Warp strike, link strike, blindside strike, these are the keys to success within the battle system of Final Fantasy XV.

One of the core facets of any Final Fantasy game is it's combat system. Final Fantasy XV is no different, and for the first time in its mainstream series, it delivers fully fluid real-time fights that combine techniques, melee, magic and more into a deadly dance. While the core facets of combat are fairly easy to pick up, they're much harder to master.

That's why we've put together this guide, to make sure that you are getting the most of the battle system.

Engaging in battle

Engaging in battle can be harrowing

Square Enix promised lightning fast, fluid battles that were fully integrated into the world. That means the loading screens and the waiting to engage in combat have been left in the past. You can run into, and out of battle without ever having to wait to get the ball rolling. While this makes things much faster, it can also be dangerous if you run into a monster that is too high of a level for you to tackle.

As you roam the world of Eos, you can run into monsters just about anywhere, with the exception of safe havens such as Outposts. You can see beasties roaming around you, and if you get close enough to them – or they're violent – a red bar will flash at the top of the screen. At this point, you'll be able to see nearby Warp Points to escape the fray, as well as targets that you can attack. You only control Noctis's actions in combat, but your friends will join up with you in a variety of ways. As such, it's always worth making sure your party have the best gear available by hunting for treasure or consulting vendors.

During battle, a red circle will appear on your minimap. This is the battle area. If you roam outside of the red ring then the battle will end. This can happen accidentally on occasion, but more often you'll notice it when trying to flee an enemy too strong for you to deal with at that moment.

Wait Mode

Wait Mode

One of the brand new features of the battle system is Wait Mode. If you find the battle system works a little bit too fast for you, or you're dealing with a particularly nasty group of enemies, then it's worth investigating wait mode. It essentially pauses the combat for a few moments, allowing you to scan enemies, switch between weapons and spells, and take stock of everyone's health.

Wait mode is triggered if you enable it from the options menu, and are not currently attacking or moving. When it does, you'll see everything paused in time, with a slowly declining blue bar at the bottom of your screen. If that bar wears down, the battle will resume whether you're ready or not. When you target an enemy from within wait mode, you can wait to attack and scan your enemy. cross fire show it's HP, as well as which weapons and spells it is weak against.

If you like to play strategically, then wait mode is your best option. It lets you easily target whichever enemy is the most vulnerable to attack. This can mean flawless blindside attacks which result in massive damage thanks to teamwork – more on that later.

Elemancy

Elemancy is the magic of Final Fantasy XV

Elemancy is the name for elemental magic within Final Fantasy XV. Noctis can find and draw magic from deposits in the environment, typically near camp sites. You'll find fire, blizzard, and lightning deposits and you can hold up to 99 of each at a time. To use magic in battle, you'll need to create spells. This is done within the Elemancy section of the menu and allows a degree of customization to your magic.

Spells are created using elemental deposits in your inventory. As you get further along, you're able to combine different kinds of magic, and you can also add items from your inventory to make it nastier. No matter how much is used in creating your spells, you'll only get three each time you create a spell unless you mix in some additional volume building items. Likewise, you will need to have a magic flask empty to put the spell into until you're ready to use it.

You can equip anyone in your party with spells to be used, and they can do serious damage when targeting enemy weaknesses. Magic always does an area of effect damage, and if you aren't careful, you can get caught up in the cross fire as well. That's why we suggest using magic from a distance, or throwing your spell and then warping as far away as you can. Elemancy can also be much nastier in enclosed spaces as it climbs the walls bouncing all over the place.

Warp Strike and Warp points

Warp Strike is Noctis's special ability in battle

One of the first elements of the battle system you are introduced to, and one of the most important parts of the battle system is Noctis's ability to warp around the battle screen. You'll see high points that glow blue, these are known as warp points. By warping to these points, you will regain any MP you've used, and later on you'll also regain health at a much higher rate. Often warp points are high points in the battle area, so keep an eye out, but also note that they're not always present. That's where warp strike and dodging comes in handy.

