Final Fantasy 10 Has A Perfect Encounter Rate

I recently started playing Final Fantasy 10 properly for the first time. I say recently – it’s probably been a month or two since I started it, but I’m terrible at finishing RPGs, so I know this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. Part of the journey that a lot of RPGs necessitate is grinding – the worst part of many games. Amazingly, Final Fantasy 10 has such a good encounter rate that I haven’t had to grind for a single boss fight so far.

Grinding really grinds my gears. Even fun combat loops can become boring if I have to spend an hour or so between each boss fight leveling up my party members. If I were to run from every single encounter, then that’s on me, and I understand that missed XP is going to come back to haunt me. But if I’m taking on every opponent in my path I should be appropriately leveled – surely that’s what the encounter rate should be tailored towards?


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Unlike other RPGs I’ve played where I either steamroll everything or find myself grinding in the wake of a huge difficulty spike, Final Fantasy 10 nails the difficulty and frequency of encounters. Until I learn an enemy’s weaknesses, I’m rarely, if ever, able to one-shot it. Instead, new enemies at the beginning of an unexplored area consistently pose a challenge, gradually getting easier to beat as I learn their strategies and level up along the route. If they gave more XP but appeared less, I wouldn’t learn as much. If they gave less XP but appeared more often, I’d be falling over enemies and quickly grow tired of combat – the current balance is perfect.

Lulu From Final Fantasy 10

A big part of this is due to the game’s linear structure. Final Fantasy 10 sets you on the path of a summoner and affixes some blinders to keep you on that path. You dutifully follow Yuna throughout Spira, as a neat animated map charts your progress. Because of this, each new enemy or boss fight appears at exactly the right moment. Don’t get me wrong, I love open-world games like Fallout: New Vegas and Horizon Zero Dawn, but they often block off areas with impossibly strong enemies, limiting the scope of their worlds. Because Final Fantasy 10 knows where you’ll be and when you’ll be there, the fights always feel fair.

What makes Final Fantasy 10 special, is that while none of the fights are impossible, none of them are easy, either. Mild spoilers ahead, but if you didn’t realize Seymour, the pink-pointy haired bastard-man, would be the villain then I don’t know what to tell you. The fight with Seymour in the temple where he summons his abomination of him, Anima, very nearly killed my whole party. Fortunately, I had one of Yuna’s Aeons available with their Overdrive intact, so I was able to let off huge amounts of damage to that shackled monstrosity before it could wipe me out. That fight may have gone very differently if I hadn’t been prepared.

Final Fantasy 10 Seymour

Getting the balance between difficulty, frequency, and progression is hard, but Final Fantasy 10 strikes it wonderfully. I don’t run from any fights because the combat is fun and never overstays its welcome as I haven’t had to grind once, nor have I been overwhelmed by enemies. The fights have challenged me and forced me to strategise without ever feeling unfair, and I think every RPG could stand to learn from Final Fantasy 10’s implementation of encounters.

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