Top 25 Best RPG Battle Systems of All Time (2024 Edition)

Top 25 Best RPG Battle Systems of All Time (2024 Edition)

Though I have not played every JRPG out there (I mean, who has), I have played some awesome games with even better battle systems! This will be an article that I make every year, and I will be updating it with new JRPGs and their battle systems every year! Now, without further ado, RPG Ranked presents... Top 25 Best RPG Battle Systems of All Time (2024 Edition).

25 - Xenogears

The Evolution of Unique Turn-based Battle Systems Guide! [Updated and  Reposted for archival purposes] : r/JRPG

Xenogears has an ATB battle system like the SNES and PS1 Final Fantasy titles but with a big twist: the game allows you to input button combos when you attack to execute various combo moves! This makes combat feel equally strategic and full of spectacle and action! Xenogears masterfully executes the ATB system to its finest—and as a bonus, there's also epic mech combat! This game has one of my favorite ATB systems of all time due to its ever-engaging combos—it easily deserves a spot on this list.

24 - Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

Dragon Quest XI S is coming to the Nintendo Switch this fall with 8-bit  graphics option - The Verge

This is my definition of the perfect turn-based battle system. With years of Dragon Quest games behind them, they have perfected the formula here! Each level you get new spells and skill points, which allow you to truly customize your characters via awesome skill trees with multiple branching paths. The animations are also phenomenal, and the ability to switch characters out in battle makes it just so fluid. This game has so much more depth than meets the eye due to Pep Powers, skill trees, and some insane ability combinations that you can use. My personal favorite ability combo in all of gaming is giving an enemy a status effect and dealing six times damage with Erik… who knew that status effects could actually be this cool! Also, with the ability to speed up battles and to just run around the screen just for the heck of it is an awesome touch, and each battle really is a new experience. Overall, this game just takes the most traditional battle system you can get and elevates it without losing the simplicity or the charm from retro RPGs that we know and love!

23 - Final Fantasy X

Why Operation Mi'ihen is one of the best bits of FINAL FANTASY X

As my favorite turn-based battle system in the mainline Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy X has a lot of depth and strategy to it. As one of the first games to feature the iconic Conditional Turn-Based battle system, this game holds a special place in my heart, even though future RPGs perfected the formula and, consequentially, ranked higher on this list. However, due to the awesome Overdrive, Aeon, Customize, and Sphere Grid systems, this game still rather easily secures a spot on this list.

22 - Oninaki

Oninaki Review - IGN

Oninaki is my favorite top-down action RPG hack-n'-slash combat of any game I've played. The gist of it is that the main character, Kagachi, can take on the abilities of various Daemons, with four being assigned to him at any time and a grand total of 11 to recruit. Each Daemon plays completely differently, with their own skill trees and skillsets! Each Daemon has a different weapon type, and each weapon can be upgraded and given innate skills via Skillstones. Now, I'm going to run through each Daemon to let you know how epic and underrated this game is.

There's Aisha, a speedy swordsman with the ability to dash away from attacks and dish out an insane amount of damage. There's Zaav, a long-range melee attacker with attacks that always keep Zaav at a decent distance while jumping around to avoid attacks. There's Dia, who attacks at range with a crossbow to dish out huge damage while floating through the air out of enemy reach. There's Wil, a heavy-hitting tank with charged attacks and AoE capabilities that can defend oncoming damage well at the cost of speed. There's Izana, a fast AoE attacker that focuses on inflicting debuffs, warping around the battlefield, and draining HP from the enemy party. There's Zephyr, a weak yet speedy attacker that specializes in hit-and-run tactics, as well as clearing lots of ground with its double jump ability. There's Lucika, who uses her first to dish out fast AoE damage while utilizing barriers for defense and devices for stat buffs. There's Gavod, who dishes out slow, yet strong melee and ranged attacks while utilizing a versatile shield. There's Rigon, who uses quick counterattacks and evasion to get he better of enemies. And, last of all, there's Jex, who can take on the skills of other previous Daemons and unleash the most powerful special attacks. Ultimately, while Oninaki suffers greatly in its ability to be a fantastic came, its combat is immaculate.

