These are such horrible reasons to dislike XIII. "It was too linear!" Well, yeah. That's the nature of role playing games. They're all pretty much linear. "There was no exploration!" What, you mean empty map space that serves no purpose whatsoever? "Lack of strategy!" You mean where you use either the physical attack or the strongest magic you have? The only time you change up what you do is during a boss battle, and lo and behold with the Paradigm Shifts you did it there as well. All XIII did was remove the minutia and streamlined what everyone was doing anyway, and made it a little more interesting to watch between those boss battles. What was another one ... oh, yeah. "There aren't any NPCs to talk to!" True, but that had a little something to do with how everyone either wants you dead or thinks you're going to kill them.
Really, XIII was mediocre at best, but more because the characters were drab and the story wasn't all that compelling. The reasons people give for not liking it are just moronic. What I don't get is how a game that was just as linear, had the same lack of strategy in combat, an even more mediocre at best story and drab characters like VII is hailed as the greatest thing since a Fleshlight, yet XIII is a sin against humanity.
By exploration I mean walking from one place to another where I was allowed to wander around. No, it wasn't a Lewis and Clark expedition, but it gave the impression of at least letting me do what I wanted, even if for a little while. XIII could have been played with 3 buttons, walk forward, Paradigm shift, and attack, and you didn't even have to choose an attack because the game did it for you. I like getting lost in the side areas of the other FF games just to see the world they built, or find Chocobo forests, or Moogle hangouts. Hell, in VI they had hidden characters that would join your party if you found them. I liked playing Blitz ball (I know I need help), and Tetra Master, and the other card/mini games in some of the other FFs, none of which existed in XIII. At one point I wanted to grind for a bit so I could get stuff to level up a couple weapons (another idiotic system) and I couldn't even do that. You weren't allowed to grind in a JRPG.
As far as VII, I've said for years VII was the split in the FF fan base. I hated the linear pathways as much as I did in XIII.
"Wandering" in this case literally just means "I could take so many paths around the same enclosed area of the map" though. Except that this makes literally no difference, sans the fact that one route is the fastest.
If you actually felt like this was giving the impression of exploring, I really don't know what to tell you. I never had that response. It was something I had to do, to be sure I wasn't missing anything, and that's about it. I VASTLY preferred the shift away from the crappy World Maps. If I'm going to be aimlessly walking from point A to point B, fighting battles, then you're damn right I want the landscape to be beautiful and interesting.
I mean, you LIKE the world map? I fundamentally don't understand this. I hate
world maps. They're bland, they signal a complete halt to the story while you transition areas. They were such an aggravating waste of time to me. I much preferred playing in town/dungeon environments, always
. I explored maps because I had to, in case I passed by an item.
I've never once, in my life, been placed on a world map and had the experience of "time to explore." It has universally been the feeling of "god dammit, now I have to suffer through this before I get to the next part that matters."
I have no problem with open world games. If they want to make an open world FF game, I'll be interested to try it. But I'm not fool enough to look at an area surrounded by unpassable mountains on one side, and a cave entrance on the other, and think "Wow, look at everything I can explore!"
I liked playing Blitz ball (I know I need help), and Tetra Master, and the other card/mini games in some of the other FFs, none of which existed in XIII. At one point I wanted to grind for a bit so I could get stuff to level up a couple weapons (another idiotic system) and I couldn't even do that. You weren't allowed to grind in a JRPG.
I have no problem with mini games - I've played a lot of Blitz in my time. But Blitz didn't make sense. How the hell was I in Luca playing Blitzball when there was a price out on my head? How did I get there?
Also, you can absolutely go back and grind through mobs in FFXIII? [:puzzled:][:puzzled:][:puzzled:] Mobs reappear after you stray too far from their spawn location (which isn't far). Yeah, you don't just run in a circle anymore. You just run 10 meters in opposite directions between mob groups.
Arguably the best farming spot in the entire game has you running back and forth between an easily-ambushed Behemoth and a save point. It's quick, and if you can keep really tight paradigm locations, you can JUST manage to kill him when you can first encounter him. It's definitely a skill issue, even with the ambush, though.
And the point where proceeding through an area gives you enough points to completely progress your crystarium grids ends fairly quickly. That occurs in the beginning so that you can get a base set of skills, and experiment with the new roles. Once they're confident you'll have hit the point where you're actually starting to understand how to use them, you won't be capping them in each area. You have to start choosing what you want to level.
And if you want to gain access to additional roles on a character, that's an even larger investment. One that can pay off quite well (Lightning Sentinel, for instance, is an excellent dodge tank), but you're going to have to work for it.