Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force (FFF: ADF) is an enhanced version of Compile Heart's 2013 title, Fairy Fencer F. At its core, the game is still pretty much the same as its predecessor, featuring the same mechanics. However, there is a whole assortment of additions, such as characters, routes and dungeons that serve to set it apart from the original.
This means that regardless of whether you played the original title on the PS3 or is a newcomer entirely, there is something about the game that will make it worth playing. Returning players can look forward to the new (and sometimes changed) content, while new ones can look forward to an adventure given to them by one of the most recognizable names in the JRPG industry today.
As it's a CH game, however, there is a lot in the game to grasp. Though certainly not as complicated as Omega Quintet, there are still quite a few things that can overwhelm new players if they go in completely blind. Luckily, your start as a novice fencer doesn't have to be a difficult one. Here are five simple tips and tricks that will be of great help to anyone starting out:
*Note that these tips are taken with a first playthrough on hell mode in mind, but they should be helpful to players in any mode regardless. A special note will be made if there are any discrepancies between two difficulties.
1. Descent Into Hell
As soon as you start a new game, one of the things the game does is prompt you to select a difficulty, ranging from easy to hard (which has a trophy attached to it). However, there are two more difficulties, hell and amateur, that can be acquired as free DLC. Both modes are exactly as tough as they sound, with amateur being exceptionally easy, while hell is even harder than hard.
It's likely that at least some of you will see this mode and try to take it on for a bit of an extra challenge, and that's completely fine. But, if you choose to do so, be aware of what you're getting yourself into. Hell mode doesn't fool around, especially on a fresh new game: enemies have heightened stats and they double down on that by having increased health. Without the proper investment, even regular enemies pose a legitimate threat, while bosses can quickly incapacitate your characters (at just one below the "recommended" level, one boss could one-shot Fang with his ultimate attack).
Fortunately, there are ways to take the edge off (some of which will be mentioned later on), such as grinding for extra XP or WP, or making use of DLC items. Do note that overusing these methods can take out a significant portion of the challenge though. There is also the option of lowering the difficult to hard or normal, but toning it down to the latter removes some difficulty-exclusive equipment from loot tables, while toning it down to hard seems to void your chances of getting a hard-exclusive trophy for whatever reason.
2. Weapon Builds
One of the defining aspects of this game is the weapon system. Unlike other JRPGs where players spend their hard-earned cash to buy new weapons, FFF: ADF has each character use only one weapon and then leaves the player tasked with collecting WP in order to strengthen them.
Using WP, which is gained in the same manner as XP, players can enhance almost all of a characters stats, as well as have them learn new abilities (both active and passive). However, while knowing what you can upgrade is easy, knowing what to actually upgrade first is where things get problematic; as there are plenty of upgrades that look like worthwhile investments on paper but are bad in practice, while there are others that look somewhat worthless but are extremely helpful.
The most important upgrade is "Combo," which allows characters to do more regular attacks per turn. The first upgrade won't cost much, but the second one costs 300 WP iirc. It's a costly investment, but the ability to launch an enemy in the air and do a follow-up attack for bonus damage/parts damage is extremely useful. Be aware that this loses some value in hell mode though, as some bosses will outright take no damage even if you are at the "recommended" level. After that, "Range" and "Learning" are two more worthwhile investments. The first allows characters to attack from farther away, thus allowing them to stay in range of allies in case they need support, while the second allows characters to gain XP/WP even if they aren't in your active party (try to get this before Cavare Desert).
Beyond that, however, choosing upgrades is a fairly simple affair: boost some stats (might be worth investing in P.DEF and M.DEF in Hell to account for the extra damage your characters will take), get a stronger/AOE skill to make fights quicker/easier and pick up several support spells to fill in the gaps (be aware, that spells that buff your characters are better than ones that debuff enemies, as its hard to make them "stick" on bosses).
It wouldn't be a JRPG without quests, and FFF: ADF has plenty of them. Introduced early on, players can embark on quests in order to gain an assortment of rewards that will be helpful to them later on. They come in various ranks, ranging from E (easiest) to S (hardest), and are unlocked through a mix of story progression and quest completion (doing enough quests in one rank will unlock an urgent quest that can then be completed to increase your quest rank, thus granting access to a wider range of quests).
For the most part, these quests are repeatable and they actually should be repeated as they can be "abused" for greater benefits. For example, early on, players will come across a D-rank quest called "A Helping Hand" which has them collect a scuffed shell from a Ganada enemy in Kidanar. Not only is the quest easy to complete since scuffed shells are common drops, but the rewards are 150 gold and 5x Energy Shard. The gold is somewhat negligible, but the Energy Shards aren't. Each shard recovers 150 SP and three of those can be synthesized to create an Energy Crystal, which recovers 1000 SP. Not only does this save a ton of money, but 1000 SP is more than what any character (even Tiara) will have at that point in the game, making the quest a good source of full SP restores early on.
This is particularly helpful in Hell Mode (probably Hard as well), as the ideal way to deal damage to bosses is through the use of skills and spells.
4. World Shaping
If enhancing weapons was the first defining aspect of this game, then World Shaping would be the other. Simply put, World Shaping is the act of using the special attributes a fairy has obtained upon pulling a sword out from either the Goddess or Vile God, and applying them to a zone.
These attributes can range from boosting the amount of XP a defeated enemy provides, to changing the very enemies that show up in a dungeon. However, there are a few caveats to keep in mind when putting World Shaping into action. First, every beneficial effect comes with a negative one. For example, while a fairy may grant a WP bonus to specific zone, it might also make it so that all skills and spells cost two times the usual amount to execute. Second, there's a restriction on how many fairies can actually effect a zone based on their level. Simply put, a fairy (or rather the sword or Fury they're in) can't directly touch another fairy that's already in the ground. In order to circumvent this, a fairy's level will need to increase, thus allowing it to affect a wider area. Lastly, the effects that multiple fairies provide are cumulative and can even override one another on occasion. For example, two +30 percent XP on a single zone will effectively give the player a 60 percent XP boost, while a 10 percent boost to M.ATK can be rendered useless by a Silence modifier.
New to this game are routes, alternate paths the story can take depending on what choices the player makes up to a certain point in the game. The default route is Goddess, and it was the only one present in the original game.
However, ADF brings two new routes filled with new allies, new enemies and other extra content. The idea of new content is certainly exciting, and is no doubt a leading reason as to why those who beat the game on the PS3, opted to buy it again for the PS4. However, these routes are also more difficult than the original route (especially Evil Goddess), and can leave you in a bad spot if your inadvertently pick one.
Here are the conditions for each route:
Goddess Route - Pull out less than seven swords from the Vile God before clearing Cavare Desert - Sanctuary.
Vile God Route - Pull out at least seven swords from the Vile God before clearing Cavare Desert - Sanctuary.
Evil Goddess Route - Pull out at least sixteen swords from the Vile God before clearing Cavare Desert (the first part, not the sanctuary part).
So there you have it — five simple tips and tricks to help you get a strong start in Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force. There are certainly a lot of things to digest, but if you go forward with this advice and go one step at a time, you'll revive the Goddess and save the world in no time.