Ubisoft is about to release Enchanted Arms ([eM] -eNCHANT arM-) in North America on August 29th. While the game has been out in Japan for nearly nine months little information has been released about the game’s combat system. Marc Fortier, the producer of the North American release, clears up the confusion and explains Enchanted Arms SpeedTactics system.
Q: Could you give us an overview of Enchanted Arm’s battle system?
A: Enchanted Arms features what we call the SpeedTactics Battle System, which is a fast yet flexible system allowing both in-depth tactics and fast-paced battles. The dev team’s approach was to bring the best RPG features together into one system that offered a wide variety of tactical options for hardcore RPG fans, but could also be used easily by mainstream users. The result is a hybrid system blending grid-based and turn-based elements.
Now let’s see the whole system in action
Read on for the rest of Marc’s explanations on how SpeedTactics works
Q: Just what kinds of tactical options does SpeedTactics allow?
A: SpeedTactics promotes tactical thinking from the moment players choose their party. They’ll have to consider their character’s Attributes and Friendly Points to create the most balanced and effective fighting team.
Once a battle begins, players choose their own party action order, rather than relying on initiative ratings. Players align their characters on a Battle Grid to set movement and combat actions. Then, they can gather intelligence about the enemy position by switching through multiple viewpoints. And once the enemy attacks, players can discover more vital info such as Attributes and attack patterns. There are many other options in SpeedTactics, such as long-range and close-quarter tactics, the use of cover to protect against Direct Attacks, mastering Indirect Attacks to hit heavily protected targets, strategic use of items and upgradeable weapons, mighty Co-Op Attacks where all party members combine their strength against a single target, and last but not least – devastating super attacks known as EX Skills.
Q: Speaking of attacks, can you tell us more about the spell system?
A: In Enchanted Arms, spells are actually referred to as “skills,” because you can learn and level them up, just like traditional skill sets in other RPGs. What’s nice about Enchanted Arms’ skill system is that it’s not limited by a traditional progression tree. That is, you don’t have to increase levels one by one. So if you have a level one skill, but really want to jump to level three, all you have to do is build up enough Skill Points. There are also no character classes. This allows much deeper character customization because you can target exactly which skills to learn across the entire variety of skills.
Q: What types of skills can players expect to use in battle?
A: There are normal skills, which are the mainstay of your party’s arsenal, and then there are EX Skills. These are the “uber spells” that have dramatic effects and vivid cutscenes revealing their epic results. Strategic use of EX Skills can turn the tide of a battle, but flagrant use will exhaust your party and leave you vulnerable. Standard Skills are broken down into Direct Skills, which focus all energy a small area of the battle grid; Indirect skills, which have a wider area effect and can counter the use of cover; Support skills, which can boost your party’s attack/defense ratings, and Recovery skills, which can resurrect fallen allies. There are over 75 skills, items and weapons to unlock.
Q: How many characters are in a party?
A: You can add a maximum of four characters to your party at once, but can swap characters out with the Golems you unlock throughout the course of the adventure. This effectively brings the number of characters available to your party at over 100. The number of hours one could spend leveling up every available character would be ungodly.
Q: You spoke earlier about character Attributes. What are these and how do they affect battle strategies?
A: Attributes refer to a specific natural element upon which each character’s power is based. These are Fire and Water, Wind and Earth, and lastly, Light and Darkness. As you can see, each attribute has an opposite, and the golden rule is “opposites cause greater damage.” For example, it would be a tactical blunder to use a Fire Attribute character against a Fire Attribute enemy, since the attacks would have little effect. This makes intelligence gathering very important at the battle’s onset, so you can tactically maneuver characters to match up against their Attribute opposites. This makes every character vital to the battle, instead of merely relying on one highly leveled character to do all the work.
There’s also a little twist: there are some area-effect skills which effectively reverse Attributes (i.e. making a Fire character turn into a Water character). This proves useful when you encounter an enemy of with the same Attribute as you. The same thing can be done against you, too, so you have be careful.
Q: Could you elaborate on the “speed” elements of the SpeedTactics system?
A: There are two main features which can make this battle system very fast: Fast Forward and Auto Battle. The first allows you to speed up the battle by holding down a button, and the latter lets you defer the movement and attack phases to the computer AI. These features come in handy when you want to get through an encounter quickly to advance the plot, and care less about each and every turn of combat. Hardcore RPG fans who want to control every aspect of their party’s progression may never use these features, but more casual gamers may find this feature quite useful. Ultimately, the player chooses when and where to use them.
Q: What types of battle modes can we expect in the game?
A: Battle modes include mini games like tournaments, random encounters during exploration which can wield special items and unlock Golems, Boss Battles which progress the plot and can grant EX Skills, and Online Battles over Xbox Live. Here, players can take their most powerful Golem character they’ve created, and compete with other players online for the best rankings.