I've looked around numerous sources and can't find a definitive answer on how to maximize stagger duration.
They said commando's slow down time for stagger to drain and ravagers speed up the draining and the drain speed depends on the speed at which the gauge is dropping pre-stagger. That all sounds good, but still somewhat confusing.
One site said to maximize stagger time, make sure you stagger with a commando. Another site said if you attack with ravagers consecutively enough, you will still get maximum stagger duration. But the moment a ravager attacks, the stagger duration should already be decreased right? And if I had say ravagers build up the gauge to 199.9%/200% and have a commando make that last hit, would that single hit be enough slow down to the gauge? Doesn't a commando need multiple hits to slow down the drain the most since each hit adds x amount of time?
You don't need a Commando to stagger. Every attack adds chain duration, but Ravagers add very little while Commandos add a lot (Saboteurs and Sentinels add a moderate amount). So to maximize stagger duration, you generally only need a round or two of Commando or Saboteur attacks to hit the cap - it doesn't matter whether you do it at the beginning or the end, but usually it's better to do it closer to the beginning to maintain that initial chain buildup.
Generally, Smart Bomb (SAB/RAV/RAV) is an excellent all-purpose chaining Paradigm that lets you debuff and chain simultaneously, while your Saboteur gets in enough attacks to maximize duration. Every debuff you stick counts as an extra hit, which results in a natural bonus to duration. For example, if you cast Deprotect-Deshell-Deprotect-Deshell and both debuffs stick, the gauge will actually register six hits instead of four.
So if every attack adds to duration, how would you not hit the max? Would it be something along the lines of getting the chain high, letting it drop near zero and then hit with a ravager for the stagger?
The duration starts at 0. Every hit adds chain duration. When you land the staggering blow, the current chain duration is doubled, and that is the stagger duration. The stagger duration is capped at 45 seconds, so you need at least 22.5 seconds of chain duration when you stagger to hit the cap.
You could not hit the cap by staggering before you build the chain duration to 22.5 seconds. Also, like you said, you could let the duration decrease until it is smaller, and then stagger.
thanks for all the responses, I think I've got a pretty good idea about it now. I inquired because I've been having trouble with gilgamesh and people always ask how the staggers last so long and the response is just "are you sure you're getting the max 45 seconds?" and that's the end of it