Stagger (ブレイク, Bureiku?, lit. Break) (Bonus in the Final Fantasy XIII demo) is a gameplay feature in Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. For the first two games, as the party consistently attacks an enemy, its chain bonus will increase. When the chain bonus reaches the enemy's stagger point, the chain bonus is instantly increased by 100% and the target is generally more vulnerable to all kinds of attack (including status ailments). In addition, a staggered target's chain bonus increases more rapidly due to its chain resistance being ignored for the duration. A modified version of stagger appears in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
While staggered, the chain gauge will steadily decrease (although percentage damage may still build as usual), and the enemy stops being staggered and has its chain bonus reset to 100% when the timer runs out.
The enemy's chain bonus is a direct multiplier for all damage dealt to it; if an attack's base damage is 1000, a chain bonus of 250% results in 2500 damage being done. This occurs whether the enemy is staggered or not, so it is always to the player's advantage to raise the number. The chain percentage affects the success of most actions from damage dealt to the chance to inflict statuses, and even things like the chance of Odin's Zantetsuken inflicting Instant Death.
When an enemy becomes staggered, its chain bonus instantly increases by 100%, and continues increasing with attacks to a maximum of 999.9%. When calculating damage dealt by an attack, the game first calculates the increased chain bonus; for example, if an attack would increase an enemy's chain bonus from 100% to 110%, the damage is calculated with the 110%. The amount that an attack increases the chain bonus does not depend on the damage it deals, though it is affected by relevant resistances of the enemy. The chain bonus can rise even if the enemy takes no damage, such as against enemies that are immune to damage.
The player may notice when using restorative and enhancing abilities that allies also have a chain gauge. A player character's chain gauge does not increase when attacked, but when healed or enhanced by a Medic or Synergist respectively, and the chain gauge directly improves further healing and enhancement duration.
The amount the chain bonus increases varies depending on the action and the role of the user. Ravagers, for example, gain a larger bonus if they alternate actions and have positive status effects or are targeting enemies with negative status effects, while Saboteurs have an increased bonus on their first stocked command if their target already has status ailments.
Each enemy has a chain resistance ranging from 0 to 100, which decreases the base chain bonus impact of abilities targeting it. Some enemies have 100 chain resistance, meaning that abilities don't increase their chain bonus on their own.
Several sets of circumstances can increase an enemy's chain bonus separately, such as attacking with enhancements, attacking while the enemy has negative status effects, attacking with different abilities, and attacking an enemy's weak element or type. While an enemy is staggered, its chain resistance is reduced to 0.
In Easy Mode, available in the Japanese and PC versions only, enemies are easier to stagger than in Normal Mode.
Ravagers increase an enemy's chain bonus the fastest, but do not increase the chain gauge timer by much with each attack. On the other hand, Commandos, Saboteurs, and Sentinels have abilities that do not increase the chain bonus much, but are effective at slowing down the rate the enemy's stagger gauge depletes.
The target's elemental resistances play a role in building the chain bonus; attacking with the ice element increases the enemy's chain bonus more effectively when the enemy is weak to ice, and is less effective when the enemy resists it. The Ravager's role bonus allows them to fill the chain gauge faster, and this bonus is bigger the higher the Ravager's role level is, and the more Ravagers there are in the current paradigm. Full ATB skills, like Lightning's Army of One and Sazh's Cold Blood, boost the stagger percentage value fast, but are more effective the higher the percentage already is.
Certain passive abilities boost the party's ability to amass chain bonuses. The Commando's Jeopardize adds +1.0 against a staggered target. The Ravager's Overwhelm adds +1.0 for each ally targeting the same enemy, and the Ravager's Vigor adds +1.0 when the Ravager's HP is above 70%. Sazh's Antares Deluxes class of weapons have the Chain Bonus Boost abilities, which add +1.0 for the regular version of the ability, and +2.0 for the upgraded Chain Bonus Boost II.
The actual formula by which the game adds to the chain percentage on attack is quite complicated with a long list of variables and conditions. For example, Commandos add slightly more to the chain percentage when they attack a launched opponent, Ravagers add more chain percentage when they alternate their spells, and the chain bonus effect is greater the more enhancements party members have and the more negative status effects the target has. For an exact list of all the variables, see the link in external links section at the bottom of this page.
When a target's chain gauge is about 90%-92% full, the enemy turns red and the gauge will flash, which indicates the enemy has reached the "near stagger" status. This is most applicable to Lightning's weapon ability, Quick Stagger, which will instantly stagger enemies in near stagger status. Ravagers targeting an enemy's weakness add more to the chain bonus if their target is in near stagger, as well as any character attacking an enemy while they summoned an Eidolon. Performing a preemptive attack causes all enemies to enter near stagger for 10 seconds regardless of their respective stagger points.
When the enemy becomes staggered, the chain bonus immediately increases by 100% (but does not exceed 999.9%) and the enemy's chain resistance drops to zero. The effects on individual enemies vary: some enemies are weaker against type/elemental damage and statuses, some enemies' attack patterns change, and most regular enemies can be launch into the air when they are staggered.
Players can launch opponents with the Commando's Launch auto-ability. -Ga level spells and Aero-series abilities can also lift enemies up in the air, but not as high as the Commando's Launch. Launching an enemy allows for even greater damage, as the foe is held aloft by attacks and prevented from action until it falls and stands again. Aerial enemies cannot be launched, and most bosses are immune to Launch as well, though there are some exceptions, such as the the Proudclad while ground-borne.
Enemies about to be staggered strobe golden-orange, while staggered enemies have a slowly-pulsing glow of the same color. Fang's and Snow's special attacks (Highwind and Sovereign Fist) will clear a stagger chain gauge, as does performing an Eidolon's special attack in Gestalt Mode.
Stagger status lasts minimum of 8 seconds and maximum of 45 seconds. The time is equal to double the remaining gauge time when the enemy was staggered; thus enemies that take longer to stagger also stay staggered longer.
Abilities that affect staggerEdit
Stagger Lock is a weapon auto-ability, which prevents the wielder from staggering an enemy. The character can still raise the chain bonus up to the stagger limit, but can't bring the opponent past the stagger threshold, meaning the other allies in the party will have to do it. If the enemy is already staggered, the character with Stagger Lock can continue to raise the chain as normal. Every character has a Stagger Lock weapon, and they have higher stats than most other weapons to counter the handicap.
Quick Stagger is a weapon auto-ability, which staggers an opponent in "near stagger" status. Lightning's Lionheart (Final Fantasy XIII) and the Chaos's Revenge (Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII) have this ability.
Sazh's Procyons and its upgrades have this auto-ability and increase the stagger time limit by 10% (Stagger Maintenance) or 30% (Stagger Maintenance II) if Sazh was the one who staggered the target, but will not increase the stagger duration past the maximum limit of 45 seconds.
Random: Instant ChainEdit
Random: Instant Chain is a synthesized ability, gained by equipping enough equipment pieces at once that have it as a trait. Random: Instant Chain gives the character a 0.5% chance of instantly raising the chain up to the Stagger Point with each hit. It does not stagger the target, but any next attack will. Random: Instant Chain does not work on enemies over level 49, which means it won't work on bosses and some of the more difficult mission marks.
The random chance of instantly raising the gauge to the Stagger Point is based on the number of times the chain bonus value is calculated. Since Sazh's Attack command calculates the chain bonus only once, he has one chance to activate Random: Instant Chain during his attack, despite him actually attacking twice per each Attack command. Sazh's Full ATB Skill on the other hand calculates the chain bonus 17 times, giving 17 chances for Random: Instant Chain to activate. Raising the chain is not a requirement for Random: Instant Chain; the command used only needs to have a chain bonus calculation step.
- Ultima Weapon
- Polaris Specials
- Betelgeuse Customs
- Unsetting Sun
- Midnight Sun
- Heavenly Axis
- Taming Pole
- Venus Gospel
When staggered, attacks from the player will occasionally prevent build-up attacks, such as Enlil's Raging Tempest attack or summoning moves. Sometimes, attacking the enemy will prevent normal physical or magic attacks. This only works while the enemy is staggered.
The formula for chain bonus is as follows:
- $ ChainBonus=(AbilityValue+RoleBonus)*(100-ChainResistance)+HiddenBonus $
The formula for stagger duration is as follows:
- $ StaggerDuration=ActualChainDuration*2+8 $
When launching a preemptive strike on an enemy the party can no longer fill the stagger gauge to full, but instead, they can fill it up to 120.0% on the first strike, still gaining an advantage. Enemies can be launched in the air incapacitating them by the Commando's Launch ability, and several Paradigm Pack members can do so as well, such as the Behemoth-types' Heave ability.
Allies have a chain gauge even if allies cannot be staggered and their higher chain gauge does not have them take more damage, as with enemies. Instead, the allies' chain gauge is raised whenever the respective ally receives healing or enhancements from Medics and Synergists.
The Synergists' enhancements aren't notably affected by a higher chain gauge, but healing spells restore more HP to an ally the higher their chain gauge is. Healing spells deplete the gauge faster than Synergist enhancements; in a way, the Synergists may be seen as a Commando, and the Medics as a Ravager; the Synergist stabilizes the gauge while the Medics raise it. Using this method, it is possible to raise an ally's gauge to 999.9%.
Several passive abilities that affect stagger return in Final Fantasy XIII-2. Such abilities are found in weapons and learned by monsters in the Crystarium system. New to Final Fantasy XIII-2, certain bosses can be staggered by correctly performing Cinematic Actions. Caius Ballad can perform "Chain Break" to reset his chain gauge. This effect is random and has no set conditions, as such it cannot be anticipated and makes his boss fight all the more intimidating.
Staggering enemies 50 times earns the player the "Staggering" achievement/trophy.
Stagger, known as Knock Out (ノックアウト, Nokkuauto?) in the Japanese version, appears in a modified form with different mechanics from previous games in the series.
The "Stagger Wave" appears with an enemy's HP gauge. It has three colors: initially blue, it will turn yellow when Lightning attacks to indicate the attack's Stagger Power. The wave turns red at 70%, when the enemy is nearly staggered. Each monster has its own stagger point and conditions for raising the Stagger Wave. These conditions are listed in each monster's bestiary entry.
The Stagger Power of every ability used by the player against an opponent is added to the target's Stagger Wave. When enough Stagger Power is accumulated and the enemy reaches its Stagger Point, it will be staggered. Each ability is ranked from A to E, with E rank being the weakest.
Stagger Power by rank:
- E= 1-3
- D= 4-14
- C= 15-20
- B= 21-49
- A= 50 and above
The Stagger Wave deteriorates when no abilities connect with the enemy, and the accumulated Stagger Power eventually expires to 0. This is known as Stagger Decay. "Commando"-type abilities, such as Attack, Ruin and Blitz, help maintain the Stagger Wave to prevent Stagger Power from decaying. The rate of decay is a modifier unique to every monster.
Lightning can temporarily stop the Stagger Wave from decaying through Stagger Preservation. All monsters have a cap on this value. Generally, this value does not exceed 600, but Ereshkigal has a maximum Stagger Preservation value of 1000. Each ability has its own Stagger Preservation value and is ranked in-game from A to E, with E rank being the weakest.
Stagger Preservation by rank:
- E= 1-40
- D= 41-99
- C= 100-199
- B= 200-299
- A= 300 and above.
Preservation Decay is a value unique to each monster, which is used to calculate the amount of time where the Stagger Wave does not decay even though Lightning is not using abilities on the monster.
$ A / B = C $
Where A = Stagger Preservation, B = Preservation Decay, and C = the amount of time where Stagger Decay does not take effect.
For example, if Lightning casts Blitz twice on a Chocobo Eater, the Stagger Preservation value will be 600. The Preservation Decay of a Chocobo Eater is 100. Thus,
$ 600 / 100 = 6 $
The Stagger Wave will not decay for 6 seconds after Lightning casts her second Blitz even if Lightning does not connect with any abilities.
Some enemies may have more than one level of stagger. For some enemies the Stagger Wave is reset after the initial stagger, allowing the player to build up the Stagger Wave again. The second level of stagger is required for the player to launch the target into the air.
Only Aeronite has more than two levels of stagger and must be staggered four times in succession for it to become vulnerable to Lightning's abilities.
When the player staggers an enemy, certain per-determined effects may be applied on the target. Any combination may be applied, or none at all.
The following stagger effects can be applied on the enemy:
- Unprotected – Lowers the target's physical resistance.
- Unshelled – Lowers the target's magic resistance.
- Parched – Lowers the target's resistance to fire damage.
- Exposed – Lowers the target's resistance to ice damage.
- Conductive – Lowers the target's resistance to lightning damage.
- Brittle – Lowers the target's resistance to wind damage.
- Broken – Makes the target easier to stagger.
- Infected – Makes the target more vulnerable to status ailments.
- Hindered – Slows the target's movement.
- Confused – Makes the target unable to distinguish friend from foe.
- Cursed – Makes the target more likely to recoil and have their attacks interrupted.
- Dazed – Makes the target unable to take action and more vulnerable to damage.
- Pained – Makes the target unable to use physical attacks.
- Foggy – Makes the target unable to use magic attacks.
The best abilities for staggering are second tier spells for their fast casting speed and Stagger Power of 40 per cast (80 for finales). First tier spells have a Stagger Power of 20 per cast (80 for finales). Third tier spells deal more damage, have higher Stagger Power (50) but have long animations and consume a lot of ATB. The strongest spells, such as Flare, are very ATB-expensive and have extremely long animation times. The best spells for staggering purposes are Fira, Thundara, and Aerora due to the speed at which the projectiles travel. Aerora is not quite as fast as Fira and Thundara, but hits targets multiple times.
For faster staggering the player can use two or more abilities, even on different schemata, and avoid executing the final hit. E.g. Fira and Thundara can be cast thrice in a row for a three-hit "combo", but the final hit is always slow. To compensate, second tier finales have Stagger Power of 80 instead of 40. To avoid the finale, the player can use Fira twice, then Thundara twice, then Fira twice again, etc. While not as ATB-efficient, this method has the advantage of increasing the Stagger Wave faster, as well as cancelling the spell into a defensive ability.
Spears generally builds the Stagger Wave faster depending on how upgraded they are. Chaos's Revenge has Quick Stagger, which means the enemies stagger at 75% rather than 100%. Lightning can switch to a schema with this weapon when the Stagger Wave turns red to unleash an attack, instantly triggering a stagger.
Certain garbs are imbued with auto-abilities that empower certain abilities when used against staggered opponents.
- Read the Final Fantasy XIII Game Mechanics Guide by ximaus for an in-depth Chain Bonus Calculation
- Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Combat Mechanics Guide by Ward_Point