Final Fantasy XII has been a long time coming on PC, but now it's finally out at last and it's one of the best games in the series. But it also does things a little differently, not just to other RPGs but also to the Final Fantasy games in general, and it can be a little overwhelming. We're here to give you some tips to help in our Guide to Getting Started in Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age!
There are things packed at every edge of Final Fantasy 12. Whether it's simply a barrel with a useful item or a seemingly-random NPC who actually has an important side-quest, it's worth talking to everyone and searching every corner of the game. Because you have no idea when something really, really useful is going to pop up. Well, or you'll just run into a giant monster and get killed instantly, but don't worry because there's an Autosave as you enter every section.
Use Gambits To Set Up AI Commands
It's possible, and essential, to set up AI commands so that party members will automatically do something without you having to manage them all the time. These range to using Antidote on someone who's been poisoned, to using either Cure or a potion on any ally who goes below 50% Health, to using Firaga on any enemies within a certain distance vulnerable to Fire. It's quite extensive, but unlike games such as Dragon Age: Origins, you have to pay for it. Specific commands cost money in Gambit shops, and Command Slots have to be unlocked on the Job System Licenses page.
Don't go mad with the Gambits, but at least set up "Self = Libra" command on anyone to ensure someone is scanning for traps and enemy weaknesses at all times.
One of the most useful additions in The Zodiac Age remaster of FF12 is the ability to speed up time, and it's even better on PC. F1, F2, and F3 control the speed of the game. F1 = Normal, F2 = Double, F3 = Triple. Press a button and suddenly the big walk across Rabanastre takes far less time, and simple piddling battles can be over in seconds. Just remember to turn it off on harder battles or areas.
Licenses, and the whole Job System
Every character in the game can have two Jobs - one you choose at the start, another around the middle of the game. There are no "Best Jobs" but there are certainly better choices, and with 6 characters altogether you'll need to essentially have two teams. You need a good mix of magic and physical damage, at least one person with Cure and another with Libra, at least one Ranged fighter. You'll definitely need someone with Dispel and a leveled-up Remedy at some point too. You'll definitely at least need one White Mage, stuffed with all kinds of cures, buffs and debuffs.
Make sure to Preview the Job Board before you select a Job, to make sure you don't make a mistake (we didn't realize that Archers didn't use Crossbows, for example). Don't overspend License Points either, you'll need to keep some behind in case a cool weapon, accessory, armour or spell comes up. Don't get too many Gambit Command extensions unless you're using loads, and don't bother with ones that boost Magic potency or whatever if the character doesn't use Magic. Other than that... do what seems best!
Heed Save File Warnings
One of the nicest things FF12 does is warn players when they're in an area they can't easily get out of. Listen to them. Make sure you save often, certainly at every Save Crystal you come across, but when you get the warning message - save in a new file. You can always save over the new one later, and as mentioned the game autosaves on every new area anyway, but if you hit a boss battle and don't have good equipment or aren't leveled up enough - you'll be glad for the old save file. Easy way to tell before it gets that far though - are you struggling on the basic enemies you're meeting? You may want to reload and do a Hunt to level up. Speaking of which...
You'll be introduced to Hunts and Notice Boards naturally at the start of the story, but don't dismiss them after you've killed that dastardly Rogue Tomato. Hunts get a Loot bonus and they'll make those bosses a lot more palatable. Always go back to Notice Boards, there's one in the Tavern of each city you reach, take what's available, see the person in charge, and give them a go - saving first of course. If the prey is too high level, don't be afraid to come back later.
Also, make sure to regularly visit Montblanc once you get the chance. He's got a room in the North-East corner of Rabanastre, and he'll both give you loot for fights you've already done and, eventually, give you Epic Hunts which are a little tougher but more rewarding. Can't hurt to try any of them, at least.
You Need to Counter Buffs and Debuffs
Buffs and Debuffs are frequently the key to winning or losing battles in Final Fantasy XII. You might be able to bust past a regular enemy with Protect, but get Petrify or Doom set on you and a boss with Haste/Protect/Shell with no counter to these and you'll lose hard. When you can get it, Dispel is immeasurably useful as it'll get rid of any pesky boss spell buffs, but make sure you have either items or spells to get rid of most status ailments - and you can get License upgrades to make Remedy affect more debuffs too. Oh, and don't be afraid to throw a few debuffs at enemies too - Sleep and Confuse are good ones.
Remember You Can Swap Out Party Members At Any Time
Important for the last point if you've got a White Mage with all the curing spells. Unlike most party-based RPGs, in FF12 you can literally swap your party members out at any time - even right in the middle of a fight. Got an all-offensive unit and suddenly you get into a boss battle where they throw around Debuffs? Quickly get your White Mage in and counter them. You can also do it if a party member gets KO'ed - don't bother reviving them straight away, bring in a fresh teammate with full health.
Magic Recharges - Health Does Not
Easy to overlook, this. Your HP will not regenerate, so if your health is low make sure to use Potions or Cure even out of combat - however, MP will regenerate, so do not waste Ether or Elixir items because you can't buy either of them in a shop (same goes for Hi-Potions at the start). If you're out of combat and low on MP, just run around a little with 3x Speed turned on (F3, remember?) and it'll be back in no time.
Oh, and if all else fails, go back to a Save Crystal - it'll restore all HP and MP, undo Debuffs, and resurrect all party members.
Sell (Almost) Everything in Loot - and Watch the Bazaar!
The Loot type of Item is the main way you earn money in the game, and in general - it's either junk, or can easily be re-acquired, so just sell it all. Teleport Stones allow you to return to any orange Teleport Save Crystals around the world, so keep them, and Gysahl Greens feed Chocobos so don't sell them either. Otherwise - sell sell sell. Perhaps even set up a 'Foe > HP 100% = Steal' Gambit when fighting basic enemies to get some additional things to sell.
Also, as you sell items you may notice a new store option called "Bazaar" open up. In general, unless it's obviously blatantly useless buy whatever appears on here - since even if you sell it you'll get more than what you paid for it. Two packs of Potions are the basic thing you'll get, but you might get huge discounts on useful weapons, armour, or accessories, better ammo, or even items called Grimoires that make enemies drop better loot!
And that's all for now! With these handy hints you can face whatever comes your way in Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age! Oh, just watch out for the Cluckatrice. He's a bugger.