Terra-Xehanort makes his debut as a boss Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, serving as the final boss for Terra, who fights in the form of the Lingering Will, and then for Aqua in the game's Final Episode. He also appears in Kingdom Hearts III as one of the bosses at the Keyblade Graveyard alongside Vanitas, fought by Sora, Aqua, and Ventus.
Final Episode, First Battle
Final Episode, Second Battle
For the final boss fight of Terra's scenario, the player takes control of the Lingering Will in order to battle Terra-Xehanort. It will have access to any abilities Terra had equipped before the battle, with its Keyblade replaced with the Ends of the Earth. No Dimension Links can be used during this battle, and the D-Link Gauge is empty and cannot be filled, but Command Styles and Shotlocks are still available.
Normally in the early stages, Terra-Xehanort will be the same as Master Xehanort, being very patient in accordance to the player's moves; however his offense is arguably more punishing with increased mobility due to Dark Haze, dashing around the battlefield, surrounded in darkness and invulnerable to damage. This normally is used whenever the player tries to attack him recklessly or when traps (e.g. Mine Square) are laid in front of him, and would often cause confusion due to his varying dashing patterns.
Often after two or three Dark Haze dashes, Terra-Xehanort often performs one of his attacks at random as a counter-finisher, otherwise, if a specific attack or damage-area is ongoing, then Terra-Xehanort will continue to dash-dodge in random directions for the whole duration. Terra-Xehanort also has access to the Block and Counter Hammer combo, thus he should be physically attacked mainly from behind to avoid retaliation whenever possible.
Aside from this, Terra-Xehanort would normally choose to make the first move with his own version of Terra's Ars Solum or Dark Impluse abilities when enough time passes. Regardless, the best move to make against his dashing tactic and any of his normal combo attacks is to use Block and immediately follow with a Counter Hammer. This will do great amounts of damage to Terra-Xehanort, causing him to Dark Haze away from the player. However, it should be noted that Dark Haze (and Dark Impulse) will not be interrupted when blocked, and Terra-Xehanort may use an unexpected attack after a Dark Haze that can't be blocked normally. Unlike Dark Haze however, Terra-Xehanort can still be damaged during Dark Impulse but still cannot be interrupted from either direct damage or blocking.
However, the boss can make use of the aforementioned Dark Impulse to instead warp away somewhere through a grounded-pool of darkness and when he reappears, he may attempt to unleash a surrounding surge of darkness that must be dodged; he may also attempt to followup with other combo attacks from Dark Impulse once more, inflicting massive damage. This should also be Blocked to open the boss to damage once more from Counter Hammer, while once again, he may not be flinched (requiring the timing of Counter Hammer's invincibility to avoid damage altogether).
He may also utilize the Dark Volley Shotlock, but the dark projectiles he fires can be deflected back at him with Block for damage.
As Terra-Xehanort's HP starts to dwindle, his true power is unleashed. He may use a variation of the Meteor spell, causing several large rocks to erupt from the ground and bombard the player. While this attack can potentially deal heavy damage, it can be defended against with a well-timed Block. Don't try to go for Terra-Xehanort at this time as he will escape by teleporting. He may also summon a large meteor if the player is at close range. Usually when the player is at close range, Terra-Xehanort may cause large pillars of rock to shoot out from the ground around him, in a similar fashion to the Quake spell.
He will continue to use the Darkness-based attacks from earlier stages of the battle, which can be defended against in the same ways mentioned above. Terra-Xehanort may also use the Dark Impulse Command Style, which involves him landing several hits with his Keyblade and then striking the player with an immense hand of dark energy (which can break through Block, so dodging is advisable). Terra-Xehanort will then vanish into the ground, visible only as a pool of darkness on the ground. This pool will travel underneath the player, during which time the boss will attempt another dark hand attack. This attack requires precise timing to dodge, the player needing to wait for the pool of darkness to travel beneath them and then using the Slide ability, which can also be used to avoid many of Terra-Xehanort's attacks or get the Lingering Will out of attack range. As Terra-Xehanort's HP lowers even further, he will chain the close-range rock pillar attack with the Meteor spell.
He lastly will have access to the deadliest attack in his arsenal, Terra's Ultima Cannon Shotlock. Similar to when the Lingering Will is fought as a boss in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, Terra-Xehanort will enlarge his Keyblade and charge its power, firing a single, large orb of energy to hit the Lingering Will. This attack will deal a great amount of damage, and cannot be defended against with Block like in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. Instead, the player should use Aerial Slam to deflect it back at him so he takes the damage back, or else they must do whatever they can to stay as far away from the boss as possible or use a Shotlock to gain invincibility. Also, beware when Terra-Xehanort's HP is low as he starts teleporting more frequently.
In short, this battle against Terra-Xehanort is all about an equal balance of defense and offense. Defensive abilities should be used which then link to an offensive attack, such as the Block and Counter Hammer combo. This way, most damage is avoided while the player can still deal heavy damage to the boss. One should also be careful when executing the Curaga spell. Using Renewal Block to restore HP from successful blocking is an alternative to restoring HP and can help reduce dependency on Curaga. While this will fully restore the player's HP, Terra-Xehanort can heal as well, increasing the length of the battle. So long as the correct strategies are followed and the player uses patience, Terra-Xehanort will fall and Terra's scenario will have been completed.
