- “Each party member is assigned an offensive, defensive, or healing role. Executing a Paradigm Shift will allow the player to change each character's role. Using different paradigms for different situations is key to winning these real-time battles. Quick thinking and smart tactics keep the battles intense and enjoyable.”
- —UK XIII-2 Official Website
A Paradigm (パラダイム, Paradaimu?), also known as an Optima (オプティマ, Oputima?), is a combination of one to three roles in Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2. The player can preset up to a maximum of six paradigms when outside battle. During battle the player can freely switch between the preset paradigms using the /LB button, also known as a Paradigm Shift (パラダイムシフト, Paradaimu Shifuto?) or an Optima Change (オプティマチェンジ, Oputima Chenji?).
In Final Fantasy XIII-2, suffixes of paradigm names may change according to the Paradigm Tune player has selected for each paradigm. Shifting paradigms 1,000 times in Final Fantasy XIII-2 earns the player the "Strategist" achievement/trophy.
Roles (ロール, Rōru?) are a gameplay element unique to Final Fantasy XIII. The system is akin to past Final Fantasy job systems, however major changes have been made so that each role resembles a mix of different jobs.
Names have been changed between the English and the Japanese releases:
- Commando (COM) / Attacker (ATK)
- Ravager (RAV) / Blaster (BLA)
- Sentinel (SEN) / Defender (DEF)
- Saboteur (SAB) / Jammer (JAM)
- Synergist (SYN) / Enhancer (ENH)
- Medic (MED) / Healer (HLR)
Lightning also has six additional roles in her DLC episode of Final Fantasy XIII-2:
- Paladin (PLD) / Attack Paladin (ATK-PLD), a role similar to Commando.
- Mage (MGE) / Blast Wizard (BLA-WIZ), a role similar to Ravager that uses lightning-attribute magic attacks.
- Shaman (SHA) / Blast Shaman (BLA-SHM), a role similar to Ravager that uses wind-attribute physical attacks.
- Knight (KNT) / Defense Knight (DEF-KNT), a role similar to Sentinel.
- Conjurer (CNJ) / Enhance Adept (ENH-ADP), a role similar to Synergist.
- Sorcerer (SRC) / Jamming Witch (JAM-WTC), a role similar to Saboteur.
Setting each role to a character is made by default, although after a point, the player can freely switch between roles for each character outside of battle.
The localization team was asked to help with the naming of the roles and the team intended to use different names in Japan and the US/EU from the start. The English translators brainstormed and proposed both sets. For the Japanese version, they needed English words that sounded cool when rendered into Japanese, and would be understood by non-English-speaking Japanese players. For the localized version, the team's focus was on creating names that would have a more sci-fi feel to a native speaker's ear, and also abbreviate to three letters in a way that looked natural and made the short forms quickly and easily distinguishable from one another.
- See also: Command Synergy Battle
The ATB gauge continues to increase during a Paradigm Shift. If the player shifts in the middle of an action, any unused ATB gauge is saved as if the player had simply cancelled the action. Shifting paradigm refills everyone's ATB gauge. There is a 12 second cooldown time for this effect after each time it activates. If the player shifts less than 12 seconds after this effect last activated, the gauge is not refilled at the end of the shift. The computer-controlled characters have their commands automatically selected immediately following the shift.
During the Paradigm Shift animation commands cannot be input or carried out, but during the animation the ATB gauges of both the player party and the enemies continues to fill. The two computer-controlled allies can act again sooner than the leader, as the leader must wait until all characters' animations are finished before acting.
In Final Fantasy XIII, the first Paradigm Shift in each battle has a longer animation, but it can be bypassed by only shifting during an animation, which cannot be cancelled by the Paradigm Shift.
- During an Attack command special animation (gunshot for Lightning, rifle shot for Sazh, three-sectioned staff bows for Fang).
- While being in the air, either launched by an enemy or attacking a launched enemy.
- While using a character's Full ATB Skill.
Circumventing the long animation will make the next shift animation the long animation.
With six roles and three maximum playable party members, it is possible to set up to 83 paradigms. Possibilities are shown in the table below.
