Version 1.3, © 2010 by Bill Pringle, all rights reserved.
The purpose of this FAQ is to explain how to upgrade items (weapons and accessories) within the game Final Fantasy XIII. It also contains instructions on using a spreadsheet tool that will perform many of the necessary calculations for you. This tool can be found, along with my other game FAQs on my web site at http://billpringle.com/games/
Final Fantasy XIII allows a player to upgrade their accessories and weapons by applying components to the items. There are several pieces of information that you will need in order to upgrade, and some calculations that you may have to perform to determine the total EXP required to max out the item.
This document describes the Upgrade system for Final Fantasy XIII. In addition to how it works, some tips and suggestions are given to help the reader determine how best to upgrade their items and how best to save Gil during upgrading.
This page can be found in two forms: an HTML (web) page at http://BillPringle.com/games/ffxiii_upgrades.html, and as a text file on GameFAQS. The HTML page will probably be updated more often, and tend to be the latest version. The HTML web page will include hyperlinks, so you can click on a link to find the appropriate section.
The text file was created by the FireFox browser, which inserts hyper-links inside angle brackets (<#like-this>). To find that location with a text editor, use the search feature to find the target name in square brackets ([like-this]). The link inside angle brackets will usually start with a pound sign (#), indicating that the target is on the current page. The square brackets won't have that pound sign. For example, to find the target of link <#intro>, search for [intro].
This guide was written using the X-Box 360 version of the game, so if I mention specific buttons, you should translate to the appropriate PS3 buttons.
If you find any mistakes and/or have any questions, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you have something like "Final Fantasy Upgrading" in the subject. I get a lot of spam, and will delete things without looking at them if I don't recognize the sender and the subject line doesn't stand out as legit (for example, a message with a subject of "a question" will probably get deleted without me looking at it.)
You can upgrade weapons and accessories using components by selecting the Upgrade option at a Save Point. Items can have a number of levels. When some items reach the top level (Level *), a Catalyst can be applied to transform the item to a higher variation of the original item. For example, you can upgrade an Iron Bangle (HP+50) to a Silver Bangle (HP+100). Upgrading is non-trivial, and if you are mathematically challenged, you might want to get someone to help you through this section. If you don't want to do the math yourself, you might want to download my Upgrade Calculator spreadsheet from my web site at http://billpringle.com/games/
Upgrades are accomplished by applying EXP to the item using up to 99 components at a time. Depending on the components you have used previously, there can be an EXP Bonus Factor that can affect how much EXP is gained per upgrade. The EXP Bonus Factor can range from one to three, and is multiplied by the EXP of the components to determine how much EXP is actually applied to the item. For example, if a component has an EXP value of 100, and you have a Bonus Factor of 3, then each component will add 300 EXP to the item. If you need a total of 900 EXP to max out an item, you only need 3 components when the Bonus Factor is 3 instead of 9 when the Bonus Factor is 1.
Components have two parameters: EXP and Multiplier Value. The Multiplier Value affects the EXP Bonus for subsequent upgrade operations (but not the current one.) For upgrades that take a lot of EXP, you want to begin by applying enough components with a large Multiplier Value to increase the EXP Bonus to the maximum of 3 in one operation. Once you have a Bonus Factor of 3, you then want to apply enough components with a high enough EXP value to max out the item in the second operation. To make matters even more confusing, items and components have another characteristic called rank, and the difference in rank affects how much EXP a component will give to an item.
I have created a spreadsheet that can help you determine what you need to upgrade an item. It is available on my web site at http://billpringle.com/games/index.html. It was created using OpenOffice (which is a free, open-source package that does pretty much everything that Microsoft Office does). It can also be opened with Microsoft Office. Download the spreadsheet to your computer and then use it whenever you want to upgrade an item. If you already know how much EXP is needed to max out the item, then you might not need to use this tool, but you might want to use it to check whatever information you can find. For example, the total EXP needed to max out weapons can be found in Split Infinity's walkthrough on GameFaqs, but it doesn't include accessories, and I have found some mistakes in his numbers. So even if you have a total EXP number, you might want to use this tool to double-check the information.
The exact calculations required to compute how much EXP will max out an item is given in a later section. This section explains how to obtain the values of the variables that determine how much EXP is needed. You need these values whether you are using the spreadsheet or doing the calculations yourself. If you use the spreadsheet you won't actually have to do the calculations.
When upgrading an item, you want to raise it to its max. level in a single upgrade operation (which can take two separate steps.) You need to know the following information:
Getting the BASE value is easy. Simply look at the item in either Inventory or the Upgrade option and you will see something like: "EXP 0 / XXXX", where XXXX is the amount of EXP needed to raise the item to Level 2. That is the BASE value.