21 - Blue Dragon Plus

Destructoid review: Blue Dragon Plus – Destructoid

I'm sure this is one of the last games people would expect to be on a ranking like this, but it is the blatant truth: I love this battle system. This game has my favorite RTS combat of any game I've played! While part of that can be chalked up to y deep love for the original Blue Dragon, I also fully believe that this game has masterful combat. Why is it so good? First of all, the game has a world map akin to something like Final Fantasy Tactics. Now, you may be asking why this is a good thing. This is awesome because each area is super unique, and the team often splits up into multiple parties, allowing for more intriguing battles. There are also Mecha Robos that you must stop on the map or else you get a permanent Game Over. Yeah, this is one of those games, you've got to be careful! It isn't a big deal if you pay attention, but it adds a lot of tension to the game regardless. Each battle, you can control up to 16 characters at once, making for incredibly fun and chaotic combat that doesn't get old. Controlling so many characters at once is fantastic, and with tons of characters from the original game and customizable Mecha Robos, the variety in this combat is practically endless. For the vast majority who likely haven't played this game, think Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, but, you know, actually good. While I'd say this is the biggest guilty pleasure on my list, I still believe this game has great RTS RPG combat.

20 - Final Fantasy XV

12 tips to guide you through Final Fantasy XV - CNET

This game's combat is certainly polarizing—some argue it is mindless button-mashing, whereas some call it some of the most satisfying and cinematic combat in a video game. I'm sure you can guess which side I align with! This game's combat is beautiful and engaging to watch, of course, but it has more depth than many would like to admit! Noctis has access to a variety of unique weapons that vary drastically from one another, meaning that switching weapons on the fly can be used to execute some epic combos! For example, you can warp to a flying enemy with Ragnarok to execute an insanely powerful Warp Strike and then dish out huge aerial damage with your best spear. Or you can clear out weak groups of enemies with daggers or magic before warping in with a great sword to take down more beefy targets. Speaking of, Warp Strikes are one of the most satisfying things ever put in a video game! They make combat so satisfying! Also, techniques and link strikes allow for an extra layer of pizzazz to combat. However, Noctis isn't the only playable party member—the bodacious bros are playable too! Gladiolus plays similar to a game like Dark Souls or a Star Wars Jedi game, focused on parries and hitting with strong melee strikes. Prompto plays like a character in a third-person shooter, carrying a pistol, a machine gun, a rocket launcher, and grenades. Ignis plays like a hack-n'-slash with three different types of elemental attacks and swift dodging. Ice attacks hit for medium AoE damage, fire attacks hit for heavy single-target damage, and lightning attacks zip from enemy to enemy for weaker but faster damage. Ultimately, this combat may not be the most strategic combat in the world, but it is very fun and cinematic, so I believe it deserves to be on this list.

19 - A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV

Inside the unlikely Final Fantasy spinoff that time forgot | Digital Trends

Yes, I actually like this game's combat better than the original! This game is more of a beat-em'-up, similar to the combat in the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game, but much more refined! This game incorporates many fantastic elements from the original Final Fantasy XV, but it maintains its own unique identity as well. With tons of ocmbos involving warp strikes, light attacks, heavy attacks, and shield bashes, this game has very fun melee combat! On top of the melee combat, if you get long enough combos without being injured, you can summon one of Regis's three comrades to dish out huge damage to big groups of neemies. And if you successfully summon all three before getting damaged, you can execute the ultimate move—the Armiger! These abilities make mastering the game so satisfying, as there is always major incentive to perform exquisite combos! On top of melee attacks and summons, magic can also be used to dish out huge damage and cause various elemental effects. Fire causes over-time AoE damage, lightning briefly stuns enemies, and ice slows enemies down. If you hold the button down, you can deal more damage, but at the cost of more MP. In the end, this game's combat is simple, but brilliant and satisfying. And for that? It deserves to make this list.

