You guys might have figured out by now that I kind of have a thing for well-organized guides and that I like to try my hand at organizing them. This is no different. From reading various sources and from my own experience, I've compiled a bit of information regarding weapon upgrading, and seeing as there has been no shortage of questions about it, I thought a one-stop source would be useful.
Of course, that makes this a very long guide.
Here's how it goes:
Your goal in upgrading weapons (and accessories, but this guide is about weapons) is building up EXP so that the weapon gains levels. You do this through using organic and synthetic components, which have differing properties. Every weapon has a maximum level, at which point its level is replaced by a star. When it reaches this point, you upgrade it with a transformational catalyst, and this will change its form. Fairly simple, yes?
You will find that certain components--specifically, organic components--will give a weapon an EXP multiplier that will increase the EXP it receives from future components. Other components--synthetic components--will decrease this multiplier. The maximum EXP multiplier is x3, or a 200% bonus.
Any component that comes from a plant or animal is an organic component. These give very little EXP, but are the only way to build up an EXP multiplier, which is necessary for efficient upgrading. I'll be talking about three specific organic components in this guide: Sturdy Bones, Vibrant Oozes, and Barbed Tails. These all are sold at the Creature Comforts store (which you will gain access to through progressing the storyline) for 80 gil.
Any component that is a piece of machinery, or a part for a machine, is a synthetic component. These give much more EXP than organic components, but cause the item to gradually lose its EXP multiplier. I'll be talking about three specific synthetic components in this guide: Crankshafts, Particle Accelerators, and Ultracompact Reactors. Crankshafts are sold at Lenora's Garage (which you will gain access to through progressing the storyline) for 840 gil; Particle Accelerators and Ultracompact Reactors are sold at R&D Depot (which you must complete Mission 7 to unlock, in Chapter 11 at the earliest) for 10,000 gil and 50,000 gil respectively.
Posted 3/21/2010 11:03:35 AM
You've likely surmised by now that the basic process is this: build up the EXP multiplier to x3, then use synthetic components to give the item a whole lot of EXP all at once. You would be correct. There are specifics to this process, though, that differ depending on where you are in the game. I'll divide this section by the two most popular times for weapon upgrading: Chapter 9, and Chapter 11 through the endgame.
---Upgrading in Chapter 9
Chapter 9 is the first time you have access to abundant gil due to Credit Chips and Incentive Chips that drop in plentiful amounts from the PSICOM enemies you fight. This makes it a natural time to focus on upgrading your weapons somewhat, as you finally have some gil to burn. You won't yet have access to R&D Depot, but that's fine, because those components are overkill. All you need are Crankshafts. Each Crankshaft provides 215 EXP with no multiplier. That means that with a x3 multiplier, each Crankshaft will give an item 645 EXP. Here's how to go about it:
--1. Use 36 Sturdy Bones, Barbed Tails, or Vibrant Oozes. This will bring the multiplier from zero to x3.
--2. Use as many Crankshafts at once as you like. If you use them all at once, they will all take advantage of the EXP multiplier--it only lowers after the upgrading is done. This means that you can save yourself organic components by using synthetic components en masse.
At this point, the highest you truly should need to go is the maximum level of a tier 1 weapon, which will be either level 21 or 26, depending on the weapon. Frankly, you don't truly need this to progress, but if you really want to upgrade at this point, this is the best method.
---Upgrading from Chapter 11 Onward
This process is almost exactly the same, except that transformation catalysts will enter into the equation, and you'll be using mostly Ultracompact Reactors from R&D Depot. Each Ultracompact Reactor will cost 50,000 gil and provide 40,000 EXP That means with a x3 multiplier, each Ultracompact Reactor will give an item 120,000 EXP. This is by far the best item for upgrading weapons in the game.
