Gameplay Tips: IZJS
As mentioned in the introduction, IZJS is an expansion of the original game; something of a director’s cut. Its main new feature is the addition of twelve job classes, each of which come with a license board. Once you pick one, that’s it for the entire game. You can’t change it.
Given that the original FFXII is my favorite game of all time, you can imagine how much I wanted to play IZJS — it sounded incredible! I love job classes, and the idea of being stuck with one for the entire game meant two things to me: I’d have to plan my party very carefully to ensure I’d covered all my bases, because I wouldn’t get another shot, and two, talk about replay value.
More importantly, I’d already beaten the original FFXII about three times, and while I love it, it’s not very hard after a certain point. While you could direct your characters to unlock only certain parts of the license board and become specialized to do certain things, that’s not how I play. I’m the kind of person who’s going to unlock everything, get the three best weapons I can, and then end up with six characters whose only differences are their inherent stats. IZJS made FFXII hard and strategic, and thus much more enjoyable.
For that reason, while I absolutely recommend IZJS if you can play it — it’s an incredible improvement over the original game and corrects almost all of the minor issues I had with the original — I don’t think it’s something a first-time player should play. If you want to, by all means, go for it, but it is definitely harder than the original, and it doesn’t pull punches. You have to get most of the Espers to unlock certain spots on the license boards. You have to set up a party that can take on pretty much everything, and it’s hard to do that when you’ve never played the game before. (It is possible to beat the party with any set of 6 jobs, but it requires knowledge of the game a first-time player typically won't have.)
Most importantly, there are 12 jobs and 6 characters — you can’t play every job in a single playthrough. You’re only going to see about half of the spells and abilities. Play the original first, and if you want an even better gameplay experience, come back and play IZJS. And cross your fingers that one day we’ll get an HD remaster for it.
What if I played the original years ago and didn't like it? If this is the case for you, then play IZJS. Chances are you're going to find the things you didn't like about it have been changed. IZJS is a significant enough change to warrant a fresh try at the game. If you don't like it even then, that's fine! It's just not the game for you.
You’ll find notes about things that help in IZJS throughout the gameplay locations section, which I wrote during an IZJS playthrough. You'll also find general notes in the original game tips. Otherwise, here are some IZJS-specific tips!
- There really is no wrong set of job classes to pick if you know the game well enough. All of the license boards give you enough options to cover for their weaknesses. And, yes, you can get by in this game without magic. Really! (It is very difficult and I do recommend at least having one character who can cast buffing spells and someone who can cast Esuna, but it’s entirely possible to beat the game and the sidequests without it.) For an indepth guide on how to build a party, click here.
- That said, don’t give two people the same job. Only four quickening spaces appear on each license board, so you can’t max out two people on the same board.
- Look at the entire license board before unlocking a quickening. Many link to extra spaces. If you take the first three and the fourth links to another space, you won’t be able to access it!
- Be sure someone in each of your parties can use Libra. You wouldn’t think this was that important until you nearly set up a party without it.
- Many of the spells and equipment in the game appear in treasure pots. Most are 100% spawns, but not all. A good guide to follow is this one, which has screenshots. (This guide also has translations of all terms in Japanese if you can’t use the patch for whatever reason.)
- Before using an Esper, make sure you know what it unlocks on everyone’s boards. Like the original game it’ll disappear from everyone’s boards, but since in this game the Espers link to special spaces, it can be hard to pick what to go for!
- Make use of the Bazaar. For several weapons for the different job classes and a few accessories, the only way to get them is via the Bazaar. If you make a note of which ones you’re interested in early on, it’s not hard to keep track of what items you need to keep track of. The IZJS walkthrough will let you know where you can get the items you need. Cross reference things on the Bazaar and Loot pages of the FF wiki as needed. Keep in mind that several recipes changed between the original game and IZJS!