18 - One Piece Odyssey


Before I get into the reasoning behind this pick, I will say one thing: this game's combat would be much higher on the list if it wasn't brain-dead easy. But, besides that, this game's combat is brilliant. This game's combat system, dubbed the "Scramble Area Battle System," boasts battlefields that are divided in a multitude of areas. By optimizing part member placement, opponents can be more effectively countered in a variety of ways. Each character has tons of awesome moves, making each battle super fun! This game also has an incredible accessory system, as well as unique battle circumstances that change the tide of battle (such as Sanji, a player, not being able to attack women for the duration of the battle). The ever-changing dynamics of battle make One Piece Odyssey have one of the most fresh battle systems I've ever seen. It's just too bad the easy difficulty ruins some of the game's depth... otherwise this would be much higher on the list.

17 - Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

♪) Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door - Battle Theme (Touhou Remastered) -  YouTube

This game features a nontraditional turn-based battle systems with tons of great Mario-isms to it! With awesome abilities related to the badge system and partner system, this game's simple system still has tons of hidden complexities to it. This game has awesome timed attacks that are incredibly varied in nature, as well as guarding and superguarding that make for, well, an all-around great time. The game also has a dynamic live audience in battles, which directly affects battle performance in a variety of ways! However, like the last game on this list, this game is simply too easy and breakable to score higher on this list.

16 - Lost Sphear


This game is criminally underrated in my eyes—the story, the characters, and most of all, the battle system. This game is able to mix the combat of its predecessor, I Am Setsuna with the combat of Xenogears, Grandia, Chrono Trigger, and Final Fantasy VII, making for my favorite Active Time Battle system of all-time. First off, this game retains the fundamental ideas of I Am Setsuna, with Spritnite and Momentum Mode making a return. However, it is a bit different this time around. The player has free-roaming capabilities after selecting an action, giving this game an added layer of depth missing in Setsuna.

Not only did the battles get more interesting, but the customization did as well. Momentum Mode has become a whole lot more interesting here! Instead of Momentum Effects being predetermined by the associated Command Spritnite like in Setsuna, Momentum Mode effects are determined by special Momentum Spritnite, which essentially function like Final Fantasy VII's Support Materia. For example, if I link the "Life Axiom" Momentum Spritnite to Locke's "Snipe" Skill Spritnite, every time I trigger Momentum Mode with "Snipe", "Life Axiom" will trigger! Also, for anyone curious, Life Axiom just restores a percentage of HP to the user proportional to the damage dealt. But I digress. Like Setsuna's Fluxations, this game has Sublimations, which are much simpler to understand and much easier to trigger. Instead of complicated Talisman BS, Sublimations simply transfer the abilities of linked Momentum Spritnite to their linked Skill Spritnite... this means you can put a bunch of special effects on a skill and use these effects without even having to go into Momentum Mode! With the Sublimination system, you can deeply customize your abilities... and you can even get duplicates if you want to test out different combinations for the same ability!

But there's one thing that truly sets this battle system apart from the crowd: Vulcosuits (aka this game's version of Mechs). Each of the eight characters Vulcosuit has its own unique abilities, and it is simply incredbile! Kanata's Vulcosuit can use double, triple, and even quadruple combos with other mechs; Lumina's Vulcosuit upgrades all of her equipped Skill Spritnite to make them much more effective; Locke's Vulcosuit allows him to spin slots after using every ability, potentially buffing the ability in a variety of fun ways; Van's Vulcosuit gives him a skillset of unique abilities that synergize with his equipped Spritnite; Obaro's Vulcosuit gives him access to top-tier elemental magic inaccessible through other means; Galdra's Vulcosuit allows her to use three consecutive abilities; Sherra's Vulcosuit allows her to use two back-to-back abilities that, if used correctly, will trigger a third ultimate move; and Dianto's Vulcosuit, which provides a skillset of abilities that complement his tanking abilities by buffing him, debuffing enemies, or healing him. Ultimately, Lost Sphear has an epic battle system!