I mentioned Particle Accelerators earlier. These cost 10,000 gil at R&D Depot and provide 4,800 EXP each. With a x3 multiplier, that's 14,400 experience each, and that's not nearly as efficient as Ultracompact Reactors. Particle Accelerators are best for upgrading accessories and tier 1 weapons, as accessories require less EXP to max out than weapons; Ultracompact Reactors will almost always go to waste on accessories.
Here's the exact process:
--1. Use 36 Stury Bones, Barbed Tails, or Vibrant Oozes, just like mentioned previously, to give the item a x3 multiplier.
--2. Use as many Ultracompact Reactors on the item at once as you need to. Remember, you get the most EXP for your gil by using them all together, as you will save organic components.
Posted 3/21/2010 11:05:13 AM
This part comes from a combination of personal experience and message board consensus. It does not contain numerical data on weapons--I tried to format that here, but it was clumsy and took up far too many posts. If you want this data, go here: http://ff-13.info/category/weapons/
It's a good idea to go there, as well, because it will tell you how much EXP you need to max each weapon, which lets you know how many Ultracompact Reactors to use on each one.
As for the analysis of which weapon is best for each character, most of it is my own opinion. I don't wish to present this as the end-all, be-all guide to choosing a weapon for each character, but from my own experience and reading, these seem to me to be the best choices. I will include analyses of each character's best roles, as well, as my reasoning for which weapon is the best.
Every weapon has a specific transformation catalyst, and I'll make sure to indicate which those are. You'll find many fo these as you progress through the game, and all of them can be purchased from either The Motherlode or R&D Depot.
Let's talk a bit about ultimate weapons. Every one of a character's weapons will reach the same form in the end--at least, in name and appearance. In reality, even though all of Lightning's weapons will become the Omega Weapon when fully upgraded, every Omega Weapon is different. An Omega Weapon upgraded from the Blazefire Saber will be a balanced weapon, while an Omega Weapon made from the Lionheart will be weaker but have the Quick Stagger ability. Every character's ultimate weapon will also give them a sixth and final ATB level.
It's also important to note that upgrading a weapon to its ultimate form will make it lose its synthesis group. I would discuss synthesis groups in detail here, but frankly they deserve their own guide. For now, just note that every item belongs to a synthesis group, and equipping multiple items with the same synthesis group will provide special bonuses. The only items that do not belong to any synthesis groups are the ultimate weapons.
One more note: every weapon, without exception, uses the Trapezohedron as its transformation catalyst to become its ultimate form. Unfortunately, Trapezohedrons are very rare (they drop from Adamantoises and their cousins) and very expensive (they can be purchased at R&D Depot for a whopping 2,000,000 gil each). There are other guides available as to the best ways to acquire Trapezohedrons for the purpose of making ultimate weapons.
On with the character-specific information:
Posted 3/21/2010 11:05:56 AM
Lightning is the best Ravager in the game. While Hope has more spells, and is the only character who can learn every tier 3 elemental spell, Lightning is more versatile. She gains every tier 2 elemental spell, along with Thundaga, as well as every elemental strike, and this makes her useful against both magic-resistant and physical-resistant enemies. Hope cannot boast that level of versatility. Lightning also makes a fantastic Commando, but due to her abilities as a Ravager, it is best to have another character be your primary Commando.
As a result of this, Lightning needs a balanced weapon. Because of this, I'm counting the Gladius out of consideration. The Gladius is a popular weapon for her, and it's a great choice in the early game, when she and Hope are together and Lightning is your only possible Commando. Later on, it's a bad idea to focus too heavily on one statistic for her. Other weapons that are ruled out: Organyx, because it drastically slows down Lightning's attack speed; Lifesaber, because its bonus is nearly useless and doesn't even remotely offset the weapon's weakness; and Hauteclaire, because Lightning is possibly the worst character to have Stagger Lock.
This leaves the Blazefire Saber, the Axis Blade, and the Lionheart.
The Blazefire Saber is a great choice throughout the game, and is most likely the best option until Chapter 12. It allows Lightning to be equally effective as a Ravager, Commando, and Medic.
