Xenoblade Chronicles healers occupy such a strange position in the game. Health restoration is always a key part of any RPG game, yet your first few hours here will almost teach you the opposite; outside of a single spot heal in the hands of the protagonist, you’ll be battling through waves of enemies with nary a thought to your health total. Fast forward a few more hours however, particularly to a certain Mine, and you’ll be tremendously thankful for your newest, healing based party member. These mixed signals will continue to occur outside of the game too, with forums full of players arguing whether healing is even required, especially when the combat system is so malleable and filled with crowd control options. In truth, the amount of healing your team will require comes down to a combination of your play style and party members choice, so whilst we’re going to rank each possible healer in this article, we’re also going to detail the kind of party they can keep alive all by themselves.
We can already hear the two different player camps chomping at the bit to talk about our first choice, Shulk. The first camp, which is probably comprised with the ‘less hardcore’ players, will likely immediately agree with him being bottom of the pile, after all he only has a single healing spell in the form of Light Heal. The second group of players are likely to agree with this fact, but will claim that this is all that you really require should you take maximum advantage of the combo system. Well you’re both right of course, and in absolute terms it’s hard to argue that Shulk will have the lowest throughput of health restoration, but there are a few more details that must be considered.
From a full support perspective Shulk actually has quite a bit to offer. Not only does he have his single heal, but his Monado Arts can be very helpful in mitigating the damage taken by the party. Monado Shield is capable of deflecting enemy arts – yes these skills work outside of his visions – and Monado Speed will significantly improve evasion. We’d even consider Monado Purge, which removes Auras and Spikes from the enemy, as an excellent defensive ability in the mid to late game. The bottom line is that yes, in absolute healing terms Shulk isn’t a fantastic performer, but creative usage of his Monado Arts can contribute to survivability in a big way.
- Light Heal (Healing)
- Monado Armour (Damage Reduction)
- Monado Speed (Damage Reduction)
- Monado Purge (Damage Reduction)
- Monado Eater (Damage Reduction)
Given that Shulk is mainly going to provide supportive elements to the team, you’ll either need to pair him with another light healer from our list, or build the party into a combo type that focuses on knocking opponents over, reducing their damage by completely disabling them. In the former option, pairing him with Melia or Riki will work well, but if you’d prefer the latter option then you’ll have to tailor your team to allow for consistent Break, Topple and Daze combos to take place. In the late game you’ll also need to invest into some gems that increase the damage done to Toppled and Dazed opponents, or you’ll likely find that they deal too much damage in the down time between combos.
Those familiar with Melia are unlikely to be surprised that she is towards the bottom end of this list. Much like Shulk, she appears to only have a single healing Art: Healing Gift. It’s also an Art that immediately seems rather useless, since it requires the party member with the lowest health total to sacrifice her own health to restore it to others. Whilst this is true, it should first be noted that the cool down is lower than Shulk’s heal, and it’s augmented by Melia’s other abilities, namely her elemental summons. Summon Aqua will buff every party member in range, including Melia, with a health regeneration buff that restores their health over time. This can then be discharged to drain a small amount of health from your target to heal Melia, effectively nullifying that which she might sacrifice in order to heal others. Upon initial inspection this may look like the extent of her healing, but things get a little bit more complex when you consider her full kit..
As noted, whenever Melia summons an element party members around her will receive a buff, however it’s less well known that by using Summon Copy you can stack the effects of the initial summon. This works for every element type, but those that we’re mainly concerned with are Summon Aqua, which can be copied to double the health regeneration, and those that confer defensive bonuses, namely Summon Ice, Summon Wind and Summon Earth. Ice will reduce Ether damage taken, Wind will increase Agility (dodge) and Earth will reduce physical damage taken. It’s entirely possible then for Melia to act like a ‘battery’ of sorts by completing some of the following options:
- Summon Earth, Summon Copy then Summon Aqua. This will provide great physical reduction and some small healing over time.
- Alternatively, Summon Aqua, Summon Copy then Summon Earth. This will provide less physical damage reduction, but double the healing over time.