15 - Tales of Vesperia (and others)

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition

It's pretty much a tie between this game and most of the older Tales games, but I chose this one because of the brilliant Fatal Strike system. I'd say the whole series from 1995-2008 would make it to this position, pretty much. This series just has brilliant battle systems all-around, but there's a notable step-up in quality from here to Graces and onward, so that will be higher up on this list. Ultimately, the earlier Tales series has fantastic battle systems, but I don't think I could rank it any higher on this list.

14 - Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Mario and Luigi: Dream Team Nintendo 3DS : Unknown: Video Games

My favorite of the combat systems in the Mario & Luigi series, Dream Team's combat is top-notch. With a surprisingly nice bit of difficulty and a very fluid battle system that has phenomenal timed button presses and enemy design, this game is easy to pick up but hard to master. This game is very satisfying, and every battle feels incredibly different and more dynamic than the last. In the end, this is the most engaging, quick-time-event-focused turn-based combat system I've played. It is simply incredible.

13 - Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 is a forgotten game! : r/FinalFantasy

Controversially, this is my favorite of the Final Fantasy Tactics sub-series, and with so many species, classes, and skills, this game's combat is brilliant. Each stage and mission is more fun and tactical than the last! This is a perfect tactical RPG battle system, and my second favorite grid-based combat system I've ever played. While I wish some of the battles wouldn't drag on for a year and a day, ultimately, this game's combat system is even more genius than the original Final Fantasy Tactics... and that's a high bar. I don't really care that this game doesn't have the greatest reputation. This game's combat system is absolute gas and completely earns a spot on this list.

12 - Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

If the AI wasn’t absolutely garbage in this game, this would probably be much closer to the top of the list. However, as it stands, I couldn’t put it any higher than eighth. But I digress. As much as I love the idea of Pokémon, I have never understood the hype because the battle systems in Pokémon games are just abysmal in my opinion (sorry, Pokémon fans). I love the creatures and the capturing in Pokémon, but the battles have never cut it for me. On the contrary, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch has a battle system that I have never seen before or since. It is the perfect blend of turn-based and action-based combat, with movement but also bubbles that let you take pseudo-turns in battle. As much as many people hate this, I think it is absolutely fantastic. The sheer amount of familiars you can recruit in this game makes this game infinitely replayable, and the battle system is just so fun because of that. On top of that, I mean, the playable characters are already quite fun, with awesome spells, songs, and trickshots to be used! This game takes so many of my favorite elements and mashes them together: variety, replayability, a hybrid battle system, and undeniable charm. But overall, it is held back by the horrendous AI that makes me want to claw out my eyes. Like seriously, Esther, you have much better things to do than attack for 2 damage with your freaking harp! And Swaine, stop putting out your stupid level 1 Clubber Cub and forgetting to defend against the Guardian of the Worlds! Ugh. It’s just too bad the AI isn’t better, or this would be in like number 2 or 3. I’d pay $100 bucks if I could fix this stupid AI…

11 - Paper Mario: The Origami King

Water Vellumental boss fight guide – Paper Mario: The Origami King - Polygon

This is the most controversial aspect of Paper Mario: The Origami King... but I am one of the people who freaking loves this battle system. I'm not going to pretend like I don't miss the Badge System, but the battling itself? I can do without the old combat because I loved this battle system so much. Solving these puzzles and beating up enemies was so fun, and I found myself purposefully running into battles in this game more than any other game in the series. Sure, I may not have gotten experience from battle, but I got plenty of coins that I could use to permanently (or semi-permanently?) upgrade Mario. I understand the claim that there isn't much incentive to battle, but at the same time, even if there was literally no incentive to battle, I still would because, in the end, having fun is the biggest reward of fighting for me. However, this would probably only score an 8 or 9 just considering the mechanics for regular encounters, as it does have its flaws. However, this game might have my favorite boss battles of any RPG I've ever played, and at the least is in my top 5, up there with Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, and Final Fantasy X. The mechanics flip around, with the boss taking center stage instead of Mario, making the boss battles into some of the most confuzzling, cinematic, and satisfying boss fights in all of gaming. Ultimately, while the regular battles are a little flawed, the boss battles are better than perfection... and I've replayed the bosses an unhealthy amount of times in the Battle Lab...

