Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII - Weapons, Shields & Upgrading - Prima Games

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII – Weapons, Shields & Upgrading

by Prima Games Staff

One of the primary sources of boosts for Lightning’s stats, weapons and shields are often accompanied by additional perks that further enhance her performance in battle. They can be purchased at Forges, dropped by defeated enemies, or received as rewards. Your choice of weapon and shield for each Schema is essential to further specialize them and ensure that their key attributes are maximized.

On New Game+ playthroughs, you have access to the Upgrading feature, which enables you to further enhance each piece of equipment’s parameters.

Upgrading a weapon or shield is very easy to do: you select a piece of equipment, dump in as many available Components as you like (each granting one increment), and perform the upgrade to increase the item’s parameter boosts. There are three “tiers” of upgrades. A fixed set of factors governs the upgrade mechanics of each tier.

Upgrade Overview

  Per Upgrade

Tier 1

Tier 2

Tier 3


Gil fee




Component consumed: weapons

Mighty Material

Sword Polisher

Holy Forgefire or Demonic Forgefire

Component consumed: shields

Mighty Material

Shield Polisher

Life Smeltwater or Soul Smeltwater


Strength/Magic increment




HP increment




Stagger Power increment




ATB Speed increment




Guard Defense increment




Guard Resistance increment




Auto-Abilities at Max

0-1 level

0-1 level

1 level

The improvements of all parameters are incremental: for every upgrade you perform, a parameter is immediately increased by an increment. The improvement of auto-abilities only occurs when you perform all of the upgrades in at least one tier. Some increase by one level per tier (for example “Status Ailment Damage +xx%”); others have a single enhanced version (“Arsenal of One” becomes “Arsenal of One+”), which they reach with the fulfillment of all possible upgrades to that auxiliary effect.

Upgrading Strategy

  • Every weapon or shield that can be purchased at shops belongs to a category (such as “Long Swords”), though this is not immediately apparent in the game. All pieces of equipment within a category have the same upgradable effects, and are subject to the same maximum values. On the other hand, they each have their own unique amount of possible upgrade increments.
  • This is the most important point to remember. For weapons and shields that you can buy, the limiting factor between selections within a category is not the maximum effect (once maxed at Tier 3, all Katanas have the same Strength, for example), but rather the total number of upgrades you can perform. Buying a more powerful base weapon enables you to start farther along the bonus gradient, but it won’t necessarily get you farther in the end.
  • The key number in assessing the upgrade potential of weapons and shields within categories, then, is the number of Unavailable Upgrades, which is included in the tables in the Complete Official Guide’s Inventory chapter. This determines how close every fully upgraded weapon and shield can come to achieving this unattainable ideal.

Upgrade Prioritization

  • Since there is always at least one parameter that you have to sacrifice for a piece of equipment (that is, one that you cannot max because of the upgrade limitation), you have to think carefully about how you prioritize the upgrades you perform.
  • As a rule, it is recommended that you always upgrade in priority the item’s key parameter (for example, Strength for a weapon wielded by a physical damage-dealer) and every auxiliary effect to maximum. Auxiliary upgrades tend to be fewer in number and provide bonuses that are much harder to acquire otherwise, so favoring them makes sense.
  • Finally, it is worth noting that Tier 3 Components can only be dropped by enemies, while Tier 1 and Tier 2 Components can be painlessly purchased from Adventuring Essentials merchants, as long as you have the cash. If you’re committed to performing many upgrades, you’ll need to learn how to farm for Tier 3 Components efficiently.

The Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Complete Official Guide features an utterly exhaustive Inventory chapter, where you will find absolutely all details on all pieces of equipment, abilities and items:

1. Garb
2. Weapons
3. Shields
4. Accessories
5. Adornments
6. Abilities
7. Auto-abilities
8. Components
9. Other Items
10. Key Items
11. Recovery items
12. Shops

These details include how/where/when you can obtain each article, what its parameters are, how it evolves once upgraded, what the effects of its auto-abilities are, as well as many hidden stats such as Unavailable Upgrades.

Be sure to get your copy of the Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Complete Official Guide and the Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII game.

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