Xenoblade Chronicles is replete with party customisation options. There are 7 members to choose from, and with only 3 slots to choose from and a variety of specialisations, the possibilities are immense. Each available member tends to lean in one specific direction, Reyn for example is clearly designed to be a tank archetype, but the biggest element of customisation is the ability to control each of these as the party lead – in this regard your choice can completely change the style and feel of combat. So who should lead? What kind of build should you aim to make with your team of 3, and what can they accomplish? Join us as we discuss 5 of our favourite party builds!
FYI – we’re not really considering the ‘canon’ type of party builds. Yes, you can put together a team of one tank, healer and damage character to deal with pretty much everything Xenoblade Chronicles will throw at you, but where’s the fun in that? Get creative!
1. Super Tanks
As you might imagine, the point of this build is to put three immensely chunky lads in the face of your opponents and grind them down. These three characters – Dunban, Reyn and Riki – have by far the best damage absorption, avoidance and recuperation tools at their disposal. Dunban specialises in both avoiding damage and dishing out high amounts of physical damage. Reyn is a damage sponge who, despite having less avoidance than Dunban, can deal with a tremendous amounts of incoming Aggro. Lastly, Riki balances out the group by providing good amounts of healing and Ether damage, whilst also having a huge health pool and excellent supportive arts.
- Load Dunban up with physical DPS gems – Double Attack and Haste are fantastic here – and use him to primarily do damage whilst keeping a few tank skills on standby.
- Reyn should take the majority of the aggro here, so load him up with defensive gems and skills, along with aggro increasing weapon gems.
- Dunban and Reyn can handle the Break, Topple and Daze requirements between them, so avoid wasting art slots on these manoeuvres with Riki.
- Focus Riki on Ether damage and healing. Burninate is an excellent skill when it’s levelled up, and his heal will have a very low cooldown once it reaches higher levels.
- This team build is great at wars of attrition, grinding out the enemy before they can grind you out.
2. Massive Physical Damage
Where our prior build was focused on reducing damage, our next choice is all about maximising it. This particular party is fairly self explanatory: It features the three biggest physical damage party members in Shunk, Fiora and Dunban. As you might imagine, Dunban will be the main party member taking aggro, and we found it best to control either Shulk or Fiora, though it’s perfectly viable to control any one of these characters and make it work. There is a very limited amount of healing here, as you might imagine, so it’s best to have Dunban dodge tank where possible. Liberal use of disables and Monado skills will be essential in making this work, but it’s a very fun build to play with regardless.
- Control Shulk to maximise damage – Fiora and Dunban will execute their best abilities fairly well when under CPU control. Depending on your current requirements, it may be best to remove Dunban’s break art, to ensure that he always uses the defence reducing art following Gale Slash.
- It’s possible to push Fiora down an Ether damage route here too, though you’ll be sacrificing some damage for the purpose of mixing damage types.
- Push both Fiora and Shulk into a Haste & Double Attack build, gems included, to maximise damage and Monado art up time.
- It’s perfectly viable to control Dunban and act as the tank, however you’ll likely need Shulk’s Monado abilities to reduce damage against tougher opponents.
3. Sustaining Tanks
Our third build is somewhat similar to the first, since it too is all about soaking up damage and out living your opponent, but there are two major differences. Firstly, you’ll note that Riki is no longer a part of the team. We absolutely love having Riki in any party, mainly because his arts allow him to fill in any role required and do so at a high level, but removing him allows us to make the second major difference: Melia can be brought in and in this case, controlled by the player.
It may not be apparent at first, but as the game progresses, equipment scales up and arts get more powerful, Melia becomes an absolute powerhouse. She has an incredibly high potential for Ether damage output whilst also being able to provide a reasonable amount of sustain. Her one weakness however is that the CPU is terrible at getting the most out of her, even with the upgrade to Definitive Edition. By keeping her in the lead and pairing her with some beefy lads in Dunban and Reyn, you’re free to fire off countless powerful spells whilst providing the healing needed to keep your meat shields alive.
- Be sure to bring healing arts with Melia, and of course her damaging spells, but don’t sleep on Spear Break – a slow enemy is a less dangerous foe, and paired with Starlight Kick it can apply Topple quickly and easily.
