Calling Xenoblade Chronicles a big game is a tremendous understatement. This game rivals and often eclipses titles like Skyrim and GTA for sheer size, and it’s not exactly devoid of content. It’s filled with side quests, collectables, equipment and countless experience bars to fill up, all requiring you to share your attention with the massive living world. An unfortunate consequence of this is that the enormity of it all can be quite daunting for the new player; the game floods them with new information, tutorials, mechanics and story beats before they have even the slightest chance to settle in. Now we’re not about to write up the countless tutorials that the game includes, but we have decided to list out what we believe are the 20 most important, most essential tips that you might not be aware of in order to help you on your way!
20. Never Stop Collecting
Our first tip, which is essentially to make sure you keep grabbing those shiny Collectables, might sound like a rather obvious one. Of course you’ll want to collect each of these to fill your Collectopedia, right? Whilst this is very true, and you’ll no doubt want the rewards as soon as possible, you may not be aware that these have quite a few more uses as the game progresses. They can also be used for Trading, which will become important as you get deeper into the end game, and you can even give them as gifts to raise affinity between your team members. In a pinch you can even sell them for a tidy profit, which is very useful for stocking up on those valuable Art books when you reach a new area.
19. Check Every Shop
Speaking of stocking up on valuable items, you absolutely must check every shop that you come to throughout the game. Not only can you find new and more powerful equipment, but you’ll also find Art books that allow you to level these abilities up to higher levels, which is essential for keeping your party members powerful enough for the current content. This is especially important at certain points in the mid game too, particularly when you reach a certain sword shaped valley, because the weapons you can purchase are essential for damaging Mechon. In tandem with our first tip too, try to sell off any duplicate weapons or armour that you might have when you reach a new area – that massive inventory will get pretty messy if you don’t keep it in order!
18. Take Down Elites
Scattered throughout almost every area in Xenoblade Chronicles are Unique monsters, otherwise known as ‘Elites’. In most cases these are stronger versions of the monsters housed in each area, and you’ll find them considerably more difficult to take down, often requiring some forethought and tactics in order to do so. We must say however, that it is always worth taking these enemies down. Not only do they give you give you Affinity Coins when you take them down for the first time, which are used for learning shared skills, but they also always drop a big chest, which will reward you with valuable Unique Weapons and Armour. These Unique pieces of equipment will often be better than your current gear, so it’s worth taking down Elite enemies in each area to stock up on them. Towards the late game regular armour will catch up, thanks to it’s slots and the power of player crafted gems, but for the vast majority of the game this Unique equipment is very useful.
17. Don’t Skip Mining
Dotted throughout the world of Xenoblade Chronicles are Mines, which the game denotes as Ether Crystal Deposits. These can be found all over the world, but you’ll likely begin to notice these primarily within the Ether Mines within the first quarter of the game. Before giving you the main tip here, which is essentially just to always mine them when you can, it’s worth noting that the Unique Gear that we mentioned above always come with their own gems, but what the game doesn’t mention is that if you give it enough attention, it’s possible to craft better gems yourself. Once crafted you can slot these into normal equipment, often causing it to outperform the Unique versions. We’d argue that this matters less in the early and mid game, mostly because you’ll be churning through new equipment quite regularly, but as the game progresses the gap between crafted gems and Unique Gear versions will grow quite substantially in favour of the crafted versions. All that being said… Don’t skip over mines. You can make some great gems with the Crystals that you find, allowing for more equipment customisation and eventually they’re your gateway to the absolute best end game setups.
16. Search Every Corner
One of the many reasons to love Monolith Soft – the developer of Xenoblade Chronicles – is that they really seem to understand what the player wants. Specifically they know that the player will love exploring the massive world that they have created. What good is size however, if there is nothing to do with it? Well they’ve understood this too, and you’ll often find that they have scurried away plenty of hidden, hard to reach sections all over the various zones. Now we’re not about to tell you that you’ll find game changing treasure, because you will not, but you will find Collectables, Elite enemies and sometimes even hidden travel points, so it’s always worth going out of your way to check those far corners of the map!
15. Prioritise Skill Trees
Were it not enough that you have to consider character levels, equipment and Arts for each of your party members, you’ll also find that they each have Skill Trees. These are innate, slimmed down ‘talent’ trees that players might recognise from MMO titles, which your team members will gradually progress through as you gain experience. Not only do these teach your members valuable passive skills, but they can also be used to share these skills between party members. They’re very valuable then, but did you know that you can pick which one you would like a character to focus on? This is especially key in the early and mid game, because you’ll want to ensure that your team are focusing on their specialisation. The best example of this is Shulk; would you rather he focus on the Integrity tree, which innately increases his Block rate, or his Intuition tree, which increases his Agility, which increases his hit and dodge rate? We’d much rather our Shulk wasn’t taking hits, so it’s unlikely that his Block is going to make a difference. Eventually you’ll learn all of them of course, and you may just want to aim for specific skills, but it’s worth paying attention to where you specialise to maximise your performance early on.
