For this post, I’m just talking about PS0’s single-player campaign.
Problem: Once the player hits the boss, they have nowhere to gain XP.
After adventuring through a dungeon for two hours, the party reaches the area’s boss. Unfortunately, the boss kicks their butt, and sends them back to their home base. The teleporter out of their base will return them directly to the boss fight, and in the meantime, they have nowhere else they can go to earn experience.
The player has two options. They can throw themselves at the boss again, but with no way to gain experience and power, they’re sure to lose. Or, they can abandon their quest and gain XP elsewhere – but they’ll have to spend another two hours going through this dungeon if they want to fight the boss again. (And even then, they have no way of knowing if they’re strong enough yet.)
The main source of this problem is the final boss. She waits at the end of a 2-3 hour dungeon, and is significantly harder than anything else in the dungeon (or in the game.) It’s entirely likely that the player’s party will be eradicated the first few times they meet this boss. I had to gain about 10 levels to beat the final boss, and I tried fighting her every 3 levels or so – that meant that I ran through her entire dungeon 4 times before I was strong enough to beat her.
Solution: Allow players to access XP-building zones while in the middle of a quest.
Phantasy Star 0 has two mission types: quests, and ‘access field.’ The quests have plots and progress the storyline, whereas the field allows the player to run around an area just to adventure and level up. The player can only be on mission at a time, and must abandon their mission to start a new one.
To fix the boss frustration, that restriction should be raised so that the player can be on one quest and one field mission at the same time. That way, if the player gets stuck in their quest progress, they can set the quest aside for a while and run through fields to gain levels and items. Whenever they feel like testing their strength against the boss, they can do so. They’ll jump straight to the boss fight, and the only cost for failure is their time and the cost of the items they use.