This thread is primarily aimed at those of you who picked up Vagrant Story and tried to play it only to get completely confused by the weapons system and ended up doing 0 damage to a boss a couple hours in. The game unfortunately doesn't document its own mechanics very well, so the majority of people that played the game ended up hating it and this is a crying shame.
So what we're going to do is talk about the game mechanics and try to provide as much detail and documentation as possible for anyone that has always wanted to give it a second chance. The game was produced and directed by a guy named Yasumi Matsuno, and this is the same Matsuno that primarily led the development of Final Fantasy XII. If you enjoyed FFXII, you'll most likely also enjoy VS quite a lot. So read through the advice here, let it sink in, read it again, and play Vagrant Story dag nabbit.
Special note! I am not an "expert" on this game, I just understand it well enough to love it. I want more people to enjoy the game, hence the thread, but there are many people here that have much more experience and can provide better insight, so keep reading!
First things first...
>>> The Basics
Vagrant Story is all about your weapons, it's a weapon-based game and your weapons are the most important part of the game so remember that everything revolves around your weapons weapons weapons weapons. Have your brain block out the traditional character- or party-based ideas that RPGs have been using for years because you will screw yourself otherwise. Your character's strength is a drop in the bucket compared to the importance of using the right weapon at the right time on the right enemy class. Read that over and over again until it sinks in.
There are six different types of enemies in the game: Human, Beast, Phantom, Undead, Evil and Dragon. Your goal is to be able to have one weapon for each enemy type, and this weapon will be used exclusively on that enemy type. Yes, this requires switching weapons two or three times per room and no there isn't a quick weapon switch in the game, even though there are buttons like R2 which are completely unused. This is one of the only downfalls of the game but just grin and bear it since it's incredibly rewarding.
>>> The Weapons
It's almost as if your weapons are alive in this game. They react to the enemy they attack and gain affinities based on that. The very first thing you must do when you start playing the game is go into the options menu and enable the Weapon Status indicator. This is what will help you understand and visualize the entire weapons system and they should have enabled it by default. With this indicator enabled, go and attack an enemy and in the lower-left corner of the screen you'll suddenly see how your weapon's affinities changed based on that attack, it usually looks something like this:
Weapon Beast +1
Weapon Dragon -1
Weapon Evil -1
What this means is that your weapon gained an affinity towards Beasts (assuming you attacked a Beast), and it lowered its affinities towards Dragons and Evil. The weapon will now do even more damage against Beasts and even less damage against Dragons and Evil enemies. If you kept this same weapon equipped and went around attacking Undead, you'd end up lowering the weapon's Beast affinity in favor of Undead affinity. This is where most people get confused since it's pretty standard in an RPG to use the same weapon for a long period of time, but in Vagrant Story this habit will only produce a weapon that is really ineffective against all enemy types. If you have your Beast weapon equipped and you come across a Phantom, get in there and switch weapons or you'll lower the weapon's Beast affinity and you'll really regret it the next time you come across a Minotaur.
The weapons themselves consist of two separate and interchangeable pieces: The blade and the grip.
Blades come in many different types: one-handed sword, two-handed sword, one-handed axe, one-handed mace, polearm, dagger, etc. In addition to this, blades also have one of three characteristics: Edged, Blunt or Piercing. These characteristics are pretty self-explanitory: A Blunt blade would smash like a baseball bat, a Piercing blade would be like a lance and an Edged blade would have an edge. This plays into the enemy types and we'll discuss this shortly.
Grips also have categories: a certain grip can only be attached to certain blade types. In addition, grips are also designed for certain blade characteristics, for example a particular grip might fit Axes/Maces/Staffs but it has an Edged rating of 10 whereas its Blunt and Piercing ratings are 2 and 3. Obviously, then, this grip would be best suited with an axe blade. Grips also have up to three slots for gems, which we'll discuss later.
So now you ask, "But how do I know which weapon type to use on a particular class of enemy?" Mostly logic I guess, but it's not exactly cut-and-dry. Humans bleed to death so get an Edged weapon in there, same with Beasts. Dragons have scales so you have to pierce them. Undead are just bones so use a Blunt mace to smash the bones. Evil and Phantom vary depending on the actual enemy but Edged is the most versatile blade type so that's always a safe bet.
Also keep shields in mind, they can only be equipped when you're using a one-handed weapon. Shields are a great way to increase your defense and they also allow you to equip gems, which is crucial when fighting Phantoms (again, we'll talk about this later but keep it in mind when dealing with your weapons).
