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Thread: Top Five Favorite Character Customization Systems

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    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Question Top Five Favorite Character Customization Systems

    To keep this interesting, I'm going to say top five cause I'm sure most people on this forum have played more than five RPG games, so what are your five favorite character customization system (not to be confused with character creation systems) in which you get to build what type of fighter or mage you're going to party down with.

    If you can't think of five specifics, then simply list the five games that had your favorite ones and a little explanation as to why.

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    Radical Dreamer Cid's Knight Fynn's Avatar
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    In no particular order:

    AD&D, as implemented in Baldur's Gate II (and retroactively in Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition) - I liked how each class was unique and though the class/race restrictions were a bit unfair and favored the taller races, it made them unique from a lore perspective. Also, each decision mattered - dual-classing carries a lot of benefits, but choosing the right moment for it can take some work. Customizing mages comes down to learning from the scrolls you find, but whether you can learn it still depends on your stats, so it's fun.

    Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together - I find it really interesting that jobs level up independent from a character, so if your fighter is level 14, any other character that becomes a fighter is immediately a level 14 fighter. This doesn't mean they'll all be identical, though - each job offers a whole pool of skills that an individual character may learn, so you definitely have tons of room to experiment and specialize particular units, so no two fighters can ever really be the same unless you really grind hard or make them the same on purpose.

    Bravely Default - FFV's job system on steroids. Aside from an always-on passive action and a range of learned abilities, each job can also take on the actions of another job, and up to five passive abilities from other jobs. Goes really deep and you can make some really devastating combos - and the best part is the endgame bosses really require you to get clever with your skillsets. Too bad Bravely Second totally broke this system and made it kinda flatter despite offering more variety.

    Final Fantasy Tactics - love the way you accumulate job points not just by being a certain job, but also by being around people with another job. How jobs unlock other jobs later on is also pretty cool, and it was super fun building a character from scratch by jumping all around the job tree.

    Final Fantasy Tactics Advance - pretty similar to Tactics, but with the added variety of races, which was really fun. And though the FFIX ability system implemented here is controversial to many, I liked it a lot. Looking for specific weapons to make my character cooler was part of the experience.

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    Feel the Bern Del Murder's Avatar
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    FFV/Bravely Default, FFT, and FFTA for all the reasons Fynn mentioned. FFV and BD are years apart but I agree they are very similar systems.

    I'm adding FFX-2 to my list. It's got the customization of FFT with the added bonus of quick-paced battles that allow you to change jobs on the fly. I love the bonuses for switching too which adds another layer.

    FFXI is my final entry. It's a straightforward start each job at level 1 and gain abilities through level up and buying spells system, but the addition of weapon skills and subjobs opens up the door for some nice customization. I was a Blue Mage which had its own customization possibilities with setting spells and I loved it.

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    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Job Class system (FF series) - Because FF does it best and I'm not going to try to narrow it down cause each of them have their strengths and weaknesses.

    Shin Megami Tensei III - Demon collecting aside, the main characters own growth is pretty unique since you acquire special items you equip which not only affect their strength/weakness that can or can't be exploited, but they also teach a variety of spells or abilities that are in correlation with their strengths. The game also incorporates a Pokemon limited skill slot, meaning that once you master eight skills, you'll need to drop one if you want a new one, with close to a hundred skills to choose from, it's easy to build the MC however you want. You also get to choose which stats go up when they level, and like the best RPGs, even though you can only raise one stat, you'll feel the difference pretty quickly.

    Breath of Fire III - Hey the Master System is basically FFVI's Esper system all grown up and better balanced. It also has a blue mage mechanic.

    Demon's Souls/Dark Souls series - For something that comes across so basic, it's surprisingly deep as your equipment and weapon setup is heavily dependent on your stats. With the sheer variety of builds possible with this game, it's no surprise if has such high replay value.

    I'm still trying to think of a fifth one.

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    I'm going to be unoriginal and also mention FF's job system, particularly the examples from FFT, Bravely Default, and X-2. Essentially, any Final Fantasy game that features jobs I will find more exciting and engaging than those that don't (weird that I love IV and VI so much, though I guess their biggest strength is that you can just jump in and play).

    I adore Vagrant Story, so, once again I'm going to name drop it. That being said, I forgot how much I LOVE customizing Aya's weapon load out in the original Parasite Eve. Shooting poisonous grenades out of a sniper rifle is a thing you can do; that's equal parts ridiculous and magical.

    I always enjoyed the Crest Graph system from the PS1 Wild ARMs entries. Being able to reassign what spells Cecelia/Lilka learned was always appreciated. Even more than that, I liked how each character in the original had their own method of progression. Paying to upgrade Rudy's Arms and discovering new techs for Jack in the wild gave each character a distinct personality with regards to how they grew.

    I was going to type how I liked Chrono Cross's element system in theory​, but I feel like that's better suited to the Battle Systems thread.
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    The ones immediately coming to mind are:

    Parasite Eve


    Eyyy, Edge beat me to this one. Although it is actually a weapon/armor customization system I'd say it counts, as those two pieces of gear determined virtually everything about your character. I really liked the way the game implemented this, as your equipment was almost like a character beside your character that you were improving the whole game, and there were even items you got that specifically boosted the stats on your gear. Even better, because of the limited ability to move stats and abilities around with Tools, finding new equipment was always exciting since you never knew what new property you might find or, due to the destructive nature of migration in the title, finally be able to get back. You also had limited slots to drop what you wanted into, so you almost always had to make choices around some kind of restriction; it made your choices more important. It also made Super Tools pretty much the hypest find in the entire game, because you had the rare opportunity to migrate things without having to make that choice, which was an awesome feeling. I get to keep my +20 damage AND my freeze bullets? Yes, please. It also made the Chrysler Building feel less tedious and (almost) rewarding, as you could find all those rare trading cards there and make the super awesome dream gear you were effectively locked out of during your first playthrough. It's too bad the second game opted for a completely different take on this, focusing on Aya's actual customization, because it wasn't ever as interesting, especially as I really don't remember upgrading anything other than magic in that game.

