You know, I was thinking for a while, and I guess I was able to formulate something that really bothered me in XIII-2. I won't say anything about story or characters or whatever, because that have been discussed like a thousand times already. Even the basic gameplay mechanics were fine enough when you think about it. The real problem I found went a little deeper than that, in the game balance.
You see, XIII had well its share of problems, but it was a well enough balanced game. The fights might not be the hardest you've ever had, but they weren't your easiest ride either. Even though you were auto-battling most of the time (which was one of the hardest things for me to swallow), at least there was strategy to be used by assembling and changing Paradigms. More than that, the enemies actually made you use all (or most) of what the game offered for you to move on. You knew you had to stagger Armadillons to beat them, that if you didn't debuff a Juggernaut it would be a pain, and so on.
XIII-2 did improve a lot of the game mechanics. The battle system felt fine tuned, you could change your leader (so you didn't have to endure a Game Over only out of bad luck of the monster targeting the wrong character), the Feral Links were nice, and the whole Pokémon thing was fun enough and had enough depth to make it interesting. But when you think on the monsters balance…
I still remember the disappointment I had the first time I fought the Armadillon in the Sunleth Waterscape (was it the Calautidon or something like that?). Knowing the archetype from XIII, I put on my Relentless Assault Paradigm, and my Commando just smacked down half his HP gauge before I even staggered him… You can say the same for most of the other monsters, which were as easy as that. Even the Long Gui, despite being turned into a boss, were a bad joke compared to the Adamantoise fights from XIII.
So I guess the point is that: the game actually have a fine tuned system from the previous one, but they just didn't care to make it so you would actually have to use that system at all. Midway through the game I was already walking around on Cerberus, putting on a Ravager or Medic only on boss fights. I only ever use a Synergist in a few of the bosses, to quicken things, and I don't remember ever needing a Saboteur for real outside the Arena DLC fights. Beside those DLC fights, I think the only real challenging fights in the game is the Yomi and a few of the Paradox Endings bosses.
Looking in retrospect, I remember thinking the same thing about FFX-2. You had a very nice ATB system there, and even the whole fashionista thing with the dressphere gave it a lot of color, but you just didn't have enemies strong enough to make you use all, or even most, the abilities you learned througout the game. Again, the only barely challenging enemies were a few of the optional bosses (though some of them actually went out of the way to be really cheap hard…).
So, I don't think this makes any difference now, I just wanted to share the thought. I hope LR:FFXIII at least have some well balanced fights to keep things interesting, whatever it battle system may be.
It's so true TC. That's why XIII was the better game by far.
They tried so hard to please the wrong type of fans (the whiners) that they forgot what made the first game good, namely an awesome battle system and the challenge to enjoy it.
Yes! I was pumped that they were opening up the world in XIII-2, then I started to play and got to a few battles and was like, "I don't remember these enemies being this easy in XIII."
And I liked how XIII limited the Crystarium early on to add the challenge. XIII-2 just threw everything at you from the beginning. Now I don't like RPGs that make you grind, grind, grind to beat bosses, but I don't like RPGs that have battles so easy, takes the joy out of battles.
Currently playing Lunar: Dragon Song, Xenoblade Chronicles, FFVII, and White Knight Chronicles.
Yeah it's a little unbalanced compared to XIII, I think they were overcompensating should you choose a poor monster.
Some of it is that, some of it is compensating in case you also choose a poor Crystarium development path, and some of it is just that it's harder to have tight balance in a non-linear game.
But honestly, a lot of it is that almost everything in XIII-2 is a glass cannon. In XIII, you had glass cannons, weak and fast disruptive enemies, slow and powerful disruptive enemies, tanks, summoners, well-rounded types, and massive boom-booms. I just didn't feel that same kind of enemy variety in XIII-2, even when I deliberately held down my development to make the fights more challenging.