This guide is based on both versions of the game, and differences will be marked accordingly. There are quite a few of them and while not every difference has been discovered, some of them are so minor that there's no reason to elaborate on them. So anything for the X360 may not work for the PC and vice versa. This guide can be something of a starting point or tutorial, though I will assume that you have some familiarity with the game. I will not be holding your hand through this, and this is not a walkthrough. The player should be able to figure out story progression on their own, or look it up in the appropriate place. This is also not a low BR guide (there's already several of them out there), but I do recommend keeping BR in check for efficiency in stats and arts training. There will be a bit of a PC bias in this guide as that's the version I usually play.
During the porting process, many changes were made for the PC version. The wiki already provides a list of them and is likely finished, so I won't go over any of them here. Instead, head over to the differences page to see what's changed. There may be a few small changes that aren't noted, but they're probably so minor that it's a non-issue. The PC Tweaking page will also have some additional info that may be of interest, such as reducing texture pop in.
The Battle Rank (BR) is one aspect of the game that many will constantly worry about. DON'T. It's not there to hurt you. It's really there to help you if you notice it scaling EXP gains. Really. As long as you keep an eye on unit progression relative to how quickly your BR is rising, it's nothing to fret about.
You can get an approximation of what the BR difference is by looking at starting morale. If it's equal, then the difference is fairly small (-9 to +9 of enemy BR). If it's on the extremes, then the difference is much larger (at least ±10). On the PC, you can tell even before the seeing the morale bar by listening to what the starting track is. The only times it doesn't work is against story and special battles as those will play the designated track. On the X360, the only choice is looking at the morale bar. For both, checking the normal attack command's string can give a slightly better approximation as there are 5 ranges.
The Increasing BREdit
As BR goes up, various things in the game will change. At the very beginning, BR starts at 1 and can go all the way up to 255. Progressing through the game will inevitably increase BR, and will then affect these things:
- increased enemy HP and stats (based on passing certain Encounter Rank thresholds)
- enemies will use new and higher tiered arts
- units will upgrade equipment/"buy" materials if they've been active
- units will "clone" accessories based on its Equipment Rank
- unique leaders will ask about a new Mystic and Item Skill
- Dragons/Brynhildr/Abelisks → Dread Dragons/Glorious Brynhildr/Noble Abelisks
What Increases BR?Edit
Every battle won will increase BR. There's nothing you can do to stop the gains (unless you cheat). So what does influence BR gain? These things:
- winning a battle (losing obviously means a Game Over, so no BR gain!)
- Chain count, fewer unions/units killed = lower gains
- Accruing a high Chain does increase BR gain, but the increase isn't exactly noticeable. Most apparent when using the Wisdom's Echo grind → takes quite a bit before BR goes up, though that may be because of a few union KOs along the way as well.
- Base BR gain per union terminated is 20. So at the beginning of the game, you will always have gained 60EXP before heading to Athlum (2 Jhana unions, 1 Raptor union).
- number of KOs during battle, more KOs = lower gains
- a random factor (?)
- BR difference between parties
- There is a significant difference in BR gain when the BR difference is larger. Like with the stat EXP and weapon strengthening EXP, the bigger the difference in the enemy's favour, the larger the gains.
OK, it is there to hurt you if you think that mindlessly grinding for hours on end is going to get you anywhere. In that case, you probably deserve the massive beating you'll likely get from those little spiders. Really, using your head will get you very far in this game.