10 - Live A Live

Lord Iwama - Twilight of Edo Japan - Live a Live Wiki Guide - IGN

I love tactical RPGs, they are so fun and unique! With cool grid based systems, abilities with differing hitboxes, and a lot of strategy, they can be much more interesting than your traditional turn-based battle system. However, the biggest issue with tactical RPGs for me is that I simply do not have the time to be wasting forty-five minutes of my life away on a single battle. In comes Live A Live, a game with quick, yet tactical battles on a seven-by-seven grid. Though it isn’t quite as in-depth as Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre, its pure simplicity and the vast array of unique abilities and characters you get in this game makes this a very fun and innovative battle system (that is part of a fun and innovative game!). On top of all of this, this game has some of my favorite optional bosses of all time: the Koi Fish and the Mammoth King! They made you really think about how you utilize all of your abilities and how you move around the tiles. Overall, with a concise grid based battle system, awesome battles, and 32 characters each with their own unique abilities, Live A Live has a battle system that I absolutely adore.

9 - Lost Odyssey

Though a traditional battle system that doesn’t reinvent the wheel in any way, shape or form, I am obsessed with the battle system in this game. Due to the sheer amount of customization found through the accessories and the Skill Link system, you are always getting new abilities and utilizing new tactics each and every battle… heck, you can have up to 30 skills at a time! The Guard Condition status makes you really think about your party formation and who you should be taking to each and every battle, and the variety of characters lets you have so much customization on how you approach each and every battle. On top of that, even battles against trash mobs feel grand in scope due to the fantastic camera motions and absolutely fantastic Quick Time events. Overall, though this battle system just looks like another CTB battle system at heart, it just perfects that formula and makes this battle system one of the best in any RPG I’ve ever played.

8 - Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

Ni No Kuni 2: Brineskimmer Kingmaker Boss Battle Walkthrough

Taking a much more stereotypical, action-oriented RPG combat approach over its predecessor, Ni No Kuni: II still manages to set itself apart with a unique take on the action RPG genre. Instead of taking a hybrid approach in which you select actions, you execute light attacks, heavy attacks, dash attacks, spinning slices, ranged attacks, ranged dash attacks, charged ranged attacks, and aerial attacks (both melee and ranged). On top of those, there are lots of unique skills and spells to use, three difficulty settings, and six playable characters, and each character is able to equip four unique weapons at a time. This game also has phenomenal menu customization, but I will cover that in the next section. In addition to the normal combat system, there are real-time tactical skirmishes in which you send forward troops to kill large groups of enemies! This combat is super fun, as you can recruit different commanders with different skills, take down enemies by utilizing their weaknesses, and take out or build command posts, archer towers, or cannons! All in all, with fluid combat that rarely gets old and a unique RTS skirmish system, this combat lives up to the original in terms of fun and uniqueness, yet it couldn't feel more different to play... and that's why I love this combat so much!

7 - Octopath Traveler II

upload in progress, 0

I don’t even know how they were able to make such an intricate battle system with this level of depth without biffing it. With a CTB battle system, multiple different types of skills, breaking and boosting, a wide variety of jobs and characters, and so many different strategies, this is the most innovative turn-based battle system I have ever played. No battle is that easy in this game, and every battle requires strategy and thought (unless you spam Light Revenants early in the game, but I mean, it’s not like I did that…). This game takes everything from its predecessor and improves on it, with EX Skills, better Talents, the addition of Latent Powers, and the day/night cycle. Each boss fight is so fun to fight, as you always know you are in for something that you aren’t going to beat in just a few turns like many other games out there. Also, with a wide variety of support skills, you can customize your characters to your liking and come up with so many different unique strategies. I also like that, even though you have access to so many abilities, the game restricts you to make you pick and choose which abilities you truly need… but doesn’t restrict you too much (like the very annoying job system in Final Fantasy V, sorry if you like that battle system, but I do NOT). Overall, Octopath Traveler II is one of the most strategic and awesome turn-based battle systems out there, and I recommend it to anybody who wants a nice challenge.