14. Focus Art Choices
In line with our previous tip around Skill choices, you’ll also gradually earn AP points that are used to level up your Arts. These are even more key to your battle performance, so levelling them up is critical to ensuring success. That being the case, your AP is going to be at a premium throughout the entirety of the game, so we’d recommend picking the Arts that most suit the style of play you’re aiming for with each character. Case in point, in the above picture we have chosen to level Hammer Beat and War Swing ahead of the other Arts with Reyn – this is because we mostly use him to aggro groups of enemies, making these more valuable than the others.
13. Return To Prior Areas
Progressing through Xenoblade Chronicles you’ll gradually be exposed to numerous beautiful and bountiful areas in the world. Each of these will be filled with new enemies, shops, treasures, secrets and towns. Arriving at any of these new areas is exciting and you’ll often be driven to explore them as much as possible, something we’d thoroughly recommend that you do. If you have designs on completing the game and filling your achievements however, you absolutely must revisit old areas whenever you can. Often you’ll find that the events of late will have changed things in the older areas, often revealing new NPC characters to interact with, many of which will have new side quests for you to advance. Doing this is often the only way to raise Affinity with a zone, which itself unlocks more quests and, in the late game at least, these are the only way to unlock new Skill Trees and even secret areas.
12. Talk To Everyone
Going hand in hand with our previous tip, during your first visit and indeed any subsequent visits, it’s critical that you talk to every named NPC that you can find. Not only will you learn a little about their personalities when you do so, but you’ll also find that they join your Affinity chart for the area. This might sound a little tertiary to your cause, but it’s often the only way to open up some side quests and you’ll often find that new NPC characters that appear can have valuable items available for Trade. Upping Affinity for each area is also key in unlocking powerful end game side quests too, so doing this throughout your play through will save completionists a great deal of time later on.
11. Frequently Alter The Clock
Yet another tip that goes hand in hand with those that have come before is to frequently change the Clock. For those that don’t know, you can alter the time of day within the menu of Xenoblade Chronicles, and doing so will have multiple effects. Not only will this change the selection of enemies available to battle out in the world, but it will also alter the NPC characters that are active in any given town. Both of these effects are key; often quests will require you to defeat enemies that only come out at night, and others will even require that you visit characters that only come out during the dark hours. The best way we can summarise this tip is to check multiple time zones in every new town you reach – you’ll often find new quests appear on your map as you do so.
10. Never Stop Gem Crafting
We noted previously that you really should use the Ether Crystal Mines whenever you can, since they’ll give you ingredients that allow you to craft gems. This is not the only source of course, since nearly every enemy in the game will drop you items that can support gem crafting, but why should you pay so much attention? We’ve already stated that in the early and mid game Unique armour is powerful enough, so why bother? Well, there are some gems that just plain do not exist on any Unique piece of equipment, and even when they do they’re pitifully weak compared to those that you can create. There is a gem, for example, that allows you to do even more damage from behind, called Back Attack Plus. This is a weapon gem that does appear on a few Unique weapons for other party members, but our lead chap Shulk doesn’t get access to any of these. Surely his Arts would benefit from buffing his damage from behind by a huge percentage…? Better get gem crafting.
9. Decide On Roles Early
Everything that we have recommended, to this point at least, revolves around some kind of optimisation; correct gems, picking Arts and focusing on levelling them and even prioritising certain skill trees over others. All of this is in service of ensuring that your team perform as best as possible in their chosen role, and it’s this last point that we want to focus on next. It’s entirely possible for every party member to take on different roles in the team; Dunban might initially seem like a tank for example, but it’s very simple to remove some Arts and make him a damage dealer. That being said, it’s best to decide on the role of each character early. By doing this you can focus their equipment, gems, arts and skills, making them very powerful at one specific task. There will be plenty of time to spread your wings later on so whilst we recommend trying their different builds, it’s best to prioritise them in one direction at first.
8. Rotate Frequently
We’ll level with you here; when we first played through Xenoblade Chronicles we pretty much settled on three party members and kept them throughout. There is some value to this of course, especially when it comes to sharing equipment around and learning their various quirks, but we soon learned that there is a whole gamut of different play styles just waiting to be tried out on your remaining characters. The melee characters – Shulk, Reyn, Dunban and Fiora – might seem similar at first, but their differences are quite significant when you delve a little deeper. Similarly, the Ether users have wildly different play styles, each very enjoyable in their own right. What we’re really saying here is that you should rotate your team frequently; not only is it great fun to try out different battle methods, but it’s also a great way to build Affinity between your party members!
