FFXIII has several hidden game mechanics, especially regarding crafting, item drops and more. The game will never explain them to the player, and this can be really crippling in the long run. This guide aims to explain all of it, as the game should have.
All Hidden Game Mechanics
Hidden Mechanic #1: Synthesis Effects
What are Synthesis Effects?
Synthesis effects are hidden passive effects that can be triggered on your characters. Some of them are very powerful and help a lot against difficult enemies.
How do Synthesis Effects work?
The game never tells you, but every single equipment piece and weapon in the game belongs to a Synthesis Group, there are 29 different groups in total. Combining on the same character several items belonging to the same Synthesis Group, triggers the activation of a Synthesis Effect.
Where can I find a list to know the effects and groups?
On the official wiki.
You just have to check what group each item belongs to, and what Synthesis Effect is derived from that group, and then equip the desired combination on a character. Done!
Hidden Mechanic #2: Upgrading Efficiency & Multipliers
About Upgrade Materials
Basically, all the materials you use to upgrade gear (accessories, weapons) are of two big categories: Organic Materials, the one with the "fang" symbol, and Artificial Materials, the one with the cog symbol. This is a lot more important than you may think.
How do Efficiency & Multipliers really work
When you use an Organic Material to upgrade a weapon, generally it will give very low XP, but here is the big deal: Organic Materials make the hidden Exp Multiplier go up. After exactly 45 materials of 80 Gil value (the cheapest ones sold at Creature Comforts shop) the multiplier will become x3, which is the highest possible. That means the next artificial upgrade material batch you use will be multiplied x3 in experience!
So the procedure for the best efficiency is: first use 45x the cheapest Organic Materials on an item, get that sweet x3 multiplier, then jam in the most powerful Artifical Materials you have, to maximize the x3 bonus utilization. I personally recommend using Turbojets early on, then Perfect Conductors, and later on Ultracompact Reactors, these are the best Artificial Materials for the cost and how much XP they give.
Hidden Mechanic #3: Shroud Drop Rates
About Shrouds and drop rates
So you may have noticed Shrouds are among the rarest and later on, when you can buy them, most expensive items around. Especially Deceptisol, useful for triggering pre-emptive strikes that can give you a decisive advantage in battle.
Well, shrouds may be very rare to drop apparently but there is a series of hidden mechanics and drop rates to help you get a lot more and save money as well by not buying them.
What are the hidden mechanics about Shrouds?
The first thing you want to know is that the Drop Rate of Shrouds is higher when your combat rating is lower. That's right! If you get 0 Stars in a fight, that will give you a lot more (8x to be exact) chances of getting a shroud.
The second thing is that some areas of the game have much higher chance of dropping shrouds than others. Many of these areas can never be visited again as well. Here is a list of the areas and relative drop rates:
- Pulse Vestige - 12% <- Your best farming spot (12% x8 with 0 Stars = 96% chance!)
- Lake Bresha - 8%
- Vile Peaks - 6%
- Sunleth Waterscape - 3%
- Palumpolum - 2.5%
- Nautilus - 1.25%
- Palamecia - 1.25%
- Gapra Whitewood - 1%
- Fifth Ark - 1%
All of these above are one way trips, you can't go back there once you leave.
- Gran Pulse - 0.3%
- Eden - 0.38%
- Orphan's Cradle - 0.13%.
Every rate +5% using Survivalist Catalog. You will find this item pretty late though. That +5% with the 8x of 0 stars is a real blessing and if you are already in late game it is your best chance for the grind. Multiple catalogs DO NOT STACK. Always +5% MAX!
So by the list is clear you should take your time and stock up in the Vestige as those shrouds, particularly Deceptisol, will be mighty useful later expecially for tough A grade mission bosses. Trust me, it's worth the pain to grind this early
Hidden Mechanic #4: Death Magic Success Chances
What is Death Magic?
Death is a powerful but highly luck based spell you will get in late-game, as far as I know only Saboteur Vanille can use it. This spell has a base 1% chance to instantly kill any enemy, no matter how strong, even bosses. Some enemies are immune to it, so before wasting your time, check with Libra if they have immunity.
You will need this spell late in the game for some incomprehensibly powerful and nasty optional bosses. So read well.
What about the success chances?
1% is a very low chance. But thanks to hidden mechanics can be increased significantly.
Here is the trick: every negative status effect an enemy has (Deshell, Deprotect, Imperil and so on) increases the Success Chance of Death by 1%. Since there are 13 negative status effects in the game, the chance can be theoretically ramped up to 14%. It is very unlikely any enemy worth using Death on may have all 13 negatives together, but 5-6 is totally possible even on high level enemies.