I first heard of Exp Share–a mechanism where all party members gain experience points regardless of whether they are in battle or not–in Pokemon. Many RPGs have several levels of it. Sometimes it’s only for members of your current team. Sometimes it’s for the entire list. Its absence or limited implementation is especially striking when reviewing older games like character 4 and compare them with newer ones like Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. While it may seem like a minor quality-of-life feature at first, its presence–or lack of it–can have a huge impact on the game, making you play much differently than you do. your.
I call it Experience Sharing because that’s the name in Pokemon and it doesn’t seem to have another widely recognized name. In the case of Pokemon, Exp Share starts out as an actual item that you can give to an individual Pokemon so that it gains experience even without participating in battle. It is especially convenient for upgrading low-level monsters into normal party members. Exp Share has finally become an item that distributes experience points to your entire team. Starting with Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu and Let’s Go, Eevee, it’s built into the game as a default mechanic rather than an item that you need to get.
It’s not a Pokemon-only addition, though. Just last year, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and One Piece Odyssey both offered their own versions of Exp Share. These games feature multiple characters with distinct abilities, enough to encourage players to experiment with them. In particular, in Xenoblade 3, it’s almost a crime to ignore your Heroes (seventh party member) when there are so many classes to try. All of your main party members are there to stay, but it will be a difficult task for even the most diligent players to level up each Hero individually. By allowing Heroes to accumulate experience points even when they are not in combat, it opens up opportunities for experimentation and variety that would otherwise be unattainable.
Even One Piece Odyssey, the first time Bandai Namco has created a One Piece RPG, is a much more seamless experience thanks to this mechanic. Instead of worrying about honing all your characters on the same level, you can continue the story using any character you want.
Exp Share seems to be a welcome, natural element in any RPG, making it all the more noticeable in its absence. That’s why I felt so annoyed when I picked Persona 4 and couldn’t find Exp Share. Persona 4 Golden was ported to the Nintendo Switch earlier this year, but it’s essentially the same 2012 version for PlayStation. I didn’t start craving Exp Share until I recruited the fifth member of my party, at which point I was forced to start preparing the characters. Then, investing in new characters seems counter-intuitive as their Social Links (another part of Persona 4)’s complex ecosystem are much less developed than the ones I already have. . Even if later recruits gain Social Links faster, adding them to the team still feels like a temporary disadvantage as they lack the combat bonus I have with veteran members .
At first, the lack of Exp Share made me unwilling to experiment because it meant leaving the other team members behind the rest. However, I do realize that you can technically review dungeons to level up all characters if you want. It’s not an ideal solution, but there’s still a way out.
Exp Share helps you do not need to spend time plowing levels for characters that are not in your main group. In Persona 4, I learned to drop myself into dungeons more often so I could play with other characters instead of just relying on the time I had to to continue the story. You have to come back, even without new plot-related content, to level up party members. Otherwise, you risk leaving less-used members behind. It looks like Altus has finally decided that its legacy system is also obsolete, as Persona 5 has Exp Share built in. At least for now, Persona 4 is the last major Persona release without this feature.
Fire Emblem is one of the few series that still doesn’t use Exp Share (with a few exceptions, like Path of Radiance). Fire Emblem Fates, which works similarly to the franchise’s newest entry, Fire Emblem Engage, also convinced me to choose carefully how to level up my most prized characters. You can’t spend endless time leveling up a character. Instead, you have to plan which characters will take on the main quest and which will level up in the side quests so that they keep up with the group. Fates has a limited number of side quests per chapter, so you only have a handful of chances to level up your character before moving on to the next chapter.
However, it never feels like the game suggests that you only use a handful of characters and ignore the rest because of the type’s weakness. The Fire Emblem game emphasizes strategy, so you should use the units that work best in a particular battle. It’s a more conscious decision than it was in Persona 4, which doesn’t stop you from leveling up other characters but forces you to grind to do so. Meanwhile, Fates (and Fire Emblem in general) forces players to pick and choose which characters to invest in because of the limited number of battles. It also allows players to experiment without Exp Share because you can control multiple units in each battle instead of just four at a time like in Persona.
“Mix” is the keyword here. It gets tough if you’re fighting enemies or repeating dungeons for no other reason than to earn XP. Fates manages to avoid being crushed because the missions don’t overlap. Even if you are fighting the same type of enemies, they still appear on new maps in different situations. You don’t repeat the map to get XP and there’s not even an option. In short, it sacrifices the experimentation you might have had with the entire cast for a more streamlined experience.
I still love Persona 4. In the end, I revisited the dungeons and unlocked the Social Links because I liked the new characters and wanted to use them. However, Exp Share will alleviate that need for brooding and help me focus on advancing the story. That makes me wish that games without Exp Share would at least have an alternative or more optimal setup–like in Fire Emblem, where it’s a deliberate, strategic decision.
Exp Share has become more and more popular in RPGs over time, and I can’t blame the developers for focusing on things that make it easy for players to experiment with different characters without feeling like they are. repeating content. I still feel nostalgic whenever a game forces me to do old-fashioned resource management without it. Still, it’s a mechanic that has freed up hours of my time by easing the monotonous crushing that turn-based RPGs used to be famous for, and that’s certainly something to be grateful for.
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