For many players, Shulk may seem like the least malleable party member in Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition. Hugely damaging arts like Backslash and Monado Buster would support this theory, and in many ways he will always be about delivering big damage numbers, but there’s more to the lad than first meets the eye. Whilst not exactly diverse, his skill set is capable of delivering breaks, topples, dazes and even contributing a little healing where necessary. The temptation of course is to simply load him up with Strength Up gems and go hog wild, and whilst this is perfectly viable for the majority of the game, you may need to get a little creative when the going gets tough. To that end, today we’re going to detail the 3 builds that we’ve found work best with the mercurial sword swinger.
1. Auto Attack Focused
Our first Shulk build is, as the title suggests, based on maximising his auto attacks. This may sound like a rather obvious inclusion, because of course the chap with the massive two-handed sword hits hard with his auto attacks, but most players do not realise just how far it’s possible to lean into. By prioritising Double Attack gems, along with the best Haste gem you can get your hands on, your Shulk will be hitting very hard and very fast. Thanks to the definitive edition you can now see the combined effects of these, so be careful about hitting stat caps (shown above, where Double Attack and Strength Up are shown in green text).
Not only does this build hit hard, ensuring your opponents hit the floor as soon as possible, but you’ll also build up the Monado gauge in super quick time. This is ideal for ensuring up time on the various buffs and abilities available, such as keeping Purge up when tackling those annoying Spike or Topple Spike enemies, or even keeping Monado Enchant up on your team to maximise damage. It goes without saying too that any defence debuffs that can be cast by your team or Shulk’s own Slit Edge will work very well with this build.
- Prioritise Slit Edge at all times, to ensure maximum auto attack damage.
- Backslash is always worth it, though auto attacks will out-damage any other art in terms of DPS.
- Ensure other party members can cover break and topple requirements.
- Great build for prioritising up time of Monado arts, thanks to super quick auto attacks. Pairing this will Monado Enchant will achieve great auto DPS for the party.
- Make sure you have a high aggro tank alongside this – Shulk will do huge damage over time!
- Specifically, this build will ensure a high up time of Monado Purge, great for taking down those annoying Spike elites.
2. Hybrid Support
Now that we think about it, this is more an advertisement for the Weapon Power gem than anything else, but we really enjoy using Shulk in this way so we’re going to include it. This is mainly a build that we like to allow the CPU to control, because it allows you to get the benefit of having Shulk in the party whilst controlling something else. It’s designed to take advantage of his auto attack prowess to slowly demolish enemies with debuffs – ideal for taking down higher level enemies, though you may want to switch a Night Vision gem in there too, should the enemy in question be a great deal higher.
We’ve found that this build is ideally paired with a Dunban or Fiora leader, and an overall party build that skews towards physical damage. The Poison gem can be switched out for any type of damage, or indeed any additional debuff, maximising Shulk’s usefulness as an additional party member. By himself he’ll be able to lower defences, debuff the enemy and still contribute breaks, topples and Monado arts. It’s an ideal build for a ‘third’ party member, whilst you focus on controlling the flow of the battle with the leader, and the second slot supports with healing and Ether damage. With a Dunban lead (Bleed, Defence Down, Tanking), a Riki second (Burn, Freeze, Poison, Heals) and this Shulk build (Defence Down, Strength Down, Additional Debuffs, Monado Arts) you can completely nullify anything an opponent might bring to the table!
- Can be controlled or simply a party member. The intent is to use Shulk to keep debuffs up on the target, like the Strength Down shown, whilst still doing great damage.
- If you’re choosing to have him CPU controlled, consider removing some arts to ensure Shulk prioritises Auto attacks rather than aiming for Break etc.
- Works well with a ‘Debuff’ party type – if you bring two others with similar debuffs on their weapon, it’s possible to decimate an opponents defence and attack, nullifying their threat.
- Ideal for an ‘Attrition’ type party alongside a tank and an Ether based damage over time member, like Melia or Riki. This team will slowly demolish targets, grinding them down over time. As such, this works well against higher level opponents.
3. Full Support
Towards the late game portion of Xenoblade Chronicles, specifically after the events of the Mechonis Core, you’re likely to find yourself in a strange position: Quests are plentiful, but they all seem to feature high level opponents. Such a time calls for players to fall back on that most capable of tactics: The Topple Combo. Yes, we too got fed up of having to abuse this when facing Mechon opponents throughout the mid game, but it’s such a tremendously powerful feature that it’s hard to ignore, especially when facing higher level opponents.
As you can see, we’ve chosen to keep the Strength Up portion of Shulk’s build, having this capped will make a great deal of difference to his damage after all, but these can be switched into more defensive types if necessary. The main event is the weapon of course, in which we like to keep his threat down with an Auto-Atk Stealth gem, and to up the effect of both Topple and Daze, which will increase the up time of these combos. This allows you to get in significant amounts of damage during enemy down time, all whilst keeping Shulk safe from aggro. This is another ideal build for a CPU Shulk, though we do tend to prefer controlling him in this case, allowing you to fine tune the combo timings even further.
- Focused on the Break – Topple – Daze routine.
- Ensure other party members can contribute to the above combination, to maximise the Topple time on your targets. You can also use Topple Up gems to do more damage, however this will lower your damage outside of the Topple situation.
- Can be used on a CPU controlled Shulk, however it tends to work best in the players hands. Should you go with a CPU Shulk, you may want to remove some arts to ensure that he always uses the necessary skills.
- Monado Cyclone can be used to topple with Shulk, however other team members have easier and quicker access to arts that inflict topple.
- A build focused on this combo routine will work well with party members that focus on similar physical art types, to ensure the chain can be built up to high damage levels. Reyn, Dunban and Fiora have multiple red arts, so they are ideal candidates for this.
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