Tobold's Blog
Sunday, August 07, 2016
Mobius Final Fantasy

Unlike Nintendo, who only recently realized the value of the Pokemon brand on iOS and Android platforms, Square Enix has a long history of putting their brands on mobile platforms. There is a whole range of Final Fantasy games on the app store, from games developed for those platforms to console ports. Nevertheless their latest offering, Mobius Final Fantasy, stands out from the rest of the crowd. It does a great job of combining a "console feel" Final Fantasy with the touch controls of the platform. Due to one-touch controls, even the turn-based battle feels nearly like real time.

Having said that, you still need to be a fan of the JRPG in general or Final Fantasy in particular to like Mobius Final Fantasy. Like all games of the brand improving your power isn't straight-forward but relies on a very intricate and complicated system of leveling up different things at the same time. It takes some time to understand all the relationships, and the short tutorial popups only go so far in explaining them. But then you are rewarded with a very rich tactical combat gameplay, which plays better than many of the console Final Fantasies. Funny side story on complexity: Mobius Final Fantasy has a system which ranks your highest combat score against other players. If you end a fight without beating your high score (and you can't beat it if you fight easier mobs) you get a screen telling you how far in rank you dropped. It took me a while that this drop was just other players gaining rank, and not a weird system that punishes players for not beating their high scores in every battle.

As a mobile game, Mobius Final Fantasy has features like stamina needed for fights that recovers slowly over time. But don't worry, it is probably the most generous system I have ever encountered. I had to play for long hours before I ran out of stamina for the first time, because I kept gaining levels and stamina faster than I depleted it. Mobius Final Fantasy is Free2Play, and yes, it is possible to skip a lot of grind and buy fully leveled up cards if you want to, but the game isn't overly pushy in persuading you, and doesn't constantly hit you with paywalls. If you want to pay a bit, there is a good starter offer of a "Mobius Gift Box" for $20, which is a bundle of goodies plus a 30-day bonus on gathering skillseeds (which you need to level up jobs). But you can also get the magicite (currency you buy for real money) from the game slowly, so after like 2 weeks you can buy that same gift box without spending your money.

Talking of money, the game starts with a warning that it needs an internet connection to play, and recommends a WiFi connection. I haven't tested how expensive it would be to play over a 4G connection (and it depends on your data plan anyway). I did however notice that the game uses quite a lot of battery power, presumably because the graphics very much resemble a console game (well, PS3 rather than PS4, but good for a mobile game in any case). I'd play with the power cord plugged in, if that wasn't difficult due to the game being in portrait mode, and with a fixed orientation so that the power inlet is towards you when you play.

The highlight of the game is the combat system. It uses elements, but instead of having a circle in which each element beats the next, it has two pairs: Water against Fire, and Earth against Wind. Water is vulnerable to Fire, resists Water, but takes normal damage from Earth and Wind. Each job class has only 3 of the 4 elements, so you are encouraged to switch jobs around and not just play the same class all the time. In combat a simple tap on a monster launches a standard attack, resulting in some damage and the collection of some random element orbs. The 4 cards you chose for your character and the one card you "rent" from a friend give you elemental abilities that are powered by those orbs. As an added feature, many mobs have very high shielding, which first needs to be weakened with an elemental attack before you are able to destroy it with normal attacks. Once the shield is broken, you have a few turns in which your attacks, especially the elemental ones, deal massive damage to the health pool of the monster. Overall that makes for quite an interactive system, where you constantly need to look out what elemental orbs you have, what vulnerabilities and resistances the monsters have, and how their shields are. And, as I said before, all that with one-touch controls that make combat flow quite well.

In summary, Mobius Final Fantasy is a very good game for the fans of the series, and even for those who just want a mobile RPG which isn't completely trivial in its choices. The Free2Play features aren't too annoying, and in exchange you get to test the game out for free. Recommended!

Did you ever play FFRK Tobold?
Yes, I played Final Fantasy Record Keeper, but in that game the combat was far less interesting. Actually half of the time I used the auto-combat button in FFRK.
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