- For other articles titled "Combat", see Combat (disambiguation).
Combat or battle is a central gameplay mechanic in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. The game uses a real-time battle system which takes place in the overworld.
Combat initiates when a party member attacks an enemy or vice versa. This results in several immediate changes to gameplay:
- The display changes to the combat display (which hides the map and compass and shows the enemy HP and characters' attacks, among other things).
- Entering the in-game menu is disabled; the buttons used to enter the menu perform other functions. (Entering the Nintendo Switch's menu via the HOME button is still possible.)
- Automatic restoration of HP over time is disabled, and non-player-controlled party members can be incapacitated.
- Interaction with Field Skill checks, NPCs, treasure troves, and Collection Points is disabled.
- In populated areas, NPCs will run away from the battle.
- The music switches from the area theme to the relevant battle theme.
Combat ends if all enemies have their HP brought to 0 or (in certain specific circumstances) below a certain threshold, if the enemy stops targeting any party members, or if all party members are incapacitated. In the former two cases, the party reenters the ordinary out-of-combat state (or, in some circumstances, a cutscene); in the latter case, the party is sent back to the last Landmark.
Combat is particularly relevant to the story; many main-story and sidequest objectives entail defeating an enemy in combat. Not every combat element is available at every point in the story; some (e.g. Chain Attacks) cannot be used until a certain story objective is reached.
Attacks are the main means of winning combat by inflicting damage. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has a number of different kinds of attacks which can broadly be treated hierarchically: auto-attacks lead to Driver Arts, Driver Arts lead to Specials (and Driver Combos), Specials lead to Blade Combos and Chain Attacks.
- Main article: Auto-attack (XC2)
Auto-attacks are the simplest and, typically, the weakest form of attack, and are performed by Drivers. They are performed automatically by standing still within a certain distance from the enemy (a distance dependent upon the Driver's weapon). Each Driver has three different auto-attacks for each weapon they can use; the auto-attacks are performed in order, starting from the first one, when the Driver stands idle.
When an auto-attack lands (including when it is blocked but not when it is evaded), each Driver Art is recharged by a certain amount. Auto-attacks can be cancelled into Driver Arts, Specials, and Blade switches. Their animation can be interrupted at any time by moving or using any other attack.
- Main article: Driver Art
Driver Arts are the most basic attack that the player has control over. Pressing the X, Y, or B button will cause the player-controlled Driver to perform a Driver Art. These tend to do more damage than auto-attacks, but less than Specials. They also typically have an extra effect, such as conditionally dealing more damage, inflicting a stage of the Driver Combo, or causing the user to evade all attacks for the art's animation.
Driver Arts recharge mainly by auto-attacking, by using pouch items, and by switching Blades, although many means of recharging Driver Arts exist. Initiating a Driver Art recharges Specials by a certain amount; this amount is increased if the Driver Art was performed by cancelling an auto-attack. Driver Arts can be cancelled into Specials, Blade switches, and, after Arts Chain is obtained on the relevant Driver, other Driver Arts. A Driver Art can be interrupted at any time by a Special or a Chain Attack (or by effects such as Blowdown), but not by another Driver Art or by moving.
- Main article: Special (XC2)
Specials are large attacks performed by Blades. Pressing the A button will cause the active Blade on the player-controlled Driver to perform a Special. Which Special is performed depends upon the Blade and the current level of the Special gauge. Uniquely, all party members' Specials are controlled by the player, not only those of the player-controlled Driver; non-player-controlled Drivers perform Specials when the player presses ZL or ZR.
Specials recharge by using Driver Arts, pouch items, and (for level IV Specials) over time. Blade Combos are initiated and advanced by using Specials, and Specials are the (main) attacks used in Chain Attacks. This makes them the main means of dealing substantial amounts of damage in most situations. A Special can only be interrupted by a Chain Attack or by the Driver becoming incapacitated.
- Main article: Blade Art
Blade Arts are buffs and beneficial effects automatically performed by Blades in combat. These range from increasing the power of the Driver's next Driver Art to nullifying one reaction to drawing aggro. Each Blade can perform a certain subset of the list of Blade Arts; each Blade Art has a trigger, a likelihood of it being used, and a cooldown.
Similarly to out-of-battle, the player-controlled Driver can move around in combat. However, this is more limited; the movement speed is cut to a fraction of the out-of-battle movement speed (the exact fraction depends upon the Driver's current weapon) and jumping is disabled. Reaching certain stages of Affinity will slightly increase the in-combat movement speed.
Non-player-controlled party members will not follow the player-controlled Driver and Blade unless the party sheathes their weapons; sheathing weapons also restores movement speed and reenables jumping.
A Driver may have multiple Blades. In combat, up to three may be swapped between by pressing up, right, or down on the D-pad. Each Blade provides the Driver with a specific weapon (determining the available Driver Arts) and has a certain set of Specials and a specific element.
