As you play Final Fantasy IV, you will constantly have new characters join your party and old characters leave it. At any time, you can have anywhere from one to five characters in your party, as determined by the plot. In some versions of the game, you can pick which party members face the final boss. Otherwise, it's out of your hands.
Different characters bring their own talents to the table. Furthermore, the game is designed so that your party will be capable of dealing with any challenges it faces where you need to go. Just be sure to learn your characters' new abilities.
The overworld of Final Fantasy IV consists of a variety of terrain, such as grasslands and forests. Players gain access to various vehicles throughout the course of the game, which may aid them in their travels. When the player reaches a special location, such as a town or a dungeon, the game zooms from the overworld map into a new map for the specific location. This is where most of the notable events in the game occur, including story segments, boss fights, and problem solving. Towns will sell items and equipment, and provide lodging for a small fee to restore your party's health.
When wandering throughout the overworld and in dungeons, you will fight random encounters. The enemies you face in these encounters depend on the area of the world you are currently traveling in and the terrain. Oceans and rivers have their own set of enemies. There are no random encounters while riding on the airship or in towns.
The game may be saved at any time in the overworld. In locations, special spots can be found midway through dungeons and locations. Be sure to save often, especially in dungeons, where a save spot is often a sign of a tough fight coming up.
Combat in Final Fantasy IV uses an Active Time system. Characters charge up a bar over time, and when the bar is full, the player can give them a command. If the game mode is set to Active, the bar charges at all times, even while in menus. Enemies also charge up this way, meaning that players should make their decisions as soon as possible. You can also set the game mode to Wait to halt the flow of battle while in menus.
Although different characters have different abilities, a few commands are common. For instance, all characters can Attack an enemy to inflict physical damage with their weapons or use Items. Characters can Defend to reduce damage taken or use the Row command to either get behind other party members to take less damage, or go in front of other members to maximize physical attack power.
Characters have Health Points, or HP. Battles are won when the enemy's HP are reduced to zero, and they disappear. If a party member loses all their HP, they fall, and cannot fight again until they are healed in or out of battle using specific items or magic.