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RPGs Don't Mean Grinding, And Here's Why

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RPGs Don't Mean Grinding, And Here's Why

2022 is shaping up to be the year of the party RPGs which people find too tough. Whether that’s the dastardly final boss fight against Volo in Pokémon Legends: Arceus, trying to save your friend Roland without burning down Wolffort in Triangle Strategy, or any boss fight after you enter the memorial garden in Monark; even the most seasoned players of turn-based combat have struggled at some point this year.

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It’s not always the player’s fault. An overreliance on the idea that a newcomer to the genre will be able to understand RPG battle mechanics the same as a hardened role-playing fan, has meant that some strategies aren’t well tutorialised. Don’t worry if you’re new to this style of gameplay, we’re here with a few handy reminders to help out. 

The G Stands for Games Not Grinding

Pokemon Legends Arceus Credit: Game Freak / Nintendo
Pokemon Legends Arceus Credit: Game Freak / Nintendo
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As surely as day follows night, and the changing of the tides, people assume that grinding is a requirement of playing RPGs. Most RPGs actually actively deter grinding. They do this by making repeat battles a bore, such as when Pokémon Black And White changed experience so it only rewards you properly if you are lower level than your opponent. Grinding lower level battles remains a feature of RPGs so that those who are struggling can find a way out. However, these games are often designed with the idea that you never have to gain extra levels on your party. 

Check out the best Pokemon Legends: Arceus wins and fails in the video below.

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The method to avoid grinding of course depends on the game. Often it only requires getting a better grip of the battle mechanics. If you find yourself struggling to make your way through, grinding will give you a short term boost, though you will find yourself stalled again at the next hurdle. Instead you should spend some time looking at the game menus, equipment, and types of moves available to you, in order to figure out how to better play the game. This isn’t always as easy as it seems though, if you’re not sure what you’re looking for.

Stat Boosts: An Open Secret

Elden Ring Credit: FromSoftware / Bandai Namco
Elden Ring Credit: FromSoftware / Bandai Namco
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Moves or items which temporarily boost stats are often seen as a wasted turn by many newcomers to party-based RPGs. It is my firm belief that not a single child has used an X-Item when playing Pokémon, and yet they are one of the games’ most powerful mechanics. In the recent games, using a single X-Item will double whatever stat it is for. That means that one turn spent on boosting attack can see you go from getting hit once per opponent, to sweeping a team and coming out with full health. 

Stat boosting moves can be found in every single RPG and are the unsung heroes of gameplay. Even better, many of their benefits stack. In Monark one turn spent using Psychogenic Fever+ on your party will give everyone a 250% boost in both magic attack and defence. While one build in Elden Ring, which focuses on Intelligence, saw a player take down the Elden Beast in about 5 seconds. Don’t leave stat boosts in the dust. A few turns of set-up can save you a whole lot of resetting.

It’s A Party, Not A Peoples

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Romancing Saga 3 Credit: Square Enix
Romancing Saga 3 Credit: Square Enix

One of the major mistakes that newcomers to the genre often make is treating each member of your party as individuals. Instead, your party should be treated as one being with each member acting as one of the limbs. This isn’t a multiplayer shooter, and shouldn’t be treated as such. Often when strategising, it’s good to separate moves and abilities out across your members. You may only have one or two people actually attacking while the others act to heal allies, absorb attacks, and of course most importantly, boost stats.

Oldschool franchises such as Final Fantasy and Romancing Saga were good at tutorialising this, by having rows. The further back a party member was, the less damage they took or doled out. This helped to show that no man is an island. Instead, in the vast majority of games the majority of your party members should never deal damage. It may sound counter-intuitive, but if you think of your team as a party instead of individuals, you now have a much larger pool of options to choose from in terms of what your next move should be.

Mighty Morphing Synergisers!

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Credit: Square Enix
Final Fantasy 7 Remake Credit: Square Enix

This is the point where we can combine all the knowledge we’ve collected so far and turn it into a boss melting power move. You see, once you spread out your move pool across multiple characters, and understand the power of buffing your stats, that’s when you're ready to synergise. Synergising your party means working out which moves, equipment or actions can work together to pack the biggest punch. This is an extension of my point that your party should be treated as one body with many limbs.

This idea is best demonstrated by a popular build from Final Fantasy 7. We all know Tifa is bae, and this build is why. Tifa can be equipped with an early game weapon called the Powersoul. It has quite low base attack power but has the added bonus that its power multiples when our girl is in danger. Low HP doubles her power, while a status condition like Death Sentence quadruples it. These stack, meaning if she is in critical HP and in Death Sentence - both of which can be done to her by her party - she inflicts 8x her usual damage. 

Death Sentence gives you 60 seconds to end the battle before she kicks the bucket, but this can be negated with Death + Added Effect. Moreover, the Cursed Ring will start her in Death Sentence, and it can be maintained with party member attacks. Party members can also use other moves such as the Enemy Skill Big Guard, to double her defence and speed and prevent her from dying even at low HP.

We haven’t finished synergising quite yet. The Deathblow materia hits twice and either lands a critical hit for double damage, or misses. However, if another party member casts Stop on the enemy - even bosses - then it is guaranteed to land. This can be done through Stop materia, the Chocomog summon, or Cloud’s second Limit Break Cross Slash, which are all early in the game. Later you can add the Added Cut materia to Death Sentence to give three attacks per turn. For those keeping count, she is now 40x her usual damage per turn. This means she only has to have a base damage of 600 for her standard attack to deal a whopping 30,000 damage per turn.

So if you run into trouble playing a turn-based party RPG, consider that you haven’t quite figured out how to work the battle system before you curse the developers for making their game too hard. When you’re at the point where you want to throw the controller at a wall, think ‘What would Tifa Lockhart do?’ Then strap on your Powersoul and synergise on some bosses.

Featured Image Credit: Nintendo / Game Freak / NIS America / Square Enix

Topics: Square Enix, Pokemon, Elden Ring

Georgina Young
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