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Sazh enacting a Paradigm Shift.

Each party member is assigned an offensive, defensive, or healing role. Executing a Paradigm Shift will allow the player to change each character's role. Using different paradigms for different situations is key to winning these real-time battles. Quick thinking and smart tactics keep the battles intense and enjoyable.

UK XIII-2 Official Website

A paradigm (パラダイム, Paradaimu?), also known as an optima (オプティマ, Oputima?), is a party composition based on roles in Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2. The player can preset up to six paradigms when outside of battle. During battle the player can freely switch between the preset paradigms via L1/Left bumper, also known as a Paradigm Shift (パラダイムシフト, Paradaimu Shifuto?) or an Optima Change (オプティマチェンジ, Oputima Chenji?). Setting paradigms and shifting at optimal times during battle is the core of formulating winning strategies.

In Final Fantasy XIII-2, paradigm names' suffixes may change according to the Paradigm Tune the player has selected for each paradigm. The player has only two main characters, but once the Paradigm Pack option unlocks the player can include a third party member from their roster of captured monsters.

Shifting paradigms 1,000 times in Final Fantasy XIII-2 earns the player the "Strategist" achievement/trophy.


The Paradigm Shift menu in battle.

The Paradigm menu.

Roles (ロール, Rōru?) are a gameplay element unique to Final Fantasy XIII. The system is akin to past Final Fantasy job systems, however, each role resembles a mix of jobs. Monster allies in Final Fantasy XIII-2 have only one role each, and thus when paradigm shifting with monsters in the party, the monster itself changes to another monster whose role corresponds with the chosen paradigm.

The names differ between the English and the Japanese releases:

Lightning also has six additional roles in her DLC episode of Final Fantasy XIII-2:

  • Paladin (PLD) / Attack Paladin (ATK-PLD), a role similar to Commando.
  • Mage (MGE) / Blast Wizard (BLA-WIZ), a role similar to Ravager that uses lightning-attribute magic attacks.
  • Shaman (SHA) / Blast Shaman (BLA-SHM), a role similar to Ravager that uses wind-attribute physical attacks.
  • Knight (KNT) / Defense Knight (DEF-KNT), a role similar to Sentinel.
  • Conjurer (CNJ) / Enhance Adept (ENH-ADP), a role similar to Synergist.
  • Sorcerer (SRC) / Jamming Witch (JAM-WTC), a role similar to Saboteur.

Each role is set to a character by default, although after a point, the player can freely switch between roles for each character outside of battle.

The localization team was asked to help with the naming of the roles, and the team intended to use different names in Japan and the US/EU from the start. The English translators brainstormed and proposed both sets. For the Japanese version, they needed English words that sounded cool when rendered into Japanese, and would be understood by non-English-speaking Japanese players. For the localized version, the team's focus was on creating names that would have a more sci-fi feel to a native speaker's ear, and also abbreviate to three letters in a way that looked natural and made the short forms easily distinguishable from one another.[1]

Paradigm Shift[]

Paradigm Shift in Final Fantasy XIII-2.

The ATB gauge continues to fill 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 for this effect after each time it activates. The computer-controlled characters have their commands automatically selected immediately following the shift.

In Final Fantasy XIII, the first Paradigm Shift in each battle has a longer animation, which can be bypassed by only shifting during an animation that cannot be cancelled by the Paradigm Shift.

  1. During an Attack command special animation (gunshot for Lightning, rifle shot for Sazh, three-sectioned staff blows for Fang).
  2. While airborne, either launched by an enemy or attacking a launched enemy.
  3. While using a character's full ATB skill.

Circumventing the long animation will make the next shift have the long animation.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 removes the long animation from the initial shift to reduce time spent shifting between various paradigms. If a battle begins as a result of the Mog Clock running out, the initial paradigm shift will not refill the party's ATB gauges. Shifting will also be disabled for the first few seconds if the Clock Master Fragment Skill is set to "High speed", unless a Preemptive Strike is obtained. Since the third space in the party is filled by Paradigm Pack monsters with differing HP levels, the HP percentage remains constant between monster companions when switching. For example, a monster at critical health will transfer its critical status to the monster switching in, and a KO'd monster will remain KO'd. Since only the percentage remains the same, the monster ally's hit points can potentially increase or decrease dramatically when the role is switched.


With six roles and three maximum playable party members, it is possible to set up to 83 paradigms, sorted in the tables below by the number of contributing party members. The names for these paradigms remain the same from Final Fantasy XIII to Final Fantasy XIII-2.

Names shown in brackets are direct translations from Japanese.