Getting the INCR is fairly easy, but you will need to save your game before you start, then reset and reload it when you are done. So, if you are planning on upgrading several different items, you might want to determine INCR for each of them and then reset and reload the game.
To find the INCR value, save your game and then use the Upgrade option to apply just enough EXP to raise the item(s) from Level 1 to Level 2. Pick a component that gets you fairly close to the BASE value (but more than BASE). When done, the Upgrade display should now have something like: "Level 2 EXP YYYY / ZZZZ." The ZZZZ value is how much EXP is needed to raise the item from Level 2 to Level 3. Subtract BASE from ZZZZ to get the INCR value.
After you have found the INCR value for all the item(s) you want to upgrade, reset and reload the game. You don't want to perform more than two operations to upgrade an item because the Bonus Factor gets messed up. You might want to write down these values if you are upgrading more than one item, or if you might upgrade a second item later.
To find the number of Levels, you can use either the Official Strategy Guide or one of the FAQs that are out there. You can also experiment and reset the game until you get the correct value.
Once you have BASE, INCR, and Number of Levels, you are ready to enter that information into the spreadsheet. The cells are marked for you, and there are instructions in the spreadsheet, but you enter BASE into cell B1, INCR into cell B2, and the number of levels into cell B3. Once you have entered all those values, cell B4 will contain the total EXP needed to max out the item.
At the bottom left corner of the spreadsheet is a list of components and how many of them would be needed to max out the item, assuming you have a Bonus Factor of 3. Depending on how many components you have, you might decide not to purchase the components needed to change the Bonus Factor. In that case, you will need 3 times the number of components displayed in the list. Obviously if that number is greater than 99, you really can't use that component to upgrade the item.
You can compare the number of components needed with how many are in your inventory and see if you can upgrade the item with what you have, or how many components you will need to buy. You can then figure out how much it would cost you to upgrade the item using each component. For example, if you are 4 Solenoids short, you only need to buy 4 Solenoids. This can save you a fair amount of Gil instead of selling what you have and then buying new components to do the upgrade.
Items have more than one level. To max out an item, you must upgrade it to the maximum level. Upgrading an item involves two different values: a base value (BASE) and an increment (INC). The amount of EXP needed for each new level increases by INCR. For example:
When you start out, an item has zero EXP and a Multiplier Value of 1. Each time you apply a batch of components to an item, the EXP is increased by the sum of the EXP of the component(s) you applied times the Bonus Value, and the Bonus Factor is changed based on the sum of the Multiplier Values of all the component(s) you used to upgrade the item. For small amounts of EXP you probably don't want to be bothered with the Multiplier Value. However, for large amounts of EXP, taking advantage of the Bonus Value can save you a lot of Gil. For large EXP upgrades, you want to perform an upgrade using two operations:
This usually means that you will go into Upgrade and apply enough organic components to get the max Bonus Value, and then enough components to increment the EXP to max out the item. Always save your game before you perform an upgrade in case your calculations are off or your information is incorrect.
The EXP Bonus Factor can range from one to three, depending on the total of the Muliplier Values that have been applied. The basic strategy is to apply enough components to get the Bonus Factor to 3, and then apply enough components to get enough EXP to raise the item to the max. level. It is best if you do each part in one application, since the Bonus Factor changes after each upgrade operation. To get a Bonus Factor of 3, the total Multiplier Values must be greater than 500. You can figure things out on your own, but the easy way to get a Bonus Factor of 3 is to use 36 Sturdy Bones, Barbed Tails, or Vibrant Oozes (which all have a multiplier effect of +14). You could also use 24 Otherworldly Bones, Diabolic Tails, or Transparent Oozes (which all have a multiplier effect of +21).
Once you have a Bonus Factor of 3, you apply enough components with enough EXP to reach the max. level, remembering to first divide the EXP needed by the Bonus Value. There are some charts you can find for certain things. The FAQ by Split Infinity has the total EXP required to max out all of the weapons. There is an Upgrade FAQ that lists the max. number of levels for items, which you need to calculate the total EXP needed yourself. To calculate the total EXP required to max out an item, you must first know the maximum number of levels for that item. You can then experiment to determine the BASE and INCR values for the item, and how many of a given item you would need to max. out the item.
To determine what the BASE and INCR values are, you can do the following:
Now that you have the BASE and INCR values, you need to calculate the total EXP needed to max out the item. You can use my spreadsheet tool to calculate the total EXP needed, or if you want to calculate it yourself, the formula is: (N-1)*BASE + Sigma(N-2)*INCR, where BASE and INCR are the values you determined above, and Sigma(N-2) is the value 1+2+3+...+(N-2).
