Command Synergy Battle (CSB) is the battle system in Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2. It was designed by Toshirō Tsuchida. It derives the flow of time from the Active Time Battle system, as each character has their own ATB gauge. The player controls the party leader, and the computer controls the two others.
- 1 Command input
- 2 ATB gauge
- 3 Chain gauge
- 4 Paradigm Shift
- 5 Battle score
- 6 Final Fantasy XIII-2 features
- 7 Behind the scenes
- 8 Etymology
- 9 References
- See the individual Paradigm Role pages to see the exact AI mechanism for each role.
Commands can be either input manually or via the Auto-Battle feature. Selecting the commands manually from a list of available commands is identical to how it works in the other games in the series, but Auto-Battle selects commands automatically for the player. The commands drawn up with Auto-Battle are not random, but depend on the battle situation: the party's health and the foe the party is currently fighting.
How much information on the foe the player has unveiled on its bestiary page affects the commands chosen in the Auto-Battle: If the foe's elemental weaknesses are unknown, a Ravager tries to hit it with different elements to unveil this info. Once a foe is known to be weak against an element, the Auto-Battle command only brings up commands of the element the foe is weak to, if the character in question knows these abilities.
The ATB gauge acts like an action point meter divided up into equal segments (a similar system was used in Enix's game Robotrek). Each action consumes a portion of the ATB gauge. For example, attacking consumes one point, while casting a powerful spell consumes three. Full ATB skills use up the whole gauge. Items and Techniques are used independently, and do not consume any segments.
Commands can be chained so as long as there are enough action points. When the player decides on what commands to take, they press another button to execute the commands. If the player executes the chained commands without filling all ATB segments, the unused amount of the bar will remain. While a character is executing a series of commands, or is stunned by an attack, the ATB gauge will stop increasing.
In Final Fantasy XIII, most characters started off with two ATB segments. They gain one when becoming l'Cie, and gain one more when they obtain their Eidolon. Thus, the minimum final size of the ATB gauge is four segments, as an additional segment is gained via the Crystarium system, and one more is gained by equipping a Tier 3 weapon. In Final Fantasy XIII-2, all characters start off with at least 3 ATB segments.
Enemies also have an ATB gauge, but unlike the player, enemies can only stock one command per turn. Enemy abilities still consume a various number of ATB slots, so the enemy will need to spend a variable amount of time between turns.
ATB gauge speed
Final Fantasy XIII
The speed the gauge fills on screen depends on how many ATB segments the character has in their ATB gauge. The speed shown below is when battle speed is set to "Normal"; if the configuration settings are set to "Slow", the fill speed is halved.
|ATB Level||ATB Speed||Time per Bar||Full Recharge Time|
|2||62||~1.6 sec||~3.2 sec|
|3||72||~1.4 sec||~4.2 sec|
|4||92||~1.1 sec||~4.3 sec|
|5||110||~0.9 sec||~4.5 sec|
|6||128||~0.8 sec||~4.7 sec|
Final Fantasy XIII-2
|ATB Level||Full Recharge Time||Time per Bar||Speed (Against Base)|
|3||4.32 sec||1.44 sec||100%|
|4||4.46 sec||1.11 sec||130%|
|5||4.66 sec||0.93 sec||155%|
|6||4.79 sec||0.80 sec||180%|
Statuses and passive abilities
Certain status effects and passive abilities affect the speed the ATB gauge fills. The base ATB speed is determined by the ATB level (how long the gauge is); statuses and passive abilities affect only the base ATB speed. The slowest gauge speed is -90%. Slow and Haste cancel each other out. The Daze status pauses the ATB gauge.
|Haste||Haste spell, Fortisol, Hermes Sandals, Sprint Shoes||+50%|
|ATB Rate: +◯%||Synthesized ability||+10 to +30%|
Certain abilities help the player fill the ATB gauge.
