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The Last Story: Manual Attacks and Command Mode

Lots of battle system details in the latest Famitsu preview.

Elza gets his Gathering skill early in The Last Story. There's a lot more to the game's battle system than just Gathering, though.

First play reports for The Last Story coming out of the Nintendo Conference last month suggested that the Mistwalker RPG would have an MMORPGish feel to its combat system. That is, you just concentrate on moving main character Elza around, and when you get close to an enemy, he'll automatically take care of the actual attacking.

It turns out that there's quite a bit more to combat than just this. Famitsu has a closer look this week.

During combat, you have exclusive direct control over Elza, moving him via the analogue stick. As reported from the Nintendo Conference, when you approach an enemy, you can tilt the stick in the enemy's direction to make Elza automatically begin attacking using his standard attack. You'll have to guard and evade using manual button presses.

If this auto attack thing isn't for you, you'll be pleased to hear that the game also has a manual mode. Switch the game to manual mode, and you'll be able to do attacks via button presses. The magazine did not provide further specifics.

While I wrote "during combat" above, there actually isn't a real "during combat" part of the game. As you move about the fields of play, you automatically switch to combat when you approach an enemy. There's no battle screen or transition to a battle system.

Famitsu also has a full report on the battle system as a whole, covering many of the systems we've heard about in the past, along with some of the new ones that were summed up from Jump last week, and even adding a few unannounced bits and pieces.

As previously detailed, one of the big battle system components is "Gathering." Elza has access to this special power, which you'll use to draw enemy attention away from other party members.

Previously, it was announced that you'd use this skill to allow your spell casters time to cast their spells. But Elza also has access to a couple of special abilities while in a Gathering state.

Gathering Burst
When in Gathering mode, if Elza blocks an incoming enemy attack, he'll undergo a "Burst Up." If you've built up enough power through Burst Ups, Elza will unleash the Gathering Burst attack when he comes out of Gathering mode. This damages enemies and may also reduce their speed.
When in Gathering mode, if Elza can recover fallen allies by touching them. The fallen party member will come back to life, with some temporary ability boosts.

While The Last Story's combat system is largely real time, you can actually freeze time and enter into "Command Mode." In this mode, you can take some time to get a grasp of the battle situation, and can also issue specific commands to allies, telling them what magic to use and where to move.

Screenshots show Elza ordering heroine Kanan to cast one of Holy, Return or Heal magics. Below the magic selection menu, the game provides descriptions of what each spell does:

An attack magic that's based off light. When spread, increases party member defense strength.
Recovery magic. When spread, recovers party member HP and status abnormalities.
Warp to a nearby "Heal Circle." (The magazine doesn't say what exactly a "Heal Circle" is.)

The "spread" thing mentioned in the descriptions concerns the Magic Circle system that was detailed earlier this week. When a party member casts magic, the magic leaves a "Magic Circle" mark at the point of impact. Elza can use wind magic on the Magic Circle to spread its effects outward. The article earlier in the week mentioned that you can spread the magic circle from an ice-based magic to cause enemies to slip and fall over. Now we know of two additional examples.

Once you've selected a spell for your party member to use, you can also specify its precise position. When selecting a target, the camera shifts above the action, allowing you to see enemy and ally positions.

The Command Mode method of input can also be used on Elza himself. Screenshots show Elza with these three options in his palette:

Power Hit
Temporarily raises Elza's attack strength.
This can be used to attack enemies, and is also the spell that Elza uses to spread the Magic Circle effects.
The same as Kanan's Return option -- it warps Elza to a nearby "Heal Circle."

The magazine suggests bringing up Command Mode for Elza when you find yourself surrounded by enemies or in any state where it's difficult to control the action in real time.

You don't have unlimited use of Command Mode. Once you've used Command Mode, you have to wait a bit before you can use it again.

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