Final Fantasy XVI: Why Mastering Abilities is worth your time

Final Fantasy XVI features an action-driven combat system and some heavily stripped-back RPG systems - but that doesn't mean there aren't a range of Skills and Abilities to experiment with - which includes Upgrading and Mastering Abilities, if you choose to do so.

In tried and true RPG tradition, the big question around Ability upgrades and Mastering comes down to choice. You have a limited number of Skill or Ability Points, which are earned through fighting, side quests, hunts, and main story progression. Any time you upgrade, you'll be faced with choices about exactly what you'll want to spend your skill points on.

That point is even more acute when you're talking about the option to Master abilities. This can be very expensive, especially for high-end signature moves - but this guide is here to explain why choosing to Master abilities as well as upgrade them is vital and worth your while in FF16. 

Mastering Abilities in FF16 is powerful indeed - but it's not a simple power boost to your skills, but something more important.

What Mastering Abilities does in FF16 - and why you should do it

Mastering Abilities is ultimately the single most expensive use of your ability points in Final Fantasy XVI - but the developers of FF16 have made sure it's also worth your while. Specifically, Mastering Abilities and Skills will allow for a greater degree of customization over Clive's move set.

Each move in FF16 can be upgraded twice. Some also have to be initially 'purchased' with ability points, and then are open for two upgrades after that. The first upgrade is quite simple - it's a flat improvement, increasing the damage output or utility of each Eikon ability in a way that makes sense for the nature of that ability. An upgrade may make a move hit more times, increase its speed, boost its damage output, or other such positives. Mastering Abilities, however, is different.

When you Master an ability in FF16, you obtain the ability to swap it and equip it on Eikons other than the one it belongs to. This means you can unequip its native Eikon - but still hold on to your favorite move. This is the only benefit to Mastering Abilities - there's no damage or utility boost to moves for mastering otherwise. 

Here's a specific example of how Mastering Abilities can be useful for creating an even stronger Clive:

We'd argue that Ramuh's Lightning Rod ability is one of the best skills in all of FF16, as it lets you create a ball of lightning that can chain lightning to nearby enemies. It can be an amazing crowd control tool, and with dodges you can bait enemies into hitting the ball themselves, which is great for massively depleting their stamina meter. 

However, we also feel the rest of Ramuh's skills, and his 'Blind Justice' Eikon skill, sort of suck. So the best path? To not have Ramuh equipped at all, and move Lightning Rod over to another Eikon.

A great pairing for Lightning Rod in particular is Bahamut. Bahamut's Wings of Light Megaflare Eikon skill raises the Megaflare level gradually, but can be instantly boosted by dodging. So we found a great tactic was to cast Lightning Rod, then camp near the Lightning Ball with Wings of Light activated - then dodge. The Lightning Rod deals damage, while you charge Megaflare - and then unleash it at max level. The Megaflare missiles can even hit the Lightning Rod, which is a nice bonus. 
Once mastered, you can chop, change, and swap your Eikon Abilities between Eikons from FF16's Gear and Eikons menu.

The above is just one example, but you can doubtless already see the benefits of spending those ability points on Mastering Abilities. FF16 has character progression that is a little more narrow and limited than other games in the series thanks to its action-driven combat. Given Clive can only equip three Eikons and six abilities total, you're going to leave more than half of the abilities in the game behind at any given time.

With that said, less options doesn't mean no cool customization, and Mastered Abilities is one of the best ways to achieve a truly custom build. Experiment, mix and match, and try to find an Eikon Power setup that works for you.

Having enough ability points to master a range of abilities is really when full-on 'late-game' customization unlocks in FF16 - and a good, zany build that mixes powers is a great way to have the power to defeat challenging S-Rank hunts like The Tricephalic Terror, Ruin Awakened, and The Breaker of Worlds.

If you back yourself into a corner, don't forget that respecs are 'free' in FF16, likely to encourage experimentation. To revoke a skill and get the ability points back, simply press and hold the Square button while hovering over it.

Experiment with mastering abilities and mixing-and-matching Eikon skills - and maybe let us know some of your favorite combinations in the comments below!