The combat in Final Fantasy XVI is the fastest the series has ever seen, with rapid-fire combos and seamless transitions that make tearing monsters apart a visceral, well-paced, and immensely satisfying experience.
If you’re having trouble with the new combat system, don’t worry. Even series veterans and action-game connoisseurs must learn basic melee combos before transitioning from a Garuda Wicked Wheel into a Titan Upheaval.
This beginner’s Final Fantasy XVI combat guide will walk you through the fundamentals of battle, including melee combos, extending combos with magic bursts, charged attacks and launchers, and the Eikon summon system. Let’s dive right in!
How To Practice Combat in Final Fantasy XVI
Early on in Final Fantasy XVI, you’ll gain access to the Hideaway: a hub area that lets you talk to NPCs, upgrade your equipment, and take on quests. Perhaps the neatest part of the Hideaway is the Arete Stone, a glowing pillar located across from Charon’s shop. This stone allows players to revisit past levels, try their hand at an arcade mode, and—most importantly—access XVI’s training mode.
By accessing training mode, you can perform combat modes in a stress-free environment. Even if you haven’t reached the Hideaway yet, there’s nothing stopping you from clearing out an enemy encampment and trying new combos on the fly. If you’re having trouble with one of the concepts in this guide, consider taking a break from the story, finding a safe space, and spending a few minutes just practicing.
Melee Strikes and Basic Melee Combos
|Ground Melee Strike Combo (up to 4 hits)||Square (up to 4x in a row)|
|Air Melee Strike Combo (up to 3 hits)||Square (up to 3x in a row)|
Melee attacks make up the foundation of the combat in Final Fantasy XVI. Pressing the Square button causes Clive to perform a melee strike with his current weapon. Melee strikes can be chained to create combos.
When on the ground, Clive can string up to four melee strikes in sequence by pressing the Square button four times. Clive can perform a maximum three-strike combo when in mid-air. The input window for each melee strike is large, so simply spamming the Square button is enough to perform a full combo successfully.
Jumping and Dodging
|Precision Dodge||R1 (just before an enemy strike lands)|
Press X on the ground to make Clive jump into the air. In combat, a jump is mostly used to kick off an aerial combo.
Pressing R1 will make Clive perform a dodge. If you time the dodge right when the enemy strike is about to land, you will perform a Precision Dodge, which temporarily slows the enemy down.
Using Magic Burst
|Magic Burst||Triangle (just as Clive’s strike lands)|
Pressing the Triangle button right as your melee strike lands will cause Clive to perform a Magic Burst, which is a small explosion that deals magical damage. This is a mechanic you should dedicate some time to practicing. The input window for a Magic Burst is tight and requires some training to nail consistently. It’s worth the effort, though, as Magic Burst greatly boosts your damage output, as we’ll get into in the next section.
Tip: Spend your Ability Points to level up your Magic Burst, as the trigger window is extended with each level, making it easier to consistently perform a Magic Burst.
How To Enhance Skills and Combos With Magic Burst
|Melee Strike Combo||Square, Triangle, Square, Triangle, Square, Triangle, Square, Triangle|
|Enhanced Lunge||Square + X, Triangle (just as strike lands)|
|Enhanced Downthrust||(when in the air) Square + X, Triangle (just as strike lands)|
The reason you want to get good at performing Magic Burst is simple, as this skill can be used to extend your melee combos and enhance your other melee abilities.
You can perform a Magic Burst after each melee strike in a combo, potentially extending it from a four-hit chain to a chain that hits up to eight times. This also works for aerial melee combos.
Pressing Triangle after a Downthrust or Lunge will also cause Clive to follow up the attack with a Magic Burst.
Unless you’re dealing with a Magic-resistant enemy, you’ll want to use Magic Burst whenever possible. The damage potential is just too great to pass up.
Using Charged Attacks
|Burning Blade||Hold Square (release to perform)|
|Charged Magic||Hold Triangle (release to perform)|
Holding your Melee (Square) or Magic (Triangle) button will make Clive perform a charged physical or magical attack, respectively. Basically, these work as stronger versions of your melee strike and magic attack.
The primary use of Charged Attacks is to break through enemy defenses. Charged Attacks are guard breaks—moves that break through shields and guard moves, staggering the target. Use Charged Attacks when dealing with an enemy with a seemingly impenetrable defence.
Buffering Charged Attacks
Charged Attacks can be integrated into your melee combos with the use of tech buffering. Buffering means you press the inputs to perform a move while another move is in motion. Say, for example, you’re in the middle of a standard melee combo (Square, Square, Square, Square). At any part in that combo, you can press and hold Square to start charging your Burning Blade. This also works for the Charged Magic ability.
Upgrading your Charged Attack with Ability Points helps reduce the charge time for Burning Blade and Charged Magic, allowing you to pull off Charged Attacks faster. This makes it much easier to buffer Charged Attacks and alternate between standard melee strikes and charged moves.
|Aerial Burning Blade||Hold Square (release when in the air)|
|Charged Magic||Hold Triangle (release to perform)|
A launcher is any move that causes an enemy to be launched into the air. There are many launchers in Final Fantasy XVI, but since this is a basic combat guide, we’ll only be focusing on the Aerial Burning Blade and Charged Magic launchers.
Not all enemies can be launched. Most large and heavy enemies cannot be launched into the air, so launchers do not work on them.
The Aerial Burning Blade is one of the quickest launchers in the game. Performed by charging a Burning Blade and releasing it just after jumping, it’s fast and effective against lighter enemies.
With proper tech buffering, you can use the Aerial Burning Blade to easily transition from a ground melee combo into an aerial melee combo. Just buffer a Charging Blade in the middle of your ground combo, jump just as the combo ends, and release the Charging Blade in mid-air. This will launch the enemy, leaving them vulnerable to a follow-up aerial combo.
Charged Magic will launch enemies that are 1) downed or 2) currently in mid-air. You can use this to extend your aerial combo by buffering a Charged Magic and hitting the opponent just as they land. This is much harder to perform consistently than the Aerial Burning Blade launcher described above.
We hope you learned something from this beginner’s Final Fantasy XVI combat guide that will help you kick butt. These tips will give you a solid foundation as you explore the world of Valisthea and discover the complexities and nuances of combat.
Don’t forget to have fun! This is the deepest action combat we’ve seen yet in a Final Fantasy title, so don’t expect to master it all in an evening. Immerse yourself in the world and, with time, you’ll be buffering, dodging, and chaining with the best!
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