7. Don’t Ignore Defence
It’s very easy to fall foul of this tip, especially in Xenoblade Chronicles. The two main defensive statistics are Physical and Ether defence, both of which appear on every piece of armour in the game, and whilst it might seem like quite a simple tip to say that these need to be kept up to speed, we guarantee that you’ll fall into the trap more than once. The main way that this catches players out is in the Unique pieces of equipment; they’re powerful and they come with their own gems, but you should be wary about keeping these around for too long, because they’ll quickly lose out to even basic armour in the next area. Additionally, Agility is an incredible statistic in this game, since 1 point effectively gives you 1% dodge (and some hit rating), so it’s never a bad thing to have some of this floating around on gems, especially when it comes to tanks.
6. Talk To Everyone, Again
You’ll likely be a fair distance through Xenoblade Chronicles before you begin to pay attention to the Affinity Chart, and completionists among you will immediately note the sheer amount of gaps showing when you do so. In the late game this becomes more important than ever, especially when you unlock the ability to relocate citizens to a new town, so what we’re trying to say here is that its really important to talk to every named NPC, more than once. Going back to an old area and chatting to the inhabitants will often open up more quests, trades and even the ability to recruit people to your growing colony.
5. Actually Read Quests
Look, we’re human too, and like most of you we’ve played a great variety of MMO games. These days it’s almost sacrosanct to even bother reading the text that accompanies a quest, after all it’ll just show up on the map as a marker, right? Whilst this is mostly true in Xenoblade Chronicles you will eventually find yourself hitting a brick wall, being completely unable to finish a quest and with little to no clue exactly why. It turns out that some quests do actually have very critical information contained within the information tab; did you know that a little clock icon on the quest means that your target only appears at a certain time of day for example? Or that some of the more difficult challenge quest targets only appear when certain weather is active? Well you would if you read the quest log…
4. Trade Frequently
Our next tip has admittedly lost a little stock during the upgrade to ‘Definitive Edition. What we’re advocating here is to trade with the residents of each area as much as possible and whilst this might seem a little useless, especially since you can buy pretty much everything you need in the new Trial mode area, it’s actually a very smart idea. Not only will you often find random collectables, powerful equipment and gems available for trade, but the simple act of doing so will save their information on the Affinity Chart. At some point you’ll struggle to find a collection piece, quest item or gem that you want, and you’ll be surprised how many times they can be found in trades around the world.
3. Don’t Ignore Combos
In the early portions of Xenoblade Chronicles, the game will teach you about the Combo system. It’s fairly simple really, and it’s very useful for the Topple options presented to you in the tutorials, but there are a few bits of information that the game doesn’t really let you know. Firstly, using the same coloured Arts in a row will power them up, causing their effects to multiply, which is especially good with powerful red physical arts, enabling them to scale up to huge damage numbers. Secondly, upon activating a Combo all of your Arts will become available no matter their current cool down status, and whilst this might sound like it has limited uses outside of dealing more damage, it’s worth remembering that this counts for healing spells too!
2. Trials Are Worth It
This is going to seem like a very obvious tip, but it’s worth noting for a variety of reasons. Newly added to Xenoblade Chronicles is the Trial mode, in which either your choice of team or a specifically denoted team must defeat some enemies within a time limit. Doing so will grant you some Noponstone, which can be used to purchase a variety of in game items, and often reward you with some good looking equipment sets. All of this is good stuff clearly, and some of the challenges are great fun to take part in, but the real benefit has to be the ability to purchase Collectables. At some point you’ll be scrabbling around, desperately trying to find something to gift, trade or even just fill your Collectapediea, and it’s often quicker just to jump into the trials section and grind out the required resources there.
1. Prioritise Weapon Damage
It’s criminal just how little the game tells you how much this one piece of information really matters, so we’ve made it our number one tip to try and educate as many people as possible. Weapon Damage, in other words the minimum and maximum damage that your weapon will deal, is quite possibly the most important piece of equipment information in the game. Not only does this influence your auto attack damage, but also every single Art in the game. Of course it does, you might think, but realise that we mean EVERY Art in the game, including the Ether types, Healing and everything. It’s absolutely crucial then that you use the most powerful weapon that you can, from a damage perspective. There is a lot of maths that goes on in the background, but essentially the average number between the minimum and maximum damage figures is used to determine Arts damage, so even if that special looking Unique weapon comes with great gems, if any other model has higher damage numbers then it’s likely to be much better for you, even your casters.
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