In most cases, fans of the Final Fantasy franchise have been with the series for a long time, maybe even since the beginning. Its long and storied history has gathered a following across the globe, and millions of people wait in anticipation for each new title, as sparse as they are. Square-Enix has built a unique world that completely changes with each new release, but retains some very important continuity. For example, Chocobos, Moogles, and guys named Cid are all staples of the series, whether Final Fantasy is telling us a throwback medieval tale or a space quest with chain wallets and motorcycles.
This can be a daunting realization for newcomers who simply do not know where to start. While each game is a completely different story in a similar universe (with major changes), there are lots of things about Final Fantasy basics that every player should know. If you embark on a Final Fantasy journey without these helpful tips you will find yourself dying, a lot. Though most of the games in the series have great tutorials, if you’re anything like us, you find yourself skipping tutorials to jump into that sweet action faster.
Below is a list of 25 things that most people do not realize they are doing wrong when playing a Final Fantasy game. This applies to newbies and old-school fans alike. The systems and structure of this JRPG are vast and complicated. So, do yourself a favor and browse through this list before jumping into your next one-hundred plus hour addiction!
25 Trying To Access Areas Too Early
Any decent FF title is going to be filled with treasures, hidden areas, and secret passages. This keeps the momentum flowing and the player engaged in the world at large. Making the player aware that these secrets exist from the beginning of the game makes the world feel more lived in.
However, try not to access areas too early if it feels like you shouldn't be there.
There are two reasons for this. One, you will likely be very under-powered and eviscerated upon entrance. Two, it might spoil plot points for the game. The second reason is more on the developer's side, but come on! Devs aren't perfect either.
24 Playing It Too Safe
To play these games with the feathered touch of one's pillowed response time is to fully admit that you are cagy and afraid. Don't be! Final Fantasy is just a game. It cannot hurt you. Fool around! Try stuff out. Attempt to complete challenges at a low level. Go for side quests that might lead you off the beaten path. Now, there are many ways to do the opposite of this, which we will discuss later. But, you have to remember to have fun. If you are consolidating too much inventory, or grinding too hard before moving forward, you will get bored of these games fast. Play loose. Be Han Solo about it.
23 Not Including A Healer In Your Party
This should be self explanatory. If you have ever played any kind of role-playing game before then you already know the importance of a healer. They literally KEEP YOU ALIVE. The issue is that depending on what you find "cool" healers tend to have a more matronly look. Think about it like this though, all those "rad" and "tight" looking party-members suddenly don't look so cool lying face down on the floor after a proper spanking. Bring in a white-mage or a red-mage to help keep the party going all night long.
22 Getting Too Attached To Characters
Not all of the characters in these games make it to the end. There... spoiler over. It's just a sad simple truth that a lot of newbies might not be ready for. You will get attached to some of these characters because they're charismatic! Then, seemingly out of nowhere, they will get brutally destroyed by the antagonist.
Just guard yourself and guard your heart. It's a cold and brutal world out there. Sometimes sacrifice is what's needed to stop the world from ending, and sometimes even that's not enough.
21 Not Doing Side Quests
Knowing that these games tend to be on the long side, you might be tempted to blow through the main story only without experiencing any of the optional side quests and optional materials. This is wrong.
First of all, these games are usually purchased at full price, so get your money's worth! These optional side quests can be some of the most rewarding stuff in the game. In fact, most of them have plot details that enhance and enrich your overall experience by adding juicy content to the canon.
20 Taking The Story Too Seriously
While these games hold within them great stories, or at least the promise of greatness, they aren't exactly Shakespeare. Many of storytelling devices they use come in the form of a deus ex machina (something unforeseen that breaks the plot last minute).
These games will surprise you, and often they are more rich with literary devices than say... Mario.
That being said, it can be a big mistake if you do not take the good with the bad, plot-wise. An unsuspected passing or a friend who becomes a traitor can be a red herring for what ends up being "all a dream."
19 Not Equipping Weapons/Armor Properly
Honestly, this can be some of the most fun you will have with Final Fantasy. Like dressing up your favorite Barbie doll (or G.I. Joe), coordinating and assembling an amazing arsenal of gadgets and trinkets can really set your knuckle-dragging tank character into a brutal beast. A common pitfall is to keep playing the game without ever going into these menus and equipping better armaments. Circumventing this aspect of the games is a lazy choice that will hurt you in the long run.
