Warning, this content contains spoilers!
- Perhaps the most technically demanding battle in the game, your match against Aeronite is strictly timed. You will have approximately three minutes to stagger from when the battle begins. After you stagger, you’ll have another three minutes to reach the next stagger. This continues through to a fourth and final stagger. If this timer ever expires, the enemy will immediately leave the fray. The next time you encounter it, all of its health will have regenerated. Our strategy here offers a reliable way to win on a first playthrough. For best results, you should set up your Schemata as shown in the Complete Official Guide. Given that you need Equilibrium+, complete your preparations by the end of Day 12, then engage Aeronite early in Day 13 to allow time for the Ultimate Lair. Purchase at least three revival items, as well as an Enaero Potion from Ruffian. Bring along an Ether or two to be safe. Finally, fill out your recovery items with Potions that grant Bravery if you can.
- Start of Battle: Aeronite’s attacks are powerful and frequent; weaken them with Defaith and Debrave, each of which will require two casts to inflict successfully. Open with Defaith in priority, as Aeronite will always begin with a -ra elemental spell. The enemy’s actions will mirror your own. If you use physical attacks, it will use short-range abilities. If you stand at range and cast spells, it will do the same and occasionally use Black Hole to draw you closer. You will rely on magic for staggering and physical attacks for damage. A good rule of thumb is to cast your -ra spell once or twice in Schema 2 and finish the combo with two finales in Schema 3. Be sure to always switch back to Schema 2 to guard when necessary. Generally, you should follow this sequence by using Schema 1 to preserve your Stagger Wave with Ruin and refresh both Debrave and Defaith constantly. This approach balances your ATB usage across all three Schemata. Whatever you do, guard against Aeronite’s swipes at all costs. Otherwise, you will be knocked all the way out to the edge of the battlefield, wasting precious seconds and Stagger Wave progress. Guarding against both parts of Megaton Break – the initial physical attack and the follow-up Quake – is also a necessity.
- Level 1 Stagger: Chaos’s Revenge is a huge boon to your offense; as soon as the Stagger Wave pulses red, switch back to Schema 2 and unleash a couple of spells to stagger immediately. Once staggered, Aeronite will immediately unleash an abrupt, multi-hit Roar that will miss you if you are far enough out of range (this applies to all further staggers too). Continue to follow the same procedure to reach a second stagger. The enemy will begin to cast -ga elemental spells, as well as Painga and Fogga. During this phase of the fight, Megaton Break will take longer to charge, but is also more powerful.
- Level 2 Stagger: Aeronite becomes much stronger now, setting aside Megaton Break in favor of its ultimate move, Hellflare. This is executed relatively quickly and, unless Perfect Guarded, bypasses the effects of the Preta Hood and penetrates your resistances. If you see an incoming Hellflare, immediately cast several Ruins and prepare for a long interruption. Note that you can avoid being launched by Hellflare by guarding with an active Vigilance or with a well-timed item, but your challenge will be to survive the hit so as not to lose the positive effect in either case. Ensuring that Debrave and Defaith are constantly in effect is absolutely vital for survival. Furthermore, its single swipe attack turns into a two-hit combo that first launches you, then knocks you back. This is incredibly disruptive, so you need to guard vigilantly.
- Level 3 Stagger: At a distance, Aeronite will occasionally cast the ultimate elemental spells: Flare, Chill, Surge, and Tornado. Otherwise, the enemy’s behavior is identical to that exhibited during the previous stagger.
- Level 4 Stagger: Aeronite will finally collapse and be unable to respond with Roar. In fact, its only actions in this state are -ga spells. Additionally, it will now take 500% damage from physical and magic attacks! Immediately throw your Enaero Potion and cast Deprotect and Imperil. Trigger Transform Bravery or throw a Bravery Potion and begin your assault in Schema 3. Use combos of one Light Slash followed up by a perfectly timed Artemis’s Arrows for massive damage. Once your ATB runs out, switch to Schema 1 and Attack while Schema 3 recharges. Repeat this process and maintain all status effects; trigger Transform Bravery again by refreshing Deprotect and Imperil as necessary. Continue to guard against enemy spells and keep your health up so you do not suffer an untimely knockout and lose your Enaero effect. Eventually, you will succeed in depleting the enemy’s massive HP pool and claim victory. With superior execution and minimal usage of EP and items, you should be able to obtain a perfect five-star rating with points to spare. If this is not a concern and you are feeling uneasy about the time limit, though, start Overclocking and throwing Ethers.
As your technical skill and familiarity with enemy behavior grow, you will be able to drastically improve upon the above strategy, even without changing your Schemata setup or inventory. Here is a second demonstration to illustrate this possibility.
The Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Complete Official Guide reveals the stats, hidden parameters, and ability list of Aeronite. It also offers the complete breakdown of the suggested Schemata setup which is used in the accompanying videos. Ascending to even higher levels of play will require a comprehensive understanding of your arsenal as well as all underlying mechanics. The battle system in Lightning Returns is multilayered and endlessly flexible, and the Complete Official Guide provides all of the insights and explanations that you will need to fully explore its nuances and subtleties.
Get your copy of the Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Complete Official Guide and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Game.