Final Fantasy: Type-0 HD is a very different kind of JRPG. You'll lead fourteen cadets into tough and tactical real-time battles, fighting brutal asymmetrical warfare against a brutal military equipped with powerful Magicite armour, mechs, ground troops and air power, using an enormous range of potential skills, weapons and builds to achieve victory.
War is hell, but you'll survive if you learn the ropes and learn how to use your squad effectively. So here, dear reader, is your essential guide to Final Fantasy Type-0 to bring you total battlefield dominati0n.
Check out our Final Fantasy Type-0 HD review.
Know Your Squad!
This is the big one. Type-0 offers fourteen characters who sport different weapons, excel at different ranges and have completely different combat roles. As such, you'll need to pick the right classmates for the job... meaning that it's time to thoroughly discuss each one in turn!
- Weapon: Cards
- Role: Versatile mid-range wildcard
Ace is the first Class-0 student we encounter in the game. Sporting balanced stats, he attacks from range with decks of homing magical playing cards, boasting fast attack speed that allows him to easily take advantage of Killsights (more on this essential gameplay mechanic later). Ace can be equipped with a range of reasonably damaging abilities and is competent with spells, but his most interesting ability is to shuffle through his deck to trigger random effects.
This makes him a fun character to use, but this random nature can also make him a liability in a pinch. Consider acquiring some of the 'Deck' skills that let you pick from a more predictable stock that suits your playstyle, and whatever you do, take advantage of the Wall defensive spell! Stick the barrier down and blast enemies with impunity from relative safety. His Jackpot Shot laser beam attack is also well worth investing in, especially since it remains on the battlefield for a considerable amount of time and continually damages/staggers enemies on contact.
- Weapon: Flute (?!)
- Role: Support, mid-range
Yes, a flute. Deuce's weapon of choice might seem odd, but it's also surprisingly effective at dealing out ranged magical homing missiles that can be further upgraded in her skill line. They are very slow, though, meaning that she's much more useful at support than pitched combat, capable of buffing or healing her two fellow team-mates with the power of smooth jams. Ron Burgundy would be proud.
Deuce is therefore a surprisingly versatile and useful support character, especially when equipped with healing or protection magic, and makes for a reliable AI companion who requires little maintenance. Keep her MP and HP topped up with protective equipment and do your best to keep her away from the front lines, though, as powerful melee foes can quickly polish her off especially with knockdown or stun effects.
- Weapon: Longbow
- Role: Long-range sniper
Trey is Class 0's sniper, armed with a powerful longbow that can be charged through several levels to deal massive damage. Be sure to purchase all the charge levels you can in his skill line, then time them with Killsight windows for an utterly insane amount of long-range punishment.
He's also capable of dishing out a handful of elemental attacks, area damage and some debilitations for effective long-range crowd control, though his most spectacular ability involves summoning a vortex that damages foes and inflicts Killsight as a status effect (which can be learned fairly early too). This can turn a battle into a near-instant rout.
Obviously don't let enemies close to melee range. Roll out of there or run while charging your next attack. Once again, a well-placed Wall spell can reap dividends. I'd highly advise getting in some serious practice with Trey's timing and more nuanced abilities as he can be devastating once you've learned the ropes.
- Weapon: Magicite Pistol
- Role: Total ranged domination!
Cater may not look it, but she's handily the most powerful character in the game and the easiest to use (handling like a traditional third-person shooter!). Her pistol deals out steady swift damage, perfect for Killsight, but also chargeable for massive extra oomph if you need it. Better yet, though, she can dish out numerous elemental shots to take advantage of enemy weaknesses (mapped to different thumbstick directions), plus some sensational debuffs that can strip down enemy defence and speed, all of which are upgradeable through multiple levels.
Put simply, Cater brings the rain. Her versatility is the key, capable of punishing enemy type disadvantages while dishing out constant hurt, kept safe by her speed and manoeuvrability. Make sure to use her fantastically handy Freeze Shot to lock down tough foes before retreating back to a safe distance, and circle-strafe around enemies while locked-on. The only real disadvantage is that it's tempting to use her far too often, leaving her allies under-levelled!
- Weapon: Mace
- Role: Brutal, slow, advanced melee
Cinque's ditzy personality and slim build belies her status as Class 0's bruiser. Her mace dishes out the second highest basic damage-per-hit of the entire team, augmented by some powerful radial attacks and stuns, balanced out by cripplingly slow attack speed.
