Best Battle System
Combat in the Tales series doesn't change greatly from iteration to iteration, but RPGamer sees no need to fix what isn't broken; we still consider them among the best action-RPG battle systems out there. Tales of Xillia, the latest series entry to grace Western shores, is no different. While the core of the system remains true to the series formula, the wheels and cogs that make it spin take the best elements from previous games, such as the CP system from Graces F and the Free Run system from Abyss. The result is battles that are faster than Symphonia, more engaging than Graces F, and smoother than Vesperia.
Other additions make Xillia's combat system even more interesting, the most notable of which is the introduction of the link system. By joining up with another character, players can surround and focus attacks on a single target, and even combine skills into new, more powerful ones. Every character also has a special ability that only triggers when linked — one character might steal items from enemies if they were knocked over first, while another might pick his partner up off the ground if they were knocked over themselves. Amazingly, combat never feels overcomplicated, despite all the mechanics at play. For these reasons, Tales of Xillia is RPGamer's best battle system of 2013.
In a way, all Fire Emblem: Awakening does is use the combat engine seen in the dozen earlier games of the series with a little refinement. The weapon triangle, critical attacks, breakable armaments, and support benefits from being next to other characters has all been seen before, along with the speed at which individual encounters progress. What Awakening adds to the mix is a level of user-friendliness not seen in the series before, and a cinematic feel to the combat animations that makes it more exciting to see them play out.
Having neighboring characters actively participate in the engagements instead of just lending extra stat bonuses makes a big difference in the way they play out as well as the way we view them. The speed with which events occur is intact, and all the intricacies of weapon relationships have stayed the same, but Intelligent Systems polished everything to minimize confusion and the time expended on menu details. The developer was facing the possibility of this being the end of the series, and responded by putting everything it could into the mix. The result appealed to veterans and newcomers to the Fire Emblem series alike.
The Ys series is known for its quality action combat system, and Ys: Memories of Celceta does not disappoint in that area. Like Ys Seven, Celceta allows the player to switch freely between three party members in combat, and the game does a great job of making each character's weapon feel unique.
The game does an impressive job keeping combat fast and furious while also elegantly complex. Regular, special, and ultimate attacks build up into each other, creating a nice rhythm. At the same time, defensive moves are vitally important, and pulling them off properly gives the player an advantage in battle. With a brisk hack 'n' slash world and a selection of excellent boss fights, Memories of Celceta's excellent monster-fighting fun was one of our favorites this year.
by Adriaan den Ouden, Mike Moehnke, Becky Cunningham