Final Fantasy 16: Best Starter Abilities [Our Picks]

Here are my recommendations for the best starter abilities in Final Fantasy 16, as I have 70+ hours in the game!

Best Abilities To Unlock First Final Fantasy 16
A guide on best abilities to unlock in Final Fantasy 16.
About The Author

I have played Final Fantasy 16 for more than 70+ hours, and my PSN Tag is SHiNiGaMii. I have played the game extensively, so you can easily trust the hands-on experience I bring to the table!

Early on, players can learn or master abilities only from Phoenix and Clive’s basic skills. Spending your few Ability Points on the right set of abilities available will lay out more successful gameplay coming up. So rather than using your precious Ability Points without any planning, make sure you spend them wisely. Continue reading to find out the best abilities to unlock first in Final Fantasy 16.

Key Takeaways

  • Players In FFXVI unlock the Abilities tab in the main menu early on, where they can spend their Ability Points and learn new abilities for combat.
  • Heatwave is one of the most powerful early-game Special Abilities. It dispels any incoming projectile and launches deadly shockwaves in return. Players can learn it by spending 120 AP.
  • Precision Dodge, an extremely useful basic ability. It is learned by default, but mastering it early is highly recommended.
  • Swift Recovery is a must-to-have early game ability. Players will get knocked down quite frequently, especially at the start. Swift Recovery helps you get back on your feet instantly. You can learn it in 10 AP only.
  • Rising Flame is a Phoenix Ability automatically learned upon unlocking Phoenix Abilities. This Ability can deal decent damage and launch smaller enemies into the air.
  • Lastly, Stomp and Downthrust are highly recommended to obtain. Both these abilities go perfectly well with one another. Use Stomp first, followed by Downthrust for a damage-dealing aerial attack.

Here is a summary table for the Best Abilities in Final Fantasy 16. Note that these weapons are for Early Game Progression:

No.AbilityBest forLearn RequirementUpgrade RequirementMaster Requirement
1HeatwaveBest Starter Ability By Level120 AP620 AP1000 AP
2Precision DodgeBest Starter Ability Before NG+NoneNone500 AP
3Swift RecoveryBest Cheap Ability10 APNoneNone
4Rising FlameBest Ranked Starter AbilityNone500 AP1000 AP
5StompBest Aerial Starter Ability15 APNone170 AP
6DownthrustBest Beginner Ability30 APNone150 AP

Best Abilities For Early Game

A diverse set of abilities is available to learn, which may confuse players on which would be the best abilities to unlock first in Final Fantasy 16. Since you’ll be short of Ability Points early on, spending it wisely is the only way to go. Worry not; I have mentioned the best abilities to unlock early on to progress effectively.

Here is an overview of the best abilities to unlock first in Final Fantasy 16:

Best Abilities To Unlock First Final Fantasy 16
Best abilities for early game – Image Credits: VeryAli Gaming
Ability Description
Heatwave Summon a projectile-dispelling wall of liquid flame before launching several deadly shockwaves. Wave force is amplified upon dispelling magic. 
Precision Dodge Executing a dodge with R1 at the moment of an enemy attack not only increases evasion efficacy but also allows for counter-attacks using either square or triangle.
Swift Recovery Use R1 to recover immediately after being knocked back or down by an enemy.
Rising Flame Summon a fiery wing that deals damage and can launch lighter enemies into the air.
Stomp Use X while in the air to kick off a nearby enemy, increasing jump height and duration.
Downthrust Use X + Square while in the air to slice down.

1. Heatwave

Best Starter Ability By Level
best abilities to unlock first Final Fantasy 16
  • Learn Requirement: 120 AP
  • Upgrade Requirement: 620 AP
  • Master Requirement: 1000 AP

Why did I Choose Heatwave?

The Wall of Flame is its biggest plus point, as it will convert any incoming attacks and deal damage to your enemies.

One of the best abilities to learn in the early game. Upon use, Clive summons a wall of Flame between himself and the enemies, reflecting back any damage received from the enemies in the form of shockwaves. The damage increases immensely, along with a reduction in countdown when incoming magic attacks are blocked. Heatwave also deals damage on a larger scale, making it perfect against multiple enemies ahead.

Although Heatwave itself is an already powerful ability, upgrading it will make it even more unbreakable. The number of shockwaves increases after you upgrade the skill further.

  • Strong Defensive Ability.
  • Serves as a Counter Attack.
  • High Damage Output.

  • Execution Complexity.
  • Has Cooldown Period.

2. Precision Dodge

Best Starter Ability Before NG+
  • Learn Requirement: No requirement. Unlocked by default
  • Upgrade Requirement: None
  • Master Requirement: 500 AP

Why did I Choose Precision Dodge?

Mastering this default ability will help you dodge the most punishing enemy attacks.

A basic ability that Clive gets as a default. However, players can master it for 500 AP, which I highly recommend. The Ability itself is amazing for dodging enemy attacks, especially in the early game while players are still familiarizing themselves with the combat mechanics.

Press R1 right before an enemy performs their attack by keeping a close eye on their moves. You can also perform a counterattack by pressing Square for a Precision Strike or by pressing Triangle for Precision Shot. Mastering the Ability will increase the effect time of the Ability and allow players to dodge incoming attacks even more easily. Amazing early-game Ability, especially against bosses.

Some abilities can also reward players with an achievement, Precision Dodge being one of them. Obtain Such Dodge, So Mega trophy later on, which involves using Precision Dodge.

  • Temporary Evasion Boost.
  • Usable in various situations.