Which sadly makes Cinque one of the least useful characters in the game. Practically incapable of using Killsight and often missing targets completely, you'll need to push up her HP, stun foes with Earthquake, dodge like crazy and keep Protect active to avoid her being taken down very easily indeed. Otherwise I'd avoid using her altogether unless you're facing down enemies with very high HP (consider using Cheerleader if you're confident in your aim). Otherwise, if you need an Eidolon sacrifice, Cinque is often the first in the frame.
- Weapon: Scythe
- Role: Advanced single-target melee
Sice takes some getting used to, but is well worth the time. Her scythe hits hard but much more narrowly than you might expect, while her speed allows her to dance in and out of combat as part of regular attacks; perfect for engaging the enemy on your terms. Better yet, as you damage and kill foes she'll become more powerful, so long as you can avoid getting hit. Consider staying back until you can leap forward for an overhead smash attack.
Sice also packs some great abilities. Dark Nebula is perfect for damaging and stopping distant foes before moving in for the kill, while she can spectacularly create a black hole that controls enemies into cutting range. Definitely upgrade her Malice and combo skills as soon as you can for maximum effect, but be aware that she can't take what she dishes out. Evasion and careful dodge rolls are the key to her survival.
- Weapon: Snake Sword/Whipblade
- Role: Versatile elemental melee, crowd control
Seven wields one of the most interesting weapons in the game: a whip-blade that makes her a more grounded and practically-dressed version of Soul Calibur's Ivy. As a whip, normal attacks deal damage in an incredibly wide arc, making her perfect for crowd control and capable of being chained into increasingly fast combos -- with players able to control the arc with the left stick. Powerful elemental linear attacks are also well worth investing in, giving her the ability to punish several type-sensitive enemies at once.
She can grab enemies or zoom over to their position like a lasso using the Snakebite skill (which is also great for Killsight and can be augmented with electrical damage). She can stop foes in their tracks. She can drain their HP and MP.
Put simply, it's hard to go wrong. Just bear in mind that Seven isn't the most durable of brawlers, so keep her adequately protected.
- Weapon: Fists
- Role: Pugilist, very short-range melee, impact substitute
Get in close, hard and fast in order to dominate with Eight. His flurries of punching attacks are relatively weak and ridiculously short-ranged, but they are exceptionally quick, letting you stagger enemies and quickly dish out a massively sustained amount of damage over time.
As such, quickly ensure that you up Eight's movement speed, then invest in his back attack skill. Use his speed to outmanoeuvre foes and deal ruinous critical damage from behind, and I'd highly recommend the most aggressive of his stances to maximise damage output. Protracted battles are Eight's biggest weakness, as are powerful ranged foes, so be aware that he's a somewhat niche fighter that's best kept in reserve and brought out as an impact substitute.
- Weapon: Spear
- Role: Dragoon, tank
If you've ever played a Final Fantasy game before, think of Nine as your team's Dragoon. He's durable, powerful, and capable of using a long-range jump attack to deal massive damage that can damage multiple foes. Even if his English dub and scripting is abysmal.
Upgrade Jump as quickly as you can and keep it equipped as it remains exceptionally useful throughout the entire campaign. His other skills are useful, but to be honest, he's a one-trick pony and his one trick is an absolute belter.
However, Nine's strong attacks are somewhat counter-balanced by animation delay and slower attack speed than Seven or Queen (more on her later), so he's not great at taking advantage of Killsight and can miss agile foes. Make sure his movement speed is maxed and you keep his defence topped up with protective equipment to keep him in the fight.
- Weapon: Katana
- Role: Advanced melee powerhouse
Jack may seem useless when you first use him. Incredibly slow and capable of very limited combos, he's seemingly outclassed straight out of the gate by everyone except Cinque. Hell, he'll have to holster his katana just to reach walking speed!
However, with a little practice, you and Jack will accomplish great things together.
Jack actually hits the hardest out of all the classmates, capable of annihilating even powerful foes very quickly, especially once you master his numerous Counter skills that can nullify incoming damage while dealing out ridiculous reprisals. His lack of elemental damage attacks makes him useless against enemies with physical resistance, though, so don't be afraid to bench him accordingly. Keep his defence and HP as high as possible when thinking about equipment, and roll like you've got a purpose! Unlock Slipstream as soon as you can, since rolling towards enemies is much faster than walking.
