Help Question about the level curve

VillainFan42

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Okay, so I’m slowly beginning to warm up to FF8 but I still have a very large issue with it, and I’m wondering if I’m doing something wrong.

See, I’m currently in the prison at the start of Disc 2. I just beat Biggs and Wedge but I wasn’t able to draw that much magic from them. In addition, it seems like my attacks are barely damaging most enemies but I’m barely taking any damage in return. I have absolutely no clue how well I’m leveled up. Am I doing something wrong? I mean, I’m doing no more damage now than I was at the start of the game, but nothing has really done that much damage to me either. I’m trying to draw magic and junction stats but nothing seems to work. The difficulty/leveling curve in this game is bullcrap!
 

ZaXo Ken'Ichi

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Okay, so there are two things you need to know about FFVIII; one that the game makes clear, and one that it doesn't.

The thing the game doesn't make clear, is that enemy stats scale with your party. So leveling up on its own is useless, and can actually be a detriment if you don't use the other systems in the game effectively.

The thing the game does try to make clear, is that Junctioning is everything. There is a mountain of tutorials about Junctioning, because it's such a different system from the norm.

Final Fantasy VIII is broken, but not in the way you believe. It's broken, because it's actually extremely easy to make every battle in the game trivial.

Step 1, which will destroy any semblance of challenge pertaining to random battles, is to defeat Diablos. He gives you access to the No Encounters ability. This will prevent you from leveling up, which will prevent enemies from growing stronger (since you're not leveling up any longer).

Step 2, is to Junction correctly. Junctioning comes off as a lot more complicated than it is. The core of Junctioning is really simple... take a stat you can junction magic to... and junction whatever spell makes that stat go up the most. Then simply don't use that spell (or at least don't overuse it) as long as it's junctioned, otherwise that stat will decrease the less of that spell you have. It's genuinely no different than equipping weapons or accessories or whatever in every other J-RPG; find the one that has the biggest numbers, and equip it. The spells that are most effective are usually the ones that correlate with that stat too. So for example, Cure will raise your HP stat more than Fire will because it's a restorative spell, but Fire will raise Strength more because it's destructive, etc. The more of a spell you have, the more it will raise the stat too. And the more powerful variants (Cura VS Cure) will raise the stats even higher on top of that. It's really straightforward.

The thing that I think catches people up, is that the game also allows you to junction spells to resistances and such. This can be useful for sure (and works the same exact way as junctioning to any other stat does), but makes the system seem more confusing than it actually is.

Since enemies scale with your level, but not with your junction boosts, staying at a low level and then junctioning will utterly destroy the game's balance. Using high level spells, you can max out your HP and Strength for example, and still be fighting level 4 enemies which will do next to no damage to you, and you can one-shot with any attack. And while there are guides all over the internet explaining how you can win X Triple Triad card from this guy, and turn that card into Y spell or whatever, you don't need any of that. Simply checking each new enemy type you come across to see if you can draw something new/powerful from them, is all you need to worry about. Do that, and use draw points when you find them, and you're golden. Seriously... make your search for spells to draw your priority. It's a bit tedious to actually draw magic, but it's worth it.

You technically don't need to use No Encounters and stay at a low level if you don't want to. And in fact, if you want the most balanced experience, it's best to not use No Encounters. But if you don't mind making the game an utter cakewalk, use that in conjunction with junctioning, and you'll have no more problems.

The only other tip that would potentially matter, would be that you should always be aware of what abilities are most effective to learn from your GFs. Like No Encounters, there are some extraordinarily powerful abilities that can further break the game. Of course there are ones like HP +X% or whatever, which are always useful. But there are also ones like Kamikaze, which permanently kills a character (for the rest of that battle), but they first use an attack that ignores the damage cap of 9999. Or Recover, which fully heals a party member with absolutely no cost other than the use of that single turn. These super powerful abilities are late game abilities for sure, and I believe most of them come from optional GFs. But the point is, you can break the game to an even higher degree with these. And you'll probably need them, because even with all of this, the last area and the last string of bosses can be rather difficult.

And beyond all of this, technically there's also a way to get a bunch of items that can temporarily make all of your characters invincible for a short time, as well as items that up your chance to use Limit Breaks. So you can start a battle with low health, use the limit break item, then make yourself invincible, and then just spam limits without worry of taking damage. Seriously... FFVIII is broken. But again, it's because it's super, super easy to break. And the only real barrier is understanding how the systems work. Once you know that, the rest of this stuff literally falls into your lap.

The devs clearly wanted you to use the junction system, because without it, the game is incredibly difficult. Playing it like a traditional FF is a real challenge for sure. But even if you junction just a bit, things will even out a ton for you :)
 

VillainFan42

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Thanks for the explanation. For the record, I have been trying to junction properly and I already know about enemy level scaling. I also took the time to get Diablos, but I’m not using the No Encounters option out of principle. I’m not trying to trivialize the game, I just think that by Disc 2 my attacks would deal more than 80 damage. My main issue is that I seem to have difficulty drawing high-level magic. In the Biggs and Wedge fight, for instance, I could only Draw 1 Regen at a time, and even then only Rinoa seemed to be able to and my other party members failed entirely. Is my ability to draw tied to Magic or Spirit? Am I just going to have to go out and grind 99 of every spell for everyone just to junction properly?

And again, a good chunk of my confusion stems from the fact that even though I’m weak, most enemies don’t do that much damage to me either. At the same time, though, it seems like my attacks barely scratch them. There’s a distinct possibility I might be doing a bad job managing GFs but I’ve done my best to stay on top of that. I’ll show you what I’ve got once I get out of the prison and can use my preferred party (Squall, Rinoa, and Irvine) again.