6 - Eternal Sonata

For the same reasons I love Ni No Kuni’s battle system, I love Eternal Sonata’s battle system. Though Ni No Kuni has hundreds more skills and unique abilities to utilize in comparison to Eternal Sonata, this game just takes the cake for the best turn-based/action-based hybrid I’ve ever played. It allows you to control all of your characters, and you never have to worry about any terrible AI. You also get very unique elements such as the light and dark abilities that really make you think about where you should strategically move before you attack the enemy. Sometimes the best thing to do is just bait an enemy to move into a certain area so you can unleash your most powerful attacks! Building up Echoes is also a blast, and getting off an overpowered ability chain with 0.01 seconds left on the timer is one of the most satisfying feelings in any RPG battle system. The battle system also changes throughout the game due to the Party Level system, which adds extra layers on top of the already awesome battle system! Like Ni No Kuni, I would also put this near the top of the list if it weren’t for one glaring issue: some of the characters have almost no abilities. Like even Allegretto, the character with the most abilities (if I remember correctly), only has like maybe ten abilities total. And Serenade and Crescendo only have four. Comparatively, even the earliest Tales games have tens of abilities for each character. Overall, I absolutely adore this system, but with so much less customization than many entries on this list, I simply could not put Eternal Sonata any higher than sixth.

5 - Blue Dragon

Blue Dragon has my favorite job system in any RPG ever made, and inherently, that is going to make me love its battle system. With so many awesome and unique combinations across the different Shadow Classes and the accessories available to your characters, it would almost be stupid for me to put this any lower on the list. One thing that I wish more games implemented is the Charge system, which really allows you to customize exactly what you want to accomplish with your spells and your attacks. On top of that, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a cooler battle animation in my life than those Corporeal attacks. Move away, Final Fantasy XV summons and One Piece Odyssey anime crap, these Corporeal attacks are the coolest thing ever. Also, each and every enemy is so cool, and being able to fight multiple battles at once via the Encounter Circle is just fantastic. And Monster Fights? One of the coolest things ever to grace RPGs. CTB battle systems are also easily my favorite type of turn-based battle systems, so I’m definitely not complaining about that! Though the battles are much too easy if you are playing in normal mode in my opinion, downloading the Hard Mode DLC is free and easy to do! And also, the bosses are some of the best I’ve ever found in any RPG. Each boss is less generic than the last, and the boss music is the best in any game I’ve ever played. Overall, I adore this battle system, and the fact it is fifth on my list is a testament to how good the next few battle systems are.

4 - Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor Shows New Combat Gameplay, Details All Five Stances

Alright, some people are going to come at me and say this is an action-adventure game, not an RPG. I get that, but there are many definitions of RPGs, and I think of this as an RPG through and through (while I'd call games like Terraria an action-adventure game). If Dark Souls is an RPG to everyone, this is an RPG too, as this is pretty much a Star Wars Soulsborne. But I digress. Let's move on to the actual explanation.

This took the sandy foundation laid down by this game's predecessor and built up a phenomenal combat system! With five different absolutely distinct lightsaber styles (single-bladed, double-bladed, dual-wielded single blades, crossguard, and blaster-blade hybrid) and many Force abilities (Push, Pull, Slow, and Control), the combat feels much more fluid and snappy than in the last game. On top of that, this game has so many new and inventive enemies that are way cooler than the enemies in the first game! And somehow? The bosses are better, too! Everything about the combat here is just leagues ahead of its predecessor, making it some of the most enthralling RPG combat I've ever played!