- Weapon: Longsword
- Role: Melee domination, Killsight poker
Queen is an absolute beast in the early-to-mid-game. She may be prim, proper and a touch on the Tsundere side of things, but in combat she's practically unstoppable.
First of all, her longsword attacks are incredibly fast, powerful and responsive, making her perfect for 'poking' enemies during Killsight windows. With the ability to deliver a flurry of attacks, effortly dash close to targets and stagger them effectively, she's incredibly dangerous while being very easy to use.
Secondly, her default skill -- Cross Of Judgement -- is ridiculous. It blasts out a rotating cross of death that also heals allies, so don't be afraid to run right into the middle of a random world map battle, activate and laugh uncontrollably as everything dies. Be aware that its effectiveness wanes in the later chapters, though (since it takes a split-second to start spinning and is cancelled if she takes a hit), so consider replacing it with something more damaging in story missions. Finally, she's no slouch at magic either, allowing her to master practically any magical discipline and provide backup healing support from the front lines. Queen has no weaknesses, especially if you kit her out with a ranged spell or ability, making her extraordinarily powerful. Team her up with Cater for exceptional results.
- Weapon: Akimbo revolvers
- Role: Physical medium-long range
King may be cool as a cucumber, but he's also a bit of a mixed bag in battle. His revolvers deal reasonable physical damage at extensive range, but they have to be reloaded frequently and lack any homing ability -- so be aware that while you can hit ranged targets, you probably won't.
King's other major weakness is a lack of elemental abilities, making him difficult to use effectively against physical-resistant enemies. His defence and spellcasting is isn't much to write home about either.
As such it's hard to recommend King over any of the other ranged characters, but he is fun to use on a mechanical level (come on, akimbo revolvers!), has a great design and chances are you'll sometimes have to bring him off the bench. I'd recommend using Exploding Magazine to dish our some much-needed area damage and rounding out his lack of elemental skills with some well-chosen spells. Don't bother with fire damage, though, as his Affinity is very low. Don't be afraid to rely on his kick in a pinch, which can be upgraded for extra damage and utility.
- Weapon: Dual daggers
- Role: Offensive magic, healing, Reraise caster
Rem's daggers are just for show: she's the mage and healer of the group. Her pathetic physical attack damage and weak melee skills disguise the potential for massive ranged spell damage. Rem's deep MP pool, high affinity for all spell types (flame especially) and MP=replenishing abilities make her a sensational mage who can take down tough foes by abusing their elemental weaknesses. Anything mechanical, for example, will be reduced to twitching wreckage with well-placed Thundaga RF.
She's got some great ranged skills, too. Definitely look to spec them up, but keep her out of trouble and behind a wall if possible.
Finally, Rem can also heal and even resurrect downed allies by casting the Reraise status effect ahead of time. Take control of her yourself and time it right when fighting bosses.
- Weapon: Twin rapiers
- Role: Fluid melee, HP vampire, tank
Machina is a very straightforward melee combatant. He hits relatively lightly, but his rapiers are seriously quick and can be chained into exceptionally fast flowing combos. Naturally this makes him an excellent Killsight assassin, which you should take advantage of whenever possible.
It's also worth noting that Machina can unlock two HP draining abilities that affect either a single target or close group, which compliment a high health pool and defence. He can even activate 'Awakening' Mode that lends all of his attacks outrageous extra damage while triggering a full heal (make sure to fully upgrade Awakening to stop enemy attacks from interrupting your flow)! All-told, this makes him a very effective melee tank, though bear in mind he only becomes truly useful once his more of his vampiric skills are unlocked.
Now you've met the team, it's time to learn some of the most important lessons you'll need in order to hit the Milites Empire where it hurts.
Killsight and lock-on
We've mentioned Killsight several times in this article and with good reason: it's one of Type-0's most important mechanics. Once you lock onto an enemy with the right bumper, they'll ocasionally display a circular 'killsight' icon that denotes a window of vulnerability for roughly one second. If you hit the foe within this timeframe, you'll either deal massive bonus damage (if the icon is orange) or kill them instantly (if the icon is red).
I shouldn't have to point this out, but you absolutely must use Killsight effectively in order to survive. Consider hanging back if you're a slower character and time your swings to coincide with a Killsight icon. Bosses, especially, can be taken down much quicker or even stunned if you time it tight. Better yet, enemies with massive physical resistant can still be killed outright with a single killsight strike.