Now, if you're looking for some guidelines as far as which weapon to use on a certain class, here's something to get you started (Note: this is very disputable and everyone plays differently, there really isn't a "best" weapon for most classes):
Human - Two-handed axe
Beast - One-handed sword (crossbow is also a good option if you can get it strong)
Phantom - One-handed axe (you want to be able to equip a shield when fighting Phantoms)
Undead - One-handed mace (two-handed mace might be better though)
Evil - Two-handed sword
Dragon - Polearm
So that's the main chunk of the game, the weapons system. If something doesn't make sense to you, read it again and post questions if it's still not clear, we're all more than happy to help. With that out of the way, let's talk about the other important things in the game:
>>> The Workshops
Workshops are where you create new weapons by combining your existing blades and grips. When at a workshop, go to GameFAQs and pull up the Combinations Guide. Look at the blade of one of your weapons, find it in the guide, and see what you can make with the other spare blades you've acquired. Basically just try to make a roadmap for your weapons so that you can continue to improve them without screwing something up. I managed to get a Hoplite shield on my first playthrough simply by carefully tracking which combinations yielded which results and planned accordingly. It's a very cool feeling once you are able to stomp any enemy in the game after all that hard work.
When you combine your blades, you'll get to see a little preview of what will come of the combination, be sure to take a look at all this beforehand and ensure you're getting a better blade out of the deal. Also what's cool is that your best enemy affinities will transfer over to the new blade so you don't have to worry about training your blades over and over again.
As far as materials go, you'll want to shoot for Hagane on your first playthrough since it's really well-rounded and can be combined in almost all of the workshops in the game (Hagane can be obtained by combining a Bronze item with an Iron item). Honestly I wouldn't worry too much about materials, just make the best equipment you can. Also, always repair your weapons when you're in a workshop, always. Your weapons are at their best when they've been freshly repaired.
>>> The Combat
Combat is pretty straightforward. When you initiate the combat dome (the size of which varies depending on the range of your weapon), you can choose to attack an enemy in specific locations for varying degrees of damage and success rates. You'll notice some information about the enemy at the bottom of the screen, the most important parts are the right-most stats: Damage/Success on the top line, and then to the right of the bottom line, Enemy Type (which tells you which of your weapons you should be using). If you're going to attack an enemy's head, you might see something like 23/98%. This means that you have a 98% chance of hitting the target and that you'll do somewhere around 23 points of damage. If you then point to the enemy's body, they might have armor or they might be in an awkward position which could make those numbers change to something like 2/41%. So, go for the head!
Magic is a lifesaver in combat so don't forget to cast some if you're finding yourself in a jam. The Fusions, the Guards, Magic Ward, Herakles and Prostasia will all become your best friends throughout the game since they have such a tremendous impact on the damage you deal. For example if you're fighting a Fire Phantom, cast Frost Fusion on your weapon, Pyro Guard on yourself and Prostasia or Herakles on yourself and you'll be doing 500% more damage and receiving 50% of the damage you were without all that. Add gems into this mix and you will be pretty much unstoppable.
Be careful, though, you can only have three total spells cast on yourself at once: One on your weapon and two on yourself. Casting a new magic spell will override previous spells and you could waste some MP so watch out.
>>> Chaining and Risk
One of the key parts of the game is chaining. Once again go into the options and enable the Timing Display indicator. With this indicator enabled, you'll see an exclamation mark appear over Ashley's head when the next button should be pressed. I need to make this as clear as possible: When you see the exclamation mark, your thumb should be pressing the button. The exclamation mark is not an indicator of when to begin moving your thumb. Your button presses should be synchronized so that you're seeing the exclamation mark as you're hitting the button. It takes a bit of practice and getting comfortable with the various moves, but you'll be able to chain to infinity in no time.
The drawback to chaining is that it increases your Risk, and this is where you get your first glimpse of the game's balancing act. The effect of Risk is twofold: It decreases the likelihood of a successful attack but it increases the likelihood of a critical hit. Risk is not calculated into the x/x% number so you'll need to do some mental adjustments to take it into account. Risk is pretty cool because it prevents you from just chaining away at a boss or enemy without any repercussions. You certainly could chain to 50 hits on a Wyvern but the second you mess up you'll have full Risk and the chances of you connecting another hit before the Wyvern attacks is slim to none. The moral of the story is to never chain longer than you need to, usually about 4-6 chains is plenty. Break the chain and start over again to keep your Risk as low as possible while dealing as much damage as you can.