3 - Chained Echoes

Chained Echoes vs Lady of the Lake - Lady of the Lake (RPG for Windows) by  recoculous

This is, without a doubt, my new favorite turn-based combat battle system! Following in the footsteps of the Final Fantasy X battle system and its spiritual successors, this game boasts a phenomenal CTB (Conditional Turn-Based) battle system. However, being a CTB system doesn't set this game's battle system apart on its own. There's so much more here! First of all, each of your four main characters can have one buddy that stands behind them in the back row. This allows for innovative party switching that doesn't trivialize the game and creates challenging and rewarding combat that requires smart party formations. Second of all, the difficulty is high, but to compensate, all HP and TP are restored after battle, allowing the player to go all-out with their abilities every battle. This makes a huge difference, as battles were always fun, not a chore. Third of all, the character abilities of the thirteen playable characters synergize very well! Yet, the game still does a great job of making each character feel more distinct than the last—something many games struggle with. Fourth of all, each character has unique Ultra Moves that can be summoned by filling up the Ultra Move meter! These moves can clear out groups of enemies, support the party with buffs, or save the party from imminent demise. Fifth of all, if you lose a difficult battle, you can retry it as many times as you want as long as you don't close the game! But, perhaps best of all, there's the Overdrive Meter, which completely shifts the paradigm of battle. This meter has three zones: neutral, Overdrive, and Overheat. As you could likely guess by the names, neutral is in favor of none, Overdrive buffs the party, and Overheat invigorates the enemy party. But these aren't small buffs—going into Overheat is more often than not a death sentence for the party. This single addition is able to be so simple yet drastically shifts the tide of battle and makes for a tactical and strategic battle system. Managing this guage and hitting insane numbers while in Overdrive makes for some of the most satisfying turn-based combat I've ever had the opportunity to play.

If that were all of it, this game would already easily score a ten. Bu Matthias Linda went completely overboard, creating a second battle system for his masterpiece. As a love letter to Xenogears, but with an entirely new spin on it, this game also has a Sky Armor battle system, which allows four of your party members to suit up in combat as Mechs. However, the abilities and customization of these Mechs are completely independent of the traditional combat, and the way battle works is a completely different turn-based battle system! Since this unlocks later in the game, I'll stop here, as I want to keep the rest of this amazing feature a surprise. Ultimately, with two masterful turn-based battle systems, this game's combat never gets old and stands as some of the best combat I've ever played in a video game.

2 - Tales of Xillia (and others)

Tales of Xillia Review | PSVitaAddict

It's pretty much a tie between this game and most of the newer Tales games, but I chose this one because of the brilliant Link system and the awesome customization granted by Lillium Orbs and the exciting shop system. I'd say the whole series from after 2008 would make it to this position, pretty much. This series just has brilliant battle systems all-around, and there's a notable step-up in quality from the old games to Xillia and onward, meaning all the newer Tales games (save maybe Zesteria), rank in second place on this list. Freaking love these games.

1 - Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age


Final Fantasy XII diverged from the incredible battle system present in Final Fantasy X, yet it created a brilliant combat system that surpasses its predecessors. Final Fantasy XII retains turn-based combat from the older games (unlike the most recent entries), but it allows for free movement that completely switches up the time and tempo of battle. Gone are the random encounters of previous entries as, in Final Fantasy XII, you fight battles in the game's open and robust areas where combat and exploration are absolutely seamless. This way of approaching combat was perfect for Final Fantasy XII, as it synergizes with the idea of hunting and looting that the game heavily promotes, and due to the loot system surrounding the Bazaar, Centurio Clan, Tavern Boards, and the Hunt Club, Final Fantasy XII has the most rewarding combat the series has to offer—getting your hands on Gil has never felt this good. While the combat may be slow at times without fast speed settings and Gambits, once you get used to the game's intricate systems, you may come to agree with me that this is not only the pinnacle of Final Fantasy combat, but the best combat system of all time (in my opinion).

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