Part 157: ForceSpeaking of Force, that happened to be the game mechanics post I was writing up!
Game Mechanics: Force, or "Atlus balances something smartly for once"
Let's go back to the original EO2 for a second. In that game, there was a specific mechanic called Force. Basically, every action a party member did would slowly fill up a gauge at the bottom of their command menu. When that gauge was fully filled, that character would gain access to their class's Force skill, a one-use-per-filled-gauge skill that ranged wildly in usefulness depending on the class. Some Force skills, like the Landsknecht's All Out, the Survivalist's Airwalk, or the War Magus's Invoke, were very useless and would not affect a battle that much. On the other hand, you had Force skills like the Protector's Painless, which completely nullified all damage and status ailments to the party for one turn, the Dark Hunter's Dominate, which was a guaranteed bind on every body part of the target, and the Gunner's Riot Gun, which was a guaranteed stun on one target, all of which could be used to completely snap the game's difficulty in half.
So, when the time came to make EO2U, Atlus decided to heavily rework the Force system to be less tedious and difficulty-breaking. Instead of having to slowly fill up a gauge that resets when you leave the Labyrinth, every party member starts with a fully-filled Force gauge, which is fully restored upon leaving the Labyrinth. Additionally, instead of just having one Force skill that resets the gauge, Force is now divided into two different commands:
- Force Boost: Applies a 3 turn duration state (note: not buff) to the character, which is usually based around their class's natural strengths. Sets the Force gauge to 0 at the end of the duration.
- Force Break: Very powerful actions that are analogous to EO2's Force skills, but usually not quite as powerful. Can only be used during a Force Boost. When the Force Break is actually executed, it instantly cancels the user's Force Boost, and "breaks" the Force gauge. What this means is the gauge cannot be filled up any further until you leave the Labyrinth, and the character is unable to use their Force in the meantime. If you issue a command to use a Force Break, but it is not actually used (due to the battle ending or the character being unable to act), the Force gauge is not broken, but it is set to 0.
The big takeaways from this are: Force is much less tedious to manage, benefits pretty much every class instead of just a select few, and opens up quite a few unique ways to utilize the system.
Let's go over each class's Force Boost and Breaks. Note that while Force Boosts do not require any body parts, Force Breaks do, and can thus be disabled by binds.
- Force Boost: Full Charge. All sword/axe attacks and skills from the Landsknecht become critical hits (150% damage by default) for the duration of the Boost. This damage can be increased by leveling up the Fencer passive, which increases crit damage to 160% at level 10, and 170% at level 20.
- Force Break: Full Gain. Uses the arms. STR-dependent. A severe damage melee Cut attack to one enemy. Damage starts at 800% at level 1, and ends at 2700% at level 99. Does not benefit from the effects of Full Charge.
Full Gain's also nice too, although it's pretty plain as far as Force Breaks go.
- Force Boost: Illusion Step. Greatly increases the Survivalist's evasion, and adds an extra attack to all bow attacks/skills for the duration. The damage on the extra attack scales up with the Survivalist's level, although I don't have exact numbers on it.
- Force Break: Summer Rain. Uses the arms. AGI-dependent. 16 random-target high-damage Stab attacks; up to 4 attacks can hit one enemy. Has a very high speed modifier.
Summer Rain is a pretty nice Force Break. It fills the niche a lot of Force Breaks do of being an effective panic button for encounters that are going badly or encounters you just don't want to deal with. It's also incredibly useful for certain boss fights later on, but that's for another time.
- Force Boost: Shield Protect. "Increases the effectiveness of Guard skills" for the duration. What this means is that while the Boost is active, for Front Guard, Rear Guard, Keep Guard, Heal Guard, and Sentinel Guard, any incoming damage to someone under the effects of those skills is not only reduced by what the Guard skill provides, but is then additionally reduced by 50%.
- Force Break: Perfect Defense. Uses the arms. Nullifies all damage to the party for one turn. The party can still be affected by status ailments or binds while under the effects of Perfect Defense.
