Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age differences, changes and additions: what's new in this Ivalice remaster?
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age launches worldwide on PlayStation 4 this July, and it's far more than just an upscaled rerelease. Not only does this new HD remaster have improvements on its own accord, but it is also based on the "International Zodiac Job System" (IZJS) edition of the PlayStation 2 game, which never saw an official release outside of Japan.
That means that Western players are going to find more than a few differences from the original PS2 version of FF12 once they play it on PS4. There's a veritable slew of changes, in fact, and we're gathering them on this page and updating as we learn more.
If you need an overview of some the changes you can expect if you're coming to The Zodiac Age as an FF12 veteran, this is the page for you. (We also have a video preview if that's more your thing, and a review of the full and final version of the game.) First we'll cover what changed in the original International Zodiac Job System for PS2, and then after that cover what's also new in The Zodiac Age on PS4. So - here's what's new:
Final Fantasy XII: International Zodiac Job System Differences & Changes
First off, here are the changes made back in 2007 to the International Zodiac Job System version of Final Fantasy XII.
New License Boards for character progression
This is one of the most notable changes to the structure of the game from a gameplay perspective. Most notably, instead of a singular gigantic license board that all characters use to gain access to abilities and equipment, in IZJS each character must choose one of twelve license boards available.
Each of these twelve boards is based on a different job: Archer, Black Mage, Bushi, Foebreaker, Knight, Machnist, Monk, Red Battlemage, Shikari, Time Battlemage, Uhlan, and White Mage. Many of these should be familiar to long-time FF fans as classic series classes.
Each board has unique abilities and equipment that only the character on that board can use. Once a character selects a board, they are locked to it forever and unable to change. Selecting a board is done right near the start of the game.
Directly control Guest Characters and Espers
At points throughout the main story of FF12 you'll sometimes have a 4th 'guest' character will temporarily join the player's party. While the player could always control any one of the normal six party members, IZJS adds the ability to take control of the guest if the player chooses to.
The same goes for Espers, the enormous summonable beasts that feature a lot of the classic FF summons/eidolons/whatever your word of choice is - you can now control them directly.
Both Espers and Guest Characters can have gambits set and guest characters can also level up, so you have full control over them as if they were regular full characters. You can't remove or swap the equipment of guest characters, however.
Quadruple Game Speed Turbo
By clicking L1, the game speed can be quadrupled (4x) in any live gameplay, be that combat or exploration. It's a simple one-button process, so you can toggle this on or off any time you like. This is obviously extremely useful for players grinding some levels, traversing a large area, gathering loot, or taking on the infamously long and difficult Yiazmat super boss. This does not affect music or cutscenes, so things won't sound like a garbled mess when running at high speed.
Separate from the main game, a Trial Mode was added to IZJS - accessible from the main menu. Trial Mode consists of 100 stages where players are pitted against a group of enemies or boss creature.
Characters are loaded from a main game save file into Trial Mode for use in combat, so you can keep returning to Trial Mode as you progress through the game with more powerful characters, getting a little deeper into this challenging mode each time.
New for The Zodiac Age, you'll be able to transfer some rewards from Trial Mode back into your main FF12 save game if you tackle it while mid-game. The rewards you take back will be determined by how far you manage to get.
- Quickenings no longer require MP and use their own gauge. Characters gain MPs through leveling up rather than by unlocking more Quickenings.
- Two versions of New Game Plus: one where characters start at level 90 (Strong Mode) and one where characters never level up (Weak Mode, unlocked after beating Trial Mode). Nothing is carried over into either of these files.
- The 9999 damage limit is removed.
- Some characters stats and item/equipment effects have been changed.
- A new set of ultimate weapons for each time, known as "FINAL FANTASY" weapons. These are given names based off the Hindu calendar in the localization.
- Sixteen new gambit options.
- Some enemy stats are altered and there a couple new enemies.
- Treasure chests respawn by only moving one screen away (rather than three screens away).
- Some treasure chest contents have been slightly changed. Some magicks originally purchased in stores must now be found in chests.
- Some magicks have been recategorized. For example, Bravery is now a White Magick instead of a Green Magick.
- Some shop listings and Hunt rewards have been altered.
The Zodiac Spear
This high-level weapon is so infamous for its odd acquisition mechanics that it gets its own section in this article. In the original Final Fantasy XII, the Zodiac Spear could only be obtained if the player does not open four other chests at seemingly random other places in the game. If any of these four various chests are opened, the player can no longer easily get the Zodiac Spear. (Note: It was still obtainable, but with a low 0.1% chance.)
In the IZJS version, this odd restriction was removed completely. In fact, the Zodiac Spear is obtained in a different place entirely. You can now open all chests without hesitation!
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Differences & Changes
The Zodiac Age is the HD remaster of the International Zodiac Job System version of Final Fantasy XII. In addition to all of the changes listed above, The Zodiac Age also adds:
Second Job for Each Character
Each character can eventually equip a secondary job in addition to the primary job. This can be done after defeating Belias and once a character unlocks the proper license node on their primary job board. With twelve jobs total, six characters, and two jobs per character, now every job can be represented in a single playthrough. Job selections are still permanent.
Map Overlay View
By clicking L3, the map of the area can be overlayed over the user interface, so players can follow their icon alongside the map as they explore zones without having to open and close the map menu repeatedly.
Double Game Speed Turbo
You can now choose to fast-forward battles at 2x speed rather than just 4x speed in situations where 4x might be a little too much. This is a toggle set in the menu and does not affect music or cutscenes.
- Improved Textures and Visuals
- Improved sound and voice quality, including 7.1ch surround support
- Various gameplay balance and polish changes
- No magic spell buffering due to effect limits on PS2 hardware - all spells are cast immediately when ready
- Auto-save feature which activates at every zone transition
- Improved load times
- A soundtrack toggle between the original OST and a remastered OST. There are also 8 new additional tracks added to the game.
- A voice language toggle to choose between Japanese and English voices at will.
- The Sky Pirate's Den - in game trophie/figurine system - has been removed, effectively replaced by PSN trophies. [Update: The Sky Pirate's Den has been added back into the game via a patch]
- Ability to invert both the X and Y camera axes
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age PC Version Additions
From a Square Enix press release:
- 60FPS - Ivalice will look better than ever with the game running at 60FPS
- Compatible with 21:9 ultra-wide monitors - Up to three HD monitors can be used for a potential 48(16x3):9 experience
- New Game Plus and New Game Minus - Post-game content modes are now accessible from the beginning of the game
- Three background music options – The original, re-orchestrated and soundtrack versions are now available from the beginning of the game
- Maximized License Points and Gil - New functionality added to grant players max License Points and Gil from the configuration screen
- Full controller support, Steam Trading Cards and more to optimize the PC player experience
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Switch / Xbox One Version Additions
From a Square Enix press release:
- License Reset Function: By talking to Clan Centurio’s leader Montblanc in Rabanastre, players can reset and change their party member’s jobs, allowing them to customize the jobs of their party as desired.
- Additional Gambit Sets: Gambits allow players to customize their party’s AI. Players can now create three unique sets, allowing players to switch between sets for different situations, such as map exploration or boss fights.
- Improved “New Game+”: Allows users to start the game with party members at level 90 and carry over some items like weapons, magic and gils obtained during previous playthroughs
- Specific to Xbox One X – Supports 60fps