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Final Fantasy XIII Battle System

Known as Command Synergy Battle, this new system is a fast paced evolution of the traditional Active Time Battle System. Designed to be visually similar to the action sequences of Advent Children, combat is much smoother and flashier.

The system is command based, meaning a menu is used to control the actions of characters. Once battle is initiated an ATB gauge begins to quickly fill up, far faster than previous titles which used a similar system.

The ATB Mechanic

Once the ATB gauge fills to a set point, a slot becomes available. At the beginning of the game, the characters will only have two or three ATB slots, however as the characters gain more experience, this number will increase up to a maximum of six slots. Individual commands such as Attack, Fire, Blizzaga, etc can be assigned to slots, either while the gauge is filling or beforehand. Weaker attacks such as attack and fire, will only take up a single ATB slot, however more powerful magic attacks and abilities will take up more than one, but will often do more damage or attack multiple enemies.

The interesting aspect of this system is that you can press triangle to execute any number of chained moves. You can assign one slot to attack, wait for the gauge to fill and then execute a single attack, or you could place Attack, Fire and Launch in three separate slots, and have them executed together. Considering it is possible to both interrupt enemy attacks, and have your own attacks interrupted, it is likely that both short and long chained attacks will be useful. The battle system also has an ‘Auto Battle’ option which will allow the game to choose what it thinks is the most optimal set of attacks for that situation. Most of the time, the Auto Battle does a pretty good job, however, there are times where manual input will be required for more complicated combinations.

The Stagger Mechanic

Another aspect of battles is the stagger system. If an enemy is dealt enough successive damage in a short duration, their status becomes staggered. When this occurs the enemy begins to flash a different color, indicating that they will take more damage, and generally weaker stats, and if the character has the launch ability, the enemy will be thrown into the air. Once an enemy is launched into the air they are relatively defenseless, and attacking a launched enemy increases the time they remain airborne.

The Paradigm Shift Mechanic

One of the most important aspects of the battle system is the paradigm shift. Each character can be assigned a different paradigm or ‘job’ which can be changed mid battle. There are six different paradigms to choose from.


  • Useful for stagger maintenance
  • Controls the other party member’s attack target


  • Useful for fast stagger chains
  • Takes advantage of enemies elemental weaknesses


  • Useful for provoking enemies, and defending their attacks
  • Reduces damage other party members take


  • Useful for inflicting enemies with status inducing magic
  • Highly effective when paired with a Synergyst


  • Useful for providing buffs for party members
  • Highly effective when paired with a Saboteur


  • Useful for curing party members
  • Can revive fallen party members

Each party of three can have up to six combinations of these different paradigms to choose from in battle. The characters learn new abilities and improve their stats through the use of the Crystarium. The Crystarium is similar to Final Fantasy X’s Sphere Grid, except that each character eventually has access to six different Crystarium, one for each paradigm.