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Breath Of Fire IV is a traditional role-playing video game with an overhead, isometric viewpoint. The game's camera can be manually rotated by the player up to a full 360 degrees in some instances, though unlike Breath of Fire III it cannot be tilted up or down. The game environment is rendered in full 3D, while characters are presented as two-dimensional hand-drawn sprites. While moving about the world, players can interact with computer-controlled characters and objects, gain knowledge about the world around them, and gather clues on how to advance the story. Each playable character is given a special "field skill" that can be used to destroy obstacles or solve puzzles outside of battles, which occur randomly in hostile areas or dungeons. The "Master System" from Breath of Fire III returns, allowing players to customize each character by having them apprentice under different masters found throughout the world. Under their guidance, these characters may gain new skills and special statistic increases by fulfilling certain tasks, such as participating in a certain number of battles, or finding specific items. The fishing mini-game common to the rest of the series also returns, along with the village-building Faerie Town feature from the previous title that allows players to construct a special village that opens new features. Battles take place with teams of three characters against any number of enemy opponents. During these combat sequences, the player can choose which characters will perform an action in any order, as well as switch in any available reserve characters from the back row. While positioned in the back row, a character may not participate in battle, but may regain lost health or magic every combat round, as well as become unaffected by any attacks. Battles end when either all enemies are defeated or all characters in a player's front row are out of health. Each battle yields experience points that go toward earning levels for each character, which in turn grants increased statistics and new skills. New to Breath of Fire IV is the Combo System, which allows certain spells or skills to be cast in a specific order to gain bonus damage or other effects. Casting two ice spells in sequence, for example, will produce a stronger ice attack, while a fire spell followed by a wind spell will create an explosion-based attack. Combos may also automatically occur in single attacks that have more than one effect.
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