If you are going to have a Bonus Factor of 3, you will want to divide the total EXP by 3 to get the total EXP needed from the components to max out the item. Remember that this value will differ slightly based on the ranks of the item being upgraded and the components being applied. Also remember that you want to do this in one operation or the Multiplier Value will change, which will change the Bonus Factor. There are charts with the average EXP for components. If you don't have one, here are the more likely candidates and their approximate EXP.
You can experiment with the Upgrade option to get the exact values for these or other components, but this is enough to get an estimate. Take the Total EXP needed (divided by 3 if appropriate) and then divide by the EXP of the component you want to use and round up to the nearest whole number. This will give you an estimate of the number of components needed to max out the item.
Upgrading doesn't have to cost a lot of Gil. In fact, you should be able to upgrade most low-level accessories and even weapons using components that you have obtained from fighting. Pay attention to what items are being dropped and see how much EXP they have. If they have more than 200 EXP, then consider using them for upgrading items.
Decide what items you want to upgrade and determine the total EXP needed to max out the item. You can use my spreadsheet tool to determine how many components it will take to max out the item, or you can simply select the Upgrade option and experiment with various components to see if you can get the required EXP with them. If you take the EXP of a component and add two zeros, that will be approximately how much EXP that component can provide. (Actually, since the max. number of items is 99, 100 times the EXP is a little high, so subtract the EXP to get the exact value.)
Here are some components that are fairly easy to get from battles and how many EXP they can provide.
You can get the Mobius Coil from Edenhall when you are farming Gil. You can get Bomb Cores and Solenoids while you are farming CP in Mah'Habara. If you just need Bomb Cores, keep doing Mission 7. Bomb Shells come as secondary rewards from the Faultwarrens and other missions. (if you keep exiting left, you can get 16 Bomb Shells and a Tonberry Figurine which sells for 28,500 Gil.) You can get Spark Plugs from many of the mechanical enemies. See my Paradigm Guide for the power-up locations.
Remember that you only need to get the 3X Bonus Value for large EXP values. If you can upgrade an item for less than the values shown above, you are basically getting it upgraded for free, since you got them from fighting. Why spend Gil to increase the Bonus Factor when instead you can use a few more items you are getting tons of anyway?
Unlike previous Final Fantasy upgrade systems, the actual component you use to upgrade an item doesn't really matter. As long as the total EXP is at least the value needed to max out an item, the upgrade will be a success.
Look at your inventory and how much Gil you have to determine what components you want to use to upgrade an item. For example, if you have 25 of a component but you need 30 to upgrade, then it will only cost you 5 components to do the upgrade. I suggest you save the game before each upgrade so that you can reset the game in case you made any errors in your calculation or the information you got was incorrect. Here are the steps to do the actual upgrade:
Upgrading can be expensive, but at the same time you can rack up a lot of certain items that you can use to upgrade for free. For example, you can get a lot of Spark Plugs from mechanical enemies, and they have an EXP of 62. You wouldn't want to buy Spark Plugs if you are upgrading, but if you have a lot of them, you can get free upgrades by using them instead of buying components with higher EXP. Likewise, Bomb Core has 551 EXP and Bomb Shell has 206, and Solenoid has 220 EXP.
For other components, it is better to sell them and use the Gil to purchase more efficient upgrade components. You can do some calculations to determine how many EXP you can gain from the components and compare it with how many EXP you can purchase if you sell them. The best components to keep for EXP instead of selling them based on EXP per sell price are: Bomb Core (.918), Solenoid (.52), and Bomb Shell (.49).
On the other hand, if you are purchasing components to do an upgrade, you want to get the most EXP for each Gil you spend. The best components to purchase based on EXP per Gil are: Ultracompact Reactor (.8), Particle Accelerator (.48) Superconductor (.47), and Perfect Conductor (.469).
For example, if you have enough Bomb Cores to upgrade something, it would be better to use them instead of selling them and using the Gil to purchase a component that gives you less than .918 EXP / Gil. If you don't have enough components to upgrade the weapon, it might make more sense to sell them and purchase something else that has enough EXP to upgrade, even if the EXP / price ratio isn't better. Remember that each time you use a component to upgrade, the multiplication factor changes; it is easier to compute what it takes to upgrade with one operation instead of multiple upgrades with smaller amounts.
Avoid partially upgrading items. It will be difficult to figure out how the Multiplier Factor will be affected, and it could end up costing you a lot more to upgrade than if you had waited to upgrade all at once. In general, the items that upgrade EXP have a low or negative Multiiplifier Factor. This means that if you upgrade with less items that it will take to max out the item, the next time you go to upgrade, you will need a lot more EXP to max it out.
Let's look at some specific examples. Upgrading can seem confusing at first, but after doing it a few times, you will probably become more comfortable with it.
