Optional encounters are a subordinate of an action encounter. Optional encounters, in terms of action encounters, refer to battles that can be avoided through the options the player may choose.
An example of an optional encounter is the submarine crew in Final Fantasy VII the player only has to battle if they choose the option to. A conditional optional encounter is whether the party has completed Yuffie's sidequest in Wutai in the course of the game. If this is the case, the party can avoid the battle with the three Turks underneath Midgar.
There are numerous types of battle the player can participate in. The bulk of battles have the simple requirement of defeating all units of the enemy party. However some will only require the player to defeat a certain enemy to become victorious, or not allow a certain target to be defeated or face defeat or other lesser drawbacks. Other types of battle give the player little or no control over the outcome of the battle and lets various scripted components make the decision.
Usually triggered by random encounters. A normal battle sets the basic objective of defeating all units of the enemy party through any means available. Most battles use this format, and all but a few random encounters and spawning enemy encounters do not.
A regular boss functions exactly the same as a regular battle, but it is usually encountered through fixed script encounters, or action encounters. The music is different to a regular battle, usually sporting the boss theme, and there is a notable higher level of difficulty. The player is more likely to use a strategy as various parts of their arsenal may be less effective, while other less used abilities may be more beneficial in the battle.
In a regular boss battle there is more often only a single target than in normal battles. Other boss battles will also commonly use an optional targets system. Furthermore, most other types of battle will only occur in boss battle situations.
Certain battles will occur in phases, which means that when one enemy is defeated, another enemy will take its place, it will transform into another enemy, or its battle script will change. An example of battles where an enemy will take its place is the Hundred Gunner, which once defeated, is replaced by the Heli Gunner in Final Fantasy VII. An example of transforming enemies is when Fake President transforms into Gerogero after depleting its HP in Final Fantasy VIII. An example of a battle where the enemy changes its script after a certain depletion of HP is the Intangir in Final Fantasy VI, which will use Flee when its HP drops beneath a certain amount.
A battle may often have more than two phases, as with the Bomb (2D and Bomb) boss in Final Fantasy IV, which, after a script change, transforms into Mom Bomb (2D and 3D). Once Mom Bomb is defeated, the Mom Bomb transforms into three Bombs, and three Gray Bombs (2D and 3D). Yunalesca also is a three-tier battle in Final Fantasy X, where she transforms into the next form once the previous is defeated.
An optional target battle refers to a battle where a number of the enemy targets do not have to be defeated for the battle to end, but instead usually only one target. These are often the case with enemies with boss-parts attached to them, such as the Arms of the central boss, like Left Arm (2D and 3D) and Right Arm (2D and 3D) to Baigan (2D and 3D) in Final Fantasy IV. In other situations, other boss-parts are just support to the central boss and are still defeated when the main boss is, such as the battle with Sample:H0512 where it is not necessary to defeat the Sample:H0512-opt enemies.
In these sort of battles, the main boss will often respawn fallen boss-parts. In other cases, while the enemy is technically not optional, the primary enemy will have to be defeated to stop it from respawning the secondary enemy once defeated, and only then can the secondary enemy be defeated, such is the case with Zephyrus from Final Fantasy V and the Magus Sisters in Final Fantasy IV.
The three-way battles is a system added to Final Fantasy XIII. The two enemy parties will usually attack each other until one is defeated.
Battles with ally targets are battles where the player has to keep a target not in the player party alive. This often means the player should not use spells that attack all units in the enemy party, and have to dispatch enemies that do damage to it. This occurs with both forms of Prison Cage when it holds Vivi and Garnet in its separate situations in Final Fantasy IX.
Another form of battle with ally targets is one where the Golem appears with the Zombie Dragon and Bone Dragon enemies in Final Fantasy V. The Zombie Dragon and Bone Dragon will attack the Golem, and the player has to dispatch them before they defeat it. If the player does, they obtain the Golem.
Scripted battles refer to battles where the player does not control the player party, and the battle functions as a cinematic sequence. An example of this is when Golbez (2D and 3D) is battled in the Tower of Zot in Final Fantasy IV, an uncontrolled Tellah will use a series of attacks until taking both himself and Golbez out with an unconventional Meteor attack.
Another example where the player party isn't controlled by the player is during the battles at the Dragon's Neck Coliseum in Final Fantasy VI. The player character will battle using a script and the outcome of the battle relies on the Relics equipped, the stats of the player, the abilities available, and the luck of using appropriate abilities.
