Combat Guide

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"Movesets? I thought all I need to do in this game was to hold O to win!" Well you're wrong! Almost every weapon has 5 different ground attacks/combos and one or two aerial attack(s)/combo(s). The different ground attacks are activated by pushing the left analog stick to different directions while holding O, or by releasing and re-pushing O. This is how you do all these different attacks:

  • Hold O (Basic combo)
  • Left analog stick forward + O (Forward attack)
  • Left analog stick backwards + O (Backwards attack)
  • Left analog stick right/left + O (Side attack)
  • Release O and push it again (Finisher)
  • O while in the air (Aerial attack)

Note: the directions are actually dependent on the enemy's position. "Forward" is "towards the enemy" etc.

On top of these, there are a bunch of different combo starters, which have various criteria to activate (usually distance-dependent. Attacking after phasing also results in a unique combo starter), but their only real difference is the animation.


Combat is a fairly simple affair, but there is a lot of hidden depth in it that is poorly explained or just not explained at all in game. I was getting the sense that I was missing some things as I played, but couldn’t find any particularly helpful guides. Some of this advice is based on my own experiences, but a lot of it also came from reading other posts by people and testing their claims myself, so I can’t really take credit for any of the discoveries. Think of this more as a compiled list with my own opinions thrown in than an original, end-all be-all guide.

This stuff is mostly for new players; if you’ve made it to the post game, you either know all this or don’t need to. That said, I’d love some feedback and additions from other more experienced players. And there are probably mistakes, so please point out any you see and I’ll make the appropriate edits.

General Tips

You can perform combos by holding or tapping the attack button. I find tapping makes it easier for me to time my attacks around my dodges, as holding it can sometimes lead you to starting an attack you probably shouldn’t have. That said, it’s really preference. Just know that while the game never mentions tapping the button, you get the same combos either way.

You can perform finishers by releasing the attack button and waiting for a moment and then pressing it again. You can perform finishers even after the very first attack in a combo, meaning you can whiff the first attack and hit with the finisher if you time it right. Try this with a Great Sword against those pesky Magitek Assassins and watch them fly! You need to press the button just before the weapon disappears to get the finisher—it may take a bit of practice.

You can access different types of attacks and different combos by tilting the left stick up and down (might actually be toward/away from an enemy—it’s hard to tell). Tilting forward usually results in a thrust or charge, while tilting back usually involves some sort of jump or flip. The former can help you cover more ground, while the latter can cause some attacks to miss you, and usually deals high damage if you can “complete” the combo. Edit: It is indeed toward/away, not up/down. Additionally, some weapons have different types of attacks for circling to the right and left around enemies. You can also stop holding in a given direction or continue holding in a given direction for even more combos.

Firearms and ranged Royal Arms weapons like the star and bow have severe damage drop off at range. In all honesty, this makes them almost useless unless you’re just going for the style points. Magic or warp strikes are just a better option for most ranged situations. There are a few ranged weapons that are worth playing around with, but more for the fun or novelty than for their actual effectiveness. Edit: The Star of the Rogue and the Bow of the Clever do have their uses. Coupled with Ignis' technique overwhelm, the bow does amazing damage. The star has a damage sweet spot a half-dozen paces or so outside of melee range and has excellent warp strikes. As actual sustained ranged attacks, however, they aren’t going to be tremendously effective.

Blink is very good if you can get the timing down, it costs 0 MP (and can even restore MP later) and will place you behind some enemies for a quick blind-side.

I do not recommend the Black Hood. While it has it’s uses, and can help in certain encounters, it hinders blinking, and the same general effect can be achieved by holding the block button down while attacking, which is easy to do in control scheme B or C. I know 90% of people are going to disagree with this since it seems like the go-to accessory for a lot of people, but I really don’t think it’s that good. I played with it on for a good couple of hours before I realized that it just really wasn’t helping me. It’s worth trying it out to see if you like it, but it’s not the game changer it seems like.

As far as control schemes go, I use B, and I’ve heard good things about C if you plan to hold the attack button instead of tapping it. I don’t see any reason to use A, but I’m sure it works fine if you’re quick enough on switching to defend. Use whatever you’re comfortable with, but give them all a shot. If you’re just starting out, I’d avoid getting too used to A (which is the default) before trying the others out a bit.

Invest in some basic aerial combat abilities in the mid- to late-game. They’re not useful in most encounters, but the encounters that they are useful in are made way easier by having them (plus they look cool). You don’t need to go deep into the trees, but I forgot they existed for half the game and struggled a bit more than I needed to in a few spots because of it.

As you’ve likely noticed, you have two health bars, a white one and a gray one. Most damage only depletes the white one. However, attacks from daemons seem to deplete both health bars, so make sure your dodges are on point during these fights to save on elixirs.

Use armiger liberally. It comes back fast, especially when upgraded, and a lot of the fights are long. In a lot of late game fights, you’ll wind up casting it several times in a single battle (I used at least 15 on MA-X Angelus on my first fight with it). It’s almost always worth using it when you have it during a boss fight, in my opinion.

Finally, let’s talk about Royal Arms. Royal arms are very good, some are even on par with end game gear when you consider their accessory-like bonuses and special effects/unique animations. That said, know that in addition to draining HP with each attack, royal arms also prevent link strikes, which are an important source of damage later in the game, so I don’t recommend relying on them too much.

It is indeed possible to engage a hard, toggle-like lock-on by pressing the map button while holding the lock-on. Be wary of the camera, though, and be aware that a lot of things tend to break lock-on even if you do this. Edit: I tend to prefer hold targeting in this game and a lot of action games like it. Hold targeting allows you to quickly redirect your attention, and the lock-on system is not a requirement to hit enemies. Lock-on may be exacerbating camera problems for some of you as well, though the camera is not great no matter how you slice it.