->Blazefire Saber (Lv. 26, 24,600 EXP to max) + Perovskite
--->Flamberge (Lv. 61, 445,950 EXP to max) + Trapezohedron
----->Omega Weapon (Lv. 100, 1,296,897 EXP to max)
The Axis Blade has very low stats. However, it has the Attack: ATB Charge special property, which is exactly what it sounds like: it will slightly charge your ATB every time you land an attack. This, combined with other speed-boosting accessories, will turn Lightning into an incredibly fast character. In my opinion, however, this is not her best weapon. Nonetheless, I'm including it here because it is a popular choice for her.
->Axis Blade (Lv. 21, 66750 EXP to max) + Adamantite
--->Enkindler (Lv. 41, 280,830 EXP to max) + Trapezohedron
----->Omega Weapon (Lv. 100, 1,419,867 EXP to max)
The Lionheart again has lower stats than the Blazefire Saber, but higher than the Axis Blade. However, this is likely the best choice of weapon for Lightning. This is because of the Quick Stagger ability, which will allow you to stagger an enemy 10% earlier than normal. This is a fairly small boost in staggering speed, but it is noticeable, especially against enemies with high stagger percentages.
->Lionheart (Lv. 21, 63,060 EXP to max) + Scarletite
--->Ultima Weapon (Lv. 41, 221,900 EXP to max) + Trapezohedron
----->Omega Weapon (Lv. 100, 1,482,487 EXP to max)
Posted 3/21/2010 11:06:14 AM
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Posted 3/21/2010 11:07:33 AM
Sazh is likely the best Synergist in the game. He wins over Hope because he learns Haste earlier and because he learns Vigilance. Unfortunately, that's all that Sazh really has going for him. He's a terrible Commando and lacks elemental versatility as a Ravager. Plus, his natural stats are the lowest of any character. Luckily for Sazh, he has the strongest weapons, which help to offset his low stats.
As a result of this, Sazh is best served with a weapon that has high stats. This immediately rules out the following: Vega 42s, Antares Deluxes, and Procyons. Though the last two have interesting special properties, Sazh's stats are low enough that he needs higher stats more than he needs special properties. This leaves us with several options, but I'm going to immediately rule out Aldebarans because of the painfully slow attack speed and complete lack of strength and Pleiades Hi-Powers because they dramatically lower his maximum HP and completely lack magic. This means I'll be discussing the following: Spica Defenders, Deneb Duellers, and Rigels.
The Spica Defenders have the lowest stats of the weapons I'll be discussing. They favor magic over strength, which is fine, because Sazh is a terrible Commando. That said, they have the Augment Maintenance special property, which will increase the duration of Sazh's offensive buffs, such as Enfire, by quite a bit. This makes the Spica Defenders a good choice for a Sazh focused primarily on being a Synergist. Unfortunately, they lack the versatility of the other two choices.
->Spica Defenders (Lv. 21, 66,750 EXP to max) + Scarletite
--->Sirius Sidearms (Lv. 41, 218,210 EXP to max) + Trapezohedron
----->Total Eclipses (Lv. 100, 1,737,313 EXP to max)
The Deneb Duellers are focused entirely on having a high magic bonus. Since Sazh relies on magic more than strength, this is great. They have no special property other than this, but in my opinion, they tie with the Rigels for the best weapon choice for Sazh. (By the way, did anyone else notice the subtle nod to Ogre Battle? While all of his weapons except the Total Eclipses are named after traditional star names, like Balthier's guns from Final Fantasy XII, Deneb and Canopus are also both characters from the Ogre Battle series, of which several developers have joined the Final Fantasy team. I thought it was a nice touch!)