Impossible to defeat
Impossible to defeat battles are usually a type of scripted battle where despite all the player's efforts, they are intended to lose. The player has full control over their characters, but the enemy is not intended to be defeated. An example of an impossible to defeat battle is the Black Knight battle at the start of Final Fantasy II where the player is supposed to be defeated. Though the fight can be won with cheat devices, some versions of the game will continue the story as if the player was defeated, whereas in other versions the game will go back to the main menu screen.
Another example is the Guardian in Final Fantasy VI, which cannot be defeated in its non-storyline encounters and the player must escape the battle or be defeated and receive a Game Over.
Impossible to lose
Impossible to lose battles are a type of battle where the player is not meant to lose. On some occasions, the player can still lose, but only through deliberate acts to lose (such as attacking your own party). The final battle of Final Fantasy VII pits the player against Sephiroth, where the player has the option to use Omnislash, or another command. Using a non-offensive command, or letting Sephiroth attack first will result in Cloud instantly counterattacking to defeat Sephiroth. Another example in Final Fantasy VII is where a script-controlled Sephiroth in the player party will dispatch of enemies, even if the player-controlled Cloud may fall.
Another example is the battle against the Sahagin (2D and 3D in Kaipo in Final Fantasy IV, where the battle is won after Edward attacks three times. Another example exists in Final Fantasy V during Galuf's battle against Exdeath. Even when his HP depletes to 0, Galuf can still continue fighting.
In Final Fantasy X the last fight against Yu Yevon and the player's possessed aeons is impossible to lose normally due to permanent Auto-Life cast on the party through the entire series of battles. The party can still deliberately lose by petrifying themselves.
A battle with an action requirement means the battle ends, or proceeds to the next phase, when a certain action is done. With friendly monsters, battles end when they receive the item they demand. When Gau originally makes an appearance in the battle on the Veldt in Final Fantasy VI, he joins the player if he is given Dried Meat. The Vargas boss is defeated once Sabin uses Raging Fist.
An example of an action requirement to move a battle onto its next phase is during the first Zeromus (2D and 3D) boss battle where the boss can't be defeated until the Crystal is used, which moves it onto its next form.
Battles use a basic layout in most games where the player party and enemy party are set in a formation, normally on opposite sides of the screen, on top of a battle background. The bottom of the screen holds the status bar, and a bar at the top of the screen reads enemy ability names and dialogue when necessary.
The player party is comprised of a number of playable characters. A party usually consists of three or four members, but varies to a maximum of six. The series' spin-off games that are of different genre often have just one party member in a battle, the sole playable character throughout the game. The earlier games of the Final Fantasy series organize the players into one of two Rows, the front row and the back row. The front row is often considered the norm, where attack damage and damage endurance are at a normal rate.
Moving a player to back row will decrease damage dealt to enemy units, while decreasing the damage inflicted by the enemy to the player unit. Accuracy rates may also differ in some games, and the Long Range support ability found as its own ability, or sometimes automatically equipped to weapons, allows players in the back row to deal damage as if they were on the front row.
The player party is built up of differing units. There is usually an amount of user customization in how the player wants to manipulate their units, however, there is also a level of initial individual differences, as well as different level progression in different areas. For example, in Final Fantasy II the player has three main playable characters throughout the game, but while any character can equip any weapon, Guy has the most Strength, HP, and Stamina, suiting him for a front row, strong weapon wielder. Maria starts off with a higher Intelligence stat making her better suited as a Black Mage, and her low HP suits her for a back row positioned Bow wielder, as her equip defaults suggest.
Other games give more inclination into what a character is best suited for by limiting their equips. In the original Final Fantasy, the job system allows the player to choose jobs for their characters. This predefines what Magic they can learn, and what equipment they can equip. On the opposite end of the scale, other games with the job system may give less inclination into what each character is best suited for. Final Fantasy V allows each character to switch job class as the game progresses, with little individual differences between the characters, allowing them to customize each character's role in battle.
In most games the player's party is fixed once the battle begins. In the old games the player can never change party members, the party members changing at predetermined point in the game, dictated by the game's plot. This evolved into a system where the player is allowed to choose the battle party, but only allowed to switch members in specific locations, such as the airship in Final Fantasy VI or Save points in the games on the PlayStation One era. In Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XII, the player can freely switch members in and out of the battle party even during battle.
There are a number of different compositions the enemy party can appear as in different locations. Each area where random encounters are available will have a number of different formations that can be encountered with different encounter rates for each.
