Every character in Xenoblade Chronicles comes with an initial selection of Arts. These arts take the form of skills or abilities that each party member can use in battle, the selection of which will expand and improve as the player progresses. In some cases these arts can make a character’s role rather obvious – if they only learn magical arts then it’s safe to say they’re not exactly made for hand to hand combat – but at times their purpose can be a little harder to discern. Sometimes the sheer amount on offer can make choosing only 8 a difficult task, and thus we reach the reason for our article today: Check out the following selection of 5 arts for each character that, in our opinion at least, are by far their best!
- Slit Edge
- Monado Enchant
- Monado Buster
- Monado Purge
Any Shulk arts discussion should be prefaced by the following: The game pretty much forces you to level up both Monado Speed and Monado Armour, which you very much should do. Both of these arts will help you tremendously as you progress through the story and we’d very much consider them as ‘honourable mentions’ in this list. That said, we’ve chosen to pick 5 other arts that we consider best for Shulk, a character that is unquestionably designed to deal huge amounts of physical damage.
At a very basic level your Shulk game play will revolve around getting both beside and behind your opponent to apply Slit Edge and Backslash respectively. This combination will ensure that the enemy has a lower defence than usual, thus maximising the damage from your massive back attack. There are bells and whistles that can be added to make things better and quicker, like buffing art damage for example, but the basic combination will remain the same.
That being said, there are two real occasions that Xenoblade makes you change things significantly with Shulk; fighting Mechon in the mid game and stripping away unusual defences in the late game. These portions of the game are so significant that we really must recommend that you prioritise both Monado Enchant and Purge. The former is essential to ensure that your team mates can damage Mechon of course, but it’s also severely underrated from a damage perspective – at higher levels and with quick auto attackers it will make a big difference to the damage done. When it comes to Monado Purge we’re actually less bothered about it being levelled up too much, rather the art itself becomes essential in removing those annoying Telethia buffs or super powered Spike defences in the late game.
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- Prioritise levelling Slit Edge and Backslash, to maximise debuff time, cooldown and damage.
- Monado Buster does fantastic damage regardless of the target – remember it will hit all units in a line from quite a large distance, so positioning will help against groups.
- Monado Enchant is a fantastic damage buff independent of it’s Mechon damaging buff.
- Monado Purge becomes more and more essential as the game progresses.
- The game will kind of force you to use and level Monado Speed and Armour, so whilst they don’t make our top 5 they are certainly worth paying attention to.
- Hammer Beat
- Aura Burst
- War Swing
Were it not instantly obvious during the early portions of XBC, Reyn is one of the two main ‘tanks’ of the game. We do accept that it’s possible to push a few other characters in this direction, but Reyn along with Dunban are the two ‘canon’ tanks available. Of the two we consider Reyn to be the damage soaking group tank, mainly because his arts and skills seem to encourage this play style. He’s best when loaded up with defensive equipment, gems and an art palette full of group attacks.
To optimise this style of play we tend to prioritise anything that optimally attacks groups of enemies. Hammer Beat is an obvious inclusion and likely to be the attack that Reyn prioritises first – this hits enemies in a small range around his target, so it’s a nice starting art versus groups. Paired with this are War Swing and Lariat, both of which are red arts that deal good amounts of damage in a large circle and frontal cone respectively. Finally we like to pair the damage reduction Aura Rage with Aura Burst to both reduce damage and generate even more group aggro, with the latter having a nice bonus of reducing the enemies effectiveness. All of this also makes Reyn a great combo tank too, thanks to a good selection of red attacks that allow the chain level to build up. Sword Drive should get an honourable mention here, since we would switch this with War Swing for taking down single targets.
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- We like to prioritise group aggro attacks with Reyn, since this seems to be he speciality.
- It’s very much worth pairing Aura Burst with Rage, mainly for the group aggro but this will also debuff all enemies with Strength down, ensuring Reyn takes less damage.
- We levelled his Aura Burst, Hammer Beat and War Swing as a priority in the early game. This ensures his damage levels stay high enough to generate enough aggro. Your damage characters like Shulk will start to do huge damage in the early and mid game, so it’s worth ensuring Reyn can keep up.
- In your remaining slots it’s worth considering his Topple ability, since a CPU controlled Reyn is very good at reacting to any Break attacks.