Name Role Description
(Attacker(Name in Japanese: アタッカー))
Commando Attacks enemies with the goal of dealing as much damage as possible.
(Blaster(Name in Japanese: ブラスター))
Ravager Attacks enemies with the aim of quickly building chains.
(Defender(Name in Japanese: ディフェンダー))
Sentinel Draws and defends against the attacks of enemies.
(Jammer(Name in Japanese: ジャマー))
Saboteur Focuses on weakening opponents, debilitating them when overwhelmed.
(Enhancer(Name in Japanese: エンハンサー))
Synergist Focuses on augmenting offense and defense, defending when overwhelmed.
(Healer(Name in Japanese: ヒーラー))
Medic Concentrates on healing and recovery.


Name Role 1 Role 2 Description
Double Trouble
(Double Attacker(Name in Japanese: ダブルアタッカー))
Commando Commando Each COM attacks its own target.
Slash & Burn
(Attack & Blast(Name in Japanese: アタック&ブラスト))
Commando Ravager COM and RAV combine their attacks to take down one enemy at a time.
(Attack & Defense(Name in Japanese: アタック&ディフェンス))
Commando Sentinel SEN focuses on drawing enemy aggression while COM attacks.
Divide & Conquer
(Attack & Jamming(Name in Japanese: アタック&ジャミング))
Commando Saboteur SAB debilitates enemies and COM attacks them.
(Attack & Enhanced(Name in Japanese: アタック&エンハンス))
Commando Synergist COM attacks enemies, augmented by SYN's enhancements.
War & Peace
(Attack & Heal(Name in Japanese: アタック&ヒール))
Commando Medic COM attacks enemies while MED concentrates on healing.
(Double Blaster(Name in Japanese: ダブルブラスター))
Ravager Ravager Both RAVs concentrate their attacks on the same target.
Arcane Defense
(Blast & Defense(Name in Japanese: ブラスト&ディフェンス))
Ravager Sentinel SEN draws enemy aggression while RAV attacks.
(Blast & Jamming(Name in Japanese: ブラスト&ジャミング))
Ravager Saboteur RAV attacks while SAB attempts to weaken enemies.
(Blast & Enhanced(Name in Japanese: ブラスト&エンハンス))
Ravager Synergist RAV attacks enemies, augmented by SYN's enhancements.
Yin & Yang
(Blast & Heal(Name in Japanese: ブラスト&ヒール))
Ravager Medic MED heals while RAV attacks enemies.
Twin Shields
(Double Defender(Name in Japanese: ダブルディフェンダー))
Sentinel Sentinel Both SENs defend against enemy attacks.
Stumbling Block
(Defense & Jamming(Name in Japanese: ディフェンス&ジャミング))
Sentinel Saboteur SEN protects SAB, who attempts to weaken enemies.
Building Block
(Defense & Enhance(Name in Japanese: ディフェンス&エンハンス))
Sentinel Synergist SEN protects SYN, who focuses on strengthening the party.
(Defense & Heal(Name in Japanese: ディフェンス&ヒール))
Sentinel Medic SEN protects MED, who concentrates on healing.
(Double Jammer(Name in Japanese: ダブルジャマー))
Saboteur Saboteur Both SABs attempt to quickly weaken and debilitate enemies.
Tide Turner
(Jamming & Enhance(Name in Japanese: ジャミング&エンハンス))
Saboteur Synergist SAB weakens opponents while SYN focuses on strengthening the party.
Sap & Salve
(Jamming & Heal(Name in Japanese: ジャミング&ヒール))
Saboteur Medic SAB weakens opponents while MED handles healing.
(Double Enhancer(Name in Japanese: ダブルエンハンサー))
Synergist Synergist Both SYNs focus on quickly strengthening the party.
(Enhance & Heal(Name in Japanese: エンハンス&ヒール))
Synergist Medic MED handles healing while SYN focuses on strengthening the party.
Double Dose
(Double Healer(Name in Japanese: ダブルヒーラー))
Medic Medic Both MEDs concentrate on healing.


