Instead of opining on something this week, I thought I’d write about what I’ll be playing this weekend! Weekends for me are the only time I really get to dig in and game these days. Sometimes I’ll play a couple of different things, but this weekend I’ll be focused on (hopefully) finishing my latest project: a replay of Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, using a fan mod called Valeria.
FFT is one of my favorite games of all time. I even included a hypothetical sequel to it in my previous column focused on impossible sequels I’d like to see made. FFT was a turn-based RPG featuring a sort of War of the Roses inspired conflict full of deception, betrayal, and political intrigue the likes of which you’d see on Game of Thrones. It was also a Final Fantasy game full of Chocobos and Moogles and a ton of other typical trappings of the series.
Players could build out parties featuring characters who joined through the story, generic characters hired for money, or even monsters tamed in the wild. Characters could level up in a variety of different Jobs and be configured using abilities and skillsets sourced from multiple Jobs. The gameplay was deep and full of possibilities, but also a nightmare of balance issues, and that’s where the Valeria mod comes in.
Valeria is a vanilla-style mod that doesn’t aim to change the game too drastically. Instead, it rebalances a lot of worst offenders such as overpowered skills like Shirahadori or even outright reworking Jobs like Arithmeticians. It introduces some new mechanics, such as innate abilities for Jobs, as well. It’s a bit heavy handed in places, like the way it balances Count Orlandeau to the point where he loses a lot of his identity by removing all of his Holy Sword skills, including Hallowed Bolt, which to me represents the “Thunder God” aspect of the character. I edited that bit back into the patch myself.
Overall, though, Valeria has breathed some fresh new life into the game for me. I’ve replayed FFT more times than I can count. I’ve been absentmindedly humming the themes from the game in my everyday life for over 20 years at this point. But it’s been some time since I’ve done a full replay and I’ve never actually finished the War of the Lions version of the game, either. I still vividly remember almost every battle I’ve participated in so far, down to the placement of enemies, but I’m having a great time.
Without spoiling the game, I’ll say I’m a couple battles into Chapter 4 and I’m hoping to wrap the campaign up this weekend, time permitting. I’ll probably get distracted grinding for this and that in Chapter 4, though, since that’s when a lot of interesting possibilities open up in terms of items and side activities. I’ve got Ramza set up as a Squire with Knight skills as a secondary (Knights can interrupt and silence enemies in Valeria) and Ramza’s Ch.4 version of Squire has a Holy Sword style ability called Dawnblade, which is inspired by Ramza’s skill of the same name in the mobile game, Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. It’s not an overpowered build, but I tend to favor lore friendly versions of characters over min/maxing in FFT. The rest of my party consists of Agrias, Mustadio, a generic Dragoon named Ravness (Tactics Ogre fans should get the reference!), and a generic Black Mage/Summoner. Not a busted group by any means, but they cover all the bases.
What are you playing this weekend? Share with us in the comments below!