Tired of mashing buttons in Final Fantasy XV? Pull off some awesome attack, but not sure exactly how you did it? Luckily we have your back: in this helpful how-to guide, we break down the anatomy of Final Fantasy XV's combat and teach you everything you need to know to pull off epic combos in every single battle.
For expediency, we won't cover every facet of FFXV's combat, including Link-Strikes, Breaks, Blindsides and all the other dynamics. We're just trying to teach gamers not to mindlessly button mash to beat their foes!
With Final Fantasy XV, Square Enix broke the mold and introduced a dynamic action-based combat system. The game's combat now feels more like Devil May Cry than a traditional turn-based Final Fantasy game, complete with combos, timed strikes, effects, and directional blows. In many ways the game takes on the scope of a fighter like Tekken, with reaction time and consistent understaning of combos and weapons being incredibly important throughout.
The basics behind Final Fantasy XV's combat rely on six weapon types: swords, two-handed greatswords, two-handed polearms like lances and javelins, slick and quick daggers, range-based firearms, and the defensive-yet-offensive shields.
Each of these weapon tiers have their own distinct advantages, attack types, combos, speeds, damage output and overall balances, with Square Enix honing each of these weapons to a razor-sharp edge. Below we break down the anatomy of each of these weapons and the combos and attacks that accompany each.
Each weapon has a variety of different attack types in Final Fantasy XV, some of which overlap:
Blitz attacks, which are basic auto-attack combos strung together by simply holding Circle/B in battle;
Finishers, which are powerful blows that require precise timing and can be done at any point during any attack during or after a Blitz combo or regular attack;
Directional Attacks, which require players to hold a direction while attacking and can be performed any time during Blitz combos and even as Finisher moves.
Every weapon has their own Blitz, Finisher and Directional Attack formula, allowing gamers a wide pool of different combo and attack sequences to experiment with.
Here's a basic formula, but remember every weapon and weapon attack is different and you can always mix up the order as you see fit.
Full Blitz Combo -> Finisher -> Directional Attack
For example, you can start up a Blitz attack with a single Greatsword strike, and then fire off the Finisher to whirlwind your sword into a group of baddies.
Need to dish out some damage while dodging attacks? Leap into the air with a polearm and smash baddies with the forward Directional Attack, then effortlessly evade attacks with the backward Directional Attack when the heat is on.
So this formula is also valid:
Basic Attack -> Directional Attack -> Blitz combo -> Finisher
Here's the basics behind Blitz, Finisher and Directional Attacks and how to perform them.
Blitz combos are your basic auto-attack sequences that string attacks together to form combos. Blitz attacks can be interrupted by getting hit by enemies or phase-dodging, and must be uninterrupted to achieve their full effect. Blitz combos have a definite beginning, middle and end that varies with each weapon type. You can stop a Blitz combo at any point, and you're in total control of how many hits of a specific weapon type's Blitz you want to execute.
Basic Blitz formula: Target enemy with R1 -> Hold Cicle/B to initiate Blitz strike
Simply hold down Circle/B while targeting an enemy with any of the six weapon types to initiate that weapon's Blitz combo. Blitz attacks can also be initiated by pressing Circle/B repeatedly, but you'll want to just hold it down to see the different moves for easy identification.
These combos can last up to five to six hits depending on which weapon you're using (check below for a breakdown of each weapon's Blitz speeds).
- Fast speed Blitz - Daggers
- Medium speed Blitz - Swords, Shields, Polearms, Firearms
- Slow speed Blitz - Greatswords
Aerial Blitz combos can only be triggered while using Polearms and Swords.
While these attacks are called "Finishers," you can actually perform them at any time after a simple basic attack, or at any point during or after a Blitz Combo. The Finisher will interrupt the Blitz combo as it requires Noctis to pause, but it won't interrupt the actual combo counter itself.
Note that Finishers can't be performed on their own, and must follow a basic or Blitz attack.
Basic Finisher Formula - Attack or Blitz -> Visual Cue -> Circle/B
In order to execute a Finisher, you have to look out for a specific visual window/cue/prompt that triggers after Noctis performs attacks. This visual window varies with some weapons.
The Finisher for one-handed weapons can only be triggered when Noctis holds out his right arm after a Blitz combo or basic attack; once you see that animation, hit Circle/B to initiate the Finisher.
When using other weapons, the Finisher can be triggered right after the animation of Noctis jumping backward after a simple attack or a full Blitz combo.
Simple Finisher: Visual cue -> Circle/B
Blitz to Finisher combo: Hold Circle/B and initiate a full Blitz combo -> visual cue -> Circle/B
Here's where things get tricky. As Directional Attacks are much more varied to weapon types than other attacks, executing Directional Attacks will take practice, especially if you plan on fusing them with Blitz and Finishers.
Basic Directional Attack formula - Down/Up/Left or Right + Attack (Circle/B) -> Varying Directional Attack depending on weapon used
Executing these attacks requires players to hold the analog stick in a specific direction corresponding to a facing enemy while pressing the attack button. Sometimes these attacks are actually separate combos, so you may have to hit the attack button multiple times.
Unlike Finishers, Directional Attacks can be triggered by themselves and don't require a starter attack.
For example, for a backward swing Directional Attack, you'd hit Down + Attack while facing an enemy.
However, Final Fantasy XV isn't like Super Smash Bros, and not every direction will have a corresponding attack. For example, Daggers and Shields don't have a forward Directional Attack, and Polearms have the most Directional Attacks out of each weapon type.
Noctis can also transition seamlessly from Blitz combos to Directional Attacks at any point. Some Directional Attacks also act as Finishers.
Since Directional Attack is so intimately tied with specific weapons, we've included a breakdown below showing you which weapons have which Directional Attacks and a brief description on what they do.
- Up/Toward (while facing enemy) + Attack - Switches attacks in Blitz combo with a fast vertical slice that's great for hitting jumping/slightly airborne foes, or even enemies that are large in size
- Down/Away (while facing enemy) + Attack - Powerful charge-up attack that can be charged for 3 seconds. Noctis blinks purple when fully charged.
- Down/Away (while facing enemy) + Attack + Attack +Attack - Evasive backflip strike that can be repeated up to two times, ultimately flies forward in a warp strike into foes. Can be used as Finisher.
- Up/Toward (while facing enemy) + Attack - Noctis jumps into the air and lunges downward with equipped polearm
- Left or Right + Attack + Attack + Attack (3x Attack press) - Three-strike combo that appears to have decent reach, good for bigger/aerial enemies
- Down/Away (while facing enemy) + Attack + Attack - Repeatable back-flip dodge transitioning into lunge strike attack
- Down/Away (while facing enemy) + Attack - Linear shield throw that will pierce through all of the targets in the attack's path
- Down/Away (while facing enemy) + Attack - Infinitely repeatable side-step dodge
- Left or Right + Attack - Evasive back-flip dodge transitioning into thrown dagger attack
- All directions + Attack - Dive in any direction Matrix-style while shooting at locked-on foes
In order to achieve deadly combat prowess, I encourage you to play around with these attacks and mix them up on-the-fly. There's a distinct anatomy to Final Fantasy XV's most devastating blows and combos, but the beauty of the combat is it's flexibility: you can adapt to any given situation or enemy type smoothly.
We hope this quick primer helps you conjure up winning strategies to take down even the most fearsome foes, but don't forget to practice! There's so much potential in Final Fantasy XV's combat, and we feel like we've still only barely scratched the surface.
Thanks to Piggyback Interactive's awesome FFXV guide for the tips!