  • Swords - Overhead swing or horizontal slash.
  • Greatswords - Spin attack.
  • Polearms - Long-range forward stab; repeatable with a second back-step trigger.
  • Daggers - Dual horizontal slash.
  • Firearms - powerful shot with accompanying back step.
  • Shields - overhead swing.


Daggers seem to have the best single target damage output in the game because of their speed. That said, they really only shine in the end game content, where small boosts to DPS start adding up to shave several whole minutes off of some fights. Against groups they suffer—they won’t hit multiple enemies and the amount of dodging required in such a fight means that their DPS can’t really get off the ground. Daggers cannot perform air steps. Edit: Note that daggers cannot link strike.


Greatswords, on the other hand, excel at dealing with groups, especially the finisher, which sweeps a wide area for very high damage. Because of their damage, they’re also great for delivering hit-and-run warp strikes. They suffer in long battles though, where their DPS is just outclassed. Great swords cannot perform air steps.


Swords have great DPS, though less than daggers, and are a bit more useful in dealing with multiple enemies. They’re a great option for general use, and you really can’t go wrong with them. That said, they aren’t quite as good as daggers or great swords in the specific situations that those two weapons shine in. Swords can perform air steps.


Polearms have an awesome left-stick-down combo. It carries you into the air and does good damage, almost always resulting in a break on normal enemies. Polearms are probably most like swords in terms of DPS, but work more like daggers in that they are most useful against a single target. Polearms can perform air steps.


I forgot about Shields. Whoops. Shields will be coming soon, I welcome any suggestions on them.

Firearms and Machinery

I have not used Firearms very much, but I don’t recommend them. In my opinion, machinery is also best left to Prompto—you’ll need all the extra weapon slots you can get to boost stats with royal arms, and magic is generally more effective as a ranged or AoE tool. I haven’t used either much, though, and I welcome any further expertise on the subject. I spent some time with guns and Machinery, and I’m not sold on them. I’m at max level, so it’s hard to find enemies that are of an appropriate difficulty. I will say that they didn’t feel like they were cutting it for end game content, and I’m too high level to really assess them on lower level content. I still feel like magic, air stepping, and warp strikes are a better option all around. That said, I’ve linked some comments on how to get more from your guns below, from people who are more experienced with them than I am. I'm going to start a new game eventually, so I'll make sure to give them a better shot when I do.

Royal Arms

Royal Arms are a bit of a special case. They’re great for dealing lots of damage rather quickly, especially earlier in the game, and their unique attacks and types can be useful in a lot of situations. However, since they do damage to you, they aren’t as useful for bringing down some of the tough marathon bosses, and their inability to link means that their damage output even against late-game normal enemies can be underwhelming. I recommend equipping them primarily for their stat bonuses. That said, don’t write them off completely—there will be situations where you can spare the HP and links aren’t feasible or necessary, and in these situations your royal arms can do some work for you. Edit: Royal arms do normal (white) damage to every enemy, as far as I know. This means enemies are never resistant to them (purple), but also never weak against them (red). This makes them very strong against certain enemies like Red Giants. Also note that royal arms do have their uses, usually based on their movesets, effects, and animations. Collect and try them all out.

Noctis' Special Techniques

Great Sword Tempest

Hold Attack Button, immediately release it after the attack connects, then hold it again right before. After the Greatsword disappears from Noctis hand (you can also chain this from different weapons). Noctis will spin his Greatsword 360 degree twice, and Noctis is invisible during the animation.

Monster Hunter Greatsword Charge

Hold left stick backwards when holding attack button, Noctis will go into charging stance and began glowing. The longer you hold the buttons, the stronger the resulting slash is. (managed to deal 9999 damage against Vulnerable Zu)

Lance Full Thrust

While holding Attack button, tilt left stick backward once (don't hold it, Noctis will perform different moves otherwise), Noctis will hop backwards then lunge forward dealing multi hit damage. It's pretty good against single target enemy. Noctis could not be knocked down during the animation.

Lance Discount Dragoon Jump

Press attack button while Noctis is directly above enemy position., instead of normal forward thrust, Noctis will do diving attack that deals multi hit damage. You can executes this easily against smaller/knocked down enemies (Scorpions, Saberstusk, Sahagin, etc), for slightly bigger enemies (Magitek Soldier, Anak Calf) you can do this by doing normal air forward thrust, then tilt left stick forward and Noctis will roll forward mid air, ended up above the enemies position.

Omen Trailer Dagger Drop Kick

Hold left stick backwards while holding attack buttons, Noctis will hop backwards and throw the daggers at the enemies, keep holding attack button and left stick backwards to continuously throw dagger. Depending on the distance, not the number of daggers threw, Noctis will do warp drop kick on the enemy. Edit : The Drop Kick doesn't track the enemies, so if the enemies moves before the Drop Kick daggers hit, Noctis will miss the drop kick.

Additional Attacks

  • Try tilting left stick to left/right or backwards (this is assuming the you are looking at Noctis back, the left stick direction is relatives to enemy and Noctis positions) while holding the attack button , Noct will do different moves depending on the weapons. Also sometimes holding the left stick may executes different moves than just flicking it, for example holding left stick backwards while attacking with lance will not executes Full Thrust, instead Noct will hop backwards to air before doing normal air thrust.
  • Holding attack button, release it, then immediately hold it again will perform Finisher moves (normally executed by holding Attack button long enough).
  • Attacking immediately after Phasing also results in unique moveset, for example attacking with Lance after Phasing results in Noctis doing AoE sweep with the Lance.