We will start out with the easiest type of upgrading: upgrade an item with only two levels. Most of the amulets, talismands, charms, and brooches have only two levels. These are excellent candidates for upgrading as soon as possible, since it can probably be done using items you have collected during battles.
At a Save Point, select the Upgrade option. Select an amulet, talismand, charm, or brooch that you want to upgrade. You will see a line with something like: "Level 1 EXP 0 / XXXX", where XXXX is how much EXP it will take to raise the item to Level 2. Since the item only has two levels, it is also the amount of EXP needed to max out the item.
Once you have selected the item to upgrade, you will be asked to select a component that you want to use to upgrade it. I would suggest you select an item that you are getting a lot of from recent battles. As you change the quantity of components, the Upgrade option will display the total EXP for that many items. Experiment until you find the smallest number of components that will apply as much EXP that is needed Click the "A" button, and you should see a message indicating that the item is low Level *, indicating that it has been maxed out. Congratulations! You have performed your first upgrade.
Let's walk through one of these upgrades. Save your game at a Save Point so that you can reset the game if something goes wrong. Now select the Upgrade option, and select the Hero's Amulet. Look for the line that says: "EXP 0 / 600". That means we will need 600 EXP to max out this item. We are now to select the component we will use to perform the upgrade.
Now select the component you want to use. If you try a Bomb Core, you will see the EXP is 866, which is more than we need. A Spark Plug has 106 EXP, so it would take 6 Spark Plugs to max out the item. A Solenoid is 386, so you would 2 Solenoids would max it out. The actual items you have in your inventory will depend on what battles you have fought recently. Find something that you are getting a lot of, and then apply as many of that component that will make the EXP 600 or greater.
Next, let's max out the Black Belt, which increases resistance to physical attacks. Select Upgrade / Accessories / and then Black Belt. Notice the line "EXP: 0 / 480", which means that you need 480 EXP to max out the item. Experiment with whatever components you have in your inventory to determine how many you would need for upgrading. You should try items that you are getting a lot of recently, which can save you the expense of purchasing components. For example, 6 Spark Plugs will max out the item.
Upgrading with more than two levels can take a bit more work, and might require you to set up the Bonus Factor to 3. Most of the Rings have 6 levels. For other accessories such as Bangles and Wristbands have 6 levels for the lowest form, and then 11 levels for the remaining forms.
Once an item has more than two levels, you will need to perform some calculations to determine the total EXP required to max out the item. Or, you could simply use the spreadsheet tool to do the calculations for you.
Once you have maxed out an item, you might be able to transform it to a different item. In general, this new item will be higher variation of the original item. Transformation requires a special component to act as a catalyst. These components are usually rare and expensive, so while it is fairly easy to max out an item, it is harder to transform it to a different item.
In some ways, transformation can be a step backwards. After the transformation, the stats for the new item might be less than the stats for the old item. Why would you want to transform something then? Because the new max stats for that item will be higher than the max stats for the previous item. What I usually did was wait until I have enough components to max out the transformed item before I performed the transformation.
Where transformation really makes sense is when you are upgrading weapons. You must do two separate transformations in order to build an ultimate weapon. You will probably want at least one ultimate weapon for each of your main characters. In some cases, you might want more than one weapon based on how you plan to use that character. For example, I have two ultimate weapons for Vanille, one for healing and another for debuffing.
Each character has several weapons, each of which have different characteristics. Select the weapon that best suits how you are using that character. Each weapon has three tiers. After you max out the first tier, you will use some catalyst to transform it to the second level tier. To transform it to the third tier (ultimate weapon), you will need a trapezohedron as a catalyst. You will probably have to purchase your first one, which is expensive (2,000,000 Gil). If you can take out an Adamantortoise, their rare drop is a trapezohedron. Once you have created certain ultimate weapons, you can dismantle them to obtain three trapezohedron. Use two of them for your characters and the third to create another ultimate weapon that you can dismantle for three more trapezohedron.
All the ultimate weapons for each character have the same name. Lightning has the Omega Weapon, Fang has Kain's Lance, Valille Nirvana, etc. Even though the names are the same, the characteristics are different, so if you make more than one ultimate weapon for a character, you probably want to write down the stats of each weapon so that you can keep track of which one is which.
You can also dismantle items, although you should only do that when the item is maxed out. When an item is dismantled, you receive a collection of items that is usually less valuable than the original item and the components you used to max it out. Why would you want to do that? Because sometimes what you get is a component that is very rare. For example:
The above operations will result in three Trapezohedrons along with some other nice components you can sell for money. This is probably the easiest way to create ultimate weapons. You will probably have to save up enough Gil to purchase the first Trapezohedron, and then when you dismantle it you will get two more. You can create two ultimate weapons for your party, and create a third to be dismantled to make two more.
Thanks to the following for help with this guide