The enemy party also uses a row formation in early entries to the Final Fantasy series, albeit with a different functionality. Where the player party can put all their units on the back row, this cannot technically be achieved with the enemy party. The enemy party is organized into a formation; units behind other units are on the back row, while units without a unit in front of it are on the front row. If all units in the front row are defeated, the next row behind them becomes the new front row and can be attacked for full damage. A player unit can attack an enemy unit for the same physical damage regardless of row with the Long Range support ability.
While the player party always consist of units with the same cause, an enemy party may have split causes, or a different cause than to defeat the player party. Examples of this are the Golem battle in Final Fantasy V, the chocobo battles in Final Fantasy VII, the UFO? battles in Final Fantasy VIII, the friendly monsters battles in Final Fantasy IX, and the three-way battles in Final Fantasy XIII, where enemies fight each other and only target the player once their opposing enemy target is defeated first.
Enemies often have fixed stats and don't vary, or progress as the player party progresses. An exception to the rule is Final Fantasy VIII where weaker enemies are still fought towards the start and they get progressively harder, but their HP raises and their Magic gets stronger as the player's level increases.
The term attack formation refers to both the placement of the two parties during a battle and the order of turns. In a normal formation, where the player party is at one side of the screen, and the enemy party is at the opposite, there are three types of battle. A normal battle gives both parties an equal chance of launching the first attack. In a preemptive attack the player is guaranteed to get the first chance to strike, whereas a surprise attack guarantees the enemy party will strike first. In Final Fantasy XIII, the player party can preemptive enemy parties, but enemy parties can't surprise attack the player.
In the earlier games, the back attack formation has the player party on the left-hand side of the screen instead of the ordinary right-hand side. All the sprites are flipped horizontally so both parties still face each other, however, the player party's rows are switched, so units set to the front row are on the back row and vice versa. An example of a battle which is always a back attack is the second Scarmiglione (2D and 3D battle in Final Fantasy IV. In later games, the player has their back to the enemy formation at the start. An example of a battle that is always like this is the Motor Ball battle in Final Fantasy VII. In the latest installments in the series back attacks have been eliminated completely.
Introduced in Final Fantasy VI, side attacks have the party split in two and attack on either side of the enemy. If the sprite's back is to the attacking unit, they will deal double damage, and the sprite will be flipped. Pincer attacks, also known as ambushes, are the opposite, introduced in the same game, where the enemy attacks the player from both sides. An example of a battle that is always an ambush is the formation of six Touch Me enemies, three either side, fought outside Gongaga in its jungles in Final Fantasy VII.
The status bar holds important information about the player party during the battle. It will display the unit's names, their HP and MP stats, and any other necessary information, like the time gauge and the Limit gauge, if applicable. The status bar will also define the players in HP Critical health by highlighting the HP in yellow, and in red or gray if the player is Knocked Out.
When a unit's time gauge is full, or when it is the player party's turn to select attacks, a command window appears that allows the user to select the unit's commands, often navigated with the famous finger cursor. There is often a list of commands, some of which are battle commands, others leading to skillsets with sub-menus, such as Black Magic or Item. Most units have the Attack and Item command by default, in addition to the Defend and Row options that allow the player to take half damage for a round or switch rows.
These options are usually found by pressing left and right on the Command window. In earlier games, the player has the Escape command as a turn's action instead of the controller input device that allows the player party to attempt escape during their turns.
In the games where battles take place in a separate battlefield, as opposed to battles taking place directly on the field, the battle background defines where the player is. In the sprite-based games, the camera movement is flat and the background remains the same, perhaps with small animations, while the party units animate over the top. Model-based games have a moving camera that exposes different parts of the battlefield.
Different field locations have different battle backgrounds relevant to the location's scenery. The World Map often uses the same battle background over the entire map depending on the terrain. In the original Final Fantasy, dungeons use the same battle background for all of its levels, except during the boss battle, which uses a unique one.
In some of the earlier games, while there are no visible beaches, the player encounters enemies on a beach background by facing a random encounter on the border of an island. In certain locations, some places notably use the wrong battle background for the terrain, such as battling on a grass background when on beach terrain. In games where random encounters exist in the sea when on a boat, the player fights the enemy party on the deck. Oddly, the player party can still escape from these battles, clearly leaving the enemy intruders on-board.
If the player encounters Emerald Weapon underwater in Final Fantasy VII, they will leave their submarine and battle it in an underwater background. Due to the problems with breathing underwater, the game gives a timer of twenty minutes to defeat the enemy until an automatic Game Over. The timer disappears if the player has the Underwater Materia, its Japanese name literally being "Underwater Breathing". Underwater battles also occur in Final Fantasy X, limiting the party members to Tidus, Wakka, and Rikku, and in Final Fantasy VI during Sabin's scenario.