|Lifesiphon[note 1]||Commando auto ability||+1 Segment|
|Faultsiphon[note 1]||Commando auto ability||+20% of a Segment|
|Fearsiphon[note 1]||Ravager auto ability||+10% of a Segment|
|ATB Advantage[note 2]||Whistlewind Scarf||Start battle with a full Segment|
|First Strike||Aurora Scarf||Start battle with a full gauge|
|Kill: ATB Charge[note 2]||Speed Sash||+50% of a Segment|
|Attack: ATB Charge[note 3]||Axis Blade||+10% of a Segment|
|Attack: ATB Charge II[note 3]||Enkindler (and Omega Weapon upgraded from Enkindler)||+20% of a Segment|
Another way to have a full ATB gauge at the start of battle is to enter a battle with a preemptive strike.
Both enemies and player characters have chain gauges. The enemies' chain gauges fill when the players attack them, and the rate at which an enemy's bar can be filled depends on its chain resistance. The more resistance the opponent has, the slower the party can fill its chain gauge.
When the player fills the enemy's chain gauge fully, it enters a state known as "stagger", and its chain resistance falls to zero. The player can rack up chains much faster and, depending on the enemy, may gain other advantages, such as being able to launch it into the air, or cause it to lose its immunity to certain types of attacks.
The paradigm shift system becomes available in Final Fantasy XIII in Chapter 3. The player can choose between six roles, and the preset combination of character roles is called a paradigm. The player can shuffle through the settings while in battle to change battle tactics on the go.
The ATB gauge continues to increase during a Paradigm Shift, although commands cannot be input or carried out by the player for its duration. Any queued commands will be canceled and the unused portion of the ATB gauge will be saved. Shifting paradigms also fully refills everyone's ATB gauge at a regular interval; there is a 12 second cooldown time for this effect after each time it activates. The computer-controlled characters have their commands automatically selected immediately following the shift.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 features
Cinematic Actions are scripted cinematic sequences that prompt for a button input, similar to Reaction Commands from the Kingdom Hearts series. At times, the player will have to choose between two commands, and this will affect the scenes and battles to come.
Failing a cinematic action sequence doesn't bring about adverse effects, but succeeding can bring about offensive or defensive benefits. Correct Cinematic Action inputs may result in benefits such as an enemy going into stagger/taking stagger damage, or Serah and Noel gaining beneficial statuses.
It is possible to obtain bonus items for correctly performing all Cinematic Actions within certain boss fights, a total of five throughout Final Fantasy XIII-2. Each of these is a type of adornment with a crystal theme. The achievement/trophy, "Trigger Finger", is awarded for completing all five of these Cinematic Action sequences perfectly without failing once, though if mistakes are made the player may retry the battles using the Gate Seal mechanic to achieve a perfect result.
All visual effects an enemy had before the Cinematic Action started are carried into the cutscene.
Ally monsters can perform unique abilities. To use a Feral Link ability, the party needs to fill the Feral Link gauge, and the ability is initiated by pressing /. To boost the Feral Link's powers, a feature called Synchronization requires pressing buttons or rotating the analog sticks, similar to Cinematic Actions.
Sometimes when an enemy attacks, it may lower a character's maximum HP. This "wound damage" (blood damage in the Japanese version) appears with text "WOUNDED" in dark red. Characters are recovered from wound damage after every battle, by use of Wound Potions, Elixirs, or Phoenix Downs, or through certain Feral Links. It is possible to deal wound damage on enemies with Saboteurs.
When at full health, a character's HP gauge is green. As they take damage, the lost HP is represented by a depletion of the green part of the gauge, with the part of the gauge representing the damage being red. When an enemy attacks, its attack may additionally inflict wound damage, resulting in a depletion of the character's effective maximum HP. This is indicated by a third part of the gauge, shown transparent, indicating the wound damage. Wound damage cannot be recovered by conventional healing, and so the character's HP cannot be restored above the limit of the red part of the gauge.
|Serah COM HP 500||
In this example, Serah's current HP is 500, out of a maximum of 750, and the red gauge indicates 150 HP lost to normal damage, which can be restored. However, the gray section (transparent in-game) represents non-recoverable HP that has been lost to wound damage; thus 100 HP is removed from Serah's maximum HP until the "wounds" are healed by items, Feral Links, or automatically through time on Easy Mode.
