Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition has arrived on Nintendo Switch, and it features a deep battle system with a lot of different mechanics to master. This system is fundamentally similar to the one in Xenoblade Chronicles 2, so if you’ve played that entry, you’ll already be familiar with the basics. That said, there are some notable differences that set the two apart.
While the in-game tutorials do a good job of acclimating you to the various components of Xenoblade Chronicles’ battle system, there are some nuances that aren’t as well explained. To help you out, we’ve put together this guide breaking down the battle system’s different mechanics and how to effectively use them.
We gave the remastered RPG a 9/10 in our Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition review. Critic Jake Dekker wrote, “Although not every aspect of Xenoblade Chronicles has aged as well as others, Definitive Edition proves that Xenoblade Chronicles is still a fantastic JRPG with an immense amount of strategic depth that’s still impressive in 2020.”
For more on Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, be sure to check out our roundup of essential tips and things the game doesn’t tell you. And if you’ve played Xenoblade Chronicles 2, you’ll have another leg up when starting your adventure. Those with XC2 save data on their Switch will receive a nice bonus when starting up Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition–100,000 gold.
Xenoblade Chronicles’ combat system is more akin to that of an MMO than a traditional JRPG. You can maneuver your character around in real time during battle, and they’ll execute basic auto-attacks when they’re positioned close enough to an enemy.
As your character lands auto-attacks, they’ll gradually build up their Arts–special attacks that can run the gamut from restoring HP and buffing allies to dealing direct damage and casting debuffs. Many Arts inflict greater damage based on your positioning. For instance, Shulk’s Back Slash will deal twice as much damage when executed from behind a foe, making your position during battle vital.
After you use an Art, there will be a cooldown period before you can select it again. The amount of time it takes an Art to cool down will decrease as you level that attack up, so be sure to regularly level up your Arts as you progress through the adventure.
In addition to dealing damage, most of the Arts at your disposal can cause secondary effects. For example, Shulk’s Stream Edge inflicts the Break status on an enemy, making them susceptible to being Toppled if a teammate follows up with an appropriate Art. Toppling an enemy will cause them to be briefly incapacitated and open them up to being Dazed. It’s important to keep this sequence of conditions in mind and chain these types of Arts together, particularly when battling bosses, as they’ll give you a significant advantage in combat.
Since you can only directly control one character at a time during battle, you’ll need to rely on your AI companions to follow your lead. While they are generally good about Toppling enemies and inflicting other status conditions when necessary, the AI isn’t perfect, and they may miss their cues. However, you have a chance to take matters into your own hands with a Chain Attack, which we’ll discuss further below.
Perform well in battle and your party’s Affinity will increase, which in turn will fill your Party Gauge. This is displayed in the upper lefthand corner of the screen and is divided into three segments. You can spend one segment to revive a fallen teammate or warn them of an incoming attack, and the battle will continue so long as one segment of the gauge is full, even if your character faints. When all three segments are filled, you’ll be able to pull off a Chain Attack.
If you’ve maxed out your Party Gauge, you’ll have the option to use a Chain Attack. This will effectively freeze time and let you manually select an Art for each member of your team to use, giving you the perfect opportunity to inflict status conditions on enemies. The effectiveness of your attacks will also increase if you use Arts of the same color consecutively.
After all three members of your party have executed their Art, you may see a prompt to press the B button. Do so in time and you’ll extend the Chain Attack. The number of times you can extend a Chain Attack depends on a few factors, including your party members’ Affinity for one another, but you can potentially extend the Chain Attack up to 15 turns.
While Chain Attacks can deal an incredible amount of damage to foes, you’ll deplete your entire Party Gauge after using one. This means you won’t be able to revive a teammate should they be knocked out, leaving you vulnerable. For this reason, you’ll need to think carefully and find the best moment to execute a Chain Attack.
Shulk’s Monado is the only weapon capable of damaging the Mechon. Fortunately, it has its own suite of Arts separate from Shulk’s standard attacks. Most of these revolve around buffing your allies. For instance, Enchant powers up your teammates’ weapons and allows them to damage Mechon as well. You’ll gradually unlock more Monado Arts as you make your way through the story, and you’ll rely on them frequently to deal with the escalating threats you face.
Changing The Future
The Monado also gives Shulk the power of clairvoyance, and you can use that to your advantage during battle. If an enemy is about to launch a devastating attack, Shulk will have a vision of it before it happens. This gives you the opportunity to change the future.
You can alter the course of events in a few ways. You can spend one segment of your Party Gauge to warn a teammate, allowing you to select an Art for them to use and disrupt the incoming attack. Shulk himself can also potentially change the future by using a Monado Art to shield an ally from damage. Fail to act in time, however, and the vision will come to pass.