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The pacing in the older final fantasy games is incredible.

(mainly referring to VII,VIII, IX and X as they are the most clear in my memory)

One thing this series does so well that doesn't seem to be mentioned all that much is the pacing. These games are constantly introducing new areas, characters, skills, weapons, mechanics, enemies, bosses, methods of transportation…etc. They do so without overwhelming the player. You spend enough time in each area to become familiar but without it overstaying its welcome. Yes these games tend to be a bit on the longer side but because of the steady stream of new experiences it never feels like a slog. There is very little backtracking/retreading same ground but when you do its always something meaningful.

Let's take FFVII (original) for example. within the first 5 or so hours you start off in midgar (which within itself has a huge variety of environments and characters), you leave midgar and get a preview of the expansive overworld, you go to kalm, you have a flashback to nibelheim, you catch a chocobo to cross a swamp that is inhabited by a giant snake then you enter a cave. I struggle to think of many similar length games that have so much happen in such a short period of time.

And another aspect that makes these games so consistently exciting is that there are no procedural or random elements to pad the length, besides the encounters of course. This isnt like a rougelike or something like persona 4 (dont get me wrong, I love P4) where the dungeons are floor after floor of identical hallways, every dungeon is handcrafted and interesting.

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This series holds up extremely well in this regard. So many games even today have you running around one area doing repetitive tasks in one environment for significant portions of the game while the FF series in its prime had so much excitement and variety doled out at a perfect pace throughout that the 30-40 hour playtime is gone in a flash. I definitely wish more developers would look at these games for inspiration.


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