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No offense, but I figured all those things out in my initial run, and I never read a guide in my first play of any RPG - I doubt the guides mention those things, anyway. I can't speak for others, but I'm no genius, and I don't cheat, so if I can figure them out in my first run, so can the next person.
Said person is probably one who has experience with Atelier games or games whose focus is crafting. Yes, you can probably figure out how mechanics work, but most people who just wants to enjoy a casual first playthrough won't because why on earth do you want to do research while in a game to learn how to maximize your damage output on a first playthrough? No offense, but I would call these people "obsessed" (the more derogative term is "nerdy").
Besides, if a game required you to learn all the tiny details to get across what are suppose to be fairly normal situations, it's probably one of those really extreme games that only hardcore gamers will play. Totori doesn't require you to learn that much in detail but its efforts to convince you that is the case doesn't go well.
And this is where I think you haven't experimented enough with the game.
I've "experimented" enough (to the extent where the game hadn't bored me, which as I said earlier, 3 complete playthroughs) so I know why I chose the traits that I did.
I went with Power instead of Enchant because the rate I was getting across New Game+ did not change regardless of which one I used (since you had to keep recreate those support tool items). Power was more favorable because having that small extra elemental defense was useful against the extra bosses in the end game which I would always have faced in the end anyway. Between 20% more damage per element which were irrelevant in how quickly I could get access a certain section of the game or additional 10% reduction on elemental damage which was helpful in the end game despite how minor it was, I went with the latter.
Of course neither really mattered because again much of the traits, barring just a selected few, suck in this game. Even if Totori can double the damage on no resistance, it doesn't matter if it doesn't speed up New Game+ battles because that's ultimately the point of making good equipment. Admittedly, I am completely spoiled by Rorona Plus where you can dash through the main storyline just by having at least one powerful weapon trait. But Totori is still absurdly slow even with good equipment and that's just wrong. I mean, you can use Shadow Band like everyone else but that's dumb if you are forced to use that one item to be able to get across quicker, not to mention boring.
Hope, Passion, Effervescent, Tranquility, Intelligence
I, too, played Rorona Plus before this, and I personally find the simpler alchemy system here to be a breath of fresh air after the surprising depth in RP. I never said it was good; all I said was "refreshing" in comparison, like a cup of fresh water after a big feast.
I mean, the level of customization in RP is fun, especially when it's intuitive rather than cryptic like in Iris (Ice Lv.5 x Attack +6 = Dragon Slayer - What the goodness!?), but what's not fun are the artificial limitations in the form of Cost. In Totori, 50 is enough for any traits you want, but in RP you need 300 or more, which is impossible under most circumstances. If I could make one change to RP, I would rescale all Costs to 0~10, or maybe 0~15, and ditch all those "Cost +" traits.
Again, I don't know about you, and I can't speak for anyone else, but my first priority when playing a game where resources (time, items, money) are strictly limited is to discover a self-sustainable cycle, which often exists, intended or not. For example, Duplicate conserves items, but has a high MP cost, so the first thing I tried to figure out once Totori learned it is how to heal MP without wasting time, and then it wasn't hard to find out Rorona's Pie Making can heal MP with certain ingredients. It was an entertaining and satisfying trial-and-error process - and of course, Marc was the guinea pig!
Totori's gear really doesn't matter once she learns Duplicate, and this makes her hands down one of the most item-dependent RPG characters, which, depending on your preferences and playing style, may come across as "weak" or "hard to use." However, I'd say in these Atelier games, it's "whatever floats your boat" - and quite literally, in Totori's case.
"Teamwork is essential, it gives them other people to shoot at."
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