Via paradigm tuning, the other party members' AI can be changed out of battle in the paradigm menu with different settings for various situations. These are: Normal, which automatically adapts to the situation; Wide (lit. "Spread"), which makes each party member target a different enemy (or ally, when healing and buffing); and Cross (lit. "Concentrate"), which makes everyone act on a single target. Certain Paradigm Tunes change the names of paradigms to have a letter at the end, for example "Aggression-X".
The suffix -X is added to "Cross" tune meaning the paradigm will concentrate on a single enemy unit. The suffix -W is added to "Wide" tune meaning the paradigm will spread its attacks on all enemies. Paradigms with no suffixes will follow their "original" tunes. When a paradigm is set to a Cross tune, Serah will only use the sword form of her weapon regardless of distance, and while one is set to Wide, she will only use the bow form. Standard tuning will have her switch according to distance.
This function, added to the battle command menu, allows the player to manually switch the party leader between Serah and Noel. Party Leaders can be changed in battle manually, or when the current leader is KO'd. This allows many different strategies due to a wider range of abilities being able to be manually utilized per battle.
Behind the scenes
Yuji Abe has commented the Command Synergy Battle system in Final Fantasy XIII as thus:
When Final Fantasy XIII entered development, the console-generation of the PlayStation was new and fresh. We tried to work with the power of the new technology and the pure, classic style was not possible. We wanted a system that lived up to the graphics and smooth animation of the characters. A static battle-system like the ATB was not the best solution, but we tried it at the beginning.Yuji Abe in an interview with German gaming site Spieletester
Yoshinori Kitase, the producer of Final Fantasy XIII, has stated that at the time they were planning for another Final Fantasy title there was an emerging trend in the gaming industry where FPSs were becoming more popular. The developers wanted to keep away from the traditional JRPG style of tactical and command-based gameplay, and instead incorporate elements of speed and action. Kitase says they hadn't thought of this particular battle system prior to Final Fantasy XIII, but that it didn't take long to produce.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 adds new elements to the battle system, such as the Cinematic Actions. Motomu Toriyama, the director of Final Fantasy XIII-2, has mentioned that adding plenty of different outcomes throughout the game was one of the developers' main goals and that it was their vision to incorporate the cinematic action sequences with command battles. Toriyama called this their first step to having a fully cinematic battle scene.
As opposed to Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2 does not have any seamless battle transitions due to the recruitable monsters not appearing in cutscenes.
Yuji Abe has later commented on what he views the system's weaknesses:
[...]I feel that by relying on setting AIs and switching between different pre-set combinations it creates a distance with the player and makes it much less accessible for everyone to get into the system. Another point that I feel might be a weakness of this system is that it dilutes the feeling of immersion by not having one specific character for the player to inhabit, something that many players want from RPGs.Yuji Abe for IGN
These concerns were behind with developing the battle system in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
Synergy is the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts. The term synergy comes from the Attic Greek word συνεργία synergia from synergos, συνεργός, meaning "working together".A synergist is a substance, organ, or other agent that participates in an effect of synergy.
- Interview with Motomu Toriyama and Yuji Abe for Spieletester (Accessed: August 01, 2020) at Lightning Returns News
- Q&A: FFXIII's Yoshinori Kitase and Isamu Kamikokuryo (dead) (Accessed: July 24, 2012) at Wired
- Final Fantasy XIII-2 Creators Talk Time Travel, Sequel Development, & More (Accessed: August 01, 2020) at Game Informer
- Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Devs Answer Your Questions (Accessed: August 01, 2020) at IGN