- Heal Blast
- Heal Round
- Cure Round
- Metal Blast
- Head Shot
In our intro we noted that the arts a character will learn defines their role within a team. Well, nothing personifies that statement quite like Sharla who, thanks to her huge amount of healing arts, embodies the ‘full healer’ role within Xenoblade Chronicles. Like other characters this does not mean that she is incapable of providing anything else, but rather she’s a specialist in her chosen role, much like Shulk or Melia as a pure damage unit. As the game progresses she will gain a fair amount of utility, such as crowd control or increased damage for her arts, but her strengths are certainly in the health restoration category.
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- Heal Blast is a better version of Heal Bullet, but in the early game the cooldown may be a little too long, so consider switching the two.
- Don’t underestimate the aggro that Heal Round can generate.
- Phase out Cure Round as the game progresses, replacing it with resistance gems on your team members.
- Head Shot has the potential to deal huge amounts of damage, and it’s critical to keep red damage combo chains rolling between party members.
- In practice Metal Blast is one of the best Break attacks in the game, though a few characters will be able to force topples without it, so you may want to use Thunder Bullet for damage instead in these situations.
- Gale Slash
- Worldly Slash
- Soaring Tempest
- Serene Heart
We noted earlier that Reyn is what we considered to be a damage reduction, group aggro version of a tank. Dunban then, is the other side of the tanking coin, featuring more prominent single target damage and opting to dodge damage rather than reduce it. This view is reinforced when you look at the statistics – Reyn has higher health and defences where Dunban has a lower HP total but better Agility. It’s also fairly obvious when you consider the arts and more specifically when you consider Dunban’s initial combination: Start with Gale Slash and then pick your next art, both single target.
As you might imagine given our choices, we prefer to begin the battle with a Worldly Slash following that initial Gale Slash – it’s a fantastic way to open any battle, leaving as it does your opponent bleeding and with less strength and defence. Not only is this a great way to start a battle but it also does a significant amount of damage, to the point where we like to prioritise levelling these arts over anything else. Soaring Tempest and Peerless are the go to group arts for us, since you’re unlikely to be battling single targets outside of bosses and elites, so you’ll need something that spreads the aggro love around. Last but by no means least is Serene Heart – Dunban is an incredible dodge tank and when this art is combined with Agility skills and gems, nothing can land a physical hit on him.
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- Dunban excels in single target tanking situations, so we like to prioritise Gale Slash followed by Worldly Slash since it’s a fantastic opener to any battle.
- Serene Heart is an excellent Aura that exemplifies Dunban’s dodging strengths.
- Always bring some form of group attack where possible – we like Peerless and Soaring Tempest, the latter being fantastic for group combo attacks.
- Stack Agility and Strength gems to make the most of Dunban tanking, perhaps even considering Double Attack for tanking major single target enemies. With these arts he should not need Aggro Up.
- You Can Do It
- Happy Happy
We’re not a huge fan of trumpeting old sayings, but when he is first recruited Riki very much feels like a Jack of all trades and Master of none. Once getting your hands on the Heropon you’ll note that he has the ability to do pretty much everything; heal, ether damage, physical damage and even a small amount of tanking. As you progress however, his true calling becomes clear – Riki is a heavy Ether user, specialising in damage over time, healing and general party utility. In fact, once you push through the mid game of Xenoblade Chronicles you’ll likely find that Riki is one of the very best at each of those categories, challenged only by late game specialists at each.
What should you do then, with this character that specialises in Ether, Healing and Support? Lean into the skid would be our advice. His healing abilitiy, You Can Do It, might start out weak and on a high cooldown, but after a few levels it becomes an art that Riki can cast multiple times in fairly quick succession, often covering the entire healing requirements alone. Similarly, his damage over time Ether arts (Lurgy, Freezinate and Burninate) may initially seem like a weak secondary form of damage, but given some time those ticking numbers will start to approach those that your main damage members can manage. The message is clear really: Give the little furball some time, focus your art levels into some key skills and he’ll turn into a high performer.
Special mention must be given to Happy Happy. Our love affair with this art started when we, upon having used Riki for a little while, begun to notice just how often we were getting Chain attacks unlocked. Again and again they kept popping up, literally seconds after having completed one. The root cause of such? Happy Happy. Do not underestimate this art, it’s tremendously powerful and should be included in every Riki build.
