Level is the measure of how far a character has progressed in their personal growth potential. Gaining levels is the way for the player characters to advance throughout most of the Final Fantasy games. The characters advance in levels by gaining Experience Points. Both enemies and player characters have a level, but most times the opponents' level is fixed.
When the character gains a level, it is called a "Level Up". Gaining levels may heighten stats, unlock new magic and skills and enable the use of new items. The party's level may also influence the enemy's stats. The typical highest level is 99 for players, but 100+ for bosses and enemies. In Final Fantasy VIII the limit for player characters goes up to 100, but can be as low as 41 in Final Fantasy Mystic Quest.
It is considered a challenge to attempt a "No Leveling Up Game", whereupon the player tries to complete the game without the player characters having gained a single level.
Levels are also widely used to measure an enemy's strength in the series, and some games allow enemies to level up in the middle of battle as well.
The level system in the original Final Fantasy is the system's prototype used in many future installments. Maximum level is 50. Character class dictates the stat growth gained from level ups. In the 20th anniversary edition and the iOS version the level can go to 99. Characters' levels were originally meant to determine the success rate of fleeing from battles, but in the NES version this is glitched.
Final Fantasy II is unique in the series for not utilizing experience-based levels; each character develops depending on what that character does during battle, e.g., characters who use a particular weapon become adept at wielding a weapon of that type, as well as gaining in physical strength; characters who frequently cast a particular magic learn more potent versions of that spell, as well as gain Magic Power. HP and MP, similarly, increase depending on need: a character who ends a battle with only a small amount of remaining health might earn an increase in maximum hit points.
The system is associated with numerous issues, such as that it encourages the players to hit their own characters in order to finish battles in low health. There is also a glitch that lets the player level up weapons and spells by repeatedly cancelling actions.
Final Fantasy III's level up system is based on the first game's system, though being more refined. Characters can use different jobs and gain levels and stat growth within those jobs. The max level is 99.
Final Fantasy IV employs a traditional level up system where characters level up by gaining EXP from battles, which boosts their stats along a predetermined path; physical characters will earn more strength and HP when leveling, and magic-users will gain magic power and MP. The characters can also learn new skills as they gain higher levels.
Level returns in the sequel to Final Fantasy IV, and works the same way as it did in that game.
Final Fantasy IV: The After Years employs the same system as its predecessors, but level caps are in place depending on the chapter. The level caps (for at least the Wii version) are as follows:
The job system makes a return in Final Fantasy V, but this time is separate from the character levels: characters and jobs have separate levels, e.g. a character can be on level 38, but his job may be on level 5. Characters boost their base stats by leveling up, and gain new abilities as their job levels up.
There are now various ways to temporarily change level in battle, such as the Mix skill, Dragon Power, which raises a character's level by 20. Characters level up by gaining EXP from battles, and jobs level up when the characters gain AP while using said job.
Final Fantasy VI has a traditional leveling up system, where characters gain EXP from battles. Terra and Celes gain new magic when reaching certain level thresholds. The characters can equip magicite to boost their stats while leveling up.
The Advance version has a glitch that lets the player reset the characters' levels.
In Final Fantasy VII, unlike in most games, characters will also gain EXP from boss battles. In the final battles Bizarro and Safer∙Sephiroth have more HP if more members of the player party are on level 99. During Battle Square battles certain handicaps can temporarily lower the player's level, and the effect stacks. Apart from the player characters, Materia can also be leveled up by gaining AP from battles; this unlocks new abilities and gives birth to new Materia when a Materia reaches its maximum level.
Leveling a character to level 99 gains the player the Top Level achievement in the PC version re-release of Final Fantasy VII.
- Main article: Digital Mind Wave
Zack gains levels through the Digital Mind Wave reel: as the reel rolls to 777, Zack will gain a level. The maximum level is 99. It appears random, but in fact, isn't; the game has a hidden value in the game data that works the same way as gaining experience points in the rest of the series, and the reel will gain a chance to spin to 777 once Zack has killed enough enemies to enable it. Zack can also level up his Materia to a max level of 5, at which point the Materia become mastered.
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Final Fantasy VIII is the first game in the series where the maximum level for character and enemy growth is 100 instead of 99. The game is different in many other aspects as well: instead of the EXP required for a level up gradually growing, the requirement is set at the fixed value of 1000 EXP for a level up, but the amount of EXP enemies give after battle varies, depending on their level in comparison to the player party's.
The player's level affects how far they can progress in the SeeD rank tests that can be undertaken in the menu; the player cannot take a test that is of higher grade than Squall's current level. Squall always starts at level 7 with his EXP bar half-way filled, similar to how Cloud always levels up in his first battle. Squall's first level up being from level 7 to level 8 may thus be an allusion to the number 8, Final Fantasy VIII being the eighth installment in the series. All characters who join the party start with a set level.
