The Legend of Dragoon – How Random Battles Work

    These battles are not-so-random after all.

    Sure, The Legend of Dragoon might be a brand new addition to the PS Store and PS Plus Premium catalog, but it’s still very much a game released in 2000. As such, you’ll be contending with “random battles”, a traditional JRPG staple that’s contentious among the genre’s fans. There’s good news, though. In the same way that the game adds its own spin on combat with the “Addition” system, The Legend of Dragoon has a twist on the concept of random battles.

    A screenshot of the menu screen in The Legend of Dragoon highlighting the options and the ability to change how long the map icons stay on screen.
    This is the options menu where you’ll be able to choose how often you’d like the encounter indicator to remain on screen.

    While the way you encounter enemies is similar to most other JRPGs from this period, The Legend of Dragoon alerts you to how close you are to your next fight. When you’re out exploring the world, a blue triangle will appear above Dart’s head. This indicator serves a similar purpose to the gloved hand from Final Fantasy VII, ensuring you can keep track of where you are in the prerendered environments. Unlike FFVII, The Legend of Dragoon‘s icon also tells you how close you are to getting attacked by a mob of monsters in a random battle.

    Through default settings, this marker will remain on screen at all times (besides the world map). Through your menu, you can change this under “Config”. The setting is referred to as “Note”. You can change it from always-on to only appear when you enter an area, or to never appear.

    Understanding the Marker and Random Battles

    A gif of Dart running around the Limestone Cave exit until a he enters a random battle in The Legend of Dragoon.

    The behavior in the GIF above will be familiar to anyone who’s done any grinding JRPGs of old. You run wildly back and forth across an area until you’ve got yourselves an enemy encounter. As you can see, the indicator above Dart’s head changes from blue, to yellow, to red. This lets you know how close you are to your next battle. Like in most of its contemporaries, standing still won’t get you any closer to a scuffle. Only moving will affect these odds.

    Thanks to this system, random battles aren’t so random. You can see how soon you’ll need to fight. This lets you know if you can make it from one map to another unscathed or if you should be steeling yourself. Each battle will reset the color and distance you can move before the next, too. Meaning you won’t run into the scenario present in some games where you walk a single step after your last victory only to encounter more enemies.

    How To Avoid Random Battles

    Thanks to hardcore The Legend of Dragoon fans, we know more about how the game calculates how soon your next battle will be. As it turns out, walking in certain directions actually increases or decreases how fast your next fight approaches. Walking up and to the right will slow your encounter rate, while walking down and to the left will do the opposite. I was able to test this when recording the GIF above and anecdotally, I found this held true. While there’s little you can do if you must go in a certain direction, it’s good information to keep in mind if you’re low on resources in a dangerous area.

    One surefire way to lower the odds that you’ll need to draw your sword is to use a Charm Potion. When used outside of battle, this item will lower your encounter rate. Charm Potions are available for cheap from many of the game’s merchants, but do note that they take up valuable space in your limited inventory.

    Why Not To Avoid Random Battles

    Unless you’re getting lost and doing a lot of confused backtracking, The Legend of Dragoon has an unobtrusive encounter rate, and you won’t be constantly dragged into battle. It’s good that you welcome the ones you come across as an opportunity to level up your party’s Additions, stats, and Dragoon level. If you take on these fights as they naturally occur, you probably won’t need to do much grinding throughout the game’s four discs.

    The Legend of Dragoon is available now for $9.99 on PS4 and PS5. Users who previously purchased the game on PS3 or PSP can download the new version for free. It’s also available in the Classics Catalog for PlayStation Plus Premium subscribers.

    Check out other guides for your first (or tenth) playthrough of this classic JRPG:

    BusterSwordBoy is a video game enthusiast who writes about them here, plays them live on Twitch, and talks about them endlessly to anyone who will listen. Subjectively believes that the PS2 is objectively the greatest console of all time, but also loves games from far older hardware, and new releases as well.

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