Tanking is such an unusual term for a non MMORPG game like Xenoblade Chronicles. It’s loosely defined as deliberately making opponents be aggressive towards one particular character, otherwise known as ‘Aggro’. These unit are typically more defensive in nature, designed to soak up damage whilst the remainder of the party can dish it out. They’re often paired with healers, though not exclusively, and tend to be the rock of the team that’s chosen first and built around. In Xenoblade Chronicles there are actually quite a few choices for this role – three to be exact – though you’ll be waiting for quite a while to unlock them all. Once they’re all available however, you’ll likely wander exactly which of these are the best choice, and perhaps which style of tanking that they perform best in?
First of all, it feels kind of strange to be considering something Fiora does as the ‘Worst’. She is one of the very best characters available in Xenoblade Chronicles, capable of dealing out absolutely huge amounts of damage in very short order whilst supporting the party in a variety of ways. Snuggled amid these ways are, if you look hard enough, a few tanking Arts that can, with a little help, allow her to become quite a good tank.
Alright, so Fiora is not going to approach the two main tanks in the game, but that doesn’t mean she’s completely incapable. Her kit will allow her to do an excellent job of maintaining aggro on a single target, thanks to a combination of her Lock-On Art and the sheer amount of damage that she does with her auto attacks. Groups are a little more difficult of course, mainly because most of her kit deals with single target opponents, but her Drain Arts will do a reasonable job of keeping them stuck to her, as long as the remaining team members prioritise her main target too. If you’re serious about taking up this role, consider some Aggro Up gems and foot armour that comes with Cannon Drones for taking down groups.
- Lock-On (Aggro Art)
- Guard Shift (Tanking Art)
- Ether Drain (Debuff Art)
- Power Drain (Debuff Art)
- Healing Energy (Sustain Art)
- Low – Medium HP total.
- High equipment defence ratings due to unique armour.
It’s not exactly a sparkling selection of Tank Arts really, but bear in mind that half of Fiora’s tanking ability comes from her single target damage. Lock-On and Guard Shift are synergistic, and following these two up with Healing Energy will make keeping her alive a little easier. This is our preference for single target, but for groups you’ll want to prioritise either of her Drain attacks along with Double Wind. Don’t expect tanking miracles here, but with enough gear, gems and a little creativity Fiora can manage quite well.
We should preface this next choice – Reyn – by saying that he is a fantastic tank and we actually consider him to be our first choice in multiple situations. He is what we have affectionately dubbed the ‘face tank’, which essentially means that his goal is to soak up damage rather than finding ways to avoid it completely. To meet this requirement he has a fantastic selection of Arts and comes with the ability to immediately equip the heaviest of armour possible. Hell, he’s even holding what seems to be a sharpened bayonet-slash-shield! Were this not enough he’s absolutely the most available of all tanking options; he joins during the introduction and will stick with you right to the end.
As noted Reyn is all about soaking up damage, but in order to do so he first needs to attract the opponent’s attention, and this is something that he absolutely excels at. Hammer Beat, Engage, Anchor Chain and Mad Taunt all generate Aggro, so he’s always going to be capturing attention, and War Swing, Lariat and Hammer Beat itself all strike multiple targets. All of this combines to make Reyn the absolute king of gathering and tanking groups of enemies. He’ll take damage while he does so, because he’s tanking things with his face, but you’ll struggle to take aggro away from him no matter the situation. If only he was more adept at dodging things…
- Hammer Beat (Aggro)
- Engage (Aggro)
- Anchor Chain (Aggro)
- Guard Shift (Tanking)
- Last Stand (Tanking)
- Rage (Debuff)
- War Swing (Group Attack)
- Lariat (Group Attack)
- Very high HP total.
- Naturally wears heavier armour.
Reyn has far and away the best tanking toolkit in Xenoblade Chronicles, despite coming second in our list. He’ll easily grab aggro on every enemy available, do plenty of damage to all of them and has plenty of options for minimising damage taken. If we’re honest we don’t tend to take all of these options, because doing so is frankly overkill for the majority of the game, so it’s best to pick and choose. War Swing, Lariat and Hammer Beat are the only real essentials here.
It was a close one, truly it was, but there could only be one winner in the end: Dunban, though from the outset he appears to have less going for him than Reyn. Where his opposite number has a high health total, innate heavy armour skills from the outset and more group targeting skills, Dunban seemingly has a bunch of single target skills, a talent gauge that features a purely damaging ability, limited debuffs and a much lower health total. Theoretically then, he doesn’t stand a chance against such a well equipped tank, but give him a moment in your direct control and this entire opinion shifts.
Thus the truth soon drifts into view, and you realise that Dunban manages to tank just about everything that Xenoblade Chronicles can throw at whilst somehow simultaneously dealing tremendous amounts of damage. He manages to take the best bits of Fiora, combines them with a selection of Reyn’s benefits, adds a big dash of evasion and combines them all to make what is, for us at least, the best tank available in Xenoblade Chronicles. Where Reyn feels like an immovable but one tone chunk, Dunban is a nimble and deft swordsman, tiptoeing in and out of danger whilst dealing consistently high damage. Aided by his high natural Agility, Serene Heart and the right selection of skills, Dunban becomes practically untouchable, and does it all while smacking opponents upside the head with strong Arts and double attacks.
- Peerless (Aggro)
- Battle Eye (Aggro)
- Blinding Blossom (Aggro)
- Jaws of Death (Tanking)
- Serene Heart (Tanking)
- Soaring Tempest (Group Attack)
- Worldly Slash (Debuff)
- Low HP total.
- High Agility, supplemented by Skills.
Really, we should just list every Art and Skill available here, because the overall package is key in making Dunban the best tank in Xenoblade Chronicles. Still, the real tanking highlights have to be Serene Heart, which is essential in ensuring that he dodges everything, Peerless for quickly grabbing groups of enemies to follow up with a super powerful Soaring Tempest, and Worldly Slash for keeping their defences lowered.
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