When Final Fantasy Tactics released in 1997, it quickly became a popular spin-off of the franchise. By the end of 2011, the game had sold more than two million copies worldwide and spawned spin-offs of its own, as well as an updated release on the PSP. Despite the graphics, the game has aged well, and now is the perfect time for a proper new game.
Tactics was a spin-off itself of the Final Fantasy franchise that brought the series to the strategy genre for the first time to great success. Lauded by fans for its deep gameplay, powerful storytelling, and more, Tactics incorporated a grid-based strategy battle system. This was brought to life, specifically with its depthy job system that was adapted from Final Fantasy 3 while adding new jobs and skills to the roster.
Tactics is one of the best examples of a Final Fantasy story done right, avoiding some of the pitfalls many other games in the franchise fall into. The narrative starts relatively small in scope with Ramza and Delita operating as military cadets in service to a noble house, and gradually scales up into a tale of political intrigue, war, and deception. The supernatural elements of the story are brought in a steady way, and there isn’t the grand switcheroo of villains at the very end of the game other early FF games are notorious for. As a result, the game handles morality in shades of grey in way that influenced its spiritual sequels as well like Final Fantasy Tactics: Advance.
The depth of the job system, the berth of side quests, and the pleasantly rewarding distractions like the job boards incentivize players to explore and expand their forces, so much so that the influence of FF Tactics‘s gameplay still inspires game developers today. The shift to the larger maps from traditional RPG battles forces players to incorporate more strategic planning in their moves each turn, and the game has a sometimes blistering difficulty level. The challenge makes pulling off successful strategies or group attacks all the more satisfying.
Square Enix has released several spin-off titles from Tactics, and more recently, the mobile game War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius incorporates the grid-based battle system albeit with a host of differences to the progression system. But a new release, or even a full remake or reboot, would be able to take advantage of the graphical prowess of modern consoles to recapture the feelings of awe many players felt back in 1997. It could even be something like another journey into the world of Ivalice, explored in FF12 and Vagrant Story (another Square Enix spinoff).
Turn-based tactical RPGs have always been popular yet niche genre, but the past decadeor so has seen the genre in a sort of renaissance. Modern tactics RPGs like XCOM: Enemy Unknown have shown what modern graphics and gaming conventions can bring to the table, and even more recently games like Wasteland 3 and Gears Tactics have been very popular both with fans and critics.
The success of more similar games like the Disgaea franchise and specifically the Fire Emblem series, which has a history as long as Final Fantasy also exemplify the reasons why a new Tactics games would enter a near-perfect climate. The influence of Tactics on the genre and Final Fantasy as a whole is hard to understate, and given the success of other games in the genre right now, it would be a great time for one of the original innovators to make a triumphant return.
Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions is available on Android, iOS, and PSP.