Note: Names shown in brackets are direct translations from Japanese.
|Commando||Attacks enemies with the goal of dealing as much damage as possible.|
|Ravager||Attacks enemies with the aim of quickly building chains.|
|Sentinel||Draws and defends against the attacks of enemies.|
|Saboteur||Focuses on weakening opponents, debilitating them when overwhelmed.|
|Synergist||Focuses on augmenting offense and defense, defending when overwhelmed.|
|Medic||Concentrates on healing and recovery.|
|Name||Role 1||Role 2||Description|
|Commando||Commando||Each COM attacks its own target.|
|Slash & Burn|
(Attack & Blast)
|Commando||Ravager||COM and RAV combine their attacks to take down one enemy at a time.|
(Attack & Defense)
|Commando||Sentinel||SEN focuses on drawing enemy aggression while COM attacks.|
|Divide & Conquer|
(Attack & Jamming)
|Commando||Saboteur||SAB debilitates enemies and COM attacks them.|
(Attack & Enhanced)
|Commando||Synergist||COM attacks enemies, augmented by SYN's enhancements.|
|War & Peace|
(Attack & Heal)
|Commando||Medic||COM attacks enemies while MED concentrates on healing.|
|Ravager||Ravager||Both RAVs concentrate their attacks on the same target.|
(Blast & Defense)
|Ravager||Sentinel||SEN draws enemy aggression while RAV attacks.|
(Blast and Jamming)
|Ravager||Saboteur||RAV attacks while SAB attempts to weaken enemies.|
(Blast & Enhanced)
|Ravager||Synergist||RAV attacks enemies, augmented by SYN's enhancements.|
|Yin & Yang|
(Blast & Heal)
|Ravager||Medic||MED heals while RAV attacks enemies.|
|Sentinel||Sentinel||Both SENs defend against enemy attacks.|
(Defense & Jamming)
|Sentinel||Saboteur||SEN protects SAB, who attempts to weaken enemies.|
(Defense & Enhance)
|Sentinel||Synergist||SEN protects SYN, who focuses on strengthening the party.|
(Defense & Heal)
|Sentinel||Medic||SEN protects MED, who concentrates on healing.|
|Saboteur||Saboteur||Both SABs attempt to quickly weaken and debilitate enemies.|
(Jamming & Enhance)
|Saboteur||Synergist||SAB weakens opponents while SYN focuses on strengthening the party.|
|Sap & Salve|
(Jamming & Heal)
|Saboteur||Medic||SAB weakens opponents while MED handles healing.|
|Synergist||Synergist||Both SYNs focus on quickly strengthening the party.|
(Enhance & Heal)
|Synergist||Medic||MED handles healing while SYN focuses on strengthening the party.|
|Medic||Medic||Both MEDs concentrate on healing.|
|Name||Role 1||Role 2||Role 3||Description|
|Commando||Commando||Commando||Each COM attacks its own target. Effective for picking off weaker enemies.|
|Commando||Commando||Ravager||RAV and one COM attack a common target while other COM attacks its own.|
(Legion of Steel)
|Commando||Commando||Sentinel||SEN defends against dangerous attacks while COMs focus on dealing damage.|
|Commando||Commando||Saboteur||COMs attack separate targets while SAB weakens dangerous opponents.|
(Leap of Two Heroes)
|Commando||Commando||Synergist||COMs attack separate targets while SYN supports with enhancements.|
|Commando||Commando||Medic||COMs attack separate targets while MED supports with healing.|
|Commando||Ravager||Ravager||COM and RAVs focus on taking down one target at a time.|
|Commando||Ravager||Sentinel||SEN draws enemy aggression while COM and RAV attack a common target.|
(Warring Demons of Destruction)
|Commando||Ravager||Saboteur||COM and RAV combine their attacks while SAB attempts to weaken enemies.|
|Commando||Ravager||Synergist||COM and RAV coordinate attacks, augmented by SYN's enhancements.|
|Commando||Ravager||Medic||COM and RAV coordinate attacks while MED supports with healing.|
|Commando||Sentinel||Sentinel||SENs defend while the lone COM attacks. Limited in effectiveness.|
|Commando||Sentinel||Saboteur||COM attacks enemies weakened by SAB while SEN defends against them.|
|Commando||Sentinel||Synergist||COM attacks and SEN defends while SYN strengthens them.|
(Determination to Victory)
|Commando||Sentinel||Medic||MED heals and SEN defends while COM attacks enemies.|
|Commando||Saboteur||Saboteur||COM attacks while SABs attempt to weaken dangerous enemies.|
|Commando||Saboteur||Synergist||COM, augmented by SYN's enhancements, attacks enemies weakened by SAB.|
