Unpopular Opinion - Anyone else just really not like the Materia system?

Jan 25, 2018
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This will probably sound really weird, especially coming from someone who loves 5 and 10's gameplay the most.

Let me start off with a disclaimer: I love FF7, in my opinion, it has the best story out of the whole series, and it gets bonus points for being my first FF. However, here in endgame, I finally realized something I had been struggling with through my entire playthrough. I don't like the Materia system. To me, a good RPG gives me a dynamic cast of classes to play a specific role or job. FF famously has its black and white mages, the thief, the summoner, ect. Even though these classes are present in virtually every rpg, the FF series has a different spin on them that differentiates ITS black mage from, say, a Jupiter adept from Golden Sun.

Anyway back on subject: In every game I expect specific classes and jobs that I can use to make the most dynamic and effective party. And in most FF games it's pretty clear who is who. FF7 however, isn't so clear. The materia system makes everyone a blank slate, with only stats to give you an idea of who should get what. A lot of people find this level of customization to be fun and exciting, I find it frustrating and even annoying in some cases. The system is confusing and doesn't feel rewarding. There is more than one case of character stats aligning. I forget specifics, but I think Red XIII and Vincent had fairly similar stats (I'm probably getting that wrong), and without any unique class skills, I have no idea what the difference between them are supposed to be. So I just ended up equipping the same materia on both and using whichever had better armor and weapons at the time. Skills can be "equipped" without any sense of progression, and while materia can be upgraded, only that one materia gains experience, meaning you'd have to equip multiple of the same materia on your party to gain more than one, "Lightning3" but then they keep on throwing cooler and more useful materia, and early in the game this can actually be pretty difficult to manage, when weapons and armor have few materia slots.

I can already hear the argument, "But you love 5 and 10's progression system so much, and they are all about changing jobs!" Here's the difference: In those games, to gain the skills of other classes, it takes investment. If you wanted Bartz to use black magic as a monk, he'd have to level up as a black mage enough to EARN the black magic skill. In 10, you'd have to travel across the board to gain new skills, or strategically use limited items to jump around the board and gain out of reach skills faster. Due to the rarity of these items for a majority of the game, it takes investment to customize that one character. The materia system is instant gratification. Rather than have a character build up a class in order to earn skills, you can just slap on Ultima and call it a day because it doesn't matter if they've never used magic before. The materia will even increase stats to make the character more proficient at using it. To me, this doesn't make any character stand out. It takes away any uniqueness the character could have, and ultimately had me choosing characters based on their limit breaks or just how much I like them over other characters. Especially during endgame when stats start to even out, I just constantly had Barret and Tifa with me, which sucks because I really wanted to use all the characters equally, but I stopped just because it took too long to transport the good materia to the other characters every time I wanted to use them.

I'm probably just ranting, and my argument is full of holes, but I feel like the materia system really does take away the usefulness of characters. Hopefully all that made sense, and I'm sorry for anyone that read the whole thing.
 
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