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- Don’t sleep on Riki’s healing. Despite coming from only one source, You Can Do It will become very powerful in the mid to late game, mainly thanks to a low cooldown period.
- Happy Happy is one of the best arts in the game. Use it and abuse it.
- Riki’s damage over time Ether attacks are fantastic, and whilst it’s possible to do more Ether damage with Melia, Riki needs a lot less preparation and the CPU can control Riki just as well as you do, unlike Melia.
- It’s worth bringing both Say Sorry and Bitey Bitey to maximise his debuff and removal damage. We don’t consider Say Sorry essential however – often we’d just rather have his damage over time abilities ticking rather than removing them for one big chunk.
- Also worth bringing at least one red art for physical chain combos.
- Summon Bolt
- Summon Flare
- Summon Ice
- Summon Copy
- Burst End
Oh boy. Anyone that has read any of our content based around Melia will probably be able to deduce just how much we love her using her battle design to inflict massive damage. We should first clarify however, for those that do not know, that Melia is the closest that XBC comes to a ‘Mage’ archetype. Her arts almost entirely revolve around the summoning of elements and releasing them to deal damage. She does have a few more strings to her bow; a heal, physical attack and crowd control for example, but the main event is definitely her Ether damage spells, hence our choice for 5 arts that all revolve around doling out magic damage.
First up is the bread and butter attack, Summon Bolt. The act of bringing this element out will buff Ether damage, which is obviously fantastic, and using Summon Copy will double this effect. Even used alone this will do a great deal of damage, but combining this with Summon Ice and Summon Flare will deal absolutely incredible amounts of Ether damage to groups of targets. Melia may have a bit of ‘Riki Syndrome’, in that she starts slow, but by the time to late game rolls around the usage of these arts alone can see her top the damage charts. Burst End is also our choice for ending Element Burst, mainly because it reduces Ether defence on the target and allows our little glass cannon to keep on blasting for even more damage!
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- The summoning effects of each spell do stack with themselves, so clever usage of Summon Copy can buff Melia and her allies even further.
- Summon Ice is the highest Ether damage spell in the game, albeit over time.
- Burst End is a fantastically damaging spell, but consider it’s usage mainly for reducing Ether defence, allowing Melia to deal even more damage going forward.
- As noted in our builds section, consider adding more group or single target summons depending on your current choice of target.
- As the game progresses enemies gain more options for dodging physical damage, but Ether will always perform well.
- Speed Shift
- Power Drain
- Double Wind
- Double Blade
- Final Cross
If Melia is the absolute pinnacle of Ether damage, then Fiora occupies this very same slot for physical attacks. We should preface this however with the detail that we do not mean physical arts, for which the title of best probably belongs to Shulk, rather we mean physical auto attacks, the kind that Fiora will complete herself whilst being near an enemy. Her kit lends itself to attacking very quickly and if you focus on multiplying this through Haste, Double Attacks and Strength, she’ll do massive damage simply by standing near your target. We should also note here that we’re talking about single targets – Fiora is technically pretty good against groups of enemies, though mainly because she’ll likely kill her way through them one by one quicker than others can with group attacks.
The real main event art here is Speed Shift. When this combines with her already quick auto attack, and indeed any gems that you have included, Fiora will be attacking tremendously quickly. We tend to start out fights this way, often using Power Drain early if we’re against a group, then controlling Fiora and just auto attacking as much as possible. Once this buff drops off we’ll resort to some physical arts, of which our favourites are Double Wind and Double Blade for groups and single targets respectively. Final Cross too is a nice way to end battles quickly versus groups, though again this is lowest on our priority and is only really used once the auto attacks have slowed down.
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- Fiora is all about Auto Attacks. Maximise these through Haste, Double Attacks and the Speed Shift art to maximise her damage.
- Often it’s not worth using arts, since you’ll interrupt those incredible auto attacks, but Double Wind for groups and Double Blade from behind are exceptions to this rule.
- Power Drain is mostly used as a tool to buff Fiora with more Strength, though debuffing the enemies is a nice bonus. Use this early when the majority of your targets are alive.
- Final Cross is an excellent art for taking out groups of enemies, though if you only have a few targets we would recommend you continue auto attacking…
- The Critical Combo skill will combine with the Speed Shift art and Double Attack gems to create absolute carnage.
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