Chain is a recurring gameplay mechanism in the Final Fantasy series that involves chaining attacks or killed enemies.
The game has a speed-based chain system. No matter the type of enemy, if they are killed fast enough the word chain appears on the screen, along with the number of enemies killed in-a-row.
The parties can chain attacks by relentlessly attacking a single target. The chain is indicated by a Chain x1! message that pops on the screen while a unit is being hit. Both the player party and the enemy party can chain attacks. After each attack there is a two second window during which if the target is attacked again, the chain will keep building. The longer the chain, the more damage the next attack inflicts. The window between attacks is two seconds for normal attacks and three seconds after a critical hit.
Chain x1! damage is normal damage plus 45%, and any hit that continues the chain adds 5% to the multiplier (e.g. "Chain x3!" means the attack dealt 55% bonus damage). The maximum bonus multiplier exceeds 600%. On top of increased damage, attacking an opponent while it is still staggered from the previous attack (i.e. within the two second window) prevents the enemy from evading the next attack, and also prevents the enemy from executing its own attack.
If the player builds a long enough chain, the enemy may never get a chance to attack back, but if the enemy has already begun its attack animation, chaining attacks on it will not stop the attack. This is especially noticeable with enemies with slow attack animations, such as the Tonberry-type enemies.
Thief is a good dressphere to use to build a chain, due to being fast and always attacking twice in succession. Yuna's Festivalist (International and HD Remaster versions) can also deal two attacks in one turn. The Gunner's Trigger Happy is one of the best ways to build a long chain.
Units afflicted with Stop cannot be chained, as they will never enter their stagger animation.
In Final Fantasy X-2 HD Remaster, achieving a Chain x99 will unlock the "Full Chain" trophy.
Experience Chains refer to extra experience gained while killing multiple monsters in a quick period of time. EXP Chain builds while fighting monsters that check as Even Match or more difficult. The time limit for killing another monster to make or continue the chain depends on the chain's level and the character's level. The bonuses and time limits for EXP Chains are listed below.
There are two types of chain: the player can chain enemies by killing the same type of monster to obtain more loot as drops, and the player can chain their Quickening attacks to deal more damage to targets and to trigger finishing moves known as Concurrences.
The player can build a chain by killing enemies of the same species. Genus breaks down monsters in seven types, which are broken down further into different species or classes. As a player kills enemies of the same species, the chain grows, shown as a number above the party's ATB and HP bars in the lower-right of the screen. Chaining enemies makes it more likely they will drop rarer items, and makes it possible they will drop multiple items and more than one of the same item. As chain level increases, the number will flash when the next stage is reached, signified by the icon representing the dropped items changing―from a sack to a silver coin to a gold coin to a large gold coin.
At higher chain levels loot items may bestow beneficial effects on the party when picked up. These bonuses include 10% recovery of HP and MP, and bestowing Protect or Shell statuses. On Chain Level 0 there is no chance of bonuses, but at Level 1 there is a 10% chance of gaining HP or MP recovery when picking up a piece of loot, on Chain Level 2 the chance is 20% plus 5% chance the party leader is buffed with either Protect or Shell, and on the highest Chain Level there is a 25% chance to receive HP or MP recovery from loot, and a 5% chance all of the party being bestowed with either Protect or Shell.
All drops fall into one of the five categories: Always, High, Mid, Low, and Very Low. "Always" drops are rare and reserved to special battles, such as how Omega Mark XII always drops the Omega Badge. The effects of Chain Level on drops is as follows:
|Drop Chance||Chain Lv. 0||Chain Lv. 1||Chain Lv. 2||Chain Lv. 3|
|Drop Chance||Chain Lv. 0||Chain Lv. 1||Chain Lv. 2||Chain Lv. 3|
There are two exceptions to this rule: drops as a result of monographs and the Canopic Jar are unaffected by Chain Level, but will still drop from chained enemies normally, so the player can receive multiple items as normal drops along with monograph and Canopic Jar drops.
Increasing the Chain Level is partially random, but is influenced by the player picking up the loot items enemies drop. Every time the player picks up loot the hidden counter towards the next level up will go down by 1 (Lv 0), 2 (Lv 1), or 3 (Lv 2). Even if the player picks up all loot the chain will still level up eventually, because the game forces a chain level up at certain stages. If the player does not pick up loot one can always level up the chain between 6 to 10 kills, reaching the highest Chain Level in 18 to 30 kills.
From time to time the player may notice the chain number flashing. This happens 5% of the time. Many guides state this indicates the player can now pick up loot without penalty, and that when fighting multiple enemies at once the player can leave the loot on the ground and pick them up all at once when the chain number flashes. The no-penalty time should end when the player kills the next target and the chain number no longer flashes. Every time the chain number starts flashing there is a 60% chance it will keep flashing when the next target is killed. However, this mechanism does not appear to work to actually level up the chain faster.
|Kills required to next Chain Lv.||6||7||8||9||10|
|Chain Lv = 0||40%||60%||80%||90%||100%|
|Chain Lv = 1||20%||30%||50%||60%||100%|
|Chain Lv = 2||10%||20%||30%||40%||100%|
A chain is broken when an enemy of a different species is killed. This is shown by the chain counter being crossed out, and it will start over counting the new enemy species as "1" for purposes of a new chain of that enemy type. Chains are broken if the player touches a Save Crystal or enters a town (any area where only Vaan is controllable).