The enemies' level is normally not fixed, and depends on the active party members' current levels, according to the following formula:
Normal enemies will never have levels between the two values given by the formula; however, bosses have level caps, which are used to limit their levels if the value resulting from the formula is too high.
Furthermore, in certain locations in the game, enemies' levels are subject to specific conditions:
- The Fire Cavern has enemy levels fixed at 5.
- The Lunatic Pandora (with Squall as party leader) has enemy levels fixed at 1.
- The Island Closest to Heaven and the Island Closest to Hell have enemy levels fixed at 100.
- The Deep Sea Research Center uses the normal formula, but then adds 15 levels.
- In the PlayStation version of the game, Omega Weapon is always level 100.
- In Ultimecia Castle, enemy levels are completely random.
Guardian Forces also gain levels, and certain Guardian Force abilities cannot be used until the said Guardian Force has reached level 100. Guardian Forces share the EXP the player characters earn from battles, but it is distributed evenly between the GFs the character has junctioned. Different GFs require a varying amount of EXP for a level up; e.g. Siren requires only 200 EXP for a level up, whereas Eden requires the full 1000.
The LV Down and LV Up abilities learned by Tonberry let the player manipulate the enemies' levels and thus affect which spells can be drawn, what items they will drop, and how much EXP they give. Bosses are immune to this ability.
As the Junction System technically functions separate from the leveling system, a viable style of play can include keeping the party (and thus monsters) low level.
In the Final Fantasy VIII PlayStation demo the player characters cannot level up at all.
Final Fantasy IX uses a traditional level up system. Leveling up boosts the party's stats and the number of magic stones. As bosses do not give EXP, it is possible to attempt a no leveling up challenge and finish the game at level 1.
The party members' levels who join the party are determined by the previous party members' levels. Zidane, Vivi, Dagger and Steiner are the characters the player starts the game with, but when another party member joins and the player party is at a higher level than LV1, the joining party members level up to match the rest of the party.
Joining party members will not gain any level up bonuses for the number of magic stones, and for that reason, if the player levels up a lot early, party members who join later will miss out on magic stones. If the player wants maximum magic stones for all party members, they must stay on level 1 till Amarant joins.
- Main article: Sphere Grid
Characters and enemies aren't shown to be on a specific level in Final Fantasy X, and their strength is measured in stats only, however, gaining EXP from battles advances the characters through the Sphere Grid by giving them sphere levels. The EXP required for gaining sphere levels increases the further a character has progressed through the grid, up to a maximum of 22,000.
The traditional leveling up system makes a comeback in Final Fantasy X-2, with characters gaining levels based on the EXP they earn in battles. Levels will not carry over when using the game's New Game Plus feature. The maximum level is 99. The character's level determines their stats in their currently equipped dressphere, apart from the special dresspheres, whose stats are also affected by the number of nodes the character activated in order to change into the special dressphere.
Final Fantasy XI deviates from the traditional level-up system by having levels tied to each job class, rather than the whole character. Each class receives their own experience tally, and can be individually leveled up to the maximum level of 99.
At the release of Final Fantasy XI, the level cap was 50, and this cap was raised five times in intervals of 5 after the release of the first expansion Rise of the Zilart up till 75 where the level cap remained for nearly 7 years. When Vision of Abyssea was released in 2010, the level cap was progressively raised again at intervals of 5 to hit the final cap of 99 in December 2011.
Final Fantasy XI also employs a level system for combat and crafting skills that is similar to the system used in Final Fantasy II. Repeated attempts at crafting and uses of a combat skill have a chance at increasing the proficiency of that skill. However, to prevent exploitation, such attempts must be performed with crafting recipes and enemies of a certain range relative to ones current skill or job level.
Final Fantasy XII employs a more or less traditional level up system, with characters progressing through levels by gaining EXP from defeated enemies. The Zodiac Job System version of the game has a couple of New Game Plus features that allows the player to attempt a new playthrough with either all characters starting on level 90, or all characters on level 1, while being unable to gain levels.
The exact equation describing EXP and level is:
The player stars the game as Vaan, but any party members who join him during the game have their starting level determined by he levels of the characters in the current party. Such as, when Balthier and Fran join Vaan in Royal Palace of Rabanastre, their level is Vaan's level +1.
The enemy ability, Growing Threat, doubles the subject's level.
The player characters level up by gaining EXP from battles. They learn new abilities by leveling up, and their stats are increased. If the player completes all missions the all enemies in the final boss battle will be on level 99. If the player wins, they get a secret ending.
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- Main article: Crystarium System
In Final Fantasy XIII the characters' roles gain levels by advancing through the tiers in the Crystarium, meaning that it is the character's "role" or "job" that gains level, not the character itself. The level gain is capped, and new tiers in the Crystarium are opened by progressing through the storyline. Role levels make the role more powerful when the character is using it and grant more powerful role bonuses.
