‘Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age’ Changes and What’s New: New jobs and features, better graphics

‘Final Fantasy 12: The Zodiac Age’ Changes and What’s New: New jobs and features, better graphics
Source: ArsTechnica
Source: ArsTechnica

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is a full HD remaster of the 2006 PlayStation 2 Square Enix title. The Zodiac Age brings a ton of changes and new features in addition to a significant graphical improvement. One of the biggest — and most welcome — changes is the introduction of the International Zodiac Job System, which previously was only available in an exclusive 2007 Japanese release of Final Fantasy XII.

The other myriad of changes are mostly there to make Final Fantasy XII a more enjoyable game to play. For those that experienced the original release, you’ll remember that FF12 departed from the standard Final Fantasy formula considerably. Some of this experimental design, like a larger, more connected world and ending the random encounter system, were good things. However, there was a lot to be desired when it came to system performance, the battle system and character progression.

Luckily, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age addresses a lot of the issues that plagued the original release in one way or another. Below we’ve gathered a list of comprehensive changes in The Zodiac Age starting with the license boards.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Changes and New Features: International Zodiac Job System License Board changes

The twelve new jobs available in ‘The Zodiac Age.’
Source: SquareFaction

The International Zodiac Job System brings a huge change to character progression in Final Fantasy XII. In the original release, each character started at a different spot on one big license board. This ended up with you having to spend ability points to unlock licenses on the board you didn’t really want in order to get to the licenses you did. Also, by the end of the game, especially if you did any grinding, every character ended up pretty much the same.

The Zodiac Age completely revamps this system with the International Zodiac Job System. The new job system allows you to choose from twelve job classes for your characters. Each class has its own license board which only includes abilities that apply to that job’s role. So if you choose a black mage, you can expect mystic armor, stave and black magic licenses, but not the heavy armor, shields and sword licenses of the knight.

Additionally, at a certain point in the game, you can choose a second class for your heroes. All this choice leads to you actually having to strategize when you’re developing your character and unlocking licenses, and I’m sure we’ll see a ton of interesting builds from enterprising adventurers.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Changes and New Features: Game balance

The original version of Final Fantasy XII could be challenging in parts. There’s a lot more going on at all times with the live-action battle system, and players who were veterans of Final Fantasy’s previous turn-based system found it to be a bit overwhelming.

Luckily, according to Polygon’s interview with The Zodiac Age producer Hiroaki Kato, the game’s overall balance was overhauled so that it will have a difficulty level closer to a classic Final Fantasy title. He didn’t go into detail on exactly what that means, but I would think that the main path through the story may have fewer or weaker enemies for those that want to enjoy the story. Things like bounties and optional areas and bosses may have been left the same for those who are looking for a challenge.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Changes and New Features: Trial mode

Expect plenty of the status effect casting Malboros to be in Trial Mode.
Source: PlayStation

For fans that crave battle, The Zodiac Age brings a trial mode. In this mode, the goal is to fight 100 battles that steadily increase in difficulty and complexity. To make things more complicated, the trial mode is designed in such a way that it would be impossible to make it through all 100 fights with the same gambit settings, so you can’t just set your party up once and breeze through them.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Changes and New Features: Smaller additions

There are also a host of smaller things that make the Final Fantasy XII experience more enjoyable.

Double and quadruple speed turbo

Sometimes you just want to speed through certain areas of the game, and The Zodiac Age brings a feature to help you do just that. By pressing L1, you can quadruple the game speed during live gameplay. That means whether you’re exploring the field or in battle you can control the speed. There is also an option to lower the turbo modifier to double speed if you choose.

Control guests and espers

In the original version of FF12, espers and guests were entirely controlled by AI. In The Zodiac Age, they’re both placed under your command, and can finally become a useful part of your strategies. You’ll be able to set gambits for both of them, and guest characters will level up just like a regular party character.

The Zodiac Spear doesn’t have that stupid chest thing anymore

While Final Fantasy XII dropped the notion of characters having “ultimate weapons,” if the game did have one it would be the zodiac spear. Initially, to get the spear, you could not open four specific chests during the game. These chests aren’t marked in any way as being different than any other chests, so unless you had the strategy guide, you would more than likely miss your chance to get the spear. In The Zodiac Age, you can obtain the Zodiac Spear in a much easier, sensible way.

Map overlay

By pressing L3, the map of the area will overlay on the user interface. This is a godsend because there are a ton of areas in Final Fantasy XII which have branching paths and confusing layouts. It got annoying in the original game having to bring up the map screen to check your location.

Visual and audio improvements

The textures and prerendered video have been improved dramatically. While you can still definitely tell it’s not a native PlayStation 4 title, it doesn’t have a weird squished or muddled look. The Zodiac Age also has improved sound and voice quality (including the ability to switch between English and Japanese voices) and supports 7.1 channel surround sound. Additionally, the soundtrack has been remastered, and eight new songs have been added to the game.

Changes to Quickenings

Final Fantasy XII’s form of limit breaks, called quickenings, have been adjusted as well. They don’t require MP to execute anymore, and characters now increase their MP through leveling instead of unlocking more quickenings on the license board.

Damage limit removed

Your characters can now cause more than 9,999 damage per attack. Adding this to the new job system means the race will be on to see what character build can cause the most damage.

More gaming news and updates

Check out the latest from Mic, like this essay about the sinister, subtle evils lurking in rural America that Far Cry 5 shouldn’t ignore. Also, be sure to read our review of Tekken 7, an article about D.Va’s influence on one Overwatch player’s ideas about femininity.

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Jason Faulkner

Jason Faulkner has written editorials, news, guides, and reviews at Destructoid, Gamezebo, Playboy, Shacknews, and Modojo. He also served as co-Editor-and-Chief and IT consultant at G4@Syfygames. On a typical day, you can find him working as a Gaming Editor at Mic or desperately trying to get a late-1990s/early-2000s PC game working at 4K and 16:9 ratio without crashing.

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