Final Fantasy XVI is finally out! I really enjoyed it, giving it an 8.5 out of 10 in the official Game Informer review (which you can read here). And one of the main reasons I enjoyed my 65+ hours with it was the combat. It’s fast-paced and bombastic and continues to grow more and more robust as you play through the game’s story.
However, it can be difficult. As someone with dozens of hours in the game (and still playing more as I stretch into its endgame content) and a pretty good handle on FFXVI’s combat, I’m here to help with that! Here are 10 tips and tricks to help you dominate the battlefield in FFXVI.
Don’t Be Afraid To Use The Timely Accessories
Right off the rip, I want to say this: the Timely Accessories are great and you shouldn’t feel bad using them! Creative Business Unit III put them in the game for a reason, after all. There are five and you can equip up to three at a time. All five can be used right from the game’s start, regardless of if you select to play the easier Story-Focused Mode or more challenging Action-Focused Mode (these accessories are equipped automatically in Story-Focused Mode).
Here’s what each does:
- Ring of Timely Evasion: With this on, Clive automatically evades most enemy attacks.
- Ring of Timely Strikes: With this on, Clive can perform advanced combos and all you need to do is press Square – he automatically handles the rest.
- Ring of Timely Assistance: With this on, Clive’s companion dog, Torgal, automatically attacks and heals in battle without your otherwise-required input.
- Ring of Timely Focus: With this on, time automatically slows down when Clive is attacked, allowing you to press R1 to dodge more easily.
- Ring of Timely Healing: With this on, Clive automatically heals whenever your health reaches a certain point.
Use The Hall Of Virtue To Practice
If you’re struggling against a specific type of enemy, head to the Arete Stone in your Hideaway hub and enter the Hall of Virtue. Here, you can select any enemy you’ve fought against to practice in combat with. There are various options to choose from here, too, to adjust your experience: you can turn on specific data points, such as ones to show you when to use a Magic Burst in your combo and more. You can also adjust how the enemy behaves, from fighting them as you normally would to completely turning off all moves and movement, making them a standing target for you to wail on.
Experiment With Different Eikon Builds
As you progress through FFXVI, Clive will obtain new Eikons to tap into. And with each new Eikon comes a new special ability (attached to Circle) and two slots for additional Eikonic abilities from that Eikon. For example, the Phoenix Eikon, unlocked from the jump, has a special fiery teleport ability that, upon pressing Circle, quickly phase shifts Clive forward in a direction. But you can use two Phoenix-specific moves on a cooldown timer by pressing R2 + Square or R2 + Triangle.
With each Eikon comes a new Circle ability and two more R2 abilities (and you can unlock more using Ability Points). Because of how each varies and interacts, it’s essential to experiment with these. Try different combos, see how certain moves benefit from coming before or after other abilities, and ultimately, find what works best for you. My favorite trio is Phoenix-Garuda-Bahamut.
Master Your Favorite Eikonic Abilities
After unlocking an Eikonic ability, you can upgrade it by spending even more Ability Points, and after upgrading it, you can spend more to “Master” it. This is important because mastering an ability allows you to use it differently. Not only is it more powerful when mastered, but you can also use it with different Eikons. For example, if you master one of Garuda’s abilities, you can equip the Bahamut Eikon and attach a Garuda ability, meaning you don’t have to equip Garuda in one of your three Eikonic slots to tap into her abilities. Mastering abilities opens up the Eikonic abilities to even more mixing and matching, giving you even more customization for combat.
Use Limit Break Both Offensively And Defensively
In some of FFXVI’s most difficult fights, you’ll find yourself using all of your potions and elixirs to heal. But sometimes, even that won’t be enough. Fortunately, you have Clive’s Limit Break ability (unlockable during a specific story mission in the game). By pressing L3 + R3, Clive uses Limit Break and while this increases his attack power and speed, it also heals him. The more damage you do, the more Clive heals. So when you need a quick heal, don’t forget about Limit Break.
