It does not matter if you're a fan of stories in RPGs, without a battle system you might as well be reading a book. This year we had an odd paradigm shift, as RPGamers fell in love with a wide variety of battle systems. Fast-paced action systems, complex tactical combat in semi real-time, and even simple turn-based ones made the cut as this year's top battle systems.
Critics say a lot of things about Final Fantasy XIII, but among them all, one of the odder statements is that "Final Fantasy is a battle system." There's an air of truth to this statement, as the battle system features most prominently at the forefront of the game's experience, and with good cause. Stepping forward from the hands-off approach started with Final Fantasy XII, XIII makes the combat faster and more chaotic, so fast that inputting commands manually is nearly impossible. Instead, battles require the constant juggling of six job classes and need a level of strategy unparalleled by any other game in the series.
Coupled with this are some truly fantastic boss fights, optional mark hunts, and even regular encounters that require more than their fair share of effort. Say what you will about the linear dungeon design or the story; Final Fantasy XIII sports not only the best battle system of 2010, but quite likely the best battle system in the series.
One of the shining features of Resonance of Fate is its battle system. Instead of offering normal turn-based or full action combat, tri-Ace gave player the ability to execute acrobatic trajectories across battlefields with guns blazing and grenades flying. While the attacks themselves were amazing, the underlying system is what made Resonance of Fate's battle system truly stand out. In order to succeed in battle, players had to learn the best way to bring down their enemies' defenses with machine guns and grenades before ultimately taking them out with a well placed pistol shot. On top of the strategy necessitated by this, further planning was required to execute devastating tri-Attacks, which required all three characters to be in a triangular position in relation to each other. Detractors may say that combat is Resonance of Fate's worst feature, but those who take the time to understand and master it will find a battle experience like no other.
Who would have thought that an RPG with little to no budget from a team of only three people would have such an impact on RPGamers? How could a retro indie RPG possibly have a good battle system? Well, in Cthulhu Save the World, Zeboyd has mastered the concept of what makes random encounters enjoyable: speed and challenge. While most standard encounters can be breezed through, they don't come without some kind of challenge. Players can't just spam attack and hope to survive; it won't work as enemies have decent HP and get stronger each turn. Characters will need to dig into their bag of skills to buff and debuff enemies, especially bosses, so it's a good thing that there are so many different skills available at each new level. The challenge is deceptively deep, though it's never unfair and characters even return to full health and can restore some magic points after each fight, but don't lose sight or a seemingly simple random encounter could mean game over. So bravo Zeboyd Games, you've taken a simple turn-based battle system and not just given us tons of options like so many others this year, but you've added in challenge in the process.
by Adriaan den Ouden, Jonathon Self, Ken Staples, Michael Cunningham