Name Role 1 Role 2 Role 3 Description
Cerberus Commando Commando Commando Each COM attacks its own target. Effective for picking off weaker enemies.
(Furious(Name in Japanese: フューリアス))
Commando Commando Ravager RAV and one COM attack a common target while other COM attacks its own.
Offensive Screen
(Legion of Steel(Name in Japanese: 鋼のレギオン))
Commando Commando Sentinel SEN defends against dangerous attacks while COMs focus on dealing damage.
(Aggression(Name in Japanese: アグレッション))
Commando Commando Saboteur COMs attack separate targets while SAB weakens dangerous opponents.
Strike Team
(Leap of Two Heroes(Name in Japanese: 躍進の両雄))
Commando Commando Synergist COMs attack separate targets while SYN supports with enhancements.
Tireless Charge
(Unshakable Conquerors(Name in Japanese: 揺るぎなき覇者))
Commando Commando Medic COMs attack separate targets while MED supports with healing.
Relentless Assault
(Rush Assault(Name in Japanese: ラッシュアサルト))
Commando Ravager Ravager COM and RAVs focus on taking down one target at a time.
Delta Attack Commando Ravager Sentinel SEN draws enemy aggression while COM and RAV attack a common target.
(Warring Demons of Destruction(Name in Japanese: 撃滅の戦鬼))
Commando Ravager Saboteur COM and RAV combine their attacks while SAB attempts to weaken enemies.
(Storming Dragon-Tiger(Name in Japanese: 風雲の龍虎))
Commando Ravager Synergist COM and RAV coordinate attacks, augmented by SYN's enhancements.
(Brave Paean(Name in Japanese: 勇戦の凱歌))
Commando Ravager Medic COM and RAV coordinate attacks while MED supports with healing.
Guarded Assault
(Impregnable(Name in Japanese: インブレグナブル))
Commando Sentinel Sentinel SENs defend while the lone COM attacks. Limited in effectiveness.
Dirty Fighting
(Rebellion(Name in Japanese: リベリオン))
Commando Sentinel Saboteur COM attacks enemies weakened by SAB while SEN defends against them.
Strategic Warfare
(Rousing Challenger(Name in Japanese: 奮起の挑戦者))
Commando Sentinel Synergist COM attacks and SEN defends while SYN strengthens them.
(Determination to Victory(Name in Japanese: 勝利への決意))
Commando Sentinel Medic MED heals and SEN defends while COM attacks enemies.
(Calamity Circus(Name in Japanese: カラミティサーカス))
Commando Saboteur Saboteur COM attacks while SABs attempt to weaken dangerous enemies.
(Leader's Counterattack(Name in Japanese: 逆襲の魁))
Commando Saboteur Synergist COM, augmented by SYN's enhancements, attacks enemies weakened by SAB.
Scouting Party
(Blessing to the Hunters(Name in Japanese: 狩人への祝福))
Commando Saboteur Medic SAB weakens opponents while COM attacks them and MED heals the party.
All for One
(The Lionheart King(Name in Japanese: 獅子心王))
Commando Synergist Synergist SYNs strengthen COM, who picks off weaker enemies in the meantime.
Hero's Charge
(Indomitable Warrior(Name in Japanese: 不屈の戦士))
Commando Synergist Medic COM dispatches targets with healing and support from MED and SYN.
(Patriotic Ambitions(Name in Japanese: 青雲の志士))
Commando Medic Medic Both MEDs focus on healing while lone COM attacks enemies.
Tri-disaster Ravager Ravager Ravager All three RAVs combine their attacks, attempting to quickly fill chain gauges.
Mystic Tower
(Vanguard(Name in Japanese: ヴァンガード))
Ravager Ravager Sentinel RAVs combine their attacks while SEN protects them from dangerous enemies.
Smart Bomb
(Catastrophe(Name in Japanese: カタストロフィー))
Ravager Ravager Saboteur RAVs combine their attacks while SAB weakens dangerous opponents.
(Mage Parade(Name in Japanese: 魔道のパレード))
Ravager Ravager Synergist RAVs coordinate their attacks, augmented by SYN's enhancements.
(Spirits' Oratorio(Name in Japanese: 精霊のオラトリオ))
Ravager Ravager Medic MED heals while RAVs combine their attacks against a common target.
Patient Probing
(Intercept(Name in Japanese: インターセプト))
Ravager Sentinel Sentinel SENs defend while the lone RAV attacks. Limited in effectiveness.
Matador Ravager Sentinel Saboteur RAV attacks enemies weakened by SAB while SEN defends against them.
