Tips For Playing Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

Whether you're visiting Ivalice for the first time or you're already an expert at being Captain Basch fon Ronsenburg of Dalmasca, Final Fantasy XII can be an intimidating game. Fear not — we've got lots of tips.

Here are some helpful suggestions for playing Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, which is out for PS4 today.

Plan out your party in advance

This is the most important tip I can give you: Have a plan! Each of your six party members will be able to select two jobs (one at the beginning of the game, and a second once you get your first Esper), but once you pick each job, you can't pick again.

So it's smart to go in with a plan, knowing exactly how you want to balance each character. Don't worry about min-maxing or anything, but think a bit about how you want to distribute your healing, damage, and buffs.

Here's my party, as an example:

Vaan: Monk/Shikari

Balthier: White Mage/Machinist

Fran: Red Battlemage/Archer

Basch: Uhlan/Knight

Ashe: Foebreaker/Bushi

Penelo: Time Battlemage/Black Mage

I use Balthier and Fran as healers, Vaan and Penelo as damage-dealers, and Ashe and Basch as tanks. Which brings me to this...

Level up all six of your characters instead of just three

Final Fantasy XII lets you swap party members in and out of combat at any time, although they will only get experience when they're fighting. My advice is that you try to keep your party balanced. Rather than maxing out three super-powerful characters, try to keep all six of your heroes around the same level so you can sub in refreshments during tight spots (like, say, when an enemy bomb blows you all up).

I recommend keeping at least two party configurations (like Vaan/Ashe/Fran and Basch/Penelo/Balthier) and rotating between them.

Do all of the hunts

Head to bars and check the hunt board as often as possible. Monster hunting is not only a fun way to play around with Final Fantasy XII's unique combat system, it will get you lots of cash and good loot.

Visit the Clan Centurio Hall

It's easy to miss, but early in the game you should stop at the Clan Hall in the northwest corner of Rabanastre. Talk to Montblanc regularly and he'll hook you up with rewards and elite monster hunts.

If you're having trouble finding it, go to the person marker here:

Buy gambits early and often

You can get them all at the gambit store (the orange diamond on your map). Focus especially on the ones for ally HP going below certain percents, enemy weaknesses, and allies getting hit by nasty status effects.

Sell your loot, but not all of it

Most monsters won't drop gil, just items that you can take to a store and sell for cash. You're safe selling pretty much everything, but hang on to Teleport Stones and Gysahl Greens. One thing worth noting: Every time you sell loot, it will get registered by the Bazaar.

Certain combinations of loot will cause certain objects to show up on the Bazaar, ranging from mundane (two potions!) to the rarest weapons in the game. You can read this Bazaar guide if you want to learn all about the combos, but don't stress too much — the game will automatically keep track of everything you sell.

Buy all of the Grimoires

Every time a Grimoire shows up at the Bazaar, buy it. It will turn into an item that makes enemies drop better loot.

Set up a Steal gambit early

Here's a pro tip: put a "Foe: HP = 100 % -> Steal" gambit on at least one character. For tough fights you'll want to turn this off, but while you're grinding or exploring, it will help you make enough money to keep your characters properly equipped.

Set up Libra gambits, too

Libra is a technique that allows your party to spot traps and see enemy stats. Put a "Self -> Libra" on at least one active member of the party so you'll always be able to see traps and determine enemy weaknesses. Stick this one way on the bottom of the gambit list, though — you don't want Libra going off during combat.

Pay attention to buffs and debuffs

More than any other Final Fantasy game, FFXII asks you to pay attention to your status effects. Take advantage of buffs like Haste and Protect and make sure you have gambits in place just in case your characters get hit by debuffs like Poison and Stone.

Use Dispel on tough enemies

A mark with Haste or Protect can make your day way worse — cast Dispel (or use a Dispel Mote) whenever you see those buffs on a tough boss or monster.

Hoard your licence points

It's tempting to unlock new skills and abilities as often as possible, but it's worth conserving LP while you're out in the wild, just in case you pick up an awesome rare weapon or get to a new shop full of more powerful equipment. There's nothing more annoying than reaching a new city full of weapon upgrades only to realise that you don't have enough LP to unlock the licenses you'd need to use those weapons. That said...

Buy weapons and armour even if you don't have the licenses yet

You can always unlock the licence while you're out in the wild.