The battle systems are the core engine for battles, that defines when a player can take a turn and who the player can control. The original games released on the NES use a traditional turn based system where the battle is fought in rounds. Each unit selects a command, and the units' speed decides the order each one fights. The battle system developed further for the SNES era, where the system developed into the Active Time Battle system, allows the speed stat to decide how fast the time gauge fills. Active Time Battle battles aren't in rounds, and units attack whenever their time gauge fills, so the number of attacks from each unit doesn't have to be even.
The Conditional Turn Based system is used in the Final Fantasy Tactics games, and in Final Fantasy X. In this system the game uses the speed stats to create an order of attacks. In this system the amount of time it takes to select a command has no effect over the order the unit attacks as it is always fixed. Statuses such as Haste and Slow affect the order.
The Real Time Battle system used in Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV works by removing the encounter systems, and the battle module is merged with the World Map module where enemies can be found. Players can choose to attack enemies, just as some enemies can choose to attack players. The Active Dimension Battle system in Final Fantasy XII is a merge of the traditional ATB system and the Real Time Battle system, and the Command Synergy Battle system of Final Fantasy XIII has the time bar not decide when it is the player's turn, but how many and what type of attacks a player can execute on their turn.
Abilities can be split into two types: Support abilities, divided into external support abilities and internal support abilities, or battle support abilities, and command abilities. Support abilities are automatic abilities, where command abilities are selectable commands.
External support abilities are either for the World Map, or abilities like Alert and Encounter None, which prevent back attacks and all attacks respectively. The other pool of support abilities keep fixed statuses on players during the battle. These include counter abilities, or Reaction abilities such as the basic Counter for physical attacks, Magic Counter for returning spells, and Auto-Potion which counters an attack by using a Potion on their self.
Other abilities keep a status afflicted during the entire battle, such as Auto Regen for Regen, and Auto-Reflect for Reflect. Another type of support ability are other effectors, like Chemist increasing the potency of restorative items, and Half MP reducing the cost of spells.
Support abilities can in some games be learned and then be equipped, such as the Independent Materia in Final Fantasy VII, Guardian Forces' support abilities in Final Fantasy VIII, support abilities in Final Fantasy IX. In some games, once the support ability has been learned, the character has it permanently, such as the augment system in Final Fantasy XII. In other games the player can only get these effects from equipment. In Final Fantasy XIII the player can synthesize special effects by equipping the correct pieces of equipment simultaneously.
Command abilities often refer to the items shown on the primary command window. Commands that open up into further skills are known as skillsets. Due to this, the Item command is known as a skillset, where the items are its abilities. Command abilities have many different effects, physical or magical, non-elemental or elemental, or status-inflicting. Some abilities like Defend and Hide allow the player to avoid damage.
What commands a character can use depends on the game's character development system. In games with a job system, the character's job determines which commands they have available. In other games each character is a blank slate and the player can customize exactly what commands they can use.
Most games also have a Limit Break system, which works differently in every game, but is not always a command ability.
Each party unit has a set of stats, which affect different aspects of the battle. Some stats are primary stats and are just raw stats, others are secondary and are calculated based on primary stats and equipment. Most stats are raised by leveling up, and some are raised by specific items. Accessories also impact stats.
Each enemy unit has a set of elemental affinities. Most of the time, elements will remove a standard amount of damage; however, units can be weak to it and take more damage, they can halve the damage dealt by it, be resistant to it and lose no health, or they can absorb it, which means they gain health from the element.
Some games use a general system where Fire is strong against Ice and vice versa, and Lightning is strong against Water and vice versa. Other games use a more complex system with up to nine elements that affect different types of enemy. Robots are often weak to Lightning and the Undead are weak to Holy, and sometimes also Fire.
The battle system is rife with status effects. Some status effects affect the party members' stats, such as Haste and Slow affecting the speed stat and therefore changing how many turns they get, and Blind heavily reducing the hit rate. Silence stops targets from using MP consuming abilities.
Some characters fall into a status depending on their HP. When their HP is 0, they are Knocked Out and must be revived. When a unit has below a certain percentage of their HP remaining they enter the critical status, which makes their HP turn yellow, and their pose often changes. Positive effects of this status are different depending on the game.
In many games, units with the Cover support ability will protect an allied critical unit, and in some games, the critical status is when the Limit Break system comes to life. A notable status is All Lucky 7s in Final Fantasy VII entered when a player has exactly 7,777 HP. When a character enters the status they will do a sequence of 63 attacks for exactly 7,777 damage, and take 7,777 damage for every attack after while in this status.