- Both Dunban and Reyn can fight each other for aggro, however it’s also perfectly viable to push Dunban down the damage route, focusing on double attacks and haste.
- Don’t sleep on Summon Earth – the Poison is tremendously powerful, especially when used at the end of a max combo chain.
- Pull any healing and ether skill links from other characters where possible.
- If you’re struggling to keep your beefy chaps alive, consider loading them up with defensive and healing increasing gems.
4. Hyper Sustain
We’ll admit that this build really isn’t that necessary throughout Xenoblade Chronicles. The sheer amount of healing and sustain that this build can output is totally overkill, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun right? As you might imagine, this setup is all about keeping the party alive… Indefinitely. Reyn’s is the typical tank archetype, in that he would rather soak up damage than dodge it, and both Melia and Sharla have the ability to reduce and restore this damage. We choose to control Melia here, because she’s able to put out some good amounts of damage whilst also contributing to this healing.
Despite saying that it’s not really necessary, this build does actually have some uses, particularly in the early portions of the late game. Once the events of Mechonis Core have taken place, the world will open up quite a lot of high level quests, most of which you’ll be far too low to complete. Enter the Hyper Sustain build, plugging the level gap with huge amounts of health restoration.
- Again, make sure you prioritise healing arts with both Melia and Sharla, though less so on the former.
- If you’re taking on high level areas that include significant amounts of enemies then consider taking some disables – both of our casters here have sleep abilities that work well.
- Be sure to bring the physical arts on both Melia and Sharla if you want to create highly damaging physical chain combos. Even just the basic Spear Break, Sword Drive and Head Shot combination will do big damage.
- If you have the patience, it’s possible to create some fantastic player controlled builds with Sharla, once you get used to heat management and such.
- We often enjoy bringing Riki in place of Sharla here too. His damage is slightly better and he can provide a great amount of healing once his arts have been levelled up, mainly thanks to their low cooldowns.
5. Huge Ether Damage
So you’ve played around with quite a few builds, but you find yourself yearning for something truly different. Well look no further than our full Ether damage build. This party setup is capable of putting out truly scary amounts of Ether damage, to the point where you’ll watch your enemies’ health bars positively melt in their presence. It’s not exactly simple to set up however..
First of all, your Fiora will have to be set up as the tank of the group. She will be able to put out some great Ether damage thanks to Final Cross and such, but you’ll want to make sure she can take a hit too. Further to this, it’s worth noting that both Melia and Riki have ether spells that overlap – they can both cause damage over time through Burn and Poison for example – so you’ll need to have them specialise in two each. All of this means that you’ll need to take some time to set each of them up, and we found that the following works best:
- Fiora focuses on damage reduction, aggro and ether damage arts.
- Melia focuses on Healing, Poison and Lightning arts.
- Riki focuses on Healing, Burning, Bleed and Freezing arts.
By focusing each of these members on separate goals, and prioritising Ether power in any spare slot or skill, you’ll end up with a tremendously powerful and focused team. These three can achieve amazing things, and we’ve yet to meet a challenge that they could not defeat through sheer damage alone. In fact, we’d have to say that this is probably our favourite party build throughout Xenoblade Chronicles. Don’t get stuck thinking you need to use Shulk in every team, get out there and get creative!
- As noted, make sure Melia and Riki do not overlap damage types. They will do best focusing on two elements each, and keeping the rest of their arts for supporting and healing types, along with a few physical types.
- Riki’s physical arts aren’t fantastic, however it is possible to get some great damage from combo chains by using them as a stepping stone. His Bleed can be used at the end for a massive dot, however with all of the ether arts on offer here it’s likely best to end with a Poison.
- These three have tremendous amounts of utility, so you can even take on some higher level areas early in the game thanks to their crowd control skills, especially Fiora’s Zero Gravity.
- To make this build work well, you’ll need to ensure that Riki’s healing art – You Can Do It – is at a high level. This ensures the cooldown is low and he can keep healing more often.
- It’s possible to control any of the three character choices as a leader here, however we found the most success choosing either Melia or Fiora. This is mainly because the CPU is fantastic at playing Riki, but terrible at playing Melia.
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