You have finally reached the midway point in the story, though not in the game, and with that comes access to a lot of extra things. Monsters get harder, the Crystarium has expanded to allow all six roles on every character, weapons will need upgrading to match the difficulty spike and a plethora of other opportunities are available.
Battle Team Formation
Now you have access to the whole team, you can choose whoever you want to be in the main party. As a rule, you should aim for a balanced team with high attack, good healing and buffing and good damage absorption. The default team you have - Lightning, Fang and Hope - offers a well-rounded party and our walkthrough will largely consist of strategies for this party unless a more specialised party is required. This setup offers the best all-round party for the following reasons:
Lightning (Leader) : Your party leader should be the one who has access to the best Techniques, how many ATB segments they have, which primary roles they fulfill and your preferred summon. Lightning is an obvious choice because Odin is very powerful, she has access to a variety of abilities and is the best all-rounder on the team. Playing as a Sentinel or Synergist is not tremendously exciting either.
Fang : Though you haven’t had much cause to use Sentinels thus far, moving forwards, the game will pretty much require you to have a Sentinel in your Paradigm Deck somewhere. Though Snow is stronger in this category due to his higher HP, Fang’s Strength surpasses every character and her use as a Saboteur gives her the edge.
Hope : With the highest Magic stat on the team, he makes the best Medic and an excellent Ravager to boot. For the first few Role Levels of the Synergist tree, his abilities focus on defensive augments unlike Sazh’s offensive boosts, so at this point, coupled with being the best healer, he is the perfect support character.
Having a fixed main group offers a special perk; you can designate Snow, Vanille and Sazh as “super specialists”. By having them focus solely on one role until that role is maxed out, you can switch them in and out for very specific battles, notably Cie’th Stone marks and bosses in general. Saving your CP so you can spend it all on one role will allow you to go deep into that role at this stage and create some very strong characters. It also allows you to reach 100% completion faster.
Weapons and Accessories
We have avoided telling you to upgrade your items and instead save components for a reason. Before Chapter 10 there was no real need to upgrade weapons because the enemies could be defeated with the base ones you find and just by general progression. From this point on, however, upgrading becomes a necessity and so spending a little time experimenting with your weapons and equipment should definitely be a priority at this stage.
Every character can use eight weapons of different types and each weapon can be upgraded three times for a total of 24 weapons per character. Some weapons are balanced, others offer higher Strength or Magic stats, while some offer very specific effects like ATB Boosts. You won’t have access to all of these just yet but you should still pay attention to what weapons your characters are using and the enemies you’re facing.
Stat boosts may be important but weapons with passive abilities can compensate for their lower base stats. Every weapon and accessory is part of a category and when you combine two or more of these, you obtain a Synthesized Ability. For example, Lightning’s Axis Blade and the Whistlewind Scarf accessory are of the same category and alone are not very spectacular. Combine them however, and you get the “ATB Rate +10%” ability which speeds up the rate of the ATB gauge by 10% which can make all the difference in a prolonged fight.
Consider the primary role for each of your characters and then focus on the weapons and accessories that augment this role. Specialism is important and anything that boosts that will make enemy and boss fights much easier.
The new upgrades after the expansion are extremely expensive with the paths to the next Role Levels full of crystals costing between 4,000 and 10,000 CP. The rewards are a lot higher though, of course. Your best bet is to clear up the cheaper crystals that cost less than 2,000 CP then consider the following table and decide from there. The Role Level on the character’s primary discipline should be priority and any other suggestions can be found in the “Notes” column.
If you are seeking particular abilities, remember you can bypass outlying arms and return to them later. Also, avoid spending CP on Techniques on characters that won’t be your party leader.
|Party Member||Optimal Path||Notes|
|Fang||Commando, Sentinel, Saboteur.||Vendetta and Accessory (SEN) offer a lot but will cost a fortune to obtain early. Pain and Painga (SAB), however, are within easy reach and could be worth an initial investment.|
|Hope||Medic, Synergist, Ravager.||Accessory, Raise and Curasa (MED) are too good to ignore. Hope's ATB Level is very close to the Synergist Role Level, which is why it may be best to focus on that before the Ravager skill-set.|
|Lightning||Ravager, Commando, Medic.||Dispelga and ATB Level (COM) are very tempting prior to the Ravager Role Level.|