I don’t like the three party system used in recent iterations of the Final Fantasy series (IX being the only exception…I think). It’s not just Final Fantasy, either, most recent party-based RPG’s that I can remember use three characters, maximum. It reinforces a fairly uniform party lineup:
- Warrior/Physical damage/Tank
- Mage/Magical damage/Glass cannon/DPS
Pretty straight forward: one person to heal the damage, one person to absorb the damage, one person to deal the damage back to the enemy. While that’s great because it gives a very clear cut job for each slot, I don’t like it for that very same reason.
There is no leniency. One person must be good at healing, one person must be good at absorbing damage and one person must be good at dealing damage. What about all the other character types available that will most certainly go unused unless they’re the best of one of those three categories?
I think the fourth slot gives the player the ability to experiment, to explore, to really customize their party setup without feeling constrained by what’s needed to survive encounters. Add in a thief, it doesn’t matter. Sure, take a buffer or debuffer, who cares. Go ahead and use that yeti. The fourth slot is where you get to make the party your own.
Also, I fully realize that anyone in Final Fantasy VI can be a jack-of-all-trades very, very easily (it’s nearly impossible for them not to be), but that’s not the point. Even though any character can fill any roll (for the most part), they don’t make you make that choice.
I may be biased, I started RPG’s with Lunar, where you could have five party members, but, I don’t know…I just feel so let down when I know I can only have three characters in my party. I ultimately believe I become attached to characters through using them for hours and hours of game play and not through cut-scences forcing the character on me, which may be the bigger problem.
Finally, it just feels less epic to me to have fewer characters. It makes the challenges that much more challenging. It makes the bad guys that much more badass.
I’ve been replaying Final Fantasy III (VI) on the SNES and have decided to document 100 different ways how VI is better than any of the Final Fantasys released in recent years. I think I can come up with 100. If not, I’ll just unceremoniously end this segment.