(Blessing to the Hunters)
|Commando||Saboteur||Medic||SAB weakens opponents while COM attacks them and MED heals the party.|
|All for One|
(The Lionheart King)
|Commando||Synergist||Synergist||SYNs strengthen COM, who picks off weaker enemies in the meantime.|
|Commando||Synergist||Medic||COM dispatches targets with healing and support from MED and SYN.|
|Commando||Medic||Medic||Both MEDs focus on healing while lone COM attacks enemies.|
|Ravager||Ravager||Ravager||All three RAVs combine their attacks, attempting to quickly fill chain gauges.|
|Ravager||Ravager||Sentinel||RAVs combine their attacks while SEN protects them from dangerous enemies.|
|Ravager||Ravager||Saboteur||RAVs combine their attacks while SAB weakens dangerous opponents.|
|Ravager||Ravager||Synergist||RAVs coordinate their attacks, augmented by SYN's enhancements.|
|Ravager||Ravager||Medic||MED heals while RAVs combine their attacks against a common target.|
|Ravager||Sentinel||Sentinel||SENs defend while the lone RAV attacks. Limited in effectiveness.|
|Ravager||Sentinel||Saboteur||RAV attacks enemies weakened by SAB while SEN defends against them.|
(March of The Intercept)
|Ravager||Sentinel||Synergist||SEN defends while RAV attacks, augmented by SYN's enhancements.|
(Hymn of Defense)
|Ravager||Sentinel||Medic||SEN draws enemy aggression while MED heals and RAV attacks.|
(Sense of The Turbulent Storm)
|Ravager||Saboteur||Saboteur||RAV attacks enemies heavily weakened by two SABs|
|Ravager||Saboteur||Synergist||RAV attacks while SAB weakens enemies and SYN strengthens the party.|
|Ravager||Saboteur||Medic||SAB weakens opponents while RAV attacks and MED heals.|
|Ravager||Synergist||Synergist||RAV attacks enemies, heavily augmented by two SYNs.|
|Ravager||Synergist||Medic||MED heals while RAV attacks enemies, augmented by SYN's enhancements.|
(Majin of Immortality)
|Ravager||Medic||Medic||RAV attacks enemies while MEDs rapidly heal the party.|
|Sentinel||Sentinel||Sentinel||All three SENs tighten their defenses. Effective for withstanding area attacks.|
|Sentinel||Sentinel||Saboteur||SENs protect SAB, who attempts to weaken enemies. Limited in effectiveness.|
(Twin Iron Cliff)
|Sentinel||Sentinel||Synergist||Both SENs defend while SYN strengthens the party. Limited in effectiveness.|
|Sentinel||Sentinel||Medic||Both SENs defend while MED heals the party. Limited in effectiveness.|
|Sentinel||Saboteur||Saboteur||SEN protects SABs while they weaken dangerous enemies.|
(Beacon of Counterattack)
|Sentinel||Saboteur||Synergist||SEN defends while SAB weakens opponents and SYN strengthens the party.|
|Sentinel||Saboteur||Medic||MED heals and SEN defends while SAB attempts to weaken enemies.|
|Sentinel||Synergist||Synergist||SEN protects two SYNs while they strengthen the party.|
(Guardian of The Patient)
|Sentinel||Synergist||Medic||SEN defends while MED heals and SYN focuses on strengthening the party.|
|Sentinel||Medic||Medic||SEN protects two MEDs while they concentrate on rapid healing.|
|Saboteur||Saboteur||Saboteur||SABs attempt to quickly weaken and debilitate even resistant enemies.|
|Saboteur||Saboteur||Synergist||SABs attempt to weaken enemies while SYN supports with enhancements.|
(Chorus of The Underworld)
|Saboteur||Saboteur||Medic||SABs attempt to weaken enemies while MED supports with healing.|
|Saboteur||Synergist||Synergist||SYNs strengthen the party while SAB attempts to weaken enemies.|
|Saboteur||Synergist||Medic||MED heals while SYN strengthens allies and SAB weakens enemies.|
|Saboteur||Medic||Medic||MEDs concentrate on healing while SAB attempts to weaken enemies.|
|Synergist||Synergist||Synergist||All three SYNs focus on strengthen the party to take on powerful enemies.|
(Fruitful Showers of Blessing)
|Synergist||Synergist||Medic||MED heals while SYNs focus on strengthening the party.|
|Synergist||Medic||Medic||Both MEDs concentrate on healing while SYN strengthens the party.|
|Medic||Medic||Medic||MEDs concentrate on healing, quickly removing numerous status ailments.|
Final Fantasy XIII-2 extends on the paradigms' customizability, letting the player tune them in the menu. Tuned paradigms get the suffix of -X or -W.
