Tri-Ace is renowned for creating incredibly fun and in-depth combat systems in their role-playing games and the system in Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness is no exception. Although most of the basic combat mechanics are explained through the game’s helpful tutorial dialogs, there are several fighting techniques that players might overlook. We’ll go over these techniques here which will help you overcome arduous boss encounters and to survive the higher difficulty settings like Universe and Chaos (second hardest and hardest difficulties).
Combos and the Cancel System
It might not be obvious, but the rules for chaining attacks slightly differ for normal attacks and for special attacks. Normal attacks (tapping X or CIRCLE) are cancelable into any other attack as long as it’s a different attack. Special attack skills (long pressing X or CIRCLE) and Reserve Rushes (R2 plus X) are cancelable into any attack, including the same attack. So a cancel combo of weak attack => weak attack is not viable, while cancel combos like X attack skill => X attack skill and Lv. 1 Reserve Rush => Lv. 1 Reserve Rush are. The maximum amount of cancels in an attack chain is five, for a maximum 200% damage multiplier on the fifth attack. To cause complete devastation on your enemies, you can chain together five Lv. 1 Reserve Rushes simply repeating the Reserve Rush command while your Reserve Gauge usage is set to one (this is accomplished by holding R2 and pressing L2).
As for another cancel quirk, if you commit to an attack from long range, you can cancel your character’s running animation with the guard command (default SQUARE). E.g., if you go for a Mirror Blade with Fidel on an enemy across the battlefield, you can cancel the command by inputting guard before Fidel reaches the enemy. This helps you avoid certain attacks if you see something you want to avoid after you’ve inputted a long range attack (but before its actual execution).
Ramping up the Cancel Bonus Ratio
Against certain enemies, you’ll need to deal an extreme amount of damage in a short period of time to survive. The best way to do this is to use short-lasting attacks with brief animation times to boost the damage multiplier quickly, allowing you to deliver a double-damage ultimate attack at the end of your combo. Normal attacks are quick, so using a string like X => CIRCLE => X => CIRCLE, finished with either a Reserve Rush or special attack is generally an excellent combo. However, some special attack skills are just as quick as normal attacks, allowing you to quickly ramp up the multiplier ratio with powerful attacks instead of just normal ones (at the cost of MP).
For example, Anne’s Hammer of Might attack skill is a one-hit move that executes fairly quickly while dealing a large amount of damage relative to its speed. You can get to a 200% Reserve Rush combo with her by performing Hammer of Might repeatedly until the cancel bonus reaches 175%, then finishing the chain with either her Reserve Rush or a multi-hit special like Infinity Kick. With a high enough ATK rating, her final multi-hit move can deal up to 99,999 damage per hit!
Fidel’s Reserve Rush is also ideal as a combo finisher since it consists of a massive amount of hits. A great combo ramping skill he can use is Air Slash. Not only is it a fast attack skill, but it’s ranged, allowing him to safely ramp up the ratio from a safe distance. Finish off his combo with his Ethereal Blast Reserve Rush to decimate even the strongest foes.
This kind of ramping is especially important for the difficult optional boss encounters like the Storm Dragon as well as the various post-ending bosses in the Maze of Tribulations. Since these fights require constant switching between characters, you’ll want to efficiently deal significant amounts of damage quickly in order to manage other aspects of the fight, such as healing and raising party members. Try out similar combos to see how fast you can cap the combo ratio for your ultimate final attack!
Role and Equipment Swapping During Combat
Pausing the game during battle allows you to totally reconfigure your party’s setup. Remember that your equipment, roles, and skill set choices are not set in stone just because you’re in battle. You can change all of these by pressing the TRIANGLE button during an encounter, allowing you to essentially completely switch up a character’s functionality at a moment’s notice. This is extremely important for the most difficult battles in the game since it is imperative that you micro manage and switch up how certain characters perform during the course of a rough fight. For instance, against a boss with “phases”, where the enemy behaves differently depending on how much damage it’s taken, you might want to gear up your damage-dealing characters with an alternative setup to adapt to the current situation. Fidel and Victor are prime candidates for swapping between different sets of roles and skill sets since they can perform at both close and long range.
Swapping around roles during these types of battles is vital. Roles not only affect your characters’ stats, but most of them affect your AI-controlled allies. For example, if you feel that Fidel’s AI is taking too much damage within close range of an enemy, it’s probably best to set his roles to guard-based or ranged attack ones. This way, when you’re not manually controlling him, the AI is encouraged to stay at a distance or guard attacks. So any time you’re having trouble, don’t be afraid to pause the game to reconfigure your character builds and strategies!
Item Cooldown and Signeturgical Spell Management
Consumable items are particularly powerful in Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness. Not only are they plentiful if you’re diligent in buying supplies, but they’re extremely important to have in difficult encounters. You’ll always want to keep a healthy supply of Blueberries, Blackberries, Fresh Sages, and other restoratives on you for emergencies. Although you can carry twenty of each, there is a cooldown period after one of your characters uses an item during battle (indicated by an item timer on screen). This is important to note since this prevents you from quickly using multiple restoratives (like Fresh Sage if multiple party members go down).
Keep this in mind and manage your cooldowns wisely. Against enemies with large area-of-effect attacks that instantly kill party members, you’ll want to spend your cooldowns efficiently. If Miki or Fiore are alive, prioritize on using their spells to raise your knocked out characters. They can both cast Raise Dead, so that’s two raise cooldowns. A third character, such as Emmerson, should be relegated to using Fresh Sage if needed. This combat management becomes essential in the harder boss encounters since it’s inevitable that things will go awry.
As you become more experienced in micromanaging your party members, you’ll start to develop a flowchart on how to prioritize raising and healing your characters. Generally, Miki needs to be raised first if she’s knocked out, then it’s a judgment call on who needs to be up next. Usually, you’ll need to make sure you have a “tank” alive (health-based combatant) to soak up damage while you raise your other party members. Since Fiore has access to healing and raise spells, it’s important that she’s alive, too. Improper item cooldown management can often spell doom, especially if your signeturgists go down, so keep this in mind as you face off with powerful foes in the game!
For more expert combat tactics, plus complete coverage of missions, items, crafting and more, order the official guide to Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness now!