Perfect Defense is where it's at, though. Even if it's not as obscene as Painless was (which completely cancelled status ailments and binds in addition to damage), it still has a lot of utility.
- Force Boost: Trance. Doubles all damage dealt by the Dark Hunter to enemies that have status ailments and/or binds for the duration.
- Force Break: Rose Prison. Uses the arms. STR-dependent. Melee medium damage Cut attack to one enemy. Has a high chance to inflict head bind, arm bind, leg bind, and poison. The poison damage scales up with level, capping out at around 1600 at level 99.
Rose Prison is meh. While the chance to inflict the binds and poison is quite high, bear in mind it's still subject to enemy resistances, meaning it's not guaranteed and, more importantly, cannot bypass enemies that nullify a given bind type or poison, unlike Dominate in EO2.
- Force Boost: Steady Hands. Increases the effectiveness and turn speed of healing skills for the duration. Also cuts TP costs for healing skills in half.
- Force Break: Medical Miracle. Uses the head. TEC and VIT-dependent. Heals the entire party for an incredibly large amount, removes all status ailments (including petrification), removes all binds, purges all debuffs, and revives any dead party members while also healing them.
Oh boy, Medical Miracle. Medical Miracle is an incredibly powerful Force Break; proper use of it can very easily turn around what would've otherwise been a crushing game over. Its only downside is you have to be very, very sure when you use it; using it at the wrong time will most likely result in bad things, and you probably kicking yourself as a result. It's worth noting that if you have Overheal active when you use Medical Miracle, and revive someone with it, they will be healed up to the maximum amount Overheal allows.
- Force Boost: Analysis. Increases damage that an enemy is weak to by 165% for the duration.
- Force Break: Eschaton. Uses the head. TEC-dependent. Deals heavy to severe untyped (cannot be resisted) damage to all enemies. Damage increases with the Alchemist's level.
Eschaton is, much like Summer Rain, mostly useful as a panic button for random encounters. Note that it's incredibly slow, however, and it's possible for your Alchemist to die before Eschaton goes off.
- Force Boost: War Song. Pauses the durations of the party's buffs, and prevents them from being dispelled by enemies for the duration.
- Force Break: Crusade. Uses the head. Increases the party's damage by 50%, and reduces the damage they take by 50% for one turn.
Crusade is incredibly fucking powerful and enables a lot of really cheesy strategies where you can burst down a very high HP boss in a turn or two. Note that it's not a buff, just a temporary modifier, so it interacts without any caveats with buffs and Force Boosts.
- Force Boost: Immovable. Pauses the duration of the Ronin's current stance for the legnth of the Boost. Also cuts the TP costs of katana skills in half.
- Force Break: Issen. Uses the arms. STR and LUC-dependent. Attempts to inflict instant death on every enemy. If the instant death does not proc, deals heavy Cut damage instead. The instant death proc chance seems to be 100%, increased to around 1000% when an enemy is below 20% HP.
Issen is...interesting. It's pretty bad in boss fights, but is a pretty much guaranteed "get out of jail free" card for random encounters, and the <20% HP proc chance can even reliably kill FOEs.
- Force Boost: Creeping Curse. Increases the likelihood of inflicting status ailments on an enemy for the duration. Also pauses the duration of enemy debuffs.
- Force Break: Black Mist. Uses the head. Increases the length of any status ailments and/or binds an enemy has.
Black Mist is similarly powerful. If you can somehow fully bind an enemy and maybe throw a status ailment on, then throw Black Mist at them, you've pretty much won the fight; the enemy won't be recovering from those disables any time soon.
- Force Boost: Action Boost. All gun skills will activate twice for the duration. The second activation deals around 60% damage of the first.
- Force Break: Supreme Bolt. Uses the arms. AGI and LUC-dependent. Deals heavy to severe Stab damage to one enemy. Has a very high chance to stun.
Supreme Bolt not only deals significant damage, but the chance to inflict stun is high enough that unless an enemy completely nullifies stun, you can generally expect to stun them, giving you a free turn to do whatever you want.