Switching between Blades results in all Driver Arts being ready for use. It is possible to cancel an auto-attack or Driver Art into a Blade switch, and a Blade switch into a Driver Art or Special. Once a Blade is switched out, it cannot be switched back in for a short period of time, dependent upon the Blade and their trust level.
- Main article: Chain Attack (XC2)
Chain Attacks are powerful sequences of attacks. In a Chain Attack, the enemy stops attacking and multiple Specials may be used in sequence with higher damage. They are typically used to finish fights. They are performed by pressing + when the Party Gauge is full.
In a Chain Attack, the player chooses a Blade from each Driver in turn to perform a level I Special. If an Element Orb is on the enemy (from finishing a Blade Combo or otherwise), it may be damaged during the Chain Attack; if it is burst, another round of Specials may be performed at higher level and with a higher damage multiplier. In this way, Chain Attacks may go on for multiple rounds.
If enough Element Orbs are burst during a Chain Attack, a Full Burst is performed: each Driver performs a Driver Art and their last-used Blade performs a level III or IV Special with a very large damage multiplier.
Pressing left on the D-pad will cause all active characters to attack the currently-targeted enemy. This is a free action; it can be done at any time (outside Chain Attacks) and does not interrupt the current action.
Certain stance-like states can be entered in combat if a certain Blade is being used on a certain Driver (and often only if other circumstances have been met). These include Pneuma, Eye of Shining Justice, and Overdrive.
Combos are when specific types of attacks are used in quick succession, and are a massively beneficial tool in the player's arsenal, to the extent of being all but necessary in many circumstances. There are two types of combos: Driver Combos and Blade Combos. Using both at once results in a Fusion Combo.
- Main article: Driver Combo
Driver Combos allow the party to control the flow of battle by restricting the enemy's ability to attack. A Driver Combo consists of four reactions which are inflicted by Driver Arts: Break, Topple, Launch, and Smash.
Break interrupts the target's attack and causes them to momentarily flinch, halting their movement; Topple prevents them from attacking and dodging, and causes them to suffer more damage when hit; Launch increases the bonus to damage on hit; and Smash deals substantial damage to the target, and (if it is an enemy) causes them to drop gold and items. Later stages of the Driver Combo also make the enemy drop HP Potions.
The party must inflict stages of a Driver Combo in order; it is impossible to (say) Launch a non-Toppled enemy. Some enemy attacks do not have this restriction, although others do.
- Main article: Blade Combo
Blade Combos inflict huge damage on the enemy and allow for longer Chain Attacks. They are performed by using Specials. The first time a Special is used in battle, a Blade Combo starts at stage 1. The Blade Combo can be advanced to stage 2 by using another Special, and to stage 3 by using a third Special. Once a Blade Combo reaches stage 3, it ends, dealing massive damage and "sealing" (removing) all enemies' ability to use a particular type of attack or effect. This seal lasts until battle ends or until another Blade Combo reaches stage 3, at which point the seal is overwritten.
There are two restrictions on which Specials can be used to continue a Blade Combo past stage 1. The first is level: continuing a Blade Combo requires a Special of level equal to or greater than the stage to be reached. That is, continuing a Blade Combo to stage 2 requires a Special of level II, III, or IV, and to stage 3 requires a Special of level III or IV.
The second restriction is of element. Each Blade has an element; any element can be used to start a Blade Combo, but from there only two elements will continue the combo to stage 2 (exactly which two depend upon the element used to start the combo), and from stage 2 only one or two elements will finish the combo at stage 3. The list of possible "routes" is displayed in a tree in the upper right of the screen while a Blade Combo is performed.
If a Blade Combo is not continued before a timer (30 seconds at base, resetting if the Blade Combo reaches stage 2) expires, the Blade Combo will end, and the next Special will start a new one at stage 1.
- Main article: Fusion Combo
A Fusion Combo is when a Blade Combo stage is inflicted with an active Driver Combo, or vice versa. Both cases grant strong beneficial effects: inflicting a Blade Combo stage with an active Driver Combo greatly increases damage dealt during the Blade Combo stage, while inflicting a Driver Combo stage with an active Blade Combo increases the timer on the Blade Combo. Both cases also greatly increase the Party Gauge.
The strength of a Fusion Combo depends upon the sum of the stage of the Driver Combo and the Blade Combo. If a Blade Combo is performed on a Driver Combo, and then the Blade Combo stage is advanced while on the same stage of the Driver Combo, the damage boosts stack, resulting in an extraordinarily strong increase to damage dealt.
Fusion Combos are often a primary source of damage in speedrunning and on Bringer of Chaos difficulty, due to their relative speed in comparison to Chain Attacks and the fact that their effectiveness is not decreased by changing the difficulty. The damage boost from a Fusion Combo carries over into a Chain Attack for as long as the combo stages last; this can be exploited to result in extremely powerful Chain Attacks that do not require a lengthy period of setup.