Nail The Timing Behind Precision Dodging
While it’s possible to pull off parries in FFXVI, it’s pretty tricky due to how fast-paced combat is in the game. However, precision dodges are much easier to pull off. Right before an enemy’s attack lands, press R1 and Clive dodges away. If done correctly, you’ll see “Precision Dodge” pop up on the screen, and there will be an extremely brief window of slowed-down time, opening the enemy up for a bigger attack. Quickly press Square after a Precision Dodge to perform a counter, which does more damage than a standard Square attack from Clive. I’d wager I dodged thousands of times during my first playthrough of FFXVI, and it saved me more times than I could count – learn to dodge and do it often!
Pick The Accessories That Work For You
You’ll find dozens of accessories as you play through FFXVI and some are better than others. But that’s for you to decide! Some accessories decrease cooldown times for specific Eikonic abilities, while others increase the damage of an ability. In contrast, others are more general, like one of my favorites that increases all combo damage by 5%. Don’t just pick the ones with the most significant boosts – pick the ones that best fit your build.
I play very combo-heavy, so the 5% boost makes sense. But if you rely more heavily on using abilities vs. massive combos, you might find that an accessory that increases your ability’s damage output works better for you. Some accessories increase the gil (currency) you earn in combat, and another increases how much experience you earn. If you need extra gil or are looking to prepare for New Game+ by leveling up a lot, you might consider switching to one of them.
Garuda Is A Must-Equip Eikon
No matter how hard I tried, Garuda remained a must-equip Eikon for me throughout my 65 hours with FFXVI, and it’s because of her Circle ability. With her equipped, pressing Circle shoots forward a claw that grabs enemies and pulls them toward you. It’s an excellent ability in any scenario, but it’s especially helpful against larger enemies with a stagger bar. That’s because when you deplete half of an enemy’s stagger bar, they lose their step for a few seconds. You can attack them however you want during these few seconds, but if you use Garuda’s Circle ability, Clive pulls the enemy to the ground, extending how long they remain partially staggered. Do this every time until you get into a rhythm, and then thank me later.
Focus On That Stagger Bar
Smaller enemies in FFXVI don’t have stagger bars – just wail on them until they go down. However, larger enemies, including minibosses and bosses, have stagger bars. When you stagger an enemy, they go down for anywhere from 10 to 20 seconds, opening them up to various combos and attacks. It’s here where you do the most damage because they also take increased damage when staggered. That’s why you want to focus on that stagger bar vs. the health bar. And Clive has specific combos and Eikonic abilities designed with that in mind. With each Eikonic ability, there are a number of stars (out of five) to indicate how well it damages enemies and depletes the stagger bar. Remember this when selecting abilities, and ensure you have at least a few that more heavily target that stagger bar.
Treat FFXVI Like A Fighting Game, Kinda
Okay, so obviously FFXVI isn’t a fighting game – it’s an action RPG. But because its action is so dependent on combos, you’ll quickly find that the way to victory is min-maxing the time Clive spends wailing on enemies vs. getting wailed on. Right now, after 65 hours in the game, I can perform my go-to combo, which consists of using every ability I have equipped alongside standard attack combinations, with my eyes closed. And that’s because it’s the combo that worked best for me.
Like fighting games, you’ll find that specific enemies have certain tells, openings, and moves that you can directly counter with your own combos. You’ll want to make mental notes of this and take advantage of it whenever possible, especially against tougher enemies with stagger bars. Basically, if an enemy gives me the right opening, I have a go-to combo that utilizes a specific set of moves, every Eikonic ability at my disposal, and more, and it rules. However, it’s not something I could pull off on the fly, so memorizing it (like I’d learn a specific combo in a fighting game) was crucial to my combat success.
For more about FFXVI, be sure to read Game Informer’s Final Fantasy XVI review. And if you’re looking for details and insight into the development of this game, head to Game Informer’s FFXVI exclusive coverage hub for various features breaking down the game’s combat, score, and more.
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