So we can't stress this enough: always lock onto enemies. Always. As a tip, we'd suggest changing the lock-on mechanics from 'hold' to 'toggle' mode in the options menu so you don't have to constantly depress the bumper. It will make your life a lot easier in the long run!
Balance your team effectively...
You can take three characters into battle at any one time, so for the love of all that is holy, make sure they're balanced! There's nothing worse, for example, than entering an area with snipers, inaccessible ranged foes or even bosses that hang back on walls or in the air... when all you have are melee attackers.
As a general rule, an effective team comprises a melee attacker or tank, ranged attacker or sniper and a support troop or Cura-equipped healer. Great unit combinations include Queen/Seven/Nine + Cater/Trey/Ace + Deuce/Rem/Queen.
Remember to swap them out as appropriate and change between active units on-the-fly as appropriate. If a boss falls back or gets airborne, for example, switch straight to Cater or Trey and bring them down.
...and take the time to level them
Levelling fourteen characters is no easy feat and can require a lot of grinding, and you're always going to pick favourites, but as a general rule you should make sure that you're constantly rotating your active team members in optional/world map missions to make sure that you'll be able to rely on them if your primary squad gets knocked out. Story missions have level recommendations, and you'll want to make sure that roughly half a dozen of your squad are on or above it while the rest of the squad are only a few levels below. Less effective or niche characters can get lower priority, of course (such as King and Cinque), but even so you'll occasionally run into a boss who wipes out your A-team and forces you to rely on your bench.
A force of three hyper-levelled characters and a weak bench is brittle. It will break. Don't let that happen.
As such, remember that there are more ways to train than going out on missions. Undertake class lectures for massive XP bonuses and permanent passive stat boosts as a priority in your first playthrough. Undertake training exercises in the arena. And don't ever, ever switch your console off before first sending one of your characters into special training (found in the arena, just talk to the man on the right) -- as they'll gain levels even when you're not playing the game. Every little helps and you can probably fiddle your system clock if you're really impatient.
Also, as a general rule, make sure to endure the laborious task of 'promoting' all of your team's skills before each story mission. Uninvested skill Points sitting in the bank are skill points wasted unless you're saving up for a specific ability.
Stay mobile, stay agile, roll like crazy
A basic point that has to be made: stay mobile. Even the most basic Milites soldiers can deal out surprising ranged damage if you're standing still, so maintain situational awareness, keep in cover but don't be afraid to roll the heck out of there if you see an enemy telegraphing a powerful attack.
As soon as you can, unlock each classmate's enhanced movement speed skills and the ability to chain an unlimited number of dodge rolls together, then use them constantly. Rolls can allow you to cover more ground quickly and get you out of range of an incoming enemy ground slam or projectile. Many bosses also follow up a powerful attack with a Killsight window, so roll to avoid damage and then hit them instantly for maximum effect.
Use protective magic to extend your survivability even further. Walls and Protega are all spectacularly useful.
Eidolons and Rem's secret game-changer
Eidolons are awesome. Any Final Fantasy veteran knows that. It's hard to go wrong with any of these summons, frankly, since they all hit incredibly hard and can turn the tide of a tough battle instantly. Personally I'm a big fan of Shiva, since you can chain her attacks together practically infinitely if you keep attacking at the same time as the telltale 'shimmer' telegraph.
However, you'll have to make two important choices: when to use them and who to sacrifice.
The first point is a no-brainer. You'll want to use your Eidolon against the final boss of a mission if at all possible, where they can do the most damage and keep your forces alive for longer. If you don't need to use your Eidolon, keep it in reserve, as it's better to win a mission without having to deploy one than wasting it early on, especially since your sacrificed classmate factors into your death count and leads to lower ratings.
The second point, however, is more tactical. Summoning an Eidolon requires one of your team to die. So you'll have to choose exactly who, preferably either Cinque, King or Eight whose loss is probably worth taking on the chin. Bear in mind, however, that Rem can cast re-raise on your party before summoning, which will bring your sacrificed classmate back. So, erm, do that. Just remember that it will still affect your death count.
That's just scratching the surface of Final Fantasy: Type 0 HD, which is a fascinating and incredibly deep game. If you've got a strategy or party formation to share, let us know in the comments!