->Deneb Duellers (Lv. 26, 33,000 EXP to max) + Perovskite
--->Canopus AMPs (Lv. 61, 437,550 EXP to max) + Trapezohedron
----->Total Eclipses (Lv. 100, 1,551,723 EXP to max)
The Rigals are your best option if you want a more versatile Sazh. The problem is that they have Stagger Lock, which will prevent Sazh from landing the staggering blow on an enemy. This is fine only if you have another Ravager in the party--if not, the Rigels are a terrible choice. However, if Sazh is not your primary Ravager, I believe that the Rigels tie with the Deneb Duellers as the best weapon choice for Sazh.
->Rigels (Lv. 26, 54,800 EXP to max) + Uraninite
--->Polaris Specials (Lv. 61, 332,560 EXP to max) + Trapezohedron
----->Total Eclipses (Lv. 100, 1,634,913 EXP to max)
Posted 3/21/2010 11:08:09 AM
Snow is the best Sentinel in the game due to his incredibly high HP score. Fang is a great Sentinel as well, but she doesn't come anywhere near Snow's sheer endurance. Snow is also a capable, if limited, Ravager, and a fantastic Commando, though he loses out to Fang. This means that Snow tends to require fairly balanced weaponry if you wish to make use of all of his capabilities. Nonetheless, one can be forgiven for focusing on strength for Snow, as he will likely be a Commando and a Sentinel more often than he'll be a Ravager.
As a result, I'm counting out the Feymark, as it makes him a useless Commando, and the Sacrificial Circle, because it will greatly lower his capability as a Sentinel due to dropping his HP. The Umbra is too situational with its Improved Ward special property to be worth the lowered stats, as is the Paladin. Frankly, Snow is survivable enough as it is, and he doesn't need to sacrifice strength and magic to improve that. As a result, I'll be discussing the Wild Bear, the Power Circle, and the Rebel Heart.
The Wild Bear is Snow's version of the Blazefire Saber. It lacks special properties, but it's his most balanced and reliable weapon. As a result, it's a great choice for Snow to keep throughout the game. In fact, Snow can benefit form the Wild Bear more than Lightning can from the Blazefire Saber, most likely.
->Wild Bear (Lv. 26, 24,600 EXP to max) + Perovskite
--->Feral Pride (Lv. 61, 445,950 EXP to max) + Trapezohedron
----->Save the Queen (Lv. 100, 1,246,803 EXP to max)
The Power Circle is a weapon focused on raw strength. This is a great weapon for a Commando or Sentinel Snow, but it will limit him as a Ravager to being most effective with elemental strikes. Nonetheless, I believe that the Power Circle ties with the Wild Bear as the best reliable weapon for Snow.
->Power Circle (Lv. 26, 89,700 EXP to max) + Scarletite
--->Battle Standard (Lv. 61, 476,940 EXP to max) + Trapezohedron
----->Save the Queen, (Lv. 100, 1,150,713 EXP to max)
The Rebel Heart is a risk vs. reward weapon. It has the balance of the Wild Bear but lower overall stats; however, it has the Critical: Power Surge ability, which will greatly increase Snow's stats when his HP reaches critical levels. This makes it an interesting choice for Snow. He'll be taking damage often as a Sentinel, and his high HP means that critical HP for Snow is more than critical HP for any other character. It might just be worth it, especially if Snow isn't your party leader, so give it a try for yourself.
->Rebel Heart (Lv. 21, 38,040 EXP to max) + Uraninite
--->Warrior's Emblem (Lv. 41, 153,000 EXP to max) + Trapezohedron
----->Save the Queen (Lv. 100, 1,526,313 EXP to max)
Posted 3/21/2010 11:08:47 AM
Hope is the best Medic in the game, winning out over Vanille due to a higher potential magic stat and his superiority in other roles. He is also the second-best Ravager as mentioned in the Lightning section: he is the only character who receives Firaga, Blizzaga, Thundaga, Aeroga, and Waterga all together. This makes him the best magic-based Ravager, but he lacks elemental strikes, which makes him less useful against magic-resistant enemies. He is also the second-best Synergist, losing out to Sazh only because he learns Haste late and cannot learn Vigilance.