Boarding the Strahl does not reset the chain, which the player can exploit to get rare loot from enemies that usually cannot be chained because there are no enemies of the same type nearby, such as the Tower at Pharos. The player can also kill other types of enemies without breaking the chain by using the Break and Poison spells. The zone out glitch can also be used to chain enemies, even Rare Game.
On top of the regular chain, there are two "hidden chains" invisible to the player.
The first one is related to the normal chain and allows the player to gain multiple items in one loot drop. This effect activates when the player kills the same enemy in a row. The player can keep the chain going by killing enemies of the same species, even if they are different enemies, such as wolves, hyenas and worgens.
The player starts randomly receiving multiple units of the same item at a single loot drop after they have killed more than 10 of the same enemy in a row. The most possible items in one drop is 4 (achieved after killing 26 or more of the same enemy in a row), but the chance is low even at high chains. Two items at a single loot drop is the most the items in the "Very Low" category can drop. In some cases a monster can drop the same item in different categories (High, Mid, Low, Very Low) at the same time, which should not be confused with the multiple items bonus.
The player can also build a reverse chain by doing the opposite of building a normal chain and killing only different type of enemies in a row. When building a reverse chain the game gives no indication the chain is building, but it still affects the item drops in following manner:
|Equivalent Chain Lv.||< 5||6-11||12-19||> 20|
If one builds up a reverse chain to more than 20 there is a 15% chance to receive the same item drop one would otherwise receive with a regular Chain Level 2.
Every character has three Quickening moves, one for each Quickening level. The level 3 Quickenings are the most powerful, but require all of the character's MP to perform (original version) or all of their Mist Charges (Zodiac versions). All active members in the party who know Quickening moves and who are not berserked or confused or otherwise incapacitated, can join in the chain. When the player executes a Quickening the game imposes a time limit, and the player can attempt to chain as many Quickenings as possible within it.
The characters' available Quickenings come up for selection at random, and the player can shuffle through the options by the press of . Sometimes a Mist Charge option activates, which restores the character's MP/Mist Charge to full, allowing them to perform more Quickenings. By successfully chaining different level Quickenings the player can trigger finishing attacks known as Concurrences.
Building a chain bonus on the enemy target has a pivotal role in the Command Synergy Battle system. The player can fill up a chain gauge to deal successively more damage and, once the gauge is full, stagger the enemy. Staggered enemies can be launched into the air preventing them from hitting back. Whether staggered or not, a higher chain bonus directly increases damage from the party's attacks, and the chance to successfully inflict negative statuses. The chain bonus is capped at 999.9%.
All attacks are not equal to building the chain. Enemy chain bonuses are most effectively increased by the Ravager role, but Ravager attacks do not increase the chain gauge's timer by much, making it easy to lose the chain bonus. Other roles don't increase the chain bonus by much, but increase the chain gauge's timer more than a Ravager.
When using Medic and Synergist roles the player may notice player characters also have a chain bonus. This chain bonus doesn't increase damage taken from enemies, but applies to the strength of healing spells and the duration of enhancements, and is increased by casting such spells and enhancements.
Stagger returns and works the same as in Final Fantasy XIII.
"Stagger Wave" is an electrical charge that appears with an enemy's HP gauge, and as the player attacks the wave fluctuates. When an enemy is attacked with something it is vulnerable against, the wave fluctuates more, and as the player attacks the enemy with its weakness, the Stagger Wave will grow and the enemy will eventually be staggered. Certain garbs are imbued with auto-abilities which change certain abilities into more powerful ones when used against staggered opponents.
Whereas in the earlier installments the player was to raise chain gauge to to the stagger point and enemy would become vulnerable to damage and action interruption for a set amount of time, in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII the player can stack stagger effects as each enemy can have more than one stagger condition, and player can apply indispensable status ailments on an enemy.
Experience Chains work similarly to Final Fantasy XI exp chains. They are gained while fighting monsters that are of the same level or above the player's current class level. Chain bonuses stack with linking, guildleve, level difference and party bonuses.
When chaining, a timer appears above the experience bar and the current chain number is displayed on the screen.
Chains also apply to gathering, however it only applies to consecutive items gathered from individual node. The chain bonus resets if a player fails to harvest a material, or if the node is exhausted.
When a Battle Piece is interacted with, such as an item being taken or an enemy being defeated, any adjacent enemy Battle Pieces turn berserk and attack the player, resulting in a chain of battles where the player has no chance to heal in-between.