I really want to like Final Fantasy VIII. I really do. But the game is just so completely user-hostile that I can’t enjoy the good parts of the game.
 

Dreams-of-Gaia

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Hi! I am playing FFVIII for the first time too and I am at CD3.
Just adding to what Zaxo said, you can stack up to 100 of each magic so the more magic you have, the more it will raise your status when you junction.

Also, when you add magic to your attack or resistance, you have to be careful if the enemy is not resistance or strong against it. For example, if you junction fire to your attack, your attacks will be fire-based and so, you will deal more damage to enemies which are weak to it, but will make you weaker against enemies which have resistance to it (it will actually heal them which can be very inconvenient). It can really change the course of a battle.

Also, when you level up certain GFs, be very cautious of what they are learning. You have to plan beforehand what you want your characters to do, for example, Squall is going offensive attacker, Rinoa will go magic, Selphie will go magic as well, etc. and junction only GFs which make them raise those status. (I am still trying to figure out what to do with Irvine though hahaha). Make your GFs learn the abilities to give you more boosts (like +40% attack, +40%magic, etc).

Try to draw the more of high level spells (Curaga, Firaga, Blizzaga...) and the game will be really easy before you know it. You can also draw them from some of the missions with Laguna's party and they will be transferred to your party members when they go out of the dream world.

For some reason too, some characters are better at drawing magic, take Selphie and Rinoa, while others may only get 1 or not draw anything at all, like Irvine and Laguna. It may have something to do with how proficient the character is at using magic, yet I can be mistaken at this...
 

ZaXo Ken'Ichi

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Thanks for the explanation. For the record, I have been trying to junction properly and I already know about enemy level scaling. I also took the time to get Diablos, but I’m not using the No Encounters option out of principle. I’m not trying to trivialize the game, I just think that by Disc 2 my attacks would deal more than 80 damage. My main issue is that I seem to have difficulty drawing high-level magic. In the Biggs and Wedge fight, for instance, I could only Draw 1 Regen at a time, and even then only Rinoa seemed to be able to and my other party members failed entirely. Is my ability to draw tied to Magic or Spirit? Am I just going to have to go out and grind 99 of every spell for everyone just to junction properly?

And again, a good chunk of my confusion stems from the fact that even though I’m weak, most enemies don’t do that much damage to me either. At the same time, though, it seems like my attacks barely scratch them. There’s a distinct possibility I might be doing a bad job managing GFs but I’ve done my best to stay on top of that. I’ll show you what I’ve got once I get out of the prison and can use my preferred party (Squall, Rinoa, and Irvine) again.

I really want to like Final Fantasy VIII. I really do. But the game is just so completely user-hostile that I can’t enjoy the good parts of the game.

The enemies are doing low damage partially probably because of your level (as well as anything you have junctioned to Vitality), and partially because... well, that's the norm for the series. Everything but bosses in the series traditionally does crap for damage, because they're designed more to wear you down over time throughout a dungeon, as well as to be canon fodder for leveling up. They'll be doing damage relative to what your HP is without spells junctioned to it obviously, so if you'd only have 800 HP or something without something junctioned to it, enemies will probably be doing between 50-100 damage with normal attacks. But if you then junction something that brings you up to 2000 HP, it'll seem like they're super weak.

As far as your damage output is concerned, that's entirely based on your Strength if I recall. I don't even think new weapons do much, since their stat boosts are low. So Strength is what you want to boost to do lots of physical damage.

As far as drawing magic is concerned, the effectiveness of the Draw command is tied to the Magic stat. Though, rarer or more powerful spells will technically always be more difficult to draw effectively than more common/weak spells. In my experience, you don't need to raise your Magic stat by an enormous amount to draw terribly well. I've never kept Magic in mind when drawing, and I've never had too much trouble.

You don't need to grind for 99 of every spell. But it's always wise to to a bit of drawing regardless. And if you find a spell really boosts a certain stat, you might want to make it a priority to get it to 100. If you're playing the Steam release, that should take about a minute or so to go from 0-100, since it has the speed boost feature. If you're playing the PS1 or original PC port, most common spells should never take more than three to five minutes to max out at worst. The best place to draw is technically from draw points outside of battle though (you always draw at least one spell, and usually it's significantly more than you'd get from an enemy with that same spell... maybe their Spirit stat makes drawing harder), and they also often have the better spells until you start exploring side areas.

Dreams-of-Gaia is correct as well that spell elements can effect your damage output when they're junctioned to your Strength. I never have a problem with this, but I also generally put non-elemental magic on my Strength, or else use spells that don't have attack properties (like Cure or whatever) until I can get better spells like Ultima. I didn't mention it because I forgot, lol. But also because I find that junctioning well usually trivializes the need to be element-conscious when junctioning.
 

FinalxxSin

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See, I’m currently in the prison at the start of Disc 2. I just beat Biggs and Wedge but I wasn’t able to draw that much magic from them. In addition, it seems like my attacks are barely damaging most enemies but I’m barely taking any damage in return.
I wouldn't worry too much about your damage output as you can get access to the Meltdown magic later on which will lower the enemies physical defense to 0 allowing your characters to cap out physical damage a lot easier. If possible, I'd recommend keeping your levels low until you get a new means of transportation in disc 3. Once you have that, you can go to the Island Closest to Hell and/or the Island Closest to Heaven that have increased random encounter rates. If you have GF Cactuar's bonus stat abilities equipped, your character with that GF will get increased bonus stats each time they level. Like it has already been mentioned, you can break the game fairly easily. The difficulty doesn't come from the battles, but rather understanding the Junction System and mastering it. Granted, Mastering Triple Triad will also help greatly as well. Enemies will level with you, but the optional GF Tonberry has a Level Down and Level Up ability that will allow you to manipulate the level of most enemies in the game.
 
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