Individual units can have statuses unique to them. Vincent's Limit abilities in Final Fantasy VII have him morph into different forms, give a loss of player control, and change many stats. The Guard Scorpion of Final Fantasy VII has two statuses. Its normal status is encountered normally, and its alternate status is when it raises its tail where its movement changes and it gains a new counter ability.
While status effects were designed for battle, some have an effect out of battle. Float can allow players to move harmlessly over Damage floors, and Poison can cause a player to take damage for every step. In some games, like Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy XIII status effects don't last after battle.
Equipment is a feature only available to the party in most games. Equipping the party members with the range of equipment is one of the systems which develop the character. Types of equipment are usually specific to a number of characters, where Mages and similar jobs wear light armor and equip weaker weapons, and offensive job classes have stronger weapons and equip heavier armor. Games where the characters can switch their job class usually also have a job class that can equip anything, such as Onion Knight from Final Fantasy III, and Freelancer from Final Fantasy V.
Basic equipment categorized by their material can usually be found in shops, such as the Bronze equipment and Mythril equipment. Unique weapons, like the Flametongue or the Blood Sword, are often found in dungeons.
Weapons are the attacking force of the player party in the series. Weapon types range in their purposes. Bows, Crossbows, and guns are designed for long-distance attacks. Axes, hammers and the variety of swords are meant for physical attack. Many weapons are designed for specific job classes, such as staves and rods for Mages, spears for Dragoon, unarmed, gloves and claws for Monks, and cards and dice for Gamblers.
Most games assign a particular type of weapon to a character or types of weapon to job classes. In some games, such as is Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy XII, every character can use and master any weapon. How much damage a character deals with their weapon is often calculated as a combination of their strength/magic stat and the weapon's attack stat.
Armor is divided into different groups in different games. Job class games often have a number of different weight classes. There are also different types of armor depending on its placement on the body, such as body armor, helmets, and shields, where some other games limit it just to body armor. Heavy armor is often used by Warriors, Dragoons, and Berserkers. Units are slowed down by its weight, has no evasion effector, but has high defense. Light armor can be used by most job classes, weighs less, has no evasion effector, and has slightly less defense. Robes can be used by Mage job classes, has less defense, weighs less, but has high Magic Defense and Magic Evasion stats.
In games without job classes, all characters often have access to all armor. In Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy XIII the player can equip no armor at all.
Accessories each have their own ability. They can increase a unit's stat, protect against statuses, and decrease the effect of, cancel the effect of, or absorb elements. They can also grant support abilities like automatic statuses, and increase rates. Accessories can often by equipped by every player unit.
A common ability in many entries to the series, summon calls the assistance of another unit during battle. This unit is not always part of the enemy or player party, but a unique entity involved only in its calling. Earlier games of the series used summons as an ability, which called upon a sequence, for a higher MP cost than normal spells, but for a greater effect. Later installments have integrated summons into different aspects of the battle.
In Final Fantasy VIII, when a player selects the GF command the Guardian Force imposes their name over the user's name, and the GF's HP replaces the unit's HP and takes all damage dealt to the player unit. If their HP hits 0 before the ability is used, the summon is not called. Furthermore, each character has a compatibility with the individual Guardian Force, and the Guardian Force give their abilities to the players, essentially meaning the GF system controls most of the battle system since players only have access to the Attack and Item command without them.
Final Fantasy X evolved this system with its aeons. Aeons summoned into battle replace the player party, and when the summon is withdrawn or has their HP reduced to 0, the player party returns. Each aeon has their own set of commands and Overdrive, essentially making them playable characters. Similar systems are seen in Espers from Final Fantasy XII and Eidolons from Final Fantasy XIII.
The Limit Break system is an addition made to the Final Fantasy series in Final Fantasy VI, known then as a Desperation Attack. Desperation Attacks are part of a simple system where a character has a chance to perform their Desperation Attack, a unique ability to them. The simple system developed into the Limit Break system of Final Fantasy VII that added a development system to Limit Breaks, where the amount of times certain Limit Breaks are used, or the amount of enemies killed or the use of specific items, would allow the character's to learn new Limit Breaks.
In some games, the chance to use Limit Breaks appears when the character's Limit gauge fills after being hit. Final Fantasy IX has a gauge system, but the player loses the control to use the command; instead Trance occurs instantly when the gauge is full.
