Final Fantasy XIII uses third-person, 3D gameplay with a lot of menu navigation. When playing, you control the party leader and you can move them through the world and interact with objects, people and enemies. In most cases the world is natural and you can go wherever it looks like you can go, but in some places helpful markers will be used to indicate certain functions. On the ground you may see small, shimmering circles. Blue circles show where you can jump, and you just run into them to trigger the jump animation for your character. You can somewhat control the direction in which your character jumps. Not all jumps are marked with a blue circle, so if there is a ledge or platform it looks like you should be able to get on top of, run toward it and your character will jump if he or she is able. Red circles mark places where you can activate something, usually mechanical. When you stand on them and look in the proper direction, a prompt will appear onscreen to press the button to perform the action. The other color of circle is yellow, and is only found later in the game where you can use a Chocobo to get to an inaccessible place.
To interact with people, item spheres or save points, just approach them and the interaction prompt will appear, just like it does when standing on a red circle. Most people in the game don't require an interaction to speak with, they will just say their lines when you get close enough to them. Item spheres are metallic spheres that bob up and down in the air when you can access them, and then lay down motionless on the ground after you've plundered them. Save points are where you can save the game, as well as perform other functions, such as shopping and upgrading equipment, when you obtain the means to do so. You can create multiple save files, though there isn't option to name them, so when loading you'll need to go by the location on the save file description and the time to find the right one. The icon used for the save file is based on your party leader, so this can be an indicator as well.
- For more details on combat, see the combat page.
As you move around the game world, enemies appear naturally in the environment, and you can choose to fight them or go around. There is no escaping or running away once in a fight (although you can retry at any time), so decide whether you want to engage the enemy before approaching them. Enemies will be alerted to your presence when you get close enough, and each enemy's sensitivity differs, making some easy to circumvent and others very hard. Once alerted, most enemies will attempt to attack you until you get far enough away from them. To engage an enemy purposefully, just run into them. Engaging an enemy that has not been alerted may allow you to gain an advantage with a preemptive strike.
The information displayed on-screen while playing is minimal, consisting of a simple minimap in the upper right corner. The minimap can be toggled on and off and you can see the large area map by pressing . The map rotates to show the direction your character is facing at the top of the screen, so finding the correct direction to go is somewhat more complicated as you first have to orient yourself. The minimap only displays terrain and objects within close proximity to you, but on the main map screen you can zoom in and out to show as much as you want. In areas with multiple levels, you can also use to go up and down levels. Use to center the map on your current position. Within the main map, you can also check the status of your missions by pressing and then to show and hide mission details.
|Party leader||This is your icon, and the long part faces the direction you're currently facing.|
|Footsteps||These leave a trail behind you, showing you where you've walked.|
|Ally||Your ally or allies from your party are marked with this icon.|
|Point of interest||Head toward these to activate cutscenes, start fights, or find something of interest.|
|Save point||You can save your game at these points, as well as shop and upgrade your equipment.|
|Used item sphere||After you've used an item sphere, it will be marked with this icon. (Unused item spheres don't show up on the map.)|
|Enemy||This is the icon used to show enemies.|
|Alerted enemy||When you get too close and an enemy sees you, it becomes alerted.|
|Defeated enemy||Marks the position of an enemy you defeated.|
|Mark||Special enemy marker indicating the target of a mission.|
|Cie'th Stone||This blue icon indicates a Cie'th Stone mission you can perform (when blinking), or one you've completed (when static).|
|Warp stone||After completing a Cie'th Stone mission, if the Cie'th Stone is a warp point it will be marked in orange.|
|Dormant Cie'th Stone||These Cie'th Stones haven't been activated yet. You will need to complete early missions to activate them.|
|Chocobo feather||The Chocobo feather shows where you can mount a Chocobo after you've unlocked them.|
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