More traditional leveling system is seen in the characters' weapons and accessories, whose stats the player can advance by giving them EXP through the various components gained from battles and bought from the Retail Network. Mechanical components give more EXP, but organic components add a multiplier to the equipment pieces' EXP intake, giving the chance to as much as triple the received EXP.
Every weapon and accessory has its own growth potential and maximum level. After a piece of equipment has reached its maximum level, it is often possible to use a catalyst component to transform it into a new item, usually a more powerful version of the original, at the cost of the new item starting back at its base with no EXP.
The enemies in Final Fantasy XIII have fixed levels, but unlike in other games in the series, it is not an indication of the enemy's strength, and the levels vary widely. The only things the enemy's level determine are whether the enemy is immune to Random: Instant Chain or not (enemies above level 49 are immune) and the rate of TP recovery after battle.
Paradigm roles gain levels, but now each role can level up all the way to level 99. At certain milestones the Crystarium expands and allows for further customization of a character or a Paradigm Pack monster. Levels are gained by expending CP, which Serah and Noel gain by winning battles.
Monster allies, however, do not gain CP, and must be given items to level them up, and the items' attributes define the quality of the stat boosts. While Serah and Noel can reach level 99 in all their roles, the monsters have only one role, and depending on the monster, their level may be capped at lower than 99.
"Requiem of the Goddess"Edit
In a downloadable content scenario, "Another Beginning - Lightning's Story: Requiem of the Goddess", Lightning returns as a playable character. Lightning's leveling system returns to its roots as when a certain amount of Experience Points was acquired that character would level up.
|Current Level||CP Required||HP||Strength||Magic||Bonus/Notes|
|0||—||15,000||1,150||1,150||Defeat Chaos Bahamut to unlock.|
|3||250||31,000||1,250||1,250||Conjurer role unlocked.|
|6||730||49,000||1,350||1,350||Sorcerer role unlocked.|
In Final Fantasy XIV, a character's progress was originally measured in two ways: physical levels representing one's actual physical development, with class ranks measuring how adept one is with various arms and tools. This system was later changed to something similar to Final Fantasy XI's, each class having its own level tied to it and no "global" character level.
Characters have levels in Final Fantasy Type-0 and level up by gaining EXP from battles.
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- Main article: Stat Growth (Tactics)
As each human character takes actions in battle, they gain experience, which will increase their overall level. Characters also gain Job Points (JP), which allow them to level up within a job until they have mastered it.
The character's level is determined with an experience system where every 100 experience grants a level up. Each successful action grants EXP based on the target's level. If the target is the same level as the user, 10 EXP is granted. For each level difference 1 EXP is added or removed. For example, if a level 50 character successfully attacked a level 60 character, they would gain 20 EXP. The stat boosts for leveling up depend on what job the player is when they level up. The maximum level is 99. The abilities Accrue EXP and EXP Boost can be equipped to gain more EXP.
The job level is determined with a JP (Job Points) system. JP is gained the same way as experience, with successful actions. However, instead of trying to gain 100 JP to level a job up, it depends on the specific job, and leveling up takes a higher amount of JP at each level. The maximum for each job is 8. The abilities Accrue JP and JP Boost can be equipped to gain more JP.
As a character gains more experience in various jobs, they gain access to other, more advanced or specialized jobs. Some jobs, like Arithmetician and Mime, require invested time and experience in several jobs, and require mastery of others to be truly effective. Once learned, skills and job-specific commands can be used even after a character switches jobs, though a penalty may be applied.
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Only Benjamin can level up. Phoebe, Kaeli, Tristam, and Reuben are at fixed levels and do not gain experience, although allies who leave and return later are at a higher level. Also, due to the fixed number of enemies in the game, Benjamin cannot exceed Level 41.
The player characters level up by gaining EXP from battles, and their level determines the characters' stats within the crowns they are wearing. The maximum level is 99. The Salve-Maker's Level Serum increases the party's level by one for the duration of the battle. The Seamstress's final ability, Sew Together, causes the user and an ally to combine their levels and double the user's stats.
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In Dissidia, characters gain experience by dealing HP damage to the opponent in battle, the higher the opponent's level and the more damage dealt, the more experience the character gains. As the character levels up they learn new attacks and abilities. Equipment pieces have a level requirement that require a character to be at that level or higher to equip them. Characters max out at Level 100 with a total of 1,964,655 EXP gained.
Some Booster Accessories trigger depending on the character being a certain level.
Leveling works identically to how it functioned in Dissidia, but the player has the option to adjust a character's level to a lower level. As a new mechanic, Gateways may have a Bonus Line; if the character's level is higher than the Bonus Line level the player receives a penalty to the KP they earn for completing that gateway. Conversely, setting a character's level lower than the Bonus Line grants an automatic bonus to the KP that will be earned for completing the gateway.
The Chocobo Cologne can still be traded for a single-level increase to a character. Several new Booster Accessories rely on the gap in level between the player's character and their opponent.