The Best Command Abilities in Final Fantasy VIII (Ranked)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Final Fantasy VIII’s growth system takes a bold step away from FF tradition.
Instead of relying on a linear growth structure, VIII’s Junction system allows players to attach magic to character’s stats and attributes, as well as slot in commands to use in battle.
Without anything junctioned, a character would only be able to use the attack command.
So learning and junctioning command abilities is vital.
In total there are 18 command abilities in the game. And some of them are absolutely better than others, so let’s look at the very best.
Using items is among the most fundamental abilities in any Final Fantasy.
And it’s no different in Final Fantasy VIII.
The “Item” command ability allows a character to use one of the many consumables in battle (whatever’s in your inventory). From HP restorative potions and elixirs, to more utilitarian things such as Protect and Shell Stones. It’s all fair game.
Devour allows you to eat your enemies and subsequently raise your stats.
Different enemies offer different boosts, and if you have the patience, you could potentially max out your party’s stats by eating the correct monsters.
Each enemy devoured only gives a single point of their stat, though. So it’ll take a while.
Ultimately it’s still worth using to get a party that, without any junctions, has 255 for every stat.
8. LV Up / LV Down
Enemy levels in Final Fantasy VIII scale with Squall.
This means that if Squall remains low level (which is shockingly easy to do given the nature of the Junction system), the enemies stay low-leveled as well.
This is good for maintaining challenge, but certain enemies also only have particular spells to draw, or items to collect in specific level ranges.
The LV Up and LV Down command abilities give you the power to control enemies’ levels – and by extension, what you gain from them.
For example, between levels 1-20, the Blitz enemy only has the Thunder spell to draw. But if you juice to anywhere between levels 20-30 with LV Up, you can add Thundera to the list.
This kind of enemy manipulation can get you powerful spells and items easier and earlier than you’d be able to otherwise.
It’s very cool.
One of the easiest ways to become powerful early on is by collecting Triple Triad cards – and then turning them into items and magic.
Gathering these cards can be done in one of two ways: playing lots of Triple Triad, or turning enemies into cards, with that second option greatly helping you with the first option.
This is where the Card ability comes into play.
It allows you to turn a battle-weakened enemy into a card.
This is super helpful to bolster your early-game deck, and is also great when you need to farm a certain type of card, but don’t want to wait for the RNG of the opponent’s decks to give you what you need.
One of the GF Brothers’ best abilities is Defend.
Unlike the other Final Fantasy games, there’s no other way to defend for a turn.
So gaining this command ability is a real blessing.
When active, Defend reduces all physical damage to zero and halves magical damage.
Furthermore, it negates all detrimental status effects.
And even better, passive abilities like counter and cover remain active – meaning you can create a stonewall character that protects his or her friends, and strikes back when attacked.
You could spend your SeeD paychecks on the various status recovery items, or take time drawing and/or refining Esunas.
But there’s a better way.
And that way is Treatment!
Treatment is a command ability learned from Siren. It removes all negative status effects from a party member, including the trickier stuff like doom and Vit 0 – which even remedies can’t touch.
Treatment is one of the key abilities to assign a medic-role party member. And I promise it’ll save your life more than once in this game.
Recover restores your hit points to full (fairly straightforward here).
It’s a very convenient replacement for items and healing magics as you progress through FFVIII.
At first, only the Guardian Force Leviathan can learn and use the Recover command. But if you find a Healing Ring item then any of your GF team can pick it up.
Recover might take a lot of AP to learn (200) but is more than worth it. Especially since it can quickly return your party to peak condition.
Revive does what a phoenix down wishes it could do: restores a KO’d party member to full health.
Additionally, the Revive command ability is instant death to undead does.
Yes, it’s true that the Full Life spell does the same thing as Revive… but Full Life is a consumable, and junctions too well to your stats to be used so frequently.
Revive is unlimited and 100% free!
Well, free to use, anyway.
It costs 200 AP to learn.
Alexander knows it right away, and for a while will be the only GF who can. But once you can dig up a Phoenix Spirit item then any of your Guardian Force can do it.
This is an ability that’s so fundamental, every Guardian Force knows it.
Draw is one of Final Fantasy VIII’s key mechanics, allowing party members to peek at an enemy’s magic inventory and take what they please from it.
Some bosses even have Guardian Forces you can draw!
It’s always worth having at least one person in the party who can Draw. Missing out on good spells or a shiny new GF is a real bummer.
Plus you can even draw magic and use it right away!
When in a pinch, this kind of scavenging can really save your life.
“There’s nothing cheaper than something free!” – Laguna Loire
Mug is an ability that attacks an enemy, while at the same time stealing from them.
It’s also the only way to swipe items from enemies in FFVIII.
Enemies carry a tremendous number of valuables so it’s worth getting Diabolos and learning Mug ASAP – that way you can catch up on abilities and blue magic, to say the least.