Riot Shield
(March of the Intercept(Name in Japanese: 迎撃のマーチ))
Ravager Sentinel Synergist SEN defends while RAV attacks, augmented by SYN's enhancements.
(Hymn of Defense(Name in Japanese: 抗戦の賛歌))
Ravager Sentinel Medic SEN draws enemy aggression while MED heals and RAV attacks.
(Sense of the Turbulent Storm(Name in Japanese: 感乱の嵐))
Ravager Saboteur Saboteur RAV attacks enemies heavily weakened by two SABs.
(Strategical Rhapsody(Name in Japanese: 謀略のラプソディ))
Ravager Saboteur Synergist RAV attacks while SAB weakens enemies and SYN strengthens the party.
(Dexterous(Name in Japanese: デクスタラス))
Ravager Saboteur Medic SAB weakens opponents while RAV attacks and MED heals.
(Unparalleled Force(Name in Japanese: 無双のフォース))
Ravager Synergist Synergist RAV attacks enemies, heavily augmented by two SYNs.
(Bravery(Name in Japanese: ブレイヴァリー))
Ravager Synergist Medic MED heals while RAV attacks enemies, augmented by SYN's enhancements.
Perpetual Magic
(Majin of Immortality(Name in Japanese: 不死の魔人))
Ravager Medic Medic RAV attacks enemies while MEDs rapidly heal the party.
(Great Wall(Name in Japanese: グレートウォール))
Sentinel Sentinel Sentinel All three SENs tighten their defenses. Effective for withstanding area attacks.
(Fortress(Name in Japanese: フォートレス))
Sentinel Sentinel Saboteur SENs protect SAB, who attempts to weaken enemies. Limited in effectiveness.
(Twin Iron Cliff(Name in Japanese: 鉄の双璧))
Sentinel Sentinel Synergist Both SENs defend while SYN strengthens the party. Limited in effectiveness.
(Impregnable Fortress(Name in Japanese: 不落の砦))
Sentinel Sentinel Medic Both SENs defend while MED heals the party. Limited in effectiveness.
(Tactical Avenger(Name in Japanese: 策謀の復讐者))
Sentinel Saboteur Saboteur SEN protects SABs while they weaken dangerous enemies.
(Beacon of Counterattack(Name in Japanese: 反撃の狼煙))
Sentinel Saboteur Synergist SEN defends while SAB weakens opponents and SYN strengthens the party.
(Resistance(Name in Japanese: レジスタンス))
Sentinel Saboteur Medic MED heals and SEN defends while SAB attempts to weaken enemies.
Prudent Planning
(Mighty Guard(Name in Japanese: マイティガード))
Sentinel Synergist Synergist SEN protects two SYNs while they strengthen the party.
(Guardian of the Patient(Name in Japanese: 忍耐の守護者))
Sentinel Synergist Medic SEN defends while MED heals and SYN focuses on strengthening the party.
Combat Clinic
(Phoenix(Name in Japanese: フェニックス))
Sentinel Medic Medic SEN protects two MEDs while they concentrate on rapid healing.
(Ashura(Name in Japanese: アシュラ))
Saboteur Saboteur Saboteur SABs attempt to quickly weaken and debilitate even resistant enemies.
(Merciless Disaster(Name in Japanese: 無慈悲なる災厄))
Saboteur Saboteur Synergist SABs attempt to weaken enemies while SYN supports with enhancements.
Safe Subversion
(Chorus of the Underworld(Name in Japanese: 冥界のコーラス))
Saboteur Saboteur Medic SABs attempt to weaken enemies while MED supports with healing.
(Formidable(Name in Japanese: フォーミダブル))
Saboteur Synergist Synergist SYNs strengthen the party while SAB attempts to weaken enemies.
Evened Odds
(Trinity Union(Name in Japanese: トリニティユニオン))
Saboteur Synergist Medic MED heals while SYN strengthens allies and SAB weakens enemies.
(Tenacious Strategy(Name in Japanese: 執拗なる計略))
Saboteur Medic Medic MEDs concentrate on healing while SAB attempts to weaken enemies.
Rapid Growth
(Trismegistos(Name in Japanese: トリスメギストス))
Synergist Synergist Synergist All three SYNs focus on strengthen the party to take on powerful enemies.
(Fruitful Showers of Blessing(Name in Japanese: 恵みの慈雨))
Synergist Synergist Medic MED heals while SYNs focus on strengthening the party.
(White Wind(Name in Japanese: ホワイトウィンド))
Synergist Medic Medic Both MEDs concentrate on healing while SYN strengthens the party.
(Asclepius(Name in Japanese: アスクレピオス))
Medic Medic Medic MEDs concentrate on healing, quickly removing numerous status ailments.


