By striking at enemy vulnerabilities, you can break down their defenses and stagger them. Attacking a staggered enemy will usually deliver far more damage than usual, enabling you to end battles more quickly and efficiently. Managing to stagger your opponents is one of the most essential keys to being able to defeat them – this is especially true against large-scale creatures and bosses.
When you attack an enemy, you will see a Stagger Wave on its HP gauge. The more this wave increases, the more effective your attack was. To speed up the process, always try to exploit your target’s weaknesses. For example, hitting an opponent with a susceptibility to the Fire element with Fire-infused spells and attacks will usually lead to a quick stagger. As you get closer to staggering your enemy, the wave will turn from blue to yellow and then to red. Keep hitting the foe until it is staggered.
Abilities can contribute to stagger building in two ways:
- Some abilities have excellent Stagger Power, which means that using them significantly increases the amplitude of the Stagger Wave.
- Other abilities are primarily equipped for Stagger Preservation/Time, meaning that they maintain the wave, preventing it from being reset until the next attack with high Stagger Power is ready to be performed.
The attack that causes the stagger on an enemy enjoys a massive damage multiplier, which makes powerful abilities even more useful in that regard. The word “Staggered” appears above the victim, who usually reacts physically – for example by collapsing or kneeling down. The victim remains staggered only for a limited time, so always try to make the most of these precious seconds.
Indeed, most enemies will be severely weakened while staggered, for example taking more damage, becoming vulnerable to status ailments, or even suffering from certain stagger-exclusive ailments (represented by hexagonal icons). This makes staggering the fastest and most effective way to take down most monsters. To maximize your damage output during a stagger, you might occasionally choose to employ the unique Overclock EP ability, which freezes time in your favor.
Some enemies have more than one level of stagger. This means that, while they are staggered, you can repeat the process and stagger them a second time, leading to even greater results. The victim will generally react physically to each stagger. For example, a creature might kneel down during a first stagger, then completely keel over if you manage to reach the second level of stagger.
It’s worth noting that some enemies will be staggered when you guard one of their attacks just before it lands, or when you strike right before or after one of their attacks. Such “Perfect Timing” moves require practice but reduce the duration and difficulty of certain encounters enormously once mastered.
The Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Complete Official Guide offers a full presentation of the Stagger system, covering the following topics:
- Difference between multiple staggers and stagger levels.
- Explanation of all stagger-related concepts: Stagger Point, Stagger Decay, Stagger Preservation, Preservation Decay.
- Meaning of the various Stagger Waves (main wave and superimposed yellow wave).
- Illustrated and practical examples.
- Values of the stagger-related attributes of all monsters, and stagger parameters of all abilities that Lightning can use.
- Meaning of the stagger grades used in the game.
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