If a licence you want is far on one board, check your other board

One cool thing about the dual-job system (new to The Zodiac Age) is that you can flip between two licence boards for each character. So if you want to hook up Balthier with, say, Accessories 10 but it's far away on one board, you can always check the other board and see if he's closer to unlocking it.

Use fast-forward liberally

Life is short and you can press the left bumper to fast forward the game at any time, either at 2X speed or 4X, which you can swap in the menu. (I prefer 2X.) Don't be ashamed to take advantage of this feature while travelling, fighting, and going after hunts.

Talk to everyone

There are a surprising number of sidequests in Final Fantasy XII, and you'll miss them unless you talk to everyone, from random Seeqs on snowy mountains to bartenders on your airship rides. Plus, the NPCs always have interesting things to say.

Explore everywhere

Final Fantasy XII is an enormous game, and there are quite a few zones that you won't see unless you take the time to explore outside of the main story. Don't worry about stumbling upon enemies that are twice your level — The Zodiac Age has an autosave feature that will prevent you from losing progress, even if you get stomped.

Don't worry about the Zodiac Spear

Final Fantasy XII aficionados no doubt remember the Zodiac Spear, an ultra-powerful weapon that you can only get if you inexplicably decide not to open certain treasure chests. In The Zodiac Age, you don't have to worry about the chests. You can get the spear regardless.


    The only tip you really need is that its worth playing. Great game back then, great game now. Wish it had gotten even more of a full makeover but am really happy we got anything at all.

    Buy Quickenings on the License board ASAP. Aside from being this game's version of Limit Breaks, each one you get adds an extra MP bar for that character so getting just one will double the amount of magics you can cast.

      I never used the quickenings because it felt like a insta-kill ability

        Me neither. I never really understood how they worked, would either deal nearly no damage or completely overkill the enemy.

        But increasing your MP by a whole heap is pretty good. I didn't realise buying them would increase MP at first so was running out a lot in the early game.

          Yeah I didn't like the overkill like I killed the boss on Shiva in one hit with it and it just felt like it was cheating

          also I never gave anyone summons because I wanted certain characters to have certain summons... 800hrs later vaan got one and o never gave anyone else anything lol

    And don't feel like you need to consult two FAQs and four message boards before every class or license board decision. The main story and most optional content can be done without too much hassle, so just have fun. Leave the stats and optimized builds for a second playthrough, because you will want to play it again.

      Optimised builds? You can max out every character over time, what is there to actually optimise other than equipment distribution?

        No, you can't. That is the point of the zodiac age remake... each character is only allowed 2 classes, so you cannot max them all out like in the original FF12 NA release.

    Vaan: Monk/Shikari

    Balthier: White Mage/Machinist

    Fran: Red Battlemage/Archer

    Basch: Uhlan/Knight

    Ashe: Foebreaker/Bushi

    Penelo: Time Battlemage/Black Mage

    Those job selections aren't good at all.

    Vaan should make use of mage as well. Knight/White Mage as an example. He is fastest with Swords and Great Swords.

    Balthier should never use a mage job as his Magic and Magic pool is mediocre. He should also not use guns as he has a high strength stat, it is wasted if he uses guns which doesn't factor strength. He is best as either Shikari/Bushi(For Yiazmat zerg) or Knight/Bushi for a greater zerg everything else. He is fastest with Ninja Blades and ties with Basch for Katana.

    Fran, believe it or not, is slow with bows. Her stats are mediocre, if anyone should use a gun, perhaps she'd be better. Machinist/Foebreaker if nothing else because she all round sucks. She's fast with poles, but poles aren't great.

    Penelo should either be Black Mage/Monk or White Mage/Time Battlemage.

    Ashe should take up the class set that Penelo didn't pick. Ashe makes a terrible Bushi because she is very slow with Katana's. Her magic and strength is high, but strength factors most into Katana's, so it can't make up for how slow she is with Katana's.

    Basch is also very fast with Katana's, making him another balthier. So he should optimally pick either of those Balthier didn't pick. He can also make a great Uhlan/Archer. As a knight he is fast with swords, but his cures later on with low magic will be a waste of potential.

    In the original version if you got the Golden Earring accessory you could max out your licence board in no time flat.

    You can max out two jobs only, so there's many skills and equipment the character won't be able to use. So taking into account animation time and base stats are necessary for optimised builds for characters. In the original FFXII this wasn't necessary because every character could get every skill.

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