In Final Fantasy VIII each character is given a unique Limit Break system, such as Quistis's Blue Magic, and Zell's button input within a certain time. If the player is in critical health, they have a chance of randomly getting a chance to use a Limit Break. This chance is affected by a hidden stat known as Crisis Level, and the game also has a spell that allows the player to use Limit Breaks even in full health.
Final Fantasy X uses a gauge that is filled in different ways, set by Overdrive Mode. Much like Final Fantasy VIII, each character has their own system, such as Lulu using a different amount of spells matching the amount of times the analogue stick is rotated, and Auron having to press a sequence of buttons to determine the strength of his attack. In Final Fantasy XII the player can chain their Limit Breaks, known as Quickenings, and depending on the type of Quickenings chained can trigger special attacks known as Concurrences.
Critical hits are an increased damage strike on the enemy. In some games, a critical hit ignores the target's defense, allowing the player to deal normal damage to Flan type enemies. In some games, critical hits only apply to certain weapons. Other attacks, such as Limit Breaks in some games, can also achieve critical hits.
Enemy sourced abilities
In the series, there have been many occurrences of using or learning abilities originally used by enemies, taught by enemies, or utilized from enemies. The most common form used in most games is Blue Magic under one of its many guises. Blue Magic is a skillset that stores abilities learned from enemies. The advantages of using Blue Magic is it can grant access to stronger abilities than would be available at that point in the game, and they generally have lower MP costs in comparison to similar spells. It also grants access to special attacks that wouldn't otherwise be available in the other Magic skillsets.
There have been a number of different methods used throughout the series to learn these abilities. One of the most common methods is for the player with the skill to be attacked by the ability. This method usually takes longer in some situations where the enemy is reluctant to use the ability, and doesn't always use it on the character with the ability that allows them to learn it. Some enemies will only use the ability under certain circumstances, such as Chocobuckle from Final Fantasy VII, and in some games enemies may never normally use the ability, or use the ability on the player party in regards to restorative spells. These abilities are only available to the player if they use Control.
The other common method used is to learn the abilities from specific enemies with a command, such as Kimahri's Lancet command in Final Fantasy X, and Quina's Eat or Cook commands in Final Fantasy IX. While Lancet in Final Fantasy X can be used on any enemy at any point and guarantee the learning of the spell, Eat in Final Fantasy IX requires the target to be in the critical status beneath a percentage of their max HP for it to succeed. Due to this, enemies don't technically need to possess the ability for the player to learn it from them. In Final Fantasy VIII, Quistis learns her abilities through items dropped by enemies or modified from their cards.
In some games, enemy abilities can be permanently missed if all enemies that are sources of the enemy ability are bosses or only encountered in Unrevisitable locations.
Other methods of enemy sourced abilities exist, usually parallel to Blue Magic. The Catch command allows players to catch individual enemies, and then use the Release command to release them to deal an attack. Only one enemy can be caught at a time and caught enemies are kept until they are released. The Catch command will only be successful if the enemy in a low enough level of the critical status.
Sketch in Final Fantasy VI allows its user to use one of the target's attacks against itself if the ability is successful. The Rage skillset allows the user in the same game relinquish the player control and has a fifty-percent chance of using one of the enemy's attacks on their turn.
The Draw and Cast commands in Final Fantasy VIII allow the player to use an enemy's spells on itself immediately. They can also be stocked for use later on.
Control allows the user to take control of a target in the enemy party if the command is successful. On the player's turn, the player will be able to select a command from a list of attacks the enemy will use. This allows for easier learning of, and in some cases, necessary to learn, Blue Magic abilities. It can also be used to stop a particular enemy from being able to attack, and it can be used so weaker enemies can knock down small amounts of HP, particularly useful in Final Fantasy VII to obtain a HP count ending in 77 to help achieve the All Lucky 7s status.
During the control, the the player controlling the enemy cannot attack. Units in the Control status will fall out of the Control status when it is attacked. The user cannot use it on a member of its own team, and no enemies have this ability, meaning its a player exclusive ability and an enemy exclusive status.
In Final Fantasy VII during a battle against two SOLDIER:2nd enemies, if one is manipulated, the other will counter, and the other will counter the counter and this continues until one loses all its HP.
The Item command is available in most entries to the Final Fantasy series, appearing at the bottom of the Command window. Labeled a skillset, with its abilities being classed as the usable items, known as Use items, the Item command allows the user to spend items from their inventory to gain an effect in battle. With the exception of Tent and other items only available at Save points, all recovery items can be used during battle.