Other in-combat effects and techniques
- Main article: Aggro (XC2)
Which party member an enemy chooses to attack is determined by who has the highest aggro, a measure of the enemy's aggression towards each Driver. Aggro increases when a Driver or their Blade damages the enemy or heals the party, and decreases over time as the enemy targets the Driver. Aggro values and changes to these values can be increased or decreased by a multitude of effects. In general, Blades with a TNK role are designed to hold an enemy's attention, whereas those with a HLR or ATK role are designed to avoid taking aggro (although exceptions exist, and this does not always work in practice).
- Main article: Healing (XC2)
Healing is a means by which party members' HP can be increased (besides being revived from incapacitation), and is crucial to all setups except those very highly optimised for evasion or speed. It comes in several forms: certain Driver Arts and Specials provide direct healing to the entire party, others drop HP Potions which heal the party when walked over, and certain effects provide healing to specific characters upon performing certain actions (e.g. landing a critical hit).
- Main article: Hit chance (XC2)
Attacks are seldom guaranteed to land; each attack has a certain chance of being dodged by the target. For most attacks, this depends on the dexterity of the attacker and the agility of the target. Certain moves cause the user to evade all attacks for the duration of the move's animation, and other attacks (such as the bonus damage from Blade Combos) cannot be evaded.
- Main article: Block (XC2)
When a target is hit by an attack, the attack has a certain chance of being blocked. In normal circumstances, this halves the incoming damage. The chance of blocking a hit is primarily dependent upon the weapon the Driver is using, although other aspects of equipment (especially Core Chip) also matter. Specials and some Driver Arts cause block rate to increase to 100% for the duration of the animation.
If a playable character uses an auto-attack or Driver Art, and a hit is blocked, the attack is halted and the attacker goes through a short recoil animation. (This does not apply to Specials or if the attacker has an Auto-Balancer equipped.)
- Main article: Cancelling (XC2)
In many cases, it is not necessary to let an attack's entire animation play out before starting another attack. Auto-attacks, Driver Arts, and Blade switches each have a few frames in the middle of their animation when they can be cancelled into a Driver Art, Blade switch, or Special (depending upon circumstances). Doing so results in a blue circle appearing on-screen for a split second and the previous action's animation ending prematurely, interrupted by the following action.
Besides speeding up the rate at which actions can be performed, cancelling is necessary for building up the Special gauge efficiently, and may provide other benefits such as increasing damage and the Party Gauge.
- Main article: Critical hit (XC2)
Each hit of each attack has a certain chance of being a critical hit ('crit'), doing more damage and building up the Party Gauge and Affinity. This chance depends primarily on the equipped weapon and Core Chip. By default, crits do 1.25 times the damage of an ordinary hit, although this can be increased further with equipment and other passive effects.
During a Chain Attack, a level IV Special, or the animation of a Special that causes a Blade Combo to reach stage 3, the entire party is invincible — any incoming attacks do 0 damage and will not inflict debuffs or reactions. This can be exploited to safely survive otherwise-dangerous attacks. Enemies can become invincible themselves if the player character is incapacitated with not enough party gauge to be revived.
- Main article: Debuff (XC2)
Debuffs are temporary detrimental status effects that may be applied to party members in combat. Examples range from preventing a Blade from performing any actions to nullifying any healing a Driver receives. Specific debuffs are inflicted by specific enemy attacks, and many can be resisted using accessories, nullified using Blade Arts, or prevented using the seal effects from Blade Combos.
- Main article: Reaction (XC2)
A reaction is when a character's motion is interrupted by an incoming attack. This includes the four stages of the Driver Combo (Break, Topple, Launch, and Smash) as well as Knockback and Blowdown. Reactions prevent the afflicted character from moving for a short duration, and in the case of Knockback and Blowdown, forcibly reposition them. Reactions interrupt the afflicted character from continuing their current attack (unless it is a Special). They can be resisted or nullified by chance or by using specific accessories or Blade Arts.
Damage over time
Certain Blade Combo stages inflict damage over time (DOT) as a bonus effect. This continues until the stage of the Blade Combo ends (through its timer running out or the Blade Combo continuing to the next stage). The DOT strength is a certain fraction of the damage inflicted by the Special which caused the current Blade Combo stage. It can be increased by using Fusion Combos, in particular by Smashing the enemy. Damage over time is a common strategy for defeating enemies with extremely high HP on Bringer of Chaos difficulty.
- Main article: Affinity (XC2)
Affinity represents the level of teamwork between a Driver and Blade in combat. It is represented by a glowing line between the two: a dark blue line represents low affinity, a light blue line shows higher affinity, and a glowing golden line shows that affinity is at its maximum. Having no line between a Driver and Blade shows that affinity is at its lowest. Having higher affinity results in greater offensive and defensive capabