When not in battle mode, a minimap is displayed in the upper right corner. While prancing around, enemies will randomly spawn next to you and the Mog Clock will pop up below your protagonist. Enemies are also marked on the minimap as red dots.
Mog Clock comprises of two segments; green and yellow. While the counter is still green, the spawned enemies are unable to move, and you can easily secure a Pre-emptive Strike by hitting them with your weapon. If you choose not to fight, just run away so that no enemies are within the encounter circle.
However, if the counter on the Mog Clock enters the yellow zone, the enemies begin to move and will try to engage you in battle. If they manage to touch you, battle initiates with no advantage for either side. Some enemies have the annoying ability to immediately charge you when they spawn, giving you little time to react to their appearance.
If Mog Clock runs out while you're still in the enemy's field of encounter, battle starts automatically and you will also be unable to restart the battle. If you secure the Pre-emptive Strike, a few of the enemies will get a 20% bonus to their Stagger Gauges, and the party begins the battle with the Haste buff in effect. After the battle is won, you get:
a) items, which are dropped by enemies (there's no Steal command)
b) CP, which is used to purchase upgrade nodes in the Crystarium
c) Gil, which is dropped by enemies (huge improvement over FFXIII)
After the battle is won, you will also be given a star ranking. Star rank depends on:
Target time - time alloted for taking out all enemies
Battle Duration - how quickly you defeated all enemies
Enemy Points - self-explanatory
Pre-emptive Bonus - self-explanatory Points awarded depend on how quickly you took out the enemies, damage incurred/taken, and some other factors.
Star ranking has two uses:
a) Beating last boss with five stars gives you a trophy
b) It influences drop rate of spoils obtained after battle
Your HP is completely recovered after each battle.
There are only three character stats - HP, STR, and MAG.
There are only two types of equipment - weapons and accessories.
You can store a maximum of 999999 CP, the rest is then wasted.
If your leader is KOed, the game switches over to Noel/Serah. But if both protagonists are KOed, then the game is over. Choose the top option to restart the battle by being returned to the map just before entering the battle. If you choose the bottom option, you will be returned to the title screen.
If the battle at hand proves too tough, simply grind out for CP. You're not restricted by Crystarium levels like the previous game.