- Hell, why not Summon Aqua, Summon Copy and then wait for another Summon Aqua, for triple the heals!
- Healing Gift (Healing)
- Summon Aqua (Healing over time)
- Summon Earth (Damage Reduction)
- Summon Ice (Damage Reduction)
- Summon Wind (Damage Reduction)
- Summon Copy (Utility)
Despite her excellent utility, Melia isn’t going to have the throughput of healing to keep your party going through the toughest of encounters alone, however her kit is fantastic when paired with another party member capable of support. Shulk is an excellent option here, because his Monado Arts can combine with Melia’s summon effects to provide enough reduction for almost anything. The only issue with this is that it relies upon the CPU to control a character, and whichever you leave to them is likely to be less than ideal at utilising the correct Arts. Alternatively, pair Melia with two tanks that have Recovery Up gems and you’ll find that she can probably keep them alive just fine!
Second place on our list is the Heropon himself, Riki, and we should note that the final two on our list are what we consider to be real, proper throughput healers. These characters are those that are truly capable of sustaining a team through damage simply by usage of their direct healing Arts. But wait, we hear you cry, Riki only has one Art that restores health – You Can Do It – so how is he capable of keeping an entire team alive, especially in the mid to late game where the team is tanking some huge hits? Never underestimate the power of this diminutive chap.
You Can Do It might seem like a weak heal when you first meet Riki, but two things must be noted about this ability; it’s cool down gets very low as you level it up, and it heals everybody in front of Riki in a frontal cone shape, including himself. It also scales with Ether of course, just like most of his damage components, so it will get more powerful as his kit grows. All of this eventually makes Riki a fantastic group healer, capable of continuously using a low cool down full party heal, and thanks to his Happy Happy art, he can make combo attacks happen more than any other team member, which ignores the current cool down level of arts and allows them to be used again instantly, including his heal!
- You Can Do It (Healing)
- Happy Happy (Utility)
It might not seem like a lot, but these two abilities make Riki arguably the best late game healer going. This is because the rest of his kit is so good at dealing damage, particularly the Ether type, that he can fully heal the team at the same time and contribute hugely to the overall flow of battle. For us, even though he doesn’t top this list by dote of pure throughput alone, he’s probably the best late game healer in the game.
On balance, there was only going to be one winner here really. Sharla is the closest that you’ll come to a dedicated healer in Xenoblade Chronicles, and her kit is chocked full of so many health restoration options that make it impossible to pick another to top our list, whether they’re required or not. She is given the nickname ‘Medic’ for a reason you know, and we’re pretty sure she inspired the whole ‘healing sniper’ thing that was stolen by Overwatch.
We should preface this whole section by saying that honestly, the amount of healing that Sharla provides probably isn’t necessary in Xenoblade Chronicles. If you’re taking advantage of the combo system and being somewhat careful with your equipment, a character like Riki can take care of the party health entirely. Still, if you’re just looking for pure health restoration then Sharla cannot be beaten.
Her kit is filled with healing options. Heal Bullet and Heal Blast will take care of single target requirements, Heal Round will to the same for an entire group, and she can even remove negative effects via Cure Bullet and Cure Round. Moreover, she can even shield a party member with Shield Bullet and automatically trigger healing via Heal Counter. Were this not enough, Drive Boost can reduce the cool down on all of these, meaning she can put out even more healing when required! We must again note that this amount of healing is entirely unnecessary no matter the stage of the game that you are in, but in terms of pure numbers Sharla wins by default.
- Heal Bullet / Blast (Healing)
- Heal Round (Healing)
- Heal Counter (Healing)
- Shield Bullet (Damage Reduction)
- Cure Bullet (Debuff Removal)
- Cure Round (Debuff Removal)
- Drive Boost (Cool Down Reduction)
Sharla is, without a doubt, the most powerful Healer in Xenoblade Chronicles. It’s also an absolute fact that this amount of healing is nowhere near necessary, and other party members will contribute much more to the team than she will. Riki, Melia and Shulk each have fantastic damage and utility options that Sharla does not, so whilst she absolutely must be the top of this list, we’d probably end up taking one of the others in her place on a standard team.
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