Heartless Ships come in a variety of designs, each usually indicating their strength. Every ship will have weak points visible, colored green, blue, or red, with green dealing the least damage when broken and red dealing the most - in this sense, the weak points' colors can also indicate strength. When encountered, Heartless Ships will emerge from a white mist.
Small Normal Ships can have white, red, blue, or dark purple sails to indicate their strength from lowest to highest. White ships will use normal cannons, red or blue ships can fire dark projectiles, and purple ships can create cyclones. Weak points are usually green or blue, but may be red in rare cases. These ships often travel in groups.
Large Normal Ships will have light purple sails instead. Weak points will be blue at minimum, and sometimes may be red. A Large Normal Ship will always travel in a fleet with at least two smaller ships present, but never with a second large ship present. When a large ship's HP is depleted, its masts will crumble but the craft will stay afloat, giving Sora the option to board. If he does, he can fight the Heartless present on the ship, and if he defeats them, he will receive random item rewards. If Sora waits too long or fires at the defeated ship instead, it will sink and no extra items will be rewarded.
The Treasure Ship is large, with golden sails and gold trim along the hull. Unlike other large ships it travels alone, and instead of dark projectiles it will fire light ones. Weak points are always red, and this ship can be boarded after it is defeated.
The Black Ship fleet is a group of ships all with black sails. It has a large leader with red weak points, as well as several smaller ships with blue weak points. If the leader is defeated before all of the small ships are, then one of the small ships will transform into a fully-revived leader, with cyclones surrounding it momentarily. Once the fleet is defeated, the leader can be boarded.
The Phantom Ship fleet is a group of ships with tattered black sails. There is one large ship and numerous smaller ships, all with red weak points. Unlike other fleets, the smaller ships will infinitely re-appear even if they are defeated. The Phantom Ship fleet makes ample use of the white mist, disappearing and re-appearing somewhere else repeatedly. The battle is won as soon as the large ship is defeated, and Sora is granted item rewards without needing to board the ship - in fact, there is no option to board the large Phantom Ship at all.
The key to ship battles is usually to hit the enemy's weak points. Doing so will trigger a large explosion that will heavily damage the ship, or even destroy it outright. When aiming at an enemy ship, the targeting reticle will snap to weak points in range when possible, to make this easier. Hitting ships will fill the situation gauge, which will grant special ship situation commands when it is filled.
Some enemy ships will fire dark projectiles - these can be blocked with a barrier by pressing , or they can be destroyed by shooting them in mid-air. Destroying the projectiles this way will raise the situation gauge, similar to hitting enemy ships.
When fighting larger ships, it is important to block their cannon fire with a barrier, as their firepower is much more dangerous than that of a small ship. Sometimes these ships or their allies will charge up dark energy and attempt to approach - if this happens, be ready to block the large purple explosion they are about to create, which can damage Sora's ship severely. When a large ship is defeated, get close to it for the opportunity to board - being too far away can cause the chance to be lost.
The Black Ship fleet can be found at random when sailing around. It is important to defeat all of the small ships with the blue weak points before defeating the large ship - if even a single small ship is alive when the large ship falls, the small ship will turn into a full-health large ship, effectively setting back the battle's progress.
The Treasure Ship can be found in multiple places, such as south of Sandbar Island and south west of Isla Verdemontaña. While it does travel alone, the ship's cannons and its light projectile are very powerful and should be blocked if possible. For the light projectile, look at the stern (back) of the ship to see when it is charging up.
The Phantom Ship fleet can be found between Sandbar Island and Ship's End. This fleet is extremely aggressive, firing as soon as it appears from the mist and disappearing back into the mist soon after. It is crucial to defend often to avoid a quick defeat, but note that it is not possible to block everything. Hold down or to automatically fire for the entire battle, and to press frequently to block the incoming shots. Doing this will ensure that shots are fired at the earliest opportunity after the barrier goes down, earning some mostly-free damage against the foe.
The small Phantom ships will respawn if they are defeated, so only fire at them if doing so will hit a weak point, to raise the situation gauge. Alternatively, destroying the frequent dark projectiles can also fill the gauge. Once the gauge is filled and situation commands are available, do NOT use them yet. Fill the gauge two or three times to get some options, and wait for the right opportunity to use the commands.
Raging Cannons should be used when the Phantom Ship approaches Sora's ship and seems to be attempting a ram - this is a great opportunity to destroy the enemy's bow (front) weak point. Do NOT use Raging Cannons unless multiple weak points are visible, as the barrier cannot be used during the animation, meaning Sora's ship can take significant unavoidable damage if it is used during enemy cannon fire.
Tidal Wave is powerful, but due to the Phantom Ship's hit-and-run nature, it should be timed carefully. Activate the command just as the Phantom Ship is about to appear from the mist, to ensure that it won't escape during the attack animation. If successful, this will deal heavy damage.
Defeating the large ship will instantly end the battle, and Sora will be given the item rewards immediately, with no need (or option) to board the ship.
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