The main walkthrough is in a “power style”. That is, optional tasks are covered as soon as they become available. Side quests are incorporated in the walkthrough. While shops detail are in a different section. If you follow the guide closely you will find most of the time you are too strong for enemies. Bosses that are supposed to hold you a few turns won’t even play a single turn. If you do not prefer this style then you can always play differently using the guide in your own way. The guide includes another walkthrough in the appendix section. That walkthrough is dedicated entirely for Excalibur II. The second walkthrough do not include maps or screenshots because the main walkthrough already have them. It would be wise if you played the game normally first then give Excalibur II a try. You will be referring to the main walkthrough, especially the maps during your run-through for the sword. The second walkthrough also end when you have obtained the sword. From that point you can use the main guide to complete remaining side quests.
You can access the main menu by pressing the triangle button. The item menu allows you use, arrange or view key items you have. In the ability section you can either use or equip an ability on the character. The equip menu is where you can equip your character with weapons, armors & add-ons. You can also use the optimize feature which automatically choose the best available equipments for a character. The status screen shows information of your character equipments, needed exp to attain next level and abilities learned. The order feature lets you decide who should be in the front or back row. The card menu is where all information of your cards are stored. Finally the Config menu is where you can set up the game to your liking. Important things in the Config menu are ATB and Battle Speed. Setting ATB to “wait” gives you the flexibility of choosing your commands in battle while the enemy waits. In “Active” mode the enemy plays without waiting for your command choice.
For a character to use abilities you have to equip him/ her with the weapon, equipment or add-on that possesses that ability. Learning abilities is permanent, that is once a character has learned the specified ability, he/ she can use that ability without the required item. To learn abilities you need AP which is dropped from enemies. Bosses and friendly foes drop a decent amount of AP. You can also boost the process of learning abilities by adding Ability Up in a character ability. Based on your character level you are given a certain number of points. You can use those points to add the desired abilities you want for a character. Consider learning abilities that protects against negative statues first.
An active time event allows you to witness events of your other characters while they are outside your party. To view an ATE you need to press the “Select” button to trigger the event. You do not have to watch all ATE the game has to offer. However, some ATE reveal a little more information about your characters and some even give you rewards. There is also some ATE that you are forced to watch and you cannot do anything about it. During a normal run-through you can watch all ATE as it doesn’t affect anything. But if you are aiming to get Excalibur II you should skip all ATE to avoid losing unnecessary time.
On the world map or certain places battles can occur randomly while you are on foot. Battles can can be avoided if you are on a Chocobo or airship. So basically without a transportation method you cannot avoid random encounters. If you don’t have any prior experience to related games then set the ATB in the Config menu to “Wait”. This gives you time to choose your commands during battle while the opponent waits. You can battle with your entire party (4 max) or you can battle alone by annihilating other members. You receive more EXP points from battles with a single character.