Switch/PS5/PS4/PC Preview – 'Tactics Ogre: Reborn' – WorthPlaying.com

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Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together defined strategy RPGs for many years. Final Fantasy Tactics might have been more well-known and popular, but Tactics was in many ways a follow-up to Tactics Ogre, carrying the same feel, tone and combat as its spiritual predecessor. Unfortunately, the original version of the game had too many annoying quirks and UI difficulties to make it accessible to a modern audience. The PSP port of the game alleviated some of these issues but introduced its own flaws. The third time is the charm, as they say, and Tactics Ogre: Reborn aims to give fans a chance to enjoy the game without the flaws. We got some hands-on time with the new version, and what we’ve seen has us feeling very positive.
Probably the most obvious change is that the combat system has been significantly revamped. While the basic combat is largely the same, an absurd number of changes have been implemented to make the game more user-friendly. Even before you get into the combat changes, the differences are obvious. For one thing, weapon equip requirements are far friendlier. In the previous versions of Tactics Ogre, you’d have specific requirements to use powerful weapons or armor. Now, you can equip anything that you have — assuming you have a class that can use that weapon or armor. You can use special charms to level up, buff characters, or change their elemental affinity, which makes it much easier to customize your characters. Pretty much anywhere in the game that had a lot of time spent on muddled menus has been streamlined. The best change is crafting, which is now as simple as, “put in ingredients and get the item,” instead of the convoluted and random method from the previous version of the game.
The leveling system has also seen a revamp from the PSP iteration. Gone is a universal level, and instead, it’s replaced by simple unit-by-unit leveling. There is now a Party Level, which sets a level cap on how high you can level up at any given time. It discourages grinding into infinity and makes you consider your team composition. Gained EXP beyond the cap isn’t wasted and goes to charms instead. Leveling is also much less painful. The aforementioned charms mean that you can more easily bring characters up to a higher level . Random battles have been completely removed from the game. At any time, you can choose to go into Training Battles, which are the same as random battles except units are at no risk of permanent death and you only have to fight them when you want to.
Combat has also seen a lot of streamlining. The biggest upgrade is that there’s a built-in speed-up option. This is basically a must, since Tactics Ogre battles can be extremely long and slow and involve large numbers of units. Like a lot of changes in the remaster, this is more of a quality of life change than a major change to the game, but it’s still a blessing. There are tons of small but significant changes. You can now scout battles, which allows you to see enemy formations before you fight, and you can save formations so you can have multiple teams ready to go. Ranged attacks now have a line showing their trajectory, which means you can instantly tell where an attack is going to hit instead of accidentally nailing your party members in the back.
There are new developments, too. Perhaps the biggest are buff cards, which randomly appear on the battlefield and grant powerful, battle-long buffs to whoever collects them, friend or foe. The buffs are significant enough that they are important to the overall battle flow, and collecting multiples of the same type of card can further boost a character. These cards can shift the tide of a battle, so if you don’t get them, the enemy will. This makes mobility and flexibility an incredibly important part of building your team. You can’t turtle in a single place and wait for the enemy to come to you; you have to be aggressive and adapt to the randomly appearing cards. It can make things easier if you’re good at collecting cards, and it adds a sense of randomness to the gameplay.
There are a lot of less obvious but significant changes. Enemy AI has been significantly improved, so they take paths that they never would’ve in the original game. There are also new skills that require more thought, such as one that can make an ally (or enemy) take a second attack if they are behind a foe when their own ally attacks. The death system has been revamped to be more like Final Fantasy Tactics, where dying in battle begins a countdown, and if you revive before the countdown is over, then you’re fine. If it runs out, then that unit dies. Each battle also has optional objectives that reward the player with powerful bonuses or items upon completion. These are not must-haves, but they add another pressure to the battlefield as you consider whether it’s worth the risk of missing a buff card to hit a cluster of enemies to complete an objective for big rewards.
Reborn has also seen some presentation upgrades, but don’t mistake this for a Live-A-Live-style full redo. The character sprites are still the same squat, colorful SNES-style sprites. The background and character art are more colorful and refined, and the UI is far more modern. The audio side of things features the biggest upgrade. The game is now fully voiced, and the soundtrack has been remastered with orchestral versions of the existing songs. It’s a nice upgrade that really grants the old game a more modern feel, even more than its last upgrade.
From what we’ve played, Tactics Ogre: Reborn is looking very much like the definitive version of the classic title. Learning from the mistakes of both the original and the PSP port, it aims to be a synthesis of the two, while still doing plenty of its own things. The changes are both small and significant, with every little tweak and adjustment significantly changing the feel of combat. At its heart, it’s still the same story and the same combat, but it’s been reworked and improved enough that it’s difficult to imagine going back to an older version after playing Reborn. Thankfully, we’re just two weeks away from the final version hitting every system under the sun, so fans and newcomers alike won’t have to wait much longer to enjoy this cult classic.


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