    Romancing Saga 3

    Outright, Romancing SaGa 3 has my favorite character customization in any RPG, as you can do pretty much anything you want with any character, but opportunity cost is the name of the game; you'll either need to think creatively or give characters special gear/formations for them to really shine where they don't naturally excel. As an example, Zo is a massive elephant man and miles away the sturdiest member in the cast, but you can make the dainty princess Monica or wispy mage Undine your tank instead, and they'll do it well enough, you just have to customize both them and your overall strategy to make it happen. Loading Monica with heavy armor and shields like you would with Zo can work, but you'll probably also need to hunt down con boosting equipment for her as well if you go that route, and shift your formation -- a change that affects your entire party -- to better accommodate her. Or, alternately, you could place her in lightweight gear and put her on point in a formation like Desert Lance with evasion / counter techs, so she is faster and draws additional aggro. There are just tooooons of options and choices like this you can make when developing your characters in the game, and I love it for it. It's probably the reason I spend more time playing RS3 than FF6, despite actually liking the latter more as an overall experience. Speaking of . . .

    Final Fantasy VI

    There are a ton of customization options in this series, ranging from super minor like in FF I and IX to damn near complete tabula rasa like in FF2 and Tactics, but FFVI ends up having my favorite for reasons somewhat similar to the above RS3 -- you have relative freedom tempered by defined characters. Princess Monica is not Zo; Cyan is not Realm. But both can do what the other does, largely, if you are willing to make the investment in it -- hell, Cyan is actually a more terrifying mage than Realm is when you play him with a Genji Glove and dual Kazikiri/Tempests, and that's not even getting into the silly of Merit Award Gau with the damn things. There are just so many unique and interesting things you can do with your characters within their own already set boundries. I also like the way the game facilitates this, as Relics are almost always exciting finds as they allow for immediate augmentation, while Espers provide a goal you are working towards with long term benefits. It is actually a bit similar to what FF5 achieves with its job system, as you can swap to being a monk for all your monk perks whenever you and slowly work towards permanently unlocking those abilities by using it, but 6 allows me to just have my bonus without changing who / what my character is, and I prefer that. I can equip earrings on Edgar for bonus damage when I want to use Flash without having to be a mage. Similarly, I can't simply make Edgar a Ninja whenever I want to throw things; that is not a thing he does. I have to work with what I have and mold it into what I want it to be, with a small scale ability to trade in perks on the fly, as opposed to being able to wholesale shift what I have whenever I want. It limits my choices and makes them feel more interesting and significant, and I like that.

    Front Mission 3

    Customization, as a whole, is the name of the game with Front Mission, and I'd be hard pressed to think of a series I feel has achieved it better across its main titles. That said, while FM5 has the most depth to the system, FM3 is my personal favorite iteration. I like being able to upgrade parts instead of having to constantly replace them; I like that can parts can teach any skill to any pilot, so characters never feel 'locked' into a certain role; I like not having to worry about friendly fire due to character personalities; I like being able to steal enemy wanzers to upgrade my own units; I like that I can make a team of nothing but heavy shock units and have it just as viable as a balanced force and that there are ups and downs to every loadout; I like the impact/pierce/lastTypeINeverUse weapon triangle. The game just has so many options I prefer over the other entries in the series.


    Ring of Red

    Customization in Ring of Red is a lot like in Front Mission, only completely different. Your mechs are completely static in the game, minus story upgrades, as are your pilots and the skills they learn, but your ground units are not, and it is through them instead of different parts that you customize your characters. Each mech is supported by three squads of footsoldiers that come in six classes and all have unique properties, ranging from increasing your reload speed to firing off white phosphorus at enemy ground units to disable them, and the way you pair these units with your mech changes how you fight completely. Kinasato, for instance, is a light, evasive unit designed to harass (see also: brutally murder) enemy ground troops, but nothing stops you from loading him up with smoke shots and grenades and running straight into an enemy mech's face to rip them apart, or loading him out with wires and cleanup crews and using him to lure enemy units and flee from them; you can run double flash shots and attempt to prevent the enemy from ever shooting with careful troop cycling, you can run advanced mines and try to bait melee mechs into swinging at you -- there are just so many potential options. And all (almost -- melee John is a bad, bad idea) of them are completely viable, each with downsides you have to contend with. Even better, much like eject punching yourself Wanzer parts in FM3, you have to actively hunt down the best ground troops in the game by completing certain goals during missions, so your reward for good customization is even better customization! It's just too bad Konami never continued this series, because it could have been as good as FM if it had the time to develop more.

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    Pinkasaurus Rex Cid's Knight Pumpkin's Avatar
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    FFX-2 because of pretty outfits and a variety of roles for the characters. Also quick switching in between battles

    Bravely Default/Second again for pretty outfits and a variety of jobs but also being able to carry over skills from one job to the next

    Trails of Cold Steel I&II because there's a high degree of customization when it comes to who you want to have what types of magic

    Xenosaga 2 because it was completely and totally open and I really enjoyed that

    Grandia I&II also allow for a large amount of customization with Mana Eggs and you get to choose kind of who learns what

    There might be others I like more but those are the ones I can think of right now

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