Lightning during the opening cutscene of Final Fantasy XIII.

Final Fantasy XIII: All Roles Explained

Deciding what each character should do in battle is the key to survival.

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Carley is a professional JP-EN translator and writer currently based in Des Moines, Iowa. She has written hundreds of articles for popular sites such as Siliconera, Gameranx, and Otaquest, and has been playing games nonstop since 1996.

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In Final Fantasy XIII’s unique Command Synergy Battle system, players must form parties of three, with each character filling a predetermined role. Combining the right roles and using them in the right battles is the only way to find victory, but what does each role bring to the table?

Table Of Contents

    The Battle System

    In Final Fantasy XIII, players will need to master two important elements to find victory in battle: roles and paradigms. A role determines the actions a character is able to perform. Think of it as another word for ‘class’ or ‘job.’

    There are a total of six jobs in the game: Commando, Ravager, Medic, Sentinel, Saboteur, and Synergist.

    Every character in the game can take on any of these roles, though not all jobs are available to each character from the beginning. Some will be unlocked as the story progresses.

    After a battle, players will earn experience, but they will also earn Crystogen Points. These can be used in the Crystarium to learn new abilities and skills, as well as to boost HP, MP, and other helpful stats.

    The Crystarium screen for Hope in Final Fantasy XIII.

    Players can change a character’s role during battle, but only after setting up their Paradigm Deck. A paradigm is a pre-made party in which characters have all been assigned a certain role.

    During battle, players can switch between their paradigms as often as they like. Setting up the right paradigms and shifting to them at the right times during battle is at the core of Final Fantasy XIII‘s strategic gameplay.

    For example, you might create a paradigm consisting of only Medics if you’re expecting to take a lot of damage from a powerful boss. After healing up, you can then quickly switch to a more offense-heavy party makeup to chip away at the enemy’s health.

    Note players can only control the party leader in battle. The other two characters are computer controlled.

    The paradigm settings screen from Final Fantasy XIII.

    An important part of any battle in Final Fantasy XIII is the chain gauge. As players continuously damage an enemy, a gauge at the top of the screen will begin to fill. When the gauge is full, the enemy will be staggered. A staggered enemy becomes much more vulnerable to attacks for a short period of time.

    Understanding when to have a character in a specific role on the field is vital, and knowing how to best combine these roles will make many parts of the game much less terrifying to tackle.

    Commando (COM)

    Commandos are the primary damage dealers in the game. Mainly using physical attacks, they don’t increase the chain gauge of an enemy very quickly. Instead, they keep it stabilized.

    When an enemy is staggered, heavy-hitting Commandos (besides Sazh) can toss them into the air, keeping them from attacking the party and making many battles much easier.

    While it’s possible to have two Commandos in a party, it’s typically not necessary or advisable. It should be noted, however, that if a player decides to do this, the AI will choose two different enemies to attack.

    The best Commando during the early sections of Final Fantasy XIII is Lightning. Once Fang joins your party, she quickly becomes the superior choice. Other useful Commandos are Sazh and Snow.

    Ravager (RAV)

    Fang during a battle in Final Fantasy XIII.

    Ravagers are also damage dealers, but they specialize in magic. This role is primarily used to boost the chain gauge through powerful elemental attacks.

    *Note: Ravagers should use the Libra ability when encountering new enemies. This reveals extensive information about the enemy, including which spells are the most effective.

    When an enemy is staggered, having two Ravagers on the field along with a Commando to juggle your opponent can be a powerful paradigm.

    The best Ravager in the game is Lightning. Given how useful magic can be in Final Fantasy XIII, however, having several on the field can be useful when attempting to stagger enemies. Hope is the second-best choice.

    Sentinel (SEN)

    Sentinels are the tanks of Final Fantasy XIII. Able to withstand some serious damage, characters in this role can bait the attention of enemies away from others in the party. This is incredibly useful for keeping other characters out of harm’s way during difficult fights.

    While Sentinels are gifted at mitigating damage, they aren’t fantastic at dealing it out. This role is most often used during dangerous boss battles, especially those in which it’s possible to be killed in a single hit.

    In early sections of the game, having a Sentinel taking up a spot in your party might seem useless. However, later in the game, it can be incredibly useful when trying to heal or buff your buddies.

    The best Sentinel in Final Fantasy XIII is Snow, with Fang coming in a close second.

    Saboteur (SAB)

    A screenshot of Vanille and her summon from FInal Fantasy XIII.

    A good Saboteur is a player’s most underrated weapon. Characters in this role specialize in casting powerful debuffs on enemies, while also removing any buffs these enemies may be sporting.

    This role proves to be very helpful against enemies with very high defense, or against large packs of quick enemies. A skilled Saboteur can slow down the enemy’s movements, disable their use of magic, poison them, break their defensive barriers, and much, much more.

    The best Saboteur for your party is Vanille. If you’re looking to stack your party with these debuffing machines, consider adding Fang as well.

    Synergist (SYN)

    A Synergist is the opposite of a Saboteur, specializing in buffing and boosting your party. While not typically used against standard enemies, having a Synergist on call during major boss battles can help to turn the tide in your favor. They can do things like speed up your party with Haste, protect them with Shell and Protect, and boost their magic and strength stats.

    Unfortunately, the AI in Final Fantasy XIII leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to this role. Buffing the entire team can take quite a while, and not having control over what buffs are cast can be an issue, especially if you’re trying to protect one specific character quickly. The best strategy is putting the Synergist in the party at the beginning of a battle, giving them plenty of time to work their magic.

    The best Synergist in the game is Sazh, with Hope a close second.

    Medic (MED)

    As the name implies, Medics are the healers of the game. Having one or two available is always a good idea, as they can not only restore HP but also dispel negative status effects and resurrect downed party members.

    The best Medic in Final Fantasy XIII is Hope. If you need a ton of healing at once, consider creating an all-Medic paradigm along with Lightning and Vanille.