A number of offensive items are also available, usually inflicting both positive and status effects. Most games also assign multiple items to each key element, for example the Antarctic Wind, Arctic Wind, and White Fang usually deal ice-elemental damage comparable to Blizzard, Blizzara, and Blizzaga respectively.
In some games, the health restored from restorative items is specific, which makes it easier for the player to land on a specific number. In Final Fantasy VII, All Lucky 7s can be achieved easily by getting a character to have their HP end in the digits 77. After this, they can use a number of types of Potions to restore to 7,677 HP, and using a Potion immediately in the next battle to guarantee achieving the status.
The Throw command allows items from the player's inventory to be spent on damaging the enemy. The Throw command specifically allows the player to throw unequipped weapons to inflict damage to the enemy based on the weapon's attack, and also the user's Level and Strength depending on the game. In addition, usually a number of Shuriken items that have no other purpose than the Throw command can be thrown.
Another method the inventory has an effect on the battle is through the Auto-Potion support ability, that causes the user with the ability equipped to use a Potion from the user's inventory when they are attacked. A similar ability, the Auto-Phoenix ability does the same for Phoenix Down items when they fall into the Knocked Out status in Final Fantasy X.
The Mix command allows the player to select two items from their inventory to create a new item the player uses instantly. While many of these items are also available as inventory items, the better outcomes are usually unique abilities to the Mix command. The result of the command usually depend on the two items picked, and the order they are placed.
Items are further involved in battles through treasures kept by enemies. These items can be retrieved from them and added to the player's inventory through use of the Steal command. The Mug command which appears in some games is another method which attempts to steal the item, and inflicts additional damage.
Some games assigns enemies with the Steal command, or similar commands, which allow them to steal an item from the player's inventory. Furthermore, these enemies are also equipped with Escape so the player can permanently lose the item. If the enemy is defeated before escaping, the item is returned to the player's inventory.
Enemy's items work in different ways in different games. In many games, each enemy has a common and rare steal, whereas in others enemies may have a number of different items, all at different steal rates and in different priorities. Certain equipment can increase the chance of a successful steal, such as the Thief Gloves.
The Poach command allows players to instantly defeat units with a certain level of Critical HP, and those not immune, and receive an item. In some games, the Poach command inflicts a smaller amount of damage than an average attack, and if the strike reduces the enemy's HP to 0, they are defeated and the item is received. Items received are often rarer, such as the Guide Book, an item only only available by successfully beating the Ghost Ship using the command in Final Fantasy VII.
Some abilities allow for the amount of gil spent on the attack to contribute to the damage the attack will do. The most common way of doing this is using the Gil Toss ability. In Final Fantasy X, the summon Yojimbo uses this method to contribute to the decision of which of the five abilities he does, including both variations of Wakizashi, to one unit and to all enemy units.
The Bribe command allows the player to spend an amount of gil to retrieve items from the enemy. If a specific amount is given, the enemy will leave the battle and the player will get an item. Items retrieved from this are usually rare.
Limits, or caps, refer to a max output number that cannot be exceeded through ordinary means. The term occurs most often with Damage, HP, MP, and Level, but there are other limits present in games such as Gil, 99 of an item, or 100 or 255 with a particular stat. Ordinarily, Damage and HP are capped at 9,999, MP at 999, and Level at 99, however there have been instances of capping at Level 100.
During most situations, the game won't allow the player to do anything that would ordinarily increase a figure that has already reached its limit, however some games allow the player to waste things, such as items, even when a maximum is reached, such as the source items of Final Fantasy VII. The Final Fantasy XIII system notoriously breaks the tradition and removes the 9,999 HP cap from characters, and Damage is initially capped at 99,999, which can later be extended to 999,999.
Some things are naturally designed to not be limited by a cap. An example of this is Eden from Final Fantasy VIII. Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- is notable for allowing the limits for HP, MP, and SP to be exceeded when a player gets a successful combination in the DMW. However, if the limits are at 9,999, 999, and 999 respectively, they will not be broken.
Damage limits can unnaturally be broken when there's a damage overflow, such as killing a large number of enemies makes the Death Penalty an instant kill weapon, and equipping a great number of AP to the Missing Score weapon does the same, both in Final Fantasy VII.
There are a number of support abilities that allow some of the limits to be broken, but these abilities just extend the cap to another digit more. These are called Break Damage Limit for damage, extending the cap to 99,999, Break HP Limit for HP, extending the cap to 99,999, Break MP Limit for MP, extending the cap to 9,999, and Break AP Limit for AP, extending the cap to 9,999. In Final Fantasy VII, the caps for MP and HP can be exchanged for a 9,999 MP cap and a 999 HP cap by equipping the HP<->MP Materia.