18 Not Getting Acclimated With Your Character Job Classes
Though not every Final Fantasy release calls it "jobs," most of the games have "class" systems, at least. What this means is that all of your characters can learn abilities and gain strengths based on their uniquely independent STAT build. What this means is that if you play your game right, you can build some wild scenarios and take down some mean old big-bads by using your character's built-in DNA.
Now, you can actually finish whole games without experimenting with any of these systems, but why? You will be missing out of some next-level math, and who doesn't love math?
17 Wasting Your Money
Money or "gil" (if you're fancy), is a funny thing in the world of Final Fantasy. You either have too much or way too little. Early on you are usually spamming low-level creeps to get a few measly shillings to buy yourself a room at the local inn. Late game players find themselves distraught at the bazillions of dollars they have acquired and can't get rid of no matter how hard they try! Neither method of play is better. Be frugal but invest wisely. A common mistake is purchasing that shiny new sword at the weapon's dealer even though you have absolutely no way to heal yourself in battle.
16 Refusing To Talk To EVERYONE
Literally everyone holds within them the possibility of a new item, weapon, or location to an area holding a new item/weapon. Unfortunately, most people do not have this information. Instead, a lot of NPCs have no information at all and simply exist as useless wallpaper. Oh, well!
This is your burden as a player. You must talk to everyone because missing something vital can be a devastating oversight.
Sound like a lot of pressure? Try and get into it! Pretend you are really there, you know? Role-play a little.
15 Being Overpowered
Is looking at that Game Over screen driving you crazy? You might be tempted to grind your way to nice comfortable level in order to glide through the next few hours of the game. This is reasonable. What's not reasonable is hitting level 99 three hours into the game because you just don't want to "deal with it."
We have noticed that these games will get boring fast if you remove all of the challenge. Duh! Try and keep a reasonable pace until the end-game. Then you can climb levels until your hearts content. However, main game levels should steadily increase, leaving plenty of challenge between you and your new-area enemies.
14 Not Taking Advantage Of The Systems In Place
Every Final Fantasy has its own special set of systems. These systems are how you interact with the world at large from travel to battling. Please, do yourself a favor and get acclimated with them. They are the keys to having a successful run at these games. For instance, Final Fantasy VII introduced the Materia system. You basically equip a combination of magic and abilities to a characters weapon/armor. It completely customizes each character in your party to your specifications. However, some of those characters are built to succeed with specific Materia builds. Do your homework!
13 Not Riding Chocobos
Just look at those little babies! They are practically begging for you to saddle up to their feathery hides and ride them from one area of the map to the next! Square-Enix has added them (in some form) to every Final Fantasy title. They are like the Yoshis of this universe. Not riding them robs you of the joy that they inevitably bring. Plus, the game goes by much faster this way. Do you want to get stuck running around an entire planet's worth of fields, or cruise it using these over-sized yellow chickens?
12 Not Taking Breaks From The Game
Feeling tired? Feeling groggy? Feeling like you've been banging your head against the wall on a boss for too long and it's driving you insane? Take a break! You probably need a snack and a nap.
Most players find that after they return from a break they often just cruise right through whatever barrier was in their way before.
Of course, this isn't an exact science, however over stimulation of any kind is not good for your thinking brain. Late game Final Fantasy titles demand a lot from you, and the best way to stay present is with rest.
11 Only Playing One Final Fantasy Game
This might be a hard sell, but if one particular Final Fantasy title does not grab you, don't stop there. Pick up another one and see if it takes. In fact, play as many of them as you can. The series rewards those who are very familiar with certain continuity aspects of the game. A great example of this is running into zombie type enemies/bosses. If you have played through any Final Fantasy then you should know that casting healing magic on them is actually a sure fire way to destroy them quickly. This same design principle works in every entry.
10 Not Realizing What Status Effects Are
Not all of the status effects you come across are going to be as easily identifiable as "Instant Perish." Some of them are going to be confusing; almost intentionally so. Poison will often appear as a purple icon or aura around the character. It whittles down your health over time. Also, easy.