The interesting thing about chains is that the damage you deal increases slightly with each hit so you can theoretically kill any enemy, even if you start at 0. This is very dangerous and time-consuming, however, and should only be considered as an absolute last-ditch effort.
>>> The "points"
If you take a look at your weapons, you'll notice they have other point values associated with them: Damage Points and Phantom Points. Damage Points are basically an effectiveness meter, more DP means the weapon is more effective which means it simply deals more damage. As you use your weapons, their Damage Points will slowly decrease, which decreases the amount of damage they deal.
Phantom Points, on the other hand, seem to have everyone confused and there is a lot of conflicting information regarding them. Some say PP is only for the Phantom Pain move, some say they increase the likelihood of critical hits, some say they are a stat boost for weapons when full... Anyone know for sure? In any case, Phantom Points are a good thing and they accumulate as you use your weapons.
You can fully restore your weapons' Damage Points by simply repairing them in a workshop, however, repairing uses up all your Phantom Points (there's that balancing act again). In the end, DP and PP aren't really crucial need-to-know mechanics so just keep your weapons repaired and you'll be fine.
>>> The Gems
Gems are pretty straightforward, each gem has certain benefits and modifies your stats/affinities how you see fit. Just equip the appropriate gems depending on what enemy a particular weapon/shield is being used against and you'll notice a big difference.
One thing I need to make a hullaballoo about, however, is this: Gems are crucial against Phantoms. Most Phantoms in the game have a strong elemental affinity and the only way you'll be able to deal any sort of significant damage to them is by using magic and gems, period. The first time I fought the Fire Elemental Phantom I ended up doing the chain-from-zero tactic simply because I was unprepared and didn't know these mechanics as well as I do now (I actually think I had an Air gem equipped which I didn't even realize until later). So be warned, you can really get into a pickle if you're unaware of this stuff.
-Each room has a different name, go through and look at them some time and you'll appreciate the atmosphere and sense of history
-There is a New Game+ feature which lets you restart the game while retaining all your old weapons and stats from the previous playthrough. You can really feel invincible if you play through the game and absolutely cream everything in your path, it also helps you to watch the story unfold quicker.
-This page (archives) in the old Final Fantasy XII thread is chock full of great advice and discussion on the game which inspired this thread. Good stuff therein.
-Personal thanks to Mrs Badcrumble who was my VS mentor and held my hand through the game, XOXO
sirchode fucked around with this message at Dec 15, 2006 around 15:54
|# Dec 15, 2006 15:29|
>>> General Tips
-Use the grimoires right away, they teach you magic spells! They aren't rare items like Ethers!
-A Dragon's deadliest attack is its breath and it'll really work you over. The good news is that it can't use its breath on you if you're under its head, so get under there as fast as you can and start attacking its legs or neck.
-The last boss is a completely different enemy type and requires a unique strategy. I'll let someone else explain further because I only beat it with sheer dumb luck.
-Don't spend too long on the later box puzzles, they get ridiculously hard near the end.
-Oh, and USE STATUS SPELLS. You know how status spells suck in FF and direct damage is everything? Yeah, not here. Direct damage is horrible, but a well timed tarnish/degenerate combination will turn a fearsome opponent into Stephen Hawking. (Thanks Nomenklatura)
-The best advice is can offer for Vagrant Story is to not be afraid to take things slow and switch weapons FREQUENTLY through the menu screen. This game takes time upon time upon time and you can't be afraid of it. (Thanks Sloth Socks)
-I think there's one small bit of advice I can give, since the general bases have been covered - when all else fails, REFLECT. (Thanks anderton)
>>> Goons Helping Goons (tips from the last thread)
A killer workshop reference assembled by Extra_Thumbs:
An explanation on weapon pairing:
And a friendly counterpoint:
Another take on pairing:
A theory on PP/DP:
Final boss strategy:
This is how I finally ended up beating the last boss, I was getting raped (emphasis mine):
A bunch of random, helpful information:
This is something I really want and I'm hoping the PS3's game save swapping allows me to experience:
One notch below ultimate weapon:
sirchode fucked around with this message at Dec 15, 2006 around 16:36
|# Dec 15, 2006 15:29|
>>> Goons Helping Goons (tips from this thread)
More various tips!
Pretty much exactly the opposite of what I said in the first post but the game is quite flexible so do whichever suits you best!
And if you're insane:
sirchode fucked around with this message at Dec 16, 2006 around 11:44
|# Dec 15, 2006 15:50|