Paradigm menu in Final Fantasy XIII-2.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 lets the player tune paradigms in the menu to specify the AI-controlled party members' behavior. Tuned paradigms get the suffix of -X or -W.

Normal adapts to the situation, Wide (lit. "Spread") makes each party member target a different enemy (or ally, when healing and buffing), and Cross (lit. "Concentrate") makes everyone act on a single target.

Suffix -X is added to "Cross" tune, meaning the paradigm will concentrate on a single enemy unit. 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 her bow form. Standard tuning will have her switch according to distance. The exception is when the paradigm has Serah in the Sentinel role, wherein she will always use her weapon's sword form even if the Paradigm is Wide-tuned.

Other appearances[]

Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy[]

Lightning shifting Paradigms.

Lightning's battle style is an adapted form of the Paradigm System. By pressing Right shoulder button and Left shoulder button during battle, Lightning can change between the Commando, Ravager, and Medic Paradigms, signified by the name of the new Paradigm being displayed and a visual effect engulfing Lightning briefly. Each Paradigm has its own set of Bravery attacks, with HP attacks being shared across all three, and allow Lightning to quickly change up her fighting style. Commando focuses on physical attacks, Ravager focuses on magic attacks, and Medic allows Lightning to cast healing spells to increase her Bravery without attacking.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT[]

Paradigm Shift.

Lightning lacks the Medic role, leaving her with only the Commando and Ravager paradigms. Otherwise, her battle style is near-identical to that of 012's Lightning.

By clicking the left joystick, Lightning can switch between the Commando and Ravager, each with its own set of Bravery attacks. HP attacks are shared across both paradigms. The Commando paradigm is built around close-range attacks, whereas the Ravager paradigm uses long-ranged projectiles.

Final Fantasy Record Keeper[]

Paradigm Shift.

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Behind the scenes[]

Screenshot shows GLA assigned to Lightning, AUG to Snow, and TAC to Vanille.

When the Final Fantasy XIII project was at its inception, first person shooters were becoming more popular. The developers thus wanted to keep away from the traditional RPG style (tactical and command-based), and make the game faster and more action-based. Though the developers hadn't thought of this particular battle system before, it didn't take long to produce it.[2] The development team would have wanted the characters' appearance to change for each role, but this wasn't possible due to limited system resources. With only a single playable character in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, this became possible with the garb system.[3]

In an advertisement for E3 2009, three of the six roles have different names and abbreviations: Gladiator (GLA) for Commando (COM), Augmenter (AUG) for Synergist (SYN), and Tactician (TAC) for Saboteur (SAB) in their respective colors. Paradigm naming also had a different pattern.

Paradigm shift and paradigm roles are not available in the Final Fantasy XIII demo; instead, the player queues up all available abilities, mixing different types to the same command queue.

The only time the player can see Twin Shields, Stumbling Block, Havoc, or Rally without using a cheating device in Final Fantasy XIII is the battle against Hecatoncheir. Stumbling Block is put into the Paradigm Deck by default, but to see the other three, the player needs to get a Game Over on the fight or Retry it. Furthermore, Twin Shields requires the player to teach the Sentinel role to Vanille, and Rally requires the player to teach the Synergist role to both Fang and Vanille.

A party of Lightning, Fang, and Hope/Vanille can learn every skill from every role (excluding the exclusive full ATB skills).

According to a Brain Blast! question in Academia, the term "paradigm shift" is used by office workers to refer to reshuffling staff.



A paradigm is a concept, thought pattern or a point of view depending on one's experience. A paradigm shift describes a fundamental change in ideology, usually in the field of science. For example, Darwin's theory of evolution replacing Lamarck's theories and creationism is a paradigm shift.

The Japanese name of Rapid Growth, Trismegistos, alludes to Hermes Trismegistus.

The paradigm Cerberus refers to the mythological creature. Cerberus is a three-headed dog that guards the underworld's gates in Greek mythology.

The Japanese name of Salvation is Asclepius. Asclepius was a hero and god of medicine in ancient Greek religion and mythology. It refers to the paradigm's unrivaled healing potency.

The paradigm All for One alludes to the Three Musketeers, a novel by Alexandre Dumas, whose titular heroes' motto is "all for one and one for all". The paradigm's Japanese name is literally The Lionheart King, which could allude to King Richard the Lionheart of England and the folkloric portrayal of his braveness. The paradigm War & Peace gets its name from War and Peace, a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy.

The Japanese name of Decimation paradigm is Storming Dragon-Tiger. Various martial arts disciplines have symbolized the eternal rivalry between the dragon and the tiger, and both are needed to achieve the delicate balance of energies. A Chinese idiom to describe equal rivals (often in sports) is "Dragon versus Tiger".

Some of the paradigms in both the English and Japanese versions refer to various terms in the series: Delta Attack (both) refers to the signature attack of Magus Sisters, Tri-disaster (both) refers to an ability of the same name that deals damage of multiple elements, Dualcasting (EN) to the ability to cast two magic spells at once, Mighty Guard (JP) to magic that grants positive status effects on the target, and White Wind (JP) to a healing spell which removes negative status effects as well.