This is critical to conserving Destiny Points on many boards by the player positioning their character to chain multiple enemies and minimize their movement on the board, while maximizing the DP earned from enemies. Enemies can be prevented from going Berserk by using certain skills.
Chains function similarly to how they do in the first Dissidia, but as Destiny Points are no longer used, chains serve a different purpose. When enemies are chained the KP multiplier increases by the amount of enemies chained―chaining two enemies increases the multiplier to 2x KP, while chaining three increases it to 3x. Chains can also be cancelled by pressing before a chain battle.
When the chain is complete the player earns as much KP as they won from the enemies by fulfilling the KP Chance requirements, times the multiplier. Thus, defeating enemies in a chain can exponentially boost the KP the player earns. Some skills allow the player to chain enemies in new ways, such as the Cross Chain chaining all enemies on a diagonal to the player.
When the player hits consecutive notes they build chains. At the end of the battle in the Battle Results screen their best chain is displayed, which affects overall rank the player will get for a cleared level.
Chaining involves the player's units' (at least two are required) attacks being used in quick succession to increase their damage output. Each unit's normal attack or abilities have a certain number of frames. Matching those frames as much as possible builds chain. The higher the chain count, the higher the damage output. The maximum damage increase that can be granted is a x4 modifier, which is especially useful against bosses with higher DEF/SPR. Chaining is almost mandatory against several Trial bosses.
While any move can be chained, this is not effective. The best ways for the player to build chain is to use abilities that consist of multiple hits which will increase the damage of each hit separately. Thus chainer units are relevant for any circumstance, and most of the meta units are good chainers.
The player needs to match the frames as much as possible for them to chain. This at its most basic requires quick timing, but there is another layer of complication: abilities tend to have different frames, so even if they can in essence be chained, it does not guarantee an adequate chain. If the frames differ too much the chain will break. The player needs to team at least two compatible chainers, most commonly referred to as "chain partners" in the fandom. These units have abilities with similar frames and are guaranteed to build a high chain count. Every unit can chain perfectly with a copy of itself, although depending on how the attack works, this could be more complicated than simply tapping one attack right after the other.
Although chains can increase the damage of moves, there are other factors to consider than timing. Elemental Chains (chaining attacks of the same element) provide larger bonuses, reaching the cap of x4 faster than normal chains. Spark Chains, which occur when the frame difference is minimal (requiring precise timing and matching partners) also increases the bonuses faster. Mixing Elemental and Spark attacks is the most effective way to build a chain and ramp up damage. In the case of physical damage units, players tend to equip them with weapons of a certain element to make them match. Dual-wielding is an excellent way to chain attacks for longer periods of time. Offensive magic users compensate through dualcasting; although this takes more MP, given how MAG based damage is calculated, their overall damage is higher. This is why proper chaining partners are relevant, because they can escalate damage efficiently, and inflict severe damage on many opponents.
There are some caveats to consider. Some units, like A2 or Aileen, physically "move" close to the boss to unleash their abilities. This can cause chaining discrepancies since the timing will be affected. If one of these units is too close to the boss and the other too far, if they player taps too fast, it risks that a chain will be affected because their overall timing activated at distorted times. Most of the chain moves are stationary, meaning the player does not need to worry about the units' allocation, but it is nonetheless wise to check how each unit's chain move works.
Some moves whose the frames do not completely align are nonetheless compatible and potential chain partners. For example, Ashe's "Heaven's Fury", and Grim Lord Sakura's "Grim - Soul Barrage", whose frames are as follows:
- Heaven's Fury: 72-10-10-10-10-10-10-10-10-10
- Grim - Soul Barrage: 62-10-10-10-10-10-10-10-10-10
Both have frames of 10 that separate each of their hits, which makes them compatible, but the starting frame is different. Since Heaven's Fury has a slight delay over Soul Barrage, it should be cast first. Since the difference is 10, it isn't too much of a worry.
As another similar example, using the Trust Master Reward Pod 153's ability R020: Mirage:
- R020: Mirage: 40-10-10-10-10-10-10-10
It also has frames of 10, but the starting frame is much different than the above abilities'. R020: Mirage is a compatible chain partner for the abilities disclosed, but requires proper timing to work. Ashe's Heaven's Fury is a Magic Damage ability, meaning it can only be used once unless the unit is capable of using that ability twice per turn, which requires an additional ability that expressly allows it. Grim Lord Sakura's "Grim Lord" ability does this by allowing her to dualcast her "Grim" abilities, whereas Ashe has no such ability for Heaven's Fury. If Grim Lord Sakura uses "Soul Barrage" twice over Ashe's Heaven's Fury, a proper chain will be built only until Heaven's Fury's frames last; after that the chain will break, leaving only the second "Soul Barrage" striking. R020: Mirage is a physical attack, so it can fix this weakness by dual-wielding, which causes the ability to be used twice.
The player must consider all of these elements to find the proper chain partners: the abilities, the equipment, and the timing. There are several platforms and documentations around the internet with information of compatible chainers for several units, often aligned by their "frame group".