Through use of Paradigm Tuning, the other party members' AI can be changed out of battle in the paradigm menu with different settings for various situations. These are: Normal, which automatically adapts to the situation; Wide (lit. "Spread"), which makes each party member target a different enemy (or ally, when healing and buffing); and Cross (lit. "Concentrate"), which makes everyone act on a single target. Certain Paradigm Tunes change the names of paradigms to have a letter at the end, for example "Aggression-X".
Suffix -X is added to "Cross" tune meaning the paradigm will concentrate on a single enemy unit. Suffix -W is added to "Wide" tune meaning the paradigm will spread its attacks on all enemies. Paradigms with no suffixes will follow their "original" tunes. When a paradigm is set to a Cross tune, Serah will only use the sword form of her weapon regardless of distance, and while one is set to Wide, she will only use her bow form. Standard tuning will have her switch according to distance.
Lightning can shift between paradigms in Dissidia 012 to switch between different abilities. To shift, R button must be pressed whilst holding L button.
A paradigm shift describes a fundamental change in ideology, usually in the field of science. For example, Darwin's theory of evolution replacing Lamarck's theories and creationism is a paradigm shift.
- Some of the paradigms in both, Japanese and English versions, are referring to various terms in the series, e.g.: Delta Attack (both) refers to signature attack of Magus Sisters, Tri-disaster (both) refers to another ability of the same name of multiple elemental damage, Dualcasting (EN) to the ability to cast two magic spells at once, Mighty Guard (JP) to magic that grants positive status effects on the target, White Wind (JP) to a healing spell which removes negative status effects as well.
- The only time the player can see Twin Shields, Stumbling Block, Havoc, or Rally without using a cheating device in Final Fantasy XIII is the battle against Hecatoncheir. Stumbling Block is put into the Paradigm Deck by default, but to see the other three, the player needs to get a Game Over on the fight or Retry it. Furthermore, Twin Shields requires the player to teach the Sentinel paradigm to Vanille, and Rally requires the player to teach the Synergist role to both Fang and Vanille.
- The Japanese name of Rapid Growth, Trismegistos, is a reference to Hermes Trismegistus.
- The Japanese name of Salvation, Asclepius, is the name of the Greek god of medicine/healing in Greek mythology. Appropriate since the paradigm fully focuses on healing the party as quickly as possible.
- In Final Fantasy XIII, the first paradigm shift of every battle takes longer than all the other shifts that are made after the initial shift. If the player's character is in the air, or in the middle of executing a Full ATB Skill, when the first shift is made, the scene in which the three characters are zoomed in and their roles displayed is absent. Final Fantasy XIII-2 makes the shifts nearly instant to reduce time spend while shifting between various paradigms.
- In an advertisement for E3 2009, three of six roles have different names and abbreviations: Gladiator (GLA) for Commando (COM), Augmenter (AUG) for Synergist (SYN), and Tactician (TAC) for Saboteur (SAB) in their respective colors. Paradigm naming had also a different pattern.
- A party of Lightning, Fang, and Hope or Vanille can learn every skill from every role (excluding the exclusive Full ATB Skills).
- According to a Brain Blast question in Academia, the term "paradigm shift" is used by office workers to refer to reshuffling staff.
- When developing for the paradigm system the development team would have wanted the characters' appearance to change for each role, but this wasn't possible due to limited system resources. With only a single playable character in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, this became possible with the garb system.