Other special attacks
A number of abilities use non-logical mechanics to determine the outcome. Examples include Chocobuckle from Final Fantasy VII that take off damage based on the amount of battles escaped from. The ultimate weapons of Final Fantasy VII are based on different things, including how full the Limit gauge is, the closeness to maximum HP or MP of a character, and the amount of kills done with the weapon.
There are also Level based attacks that only connect with targets with a level divisible by the specified number. Due to the Level 100 maximum in Final Fantasy VIII, Level 5 Death will defeat all enemies if they are at maximum level. A number of attacks reduce player's HP to single-digit, or low HP.
In some games these are considered Gravity elemental, however in others it isn't treated as an element. A number of spells, including Death, are classified as Instant Death attacks. Also aerial enemies, essentially in a Float, can avoid earth attacks.
Individual games use systems unique to them. In Final Fantasy VI, Gau and Gogo can use the Rage command that opens up a menu with 252 possible commands, all based on enemies from whom they can be taught. When a character uses a Rage, they are granted status effects, status immunities, and elemental affinities. The player loses control of the character and they will have a fifty-percent change of using a normal physical attack on their turn, and a fifty-percent chance of using a specific ability, originally used by the enemy it was taught from.
In Final Fantasy VIII, the game revolves around a Draw system, both in and out of battle. Its use in battle is to stock up on the enemy's spells, cast the enemy's spells against them, and, for a number of bosses, to draw GF from them. The GF drawn from bosses are permanently missed if they are not drawn from the boss, however, if they are missed from the original bosses, a number of bosses in Ultimecia Castle also have the GF.
Final Fantasy VIII is also home of the trigger for Squall's gunblade. When Squall strikes an enemy, a timed R1 press guarantees a critical hit. This can also be used in his Renzokuken Limit Break. The Devour command allows the player to "eat" enemies for negative or positive effects depending on the enemy. It will only work on a target in a certain level of the Critical status.
The outcome of an ordinary battle is either a victory, followed by its rewards, or a defeat, followed by Game Over, if they haven't escaped prematurely. However, different battles demand different things from the player, and defeating the entire enemy party isn't always the target battle. It is not possible to defeat some enemies, and the idea of the battle is to be defeated.
Battle can end with the party escaping from battle. Battles can be escaped from with the escape command, although this does not guarantee an escape, or via Smoke Bombs or Warp type of magic, which are more reliable. Escaping from a battle usually ends with the party not earning any EXP, and in some games, the player loses money if they escape.
In Final Fantasy VIII, the player does receive some EXP if the player attacked enemies before escaping. In Final Fantasy XII the player characters sheath their weapons and cease all actions at the escape command, but the enemies can still chase the party. In Final Fantasy XIII the escape option has been completely removed, replaced by the Retry option. This same mechanic is used in Final Fantasy XIII-2, with the added caveat that the option to Retry is locked if the player runs out of time on the Mog Clock, though even if locked, it will still be offered if the battle ends in defeat.
Not all battles can be escaped from, including almost all boss battles. The optional Guardian battles of Final Fantasy VI must be escaped to avoid Game Over since the battles cannot be won.
A victory is usually earned when the entire enemy party is defeated. After this the player will be rewarded with Experience Points, Ability Points, gil, and any items dropped. Sometimes an alternate victory is achieved by satisfying the enemy's needs in an action requirement battle, or defeating enemies but sparing allies in allied unit battles.
A Game Over is received when the entire player party is defeated. A Game Over can also be received during allied unit battles when the ally is defeated.
A nonfatal defeat usually occurs in impossible to defeat battles, or in battles that the party doesn't necessarily have to win. During the battles against Beatrix and Kuja in Final Fantasy IX, the party is supposed to be overpowered before being defeated. In Final Fantasy X, the player can lose to Belgemine's aeons without it being classed as a defeat.
There are three notable types of battle themes in the games. The normal battle theme against normal encounters, the boss theme against boss enemies, and the final boss theme against the final boss. Often other bosses are fought with their own battle themes, and sometimes music from the field overflows into the battle instead of playing a battle theme, such as "Dust to Dust" continuing playing during battles in Oerba in Final Fantasy XIII instead of changing into the regular battle theme. Other special battles often have their own theme such as the friendly monsters in Final Fantasy IX.
The "Victory Fanfare" is a notable piece in the Final Fantasy series that plays after the player is victorious in a battle.