  • Has cooldown period.
  • Dependence on successful roll.

3. Swift Recovery

Best Starter Ability For Each Clive
Swift Recovery Best Abilities to Unlock First Final Fantasy 16
  • Learn Requirement: 10 AP
  • Upgrade Requirement: None
  • Master Requirement: None

Why did I Choose Swift Recovery?

It is one of the cheapest abilities, and can offer a lot of support during combat.

A must-have basic ability right away in Final Fantasy 16. It is one of the cheapest abilities, costing only 10 AP. Unlock it first thing, as it’ll come in handy every time enemies knock you out. Simply press R1 and recover yourself before another incoming heavy attack. You can never be too safe in combat, and getting knocked down is quite common. So, to recover from such situations in an instant, having Swift Recovery is essential.

  • Speed Boost.
  • It’s quick recovery can be used in multiple ways.

  • Dependency on other Abilities.
  • Overuse Risks.

4. Rising Flame

Best Ranked Starter Ability
  • Learn Requirement: None
  • Upgrade Requirement: 500 AP
  • Master Requirement: 1000 AP

Why did I Choose Rising Flame?

Apart from dealing damage, Rising Flame will cancel enemy attacks and help you develop a counterattack.

One of the Phoenix abilities that is unlockable during a Main quest of “Sunrise, Sunset.” You won’t need to learn it, as it unlocks right away. The Ability is known for knocking lighter enemies from the ground and still dealing damage to them from a distance. Another plus point of Rising Flame is its Ability to cancel enemies’ blocks.

The countdown is short compared to many other skills, and it is extremely easy to get used to using Rising Flame as a starter. I recommend players upgrade Rising Flame early on as it’ll increase the damage further. Short countdown, easy to use, good for combos, acceptable damage, and already unlocked – what’s there not to like?

  • Damage Dealing.
  • Launching Enemies.

  • Limited Effectiveness Against Heavier Enemies.

5. Stomp

Best Aerial Starter Ability 
  • Learn Requirement: 15 AP
  • Upgrade Requirement: None
  • Master Requirement: 170 AP

Why did I Choose Stomp?

Use it for defense and Master this ability to get your enemies away by aerial attacks.

Getting overwhelmed by incoming enemy attacks? Simply jump in the air and activate Stomp. You’ll cover more distance in the air by kicking an enemy nearby. This will allow you to perform aerial combo attacks and deal even further damage. So, make sure to pair it up with other aerial attacks, or else the Stomp ability alone won’t benefit much.

Players can master the Ability further in just 170 AP, allowing them to kick two enemies at once before covering more distance in the air.

  • Extends Aerial Combos.
  • Defensive Properties.
  • Juggle Combos.
  • Cooldown Management.
  • Ability Mastery.

  • Limited Usability.
  • Timing Requirement.
  • Cooldown Mechanic.
  • Dependent on Eikons.
  • Cost of Mastering.

6. Downthrust

Best Starter Ability For Beginners
Downthrust Best abilties to unlock first final fantasy 16
  • Learn Requirement: 30 AP
  • Upgrade Requirement: None
  • Mastery Requirement: 150 AP

Why did I Choose Downthrust?

You can combine this with Stomp to deal massive damage to enemies while in the air.

A perfect pair with the Stomp ability to unlock right off. Once you’re done with Stomp, press X + Square while in the air and perform Downthrust, this will result in slicing down on enemies and dealing damage. You can parry if you use Downthrust right before the opponent is about to hit you.

Mastering Downthrust is highly recommended, as it imbues the weapon with fire and increases overall damage immensely.

  • High Damage Output.
  • Ease of Unlocking.
  • Integration with other abilities.
  • Increases effectiveness of Downthrust Mastery.

  • Cooldown Period.
  • Dependency on Aerial Position.
  • Cost.
  • Limited Effectiveness Against Ground Enemies.

How Do Abilities Work

Once you’ve played Final Fantasy 16 for at least thirty minutes, you’ll come across the Abilities section in the Main Menu. Here, a hand full of abilities is available, which you can unlock in exchange for Ability Points. Some abilities are unlocked/learned by default, meaning you won’t have to spend Ability Points over them. However, most are locked, and you need to learn them first.

You can upgrade and master an ability you’ve already learned by spending more Ability Points on it. Simply head to the Ability tab in the Main Menu, select the available Ability, and hold X to master/upgrade it further.

Along with basic abilities, there are Eight Eikon abilities in Final Fantasy 16, each carrying a different set of Eikon Abilities:

You’ll unlock each of them as you progress through the story.

Why Others Were Not Chosen?

  1. Lunge: Does not support certain character types that prefer dealing damage through ranged attacks.
  2. Burning Blade: It is a very resource intensive ability which I will not prefer using for starting phases.
  3. Magic Burst: During my time using Magic Burst, I found out that the effectiveness of this ability could be limited if you are heavily relying on allies for support.
  4. Deadly Embrace: It will require you to be within grappling range of an enemy to effectively use it, which is not beneficial at all times.
  5. Lightning Rod: Not effective against enemies with high resistance to lightning damage.

Personal Opinion On The Best Starter Abilities

The combat system of Final Fantasy 16 is a story of its own. The diverse abilities and potential combos are immense, but a bad start can break anyone’s spirit. So, I advise you to learn and upgrade the best abilities for a strong start in Final Fantasy 16. Furthermore, I have tried mainly all the starting abilities in FF16, and the best ones, such as Heatwave and Stomp are abilities you can heavily rely on.

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