How about Silence? It appears as an ellipsis over your character's head, sure, but what does it mean? Well, it means you can't use magic. That's either good or bad depending on which unlucky party-member drew the short straw. Knowing the scope of status effects will help you know how to deal with them, and this knowledge carries over to battle.
9 Not Having The Proper Item Inventory
Magic is one of your best friends in Final Fantasy, but it won't save you from everything. Unfortunately, certain items become imperative during large swaths of your campaign. Hypers, Ethers, Pheonix Downs, and Elixirs to name a few, are all incredibly useful depending on your situation. Certain enemies/bosses will perform a range of status altering attacks that you will need to quickly recover from in order to progress in the fight. Do not skip out on those Item Shops. Plus, the shop keepers are usually pretty friendly.
8 Getting Lost
These worlds all have big/sweeping landscapes with many dungeons, towns, and various terrain in which any one of us can get super lost. While getting a little lost can be a little fun, getting majorly lost sucks. If you find yourself aimlessly roaming around an endless desert trying to find your next mission objective, then you will likely put down the game sooner than you will ask for help. Don't do that.
Find the last place that you KNOW story happened. Start asking around there to see what people say.
In almost every case you will be pointed in a direction. Newer Final Fantasy games don't really have this problem, but older titles are riddled with it.
7 Not Realizing This Is A Japanese Game
Final Fantasy is a Japanese developed video-game with its roots firmly planted in Dungeons & Dragons lore, and a heavy amount of anime influence. What do we mean by that? Well, the basic trajectory of anime (not in all cases) usually starts from a grounded place and becomes more and more epic as the plot unfolds. By the end of most of these games you will fighting something as big as the literal DEVIL in a place as big as the literal END OF TIME. They are also harder than Western game-likers are used to.
6 Using Summons Because They Look Cool
One of the absolute dopest executables in this entire beloved franchise is one's ability to summon large ancient beings to come fight at your aid. The ability is usually called "Summon" even if those beings are called something else fun like Eidolons or GFs. However, casting them willy-nilly because they look cool is a big mistake. Why? Well, many reasons, but they can drain a lot of MP without doing a whole lot of damage, despite their exquisite features and magnificent character models. Make sure you're fighting something that is weak to that specific summon, at least.
5 Taking Too Long Of A Break From The Game
Remember earlier when we said that you should take breaks and take them often? Do that, but also, don't take too long. Some of these games contain a wide-range of complex battle mechanics that require an expert level of timing and button combinations. If it takes you weeks to return to any one of these games, well, you're probably in for a world of pain upon your return. Not that you can't recover from this, but you are doing yourself an unnecessary amount of extra work if you find yourself constantly getting going back over stuff you learned.
4 Being Disorganized
Keep those items organized, people! We cannot stress this enough. There is nothing like going up against a hefty foe, and frantically, in the heat of battle, trying to find a Super Elixir by scrolling through pages and pages of mess.
Clutter isn't good for your mental health or the mental health of Squall and the gang!
Luckily, most Final Fantasy titles have a built in organizational tool for your convenience. Just click that bad-button and let the automation do the work.
3 Not Grinding At All
Remember what we JUST said about NOT leveling up too high? Well, life is about balance. If you do not spend any time grinding through these prairie baddies then you will be in a world of hurt come boss time.
Again, make sure you get to a nice comfortable level. Not too high, but not too low either.
Many players do not understand the concept of grinding since this feature has been pretty much removed from most modern games including Western RPGs. Thank goodness for Japan. They keep the grind alive!
2 Refusing To Look Things Up
Bet you never thought we would say, "to enjoy a good video game, you've got to curl up with a good book." But it's true!
Refusing to look things up might be honorable, but honestly, nobody is watching! Do what's best for you. If finding everything on your own is the way you vibe, go for it. However, normal folk need some help because Final Fantasy games (especially older titles) are very obscure. There is no shame in letting those who came before you light your path.
1 Not Saving
One could argue that the REAL villain of the Final Fantasy franchise is your save state, however protected you thought it might have been, being erased for all eternity by one's little brother.
Your game lives and dies by your ability to find a save point before your characters get knocked out, or your mom says lights out.
Modern day Final Fantasy titles have an auto-save function AND a save point system for posterity. But, if you thought they just took care of this for you, think again. Saving your game and saving it often is the number one thing most players do not realize they need to do until it is too late.