Warp strikes are a special attack from Noctis. You target an enemy and then warp across the map to attack them. Used thoughtfully you can wreak serious havoc using warp strikes. Warp strikes are particularly useful if you're attacking from behind to trigger Blindside attacks. However, you will need to keep an eye on your MP. Each warp strike will drain MP, and if you run out, then your only hope is to hit a warp point or wait for your MP to recover.

Warp strikes can be used to dodge out of sticky situations where warp points aren't available. You should use a combination of warps and dodges to keep your enemies in front of you, lest you get overwhelmed. When you're not locked onto an enemy, you will warp forward in the direction you're currently moving, rather than towards an enemy.

As you play through, you'll be able to gain skills that let you regain MP in different ways. No matter how much MP you have access to, keeping an eye out to make sure you never get stuck in a throng of enemies is a solid plan.

Blindside Strikes, Blocking and Parrying

Battle is fast and furious

Exploiting the weakness of your enemies is integral to gameplay in Final Fantasy XV. There are a variety of ways to do this, but the easiest way to wreak havoc on your enemy no matter it's size is by hitting it where it can't see you. You also have access to blocking and parrying enemy shots, which can break their armor and make them extremely susceptible to massively damaging attacks.

Using a combination of blocking, parrying, and using blindside strikes is the best way to stay on top of everything going on in combat. Blindside attacks are triggered whenever you attack an enemy from behind. While they are a bit slower, they deliver a much more powerful blow than usual. Attacking lumbering enemies and then dodging away to stay behind and continue attacking is often an excellent way to get through armor.

Blocking and parrying become particularly useful when you are dealing with groups of enemies. You'll regularly be in the middle of wailing on a monster and doing great damage when another enemy tries to knock you away from their buddy. By pressing the X button at the appropriate moment, you can block the attack, which is followed by a command to hit the B button to counter parry. Parrying attacks often knock enemies over allowing you to deal enormous amounts of damage in a small amount of time. However, if you miss the parry command, the attack will hit you, and often knock you down.

Higher level enemies are sometimes able to break straight through your block abilities, so it's often a good idea to dodge instead of just blocking with 'X.' If the parry would otherwise fail, the dodge roll will still work, but if the parry does connect, then you will be offered a counter attack opportunity instead of a dodge. Dodge rolling is your friend.

Techniques and Link Strike

Techniques are unique abilities of party members

Final Fantasy XV is the first game in the franchise in which you control only one character in your party. While this can be frustrating for those who want total control, you do have the ability to work with your friends while in battle using techniques and link strikes. Link strikes are initiated from within battle and happen any time you and another party member move to attack the same enemy at the same time. Techniques, however, are purchased through the Ascension tree and equipped through the gear menu.

Link strikes occur any time you and a friend attack the same enemy at the same time and can do a ferocious amount of damage. This is because you're pummeling your foe with double the usual amount of harm. Since friends will often jump in on link strikes after a blindside attack, you can use link strikes to carve through enemies with ease and aplomb. While it's hard to plan a link strike in the heat of battle, you can do it using wait mode to get an idea of where your friends are attacking.

As you fight and attack, the Technique bar on the bottom left side of the screen will fill up. As it fills, you're able to use techniques for each of your friends. These techniques vary wildly and are purchased through the Ascension menu, in the Technique tree. After you unlock a technique, you need to equip it from within the Gear menu. After it's equipped it can be used in battle, so long as the technique bar is adequately filled.

Conclusion

The Final Fantasy XV battle system is nuanced and full of moving parts. That can make it difficult to master without knowing what's going on. Implementing the different features to your benefit is the best way to make sure no monster stands in between Noctis and his destiny. With Warp strikes, Elemancy, a variety of ways to work with your friends, and a wait mode that allows you to make a strategy, there is a lot going on.

See Final Fantasy XV at the Xbox Store