Not Even My Dad Hit Me
I am not in the camp that hated Final Fantasy XIII. It was flawed for sure, but I didn't hate it. That said, SE has gone way out of their way to try and convince us how grate that game and that world is with the sequels (full disclosure I have not played either XIII-2 or XIII-3).
That said, you hit the nail on the head about in retrospect FFXII seemed to be heading in the right direction with the open world free roaming battle system. When I played FFXII I had never played a Western RPG and never touched a BioWare game. Since then I have declared Mass Effect my favorite gaming series and had enough experience with Dragon Age,Fallout, and Elder Scrolls to know that is the type of game I want to play over a traditional JRPG in most cases. I still enjoy JRPGs, but the formula isn't as effective as it was when I was younger. When I look at what SE is trying to do with the Final Fantasy series it is almost like they are trying to cling to what worked in the past but ignoring changes in gamer tastes. But overall I completely agree, in retrospect as I have acknowledged my changing tastes and the changes in RPG console gaming in general, it seems like Final Fantasy XII should have far more sway than it did.
Didn't it influence Xenobloade to some extent? I have not yet played Xenoblade, but I have seen that tossed around some on the net. And I know Xenoblade is loved by most RPG gamers. I really need to pull that game out of my backlog and play it.....
For me, Etrian Odyssey actually helped ease me into FFXII a lot more. The game handles a lot more like a dungeon crawler than, say, FFX.
Also, the fact that I gave it a second chance via the International version didn't hurt either. I REALLY hope IZJS gets some kinda HD remaster release. It's so much better than what we got.
And Xenoblade (which also helped me appreciate FFXII more) is awesone. Whenever I get my games back, I'm gorging myself on that shit.