Aqua travels to Radiant Garden in search of Terra only to be faced with the possessed version of her old friend last faced in Terra's scenario at the Keyblade Graveyard. Terra-Xehanort will use a moveset very similar to that battle, but since Aqua's fighting style is different than Terra's, a slightly different strategy should be followed. Aqua has access to both D-Links and Command Styles, as well as Shotlocks. The player should make full use of these special abilities whenever possible.
It is recommended that the player Cartwheel away from the boss and use the Mine Square ability. Terra-Xehanort will most likely Dark Haze dash in the player's direction surrounded in darkness as he did in his battle with the Lingering Will, but he will be damaged by the mines, his attack interrupted and opening him to more damage. However just like before, there is a chance he'll most likely dash around any attack that would be landed on him in the open, with trap-based attacks being no exception if Terra-Xehanort happens to dash somewhere else towards a possible blind-spot. Because of this, commands like the aforementioned Mine Square should be used more to limit and control his movement instead of outright trying to damage him.
Once Terra-Xehanort is back on his feet, however, the player should follow a hit-and-run strategy, bombarding the boss with magic rather than physical attacks and either running or Cartwheeling away immediately afterwards. The player can also use Barrier to defend against Dark Volley, also using a Barrier and Counter Blast combo to prevent damage from most attacks and still deal damage. It is recommended to use Renewal Barrier as it can be a big help with restoring HP from successfully blocking attacks in case any Cure spell is unavailable and also make sure to pack at least two of them in your Command List to help make healing easier, preferably Cura or Curaga, but also be ready to move quickly after healing to avoid damage if possible if you are too close to Terra-Xehanort. Terra-Xehanort will summon rock pillars around him if the player is at close range, so use caution when attempting a combo that involves linking defense to a physical attack that only works at close range. As Terra-Xehanort's HP starts to dwindle, he will gain access to the Dark Impulse Command Style. He also may use Curaga to restore health, thus increasing the length of the battle.
In terms of fighting Terra-Xehanort as Aqua, the player should favor magic, as her physical attacks are relatively weak, but be careful as he can dodge your magic attacks. While it is quite possible to go through the entire battle without using a D-Link, Command Style, or Shotlock, they will certainly make the battle easier, mostly Shotlock attacks since they can be used at a distance. Also use counters if you need to fill up your Focus gage (as long as he is not using Dark Volley), as close range attacks are too risky to use if this fight, and should not be used too often. So long as the player uses patience when fighting this boss, he should not be a challenge.
Terra-Xehanort's great rage causes his shadowy other to spawn behind him. He then uses this creature to do much of the fighting during his second battle with Aqua for him. The guardian will use many powerful attacks, and Terra-Xehanort can still attack with the fast-paced physical combo from previous battles, so use caution. As with the last battle, Aqua can use Command Styles, Shotlocks, and D-Links, and having the Renewal Barrier to heal from successful blocking will also be a big help.
In early stages of the battle, the guardian will vanish from behind Terra-Xehanort and begin to strike from underneath Aqua. This can be avoided with timed Cartwheels or parried using Block and Counter Blast; however, Aqua should time the Counter Blast correctly by using it after one strike has been blocked and done to take advantage of its invincibility frames to avoid the incoming next strike. If the guardian's attack lands, it will grab Aqua and slam her into the ground to deal heavy damage. Once it returns to Terra-Xehanort, strike the boss with the most powerful attacks possible and continue with a hit-and-run strategy. Terra-Xehanort may avoid Magic or Shotlock attacks by going from side to side when he isn't attacking. The guardian may sometimes attempt to shoot twin energy balls at Aqua. Use Barrier to block these projectiles, as they can blind players. Cartwheel should be used to dodge when the guardian sends dual waves of energy in Aqua's direction, as this attack is unblockable. If Terra-Xehanort ever attempts dashing towards Aqua, to use his Ars Solum combo, Block him and knock him away with a Barrier and Counter Blast combo. This combo can also be used if the guardian ever attempts to punch Aqua with its mighty fist. The boss and his symbiote will repeat these attacks until much of their HP is depleted.
Once enough HP has been depleted from Terra-Xehanort, the guardian will try to approach to grab Aqua. If it succeeds, immediately break away by mashing , while Terra-Xehanort slowly approaches her as well, and if he is close enough, he will use his Ars Solum combo on Aqua. Either way after that, Aqua will be transported to a realm of light, and Terra will stand in the middle of the area, stunned, while the guardian continues to attack by firing twin energy spheres and dark punches. Cartwheel over to Terra's location, and enter the pool of light surrounding him by pressing to activate a special Deck Command called "Dual Limit". At the right moment, press to team up with Terra to strike the guardian with light. This attack will deal three quarters of a bar of health if you get an "Excellent", and half if "Good". Aqua is then transported back to the main battlefield and the attack process beginning from square one. For this reason, it may be beneficial if you let the guardian grab you to use this Dual Limit and deal some extra damage, instead of blocking it. It is important to know that if one strikes Terra rather than using the finishing command, then Aqua will be transported to the normal battlefield again, as well.
This incarnation of Terra-Xehanort is not difficult to defeat. So long as the player makes full use of the Cartwheel ability to dodge attacks, they should take very little damage. The player must remember to keep at a constant hit-and-run strategy, utilizing physical attacks rather than magic, and only using the Barrier and Counter Blast combo when a physical attack from the opponent must be defended against. The player should also try their best to activate the Dual-Limit command in the light realm. If this strategy is followed, then defeating Terra-Xehanort will be child's play. Terra-Xehanort's fall will also represent the completion of the Final Episode, unlocking more rewards in the game.
Kingdom Hearts III
Notes and references