Guide to The Final Fantasy Xiii Crystarium

If you enjoy Final Fantasy you’ve seen its kind before – but never quite like this.

Unlike the mass majority of past Final Fantasy titles, Final Fantasy XIII does not boast a leveling system – or at least not the traditional brand of the thing. Instead Final Fantasy XIII relies on a system similar to the Sphere Grid in Final Fantasy X: the Crystarium.

Once the team becomes l’Cie they’ll gain access to the Crystarium, a branching method of strengthening a character that relies on Crystarium Points (CP) to expand. Divided into the various role changes presented in the game’s Paradigms, the Crystarium gives you ways to upgrade your characters so they can take on stronger and stronger enemies. Every time you win a battle you’ll gain some CP to use in the Crystarium, somewhat akin to experience points from the other games.

Using the Crystarium is relatively simple once you’ve fiddled with it a bit. Go into the Crystarium screen on the menu, choose the role you want to strengthen and add points by holding down the selection button (and, sometimes, the directional pad to go down outward branches – take these branches before moving on so you won’t have to backtrack later to complete your Crystarium). If you have a sufficient amount of points you’ll strengthen your character in some way, whether through stats (HP, strength, magic and so on), abilities (Blitz, Attack) or spells (Cure, Thunder, Haste). The potency of these gains increases as you go up levels in the Crystarium, which happens naturally as you allocate more and more CP.

How your character develops early in the game depends on your CP choices. If you want a magic user, go primarily down the Ravager path. Warriors should be Commandos or perhaps Sentinels. Support characters are usually Synergists. You can choose to expand completely through each role of a character’s Crystarium before moving on to a new area – the Crystarium expands as you complete more points of the game, so you can’t over-level from the start – though this takes a long time and, for a speedy play through, isn’t very efficient. Make your Crystarium choices based on your weapons and you’ll have a strong character who doesn’t need to knock off every Crystarium role at once.

There are five levels to the Crystarium in total, though only four are accessible during the course of the game’s storyline. Once you defeat the final boss the fifth will open. Until then you’ll have to content yourself with expanding through the other roles that open up to each character beyond their initial three, though this isn’t the wisest course of action as the secondary roles cost roughly double the CP of the starting roles. Don’t expand too far until you’ve maxed out your first three jobs (which usually serve as each character’s best overall roles anyway).

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