- Force Boost: War Edge Power. Activates all the extra effects of War Edge skills, even if the target doesn't have an ailment, for the duration.
- Force Break: Fairy Robe. Uses the head. TEC and VIT-dependent. Heals the party, removes status ailments and binds, purges debuffs, and blocks all incoming status ailments (including instant death), binds, and debuffs for one turn.
Fairy Robe...well, just read the bolded bit and you should get why it's powerful against a lot of bosses.
- Force Boost: Desperation. Triples the Beast's max HP for the duration of the Boost, and heals them to that amount when Desperation is initially enabled.
- Force Break: True Endurance. Uses the arms. STR and VIT-dependent. The Beast tanks all of the party's damage for one turn. Nullifies binds and status ailments for the duration (except for instant death). The Beast cannot die during True Endurance outside of instant death. At the end of True Endurance, the Beast unleashes an all-target Bash attack based on the difference between their max HP and their HP at the end of the turn.
True Endurance is very useful for enemy attacks that are either designed to overkill your party, or have high-chance ailment/bind inflictions attached.
- Force Boost: Victory Vow. All Order skills target the entire party instead of one row for the duration of the Boost. Also cuts the TP cost of Order skills in half.
- Force Break: Proof of Nobility. Uses the head. Restores around 40% HP and 33% TP to the party.
Proof of Nobility's useful for sustain in both exploration and boss fights. Do note that's it not a heal on the level of Medical Miracle or Fairy Robe, however; it's fairly minor in comparison.
- Force Boost: Hero Battle. Increases the damage of spear skills by 50%, and heals the entire party for 25% of damage dealt through spear skills for the duration.
- Force Break: Gae Bolg. Uses the arms. STR-dependent.
StabUntyped, medium to high damage attack to all enemies.
Yes, Gae Bolg is bugged, in a good way though: it's untyped damage instead of stab damage. While this means you don't get bonus damage against enemies weak to stab, it also means it can't be resisted at all. Aside from that, it's another Force Break useful for clearing out groups of enemies.
- Force Boost: Transform. Doubles Fafnir's max HP, heals him for that amount, grants a 50% damage boost, enables several extra skills based on his normal skills, and grants several extra skills gained by progressing through Story mode. Transform's only negative effect is that it slows Fafnir's turn speed. Transform also changes whatever battle music is playing to this.
- Force Break: Ignition Ray. Uses the head. TEC-dependent. Deals heavy to severe Fire/Ice/Volt damage to one enemy. Changes to Akashic Nova after a certain point in the story, which is basically Ignition Ray but all-target.
- Meteor Smash: Deals heavy to severe Bash damage to one enemy. 3 TP. Can only be used once per Transform. Granted after defeating the 1st Stratum boss.
- Power Cell: Grants Fafnir a passive chance to survive mortal blows with 1 HP. Granted after defeating ???.
- Extend: Resets Transform's duration remaining to 3 turns. Can only be used once per Transform. 5 TP. Granted after defeating the 2nd Stratum boss.
- Self-Regenerate: Restores 30% of Fafnir's max HP at the end of a turn. Granted after defeating ???.
- Accelerate: Next turn, Fafnir will act first, and be able to perform 3 actions at once. Can only be used once per Transform. 15 TP. Granted after defeating the 3rd Stratum boss.
If you're looking at Accelerate and thinking "that sounds so incredibly fucking broken," you have no idea. Transform turns Fafnir into...not even one of, he flat-out is the best damage dealer in the game (once you give him enough skill points in everything).
Ignition Ray/Akashic Nova are kind of boring by comparison. The only neat things about them is that they're Fire/Ice/Volt damage; whatever element deals more damage to a given enemy is what the attack is treated as.
So yeah, that's the Force system. Much improved from EO2 overall, even if it is basically balanced entirely around one class that's exclusive to Story mode.
(thanks to Hobgoblin2099, who reminded me that Meteor Smash is only once per Transform too)