Guide to Mastering Combat in FFXV and Their Mechanics
Noctis can equip 4 different types of weapon at the same time and switch it freely during a fight. Since each weapon in Final Fantasy XV is suitable to different situations and enemies, it is significant to change it on the fly and use the right weapon against the right enemy based on your circumstances.
Combos and Finisher
Pressing an attack button once leads to a single attack. Held or pressed several times triggers a combo attack and ends with a powerful flow dealing significant damage to enemies.
Combo attacks are available both on ground and in the air based on currently equipped weapons. A lance is great at aerial combos while the greatsword is good at AOE ground attacks.
Aerial attacks are very useful against a gigantic or flying enemy. Locking on an enemy is important while executing aerial combos. Warp-striking is an effective method to initiate aerial attacks. Aerial combos can be extended though certain abilities in an ascension grid.
While Noctis is in an animation of attacking, a player cannot cancel that attack and command him to do other things, including switching weapon, dodge, guard, and so on. So, be careful to only execute combos while an enemy is truly vulnerable.
If a combo is stopped in the middle for whatever reasons, a player can execute a finisher attack, which is another form of a powerful blow. To execute the attack, a player needs to press an attack button while Noctis is taking a step backward and disappearing his weapon.
Any normal attacks, including combos, has an opportunity to strike a critical hit, dealing additional damage to enemies. Some weapon has a buff to increase critical hits chance.
Parry and Counter
Parry and counter are a key to mastering the combat in Final Fantasy XV. They can completely negate enemies’ attack while striking it back at the same time.
If any attack can be parried, an on-screen instructions will appear. When a defense button is pressed at the right time, Noctis parrys that attack leaving his foe to be vulnerable for a counterattack.
A counterattack normally deals 1.5x times damage and has a chance to trigger a link attack with any nearby partner, if he’s about to attack the same target.
Timing is a key to parry. If a defense button is pressed too quick or too slow, the attack will hit Noctis, even though holding the the button. The best time to parry is when the enemy is about to landing its attack.
The red threat meter on the top of the screen appears when a player is about to be detected by enemies. Different enemies reach differently. Some might detect you faster or slower than the others. Normally, the enemies during an early game has a slow response whereas those in the late game can almost instantly attack a player.
As long as Noctis moves to a different direction as a monster’s, he remains stealth, performs a back attack, and even executes a one-hit kill.
Some humanoid enemies in a certain missions can be eliminated immediately though a warp-strike. The only condition to execute this assassination is to remain silence and attack an enemy stealthily.
Warping and Warp-Striking
Noctis can immediately teleport to any direction and destination he throws his weapon. Warping is a key combat mechanic to both dodge an enemy attack, and then attack it a second later. Holding the warp button while facing a warpable location, Noctic will immediately teleport to it and instantly replenish his MP.
Warping to a locked-on enemy can execute a “warp-strike”. It is a great way to initiate an attack. Warp-strike damage is based on a warping distance, the farer the greater. Additionally, it has a chance to stagger an enemy leaving them vulnerable.
However, it is not recommended to spam warping for two main reasons. First, warping greatly depletes MP and quickly leaving Noctis in a MP burst stage where he cannot restore his MP nor performing any moves that used MP. Second, warping can make Noctis too far away from his buddies leaving him a sole target to foes.
Warp-striking is also a great way to finish an enemy since it rewards an additional MP as a bonus.
Attacking an enemy from behind triggers a blindside attack. It deals a critical hit with a chance to perform a link attack with any nearby buddy. The total damage of blindside combining a link attack is several time higher than a normal attack.
Blindside is especially useful when facing a big yet slow enemy. Simply move around and attack it from behind. This trick both deals significant damage to an enemy and avoids its fatal attack at the same time.
Some enemy’s part can be “break” by a certain attack indicated by a reticle. To break an enemy, lock on to it, move around, and attack at the “breakable” spot”. Doing so triggers different result based on each enemy. Mostly, it leads them into a negative and vulnerable stage.
Technique is a special attack executed by Noctis’ buddies, both permanent and guest members. Each technique has different usage and effects. For example, Gladiolus’ first technique, Tempest, can hit several enemies at once within his greatsword range while Ignis’s Mark allowing Noctis to attack all enemies at once one after another.
A technique attack can be used once a technique bar on the left of the screen is full. There are 3 gauges on the bar and each technique attack requires different amount of gauge. The tech bar refills continuously during the battle . As it is reset at the end of each fight, a player should not hesitate to utilize the technique once it becomes available.
Technique attacks can be triggered by pressing the L1/LB button, and then using the direction pad for choosing technique. Normally, the up directional button is for Ignis, left for Prompto, right for Gladiolus, and down for a guest party member.
More technique attacks can be unlocked from the technique tree (APs required) under the ascension grid.
Armiger Ability is unlocked in Chapter 3 after Noctis acquires the Swords of the Wanderer, one of the royal arms. After obtaining the weapon, a new Armiger gauge appears in the bottom-left corner. It is filled overtime during the combat through attacking and defending.
When the gauge is full, press R1+L1 together to execute the Armiger ability, aka Noctis’ Limit Breaks. Upon activating the ability, Noctis’ stats will be increased significantly and completely changes his weapons to all available royal arms. The so called Limit Breaks stop when the gauge is empty.
Wait mode is designed to help a player having a struggle in the game new real-time combat system or being in a pinch situation where the exact command is required. Upon activating the mode, everything will be immediately paused allowing a player to calmly analyze the battle and accurately command what to do next, including using an item, execute the technique attack, casting magic spells, and so on.
In addition, Noctis/Ignis can analysis enemy information, including weaknesses and strengths, through Libra. The ability is available once unlocked from the ascension grid.
For a new player who really has a trouble dealing with enemies, an easy mode difficulty is available through the Pause Menu >> Difficulty. Activating the easy difficulty decreases enemies’ strengths as well as giving you more time in the wait mode.
Damage and Element
There are two types of damage in Final Fantasy XV: physical and magical. Physical damage mainly comes from weapon whereas the magical damage is from spells.
By making the combat more surreal and complex, there are also five elements in the game: fire, ice, lightning, dark, and ballistic. By default, elemental magic is elemental while ring magic is non-elemental. Weapons can be both: some deals non-elemental damage while some is imbued by an element such as a fire sword, an ice spear, and so on.
Certain enemies have weakness and resistant to different weapons. Some resists to a sword yet weak to a spear or vice versa. Enemy’s weaknesses are indicated by 3 different colors from the number of attack damage: white for neutral, orange for bonus damage, and purpose for decreased damage.
To find out enemy’s strengths and weaknesses, simply activate the wait mode and execute Libra. In order to slay an enemy as fast as possible, using the right weapon and element is necessary.