What is it?
Final Fantasy Tactics (FFT) is a turn-based tactical strategy game set in the fantasy world of Ivalice. It was developed by Square Enix (then known as Squaresoft) and released in 1997 for the first Playstation. It was also the 1st entry in the Ivalice series, which is sort of a Final Fantasy subseries except one of it’s entry isn’t a Final Fantasy game.
The game is the brain child of Yasumi Matsuno, and the spiritual successor to Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together in more ways than one. The most obvious of this is the gameplay. In Final Fantasy Tactics, you recruit a squad of soldiers and train them in various jobs which allows them to unlock more jobs to change to. Aside from the generic soldiers, you also get to command a few special characters who usually have more relevance to the plot, like the main character Ramza Beoulve. Battles play out in the isometric, multi-tiered field where you move characters across the battlefield where movement and attack ranged are dictated by the individual’s stats. Battles can often feel like a game of chess where the pieces differ greatly from one another.
However, my favorite part of the game was the story. It is filled with drama, conspiracy and political intrigue and is very much inspired from the real life War of the Roses. And as such, is very similar to another popular story based on the same war – the Game of Thrones series.
The game begins with a framing narrative where historian Arazlam J Durai investigates the history of the Lion War based on his ancestor’s “Durai Report”. The Lion War is a civil war in the kingdom of Ivalice, taking place after the death of King Ondoria leaves a power vacuum.
One claimant to the throne is Princess Ovelia, is backed by Duke Goltanna of the Black Lion and the other, Prince Orinus is backed by Queen Louveria and her brother, Prince Larg the White Lion. As war erupts, both side plot and fight to secure the Ivalice Throne.
Central to the story, however is Ramza Beoulve, son of a noble family and his childhood friend, Delita Heiral, a commoner who would emerged from this war as a legendary hero.
What I want to see in a Sequel
I’ve been itching for a good tactic game for a long time and they are few and far between. It’s even worse than the RTS itch I have. Recent games have fallen far short of classics like Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre. The Fire Emblem series seems to be the notable exception, though I’ve yet to play any games in that series. Disgaea, another popular series, never appealed to me personally. So, I basically want more games of in the vein of Final Fantasy Tactics, please.
One improvement I do wish to see is to shorten the time required for each battle. Due to the nature of the gameplay, and the chess like element of it, battles can often take up more than a couple of minutes. And difficult battles can prove frustrating, especially if you keep having to replay it due to a defeat. I’m not sure how the speed of a battle can be increased, but it has been the main thing that’s been stopping me from replaying the older Tactical RPG titles. Making the sequel for a portable console would go a long way to help alleviate this problem. I still remember setting my PSP to sleep during battles so I can pick it up later on.
Other than that, I want another great story. I don’t mind if it isn’t set in Ivalice as long as the tone of the series remains. It could even be a spiritual successor, since Matsuno is no longer working with Square Enix and I don’t see anyone being able to capture his vision as well as he can.
Well, technically Final Fantasy Tactics did have sequels. Even ones with the same gameplay too. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 were games for the Gameboy Advance that follows the style of FFT but never did quite capture the same magic. The tone of the sequels leaned towards more carefree and joyful rather than staying with the dire tones of the original. And to me, they weren’t proper sequels to the series, just another set of games that borrowed terms and gameplay from FFT. And I think most people are of the same mind.
So discounting the two FFTA games, how likely are we to see another Final Fantasy Tactics game?
Square Enix seems to have forgotten most of its older IPs. Final Fantasy Tactics, Chrono are among titles that have been cast aside for the time. Though remakes have popped up from time to time, with the iOS/Android port of the War of the Lions being the latest iteration of Final Fantasy Tactics we’ve seen. Although with Ramza’s inclusion in Dissidia NT, it seems like the series might not be as forgotten as before. Then again none of the characters featured in the game, except maybe Noctis and Lightning should be expecting a sequel.
I would really love to see the Bravely Default team tackle this series. Their work on the currently in development Project Octopath Traveler is reminiscence of the FFT in tone. If they can get the gameplay right, I think they could do something amazing with a Final Fantasy Tactics sequel.
So if Square Enix is unlikely to pick up the series, will Matsuno do it? It’s unlikely too. Matsuno has recently been focused on Platinum’s mobile game – Lost Order. And before that? Mistwalker’s mobile game – Terra Battle. And it’s looking like he’ll be in the mobile gaming space for some time.
A while ago, Playdek launched a kickstarter for Unsung Story which looked to be a return to the Tactical RPG days of old, with Matsuno onboard. But hopes for that game has been brutally dashed for the time being. Matsuno is no longer involved in the project and, hell, Playdek is no longer involved, with Little Orbit taking over the reins.
Well, if neither Square Enix or Matsuno looks to be working on a Tactical RPG, it’s unlikely we’ll see another sequel to Final Fantasy Tactics, either canon or spiritual. There are however a number of different indie projects that look to be filling the void left behind. Chief of them is of course Banner Saga, though personally I’ve been keeping an eye of Arcadian Atlas. And hey, maybe Little Orbit might be able to turn Unsung Story into something great too. There’s always the possibility that Square Enix surprises us.