As a result, Hope has absolutely no need for strength. That means we can count out any of his weapons that sacrifice anything at all for increased strength; this includes the Airwing and the Simurgh. Hope also has the absolute lowest HP of any character, by quite a bit, which makes the HP sacrifice of the Malphas an unwise trade-off. As he is such a good Ravager, Alicanto is a waste, due to Stagger Lock. Ninurta lacks any distinguishing qualities whatsoever except for balanced stats, and as stated before, Hope doesn't need balance, he needs magic. The Vidofnir looks nice, due to Defense Maintenance, but this pales in comparison to Sazh's Augment Maintenance, as it only affects Protect, Shell, and Veil. This leaves the following:
The Hawkeye is for pure magical power. In my opinion, this is the most important thing for Hope to have, which makes the Hawkeye the best weapon choice for Hope. It lacks special properties, but it's hard to ignore just how much this boosts his already-high magic stat. Its second tier form, the Eagletalon, gives him a whopping 506 magic, and that's only second tier.
->Hawkeye (Lv. 26, 33,000 EXP to max) + Perovskite
--->Eagletalon (Lv. 61, 437,550 EXP to max) + Trapezohedron
----->Nue (Lv. 100, 1,084,542 EXP to max)
The Otshirvani has lower stats than the Hawkeye, but it has a special property: Siphon Boost. This makes the various *siphon abilities in the Ravager tree more effective, allowing him to be an even better Ravager and boost the enemy's chain gauge even faster. I don't personally think it offsets the difference in magic from the Hawkeye, but it remains a great choice.
->Otshirvani (Lv. 21, 66,750 EXP to max) + Scarletite
--->Urubutsin (Lv. 41, 218,210 EXP to max) + Trapezohedron
----->Nue (Lv. 100, 1,270,132 EXP to max)
Posted 3/21/2010 11:09:17 AM
Vanille is the best Saboteur in the game, winning out over Fang due to increased magic and the Death spell. She also makes a fantastic Ravager and Medic, though Hope outshines her in both roles. As a Ravager, she lacks some of Hope's versatility, as the only third tier elemental spells she learns are Firaga and Blizzaga, and as a Medic, she has lower magic, and thus less healing power, than Hope.
Like with Hope, Vanille has no use for strength, so one can immediately count out the Binding Rod, the Tigerclaw (which is also slow due to Leadenstrike/Ironstrike), and the Rod of Thorns. As she will likely spend a lot of time as a Ravager if she is in your group, the Stagger Lock on the Heavenly Axis is unfortunate. Mistilteinn is interesting, as it will increase her strength and magic if an ally is KO'd, but as you'd likely rather avoid a KO, especially if Vanille isn't your party leader, I'm going to leave it out. This leaves the following:
The Pearlwing Staff is Vanille's version of the Hawkeye. If your Vanille is all about magical power, you can't go wrong with this one. However, Vanille, like Lightning, has some of the best special properties to her weapons, so the Pearlwing Staff is less than ideal for Vanille.
->Pearlwing Staff (Lv. 26, 33,000 EXP to max) + Perovskite
--->Brightwing Staff (Lv. 61, 437,550 EXP to max) + Trapezohedron
----->Nirvana (Lv. 100, 1,393,818 EXP to max)
The Healer's Staff makes Vanille the best Medic in the game if you equip it. It has much lower stats than her other weapons, though. Why is it here? It has a very interesting synthesis group: High HP. Combined with the right accessories, it will boost her strength and magic if she has over 90% HP. That means that she can (somewhat) make up for the Healer's Staff's weakness simply by keeping herself healed and wearing the right accessories! Nonetheless, this may lock you into certain accessories, limiting her versatility.
->Healer's Staff (Lv. 21, 63,750 EXP to max) + Adamantite
--->Physician's Staff (Lv. 41, 217,410 EXP to max) + Trapezohedron
----->Nirvana (Lv. 100, 1,583,205 EXP to max)
The Belladonna Wand greatly increases Vanille's chances to successfully debuff an enemy. Combine that with its quite decent magic stats, and the Belladonna Wand shines as the best possible weapon for Vanille. Plus, this weapon's second form, the Malboro Wand, is necessary if you wish to use Death to get the Growth Egg early and farm Adamantoises.
->Belladonna Wand (Lv. 21, 38040 EXP to max) + Uraninite
--->Malboro Wand (Lv. 41, 153,000 EXP to max) + Trapezohedron
----->Nirvana (Lv. 100, 1,673,280 EXP to max)
Posted 3/21/2010 11:10:01 AM
Fang is the best Commando in the game, winning out over Snow because of her incredibly high strength and the massive strength bonus she can get from her weapons. Fang is also a very capable Saboteur and the second-best Sentinel, losing to Snow because he has so much more HP than she does. Surprisngly enough, once she has access to her non-innate roles, Fang is a very good Ravager. She gets all of the elemental strikes, as well as Waterga and Aeroga. Simply put, Fang is a fantastic character all around.
As you might expect, this makes choosing a weapon for her difficult. The Bladed Lance is good, but not good enough to keep up with the rest of her weapons. The Partisan is too focused on magic to do justice to Fang's versatility. The Dragoon Lance has a similar problem, though it warrants a little more consideration, as it is an incredible weapon for a melee-fighting Fang; the problem is, its Stifled Magic makes her Ruin and Ruinga spells, as well as her Saboteur spells, much less useful, and so, though this may be an unpopular decision, I'm not counting it in as a candidate for her best weapon. It simply makes her useless against physical-resistant enemies, and there are enough of those that this is a problem. The Shamanic Spear is the opposite of the Dragoon Lance, and is, again, counted out, because it severely weakens her melee capabilities. The Punisher can help save you time building TP, but there are plenty of accessories that can do the same thing, and it isn't really worth it. That leaves these three choices:
The Gae Bolg lacks raw power, but is great for Fang focused on being a Sentinel. Its Improved Counter ability will greatly increase the damage Fang does with her counterattacks in the Sentinel role, and so it can be a very useful weapon, if you're willing to live with the decreased stats. Improved Counter isn't as good or as versatile as Lightning's Quick Stagger, so I don't consider it her best weapon.
->Gae Bolg (Lv. 21, 70,850 EXP to max) + Scarletite
--->Gungnir (Lv. 41, 214,110 EXP to max) + Trapezohedron
----->Kain's Lance (Lv. 100, 1,484,665 EXp to max)
The Pandoran Spear is optimized for Fang as a Saboteur. Its Improved Debilitation will increase the chances of her Debrave, Defaith, and Slow spells being successful, which makes it very nice. It favors magic over strength, but it has almost the same amount of strength as the Gae Bolg, making it a fair choice, though still not the best.
->Pandoran Spear (Lv. 21, 70,850 EXP to max) + Scarletite
--->Calamity Spear (Lv. 41, 236,350 EXP to max) + Trapezohedron
----->Kain's Lance (Lv. 100, 1,462,425 EXP to max)
The Taming Pole has the best overall stats of any of Fang's weapons... but it has Stagger Lock. Remember how I said that Fang is a great Ravager? She's a better Commando, and a Commando really doesn't need to be able to deal the staggering blow. Stagger Lock won't prevent her from increasing the chain gauge, nor will it hinder the Commando's ability to slow the gauge's falling. I never use Fang without another Ravager in the party anyway, so Stagger Lock is forgivable for her; this makes the Taming Pole her best weapon in my eyes.
->Taming Pole (Lv. 26, 54,800 EXP to max) + Uraninite
--->Venus Gospel (Lv. 61, 332,560 EXP to max) + Trapezohedron
----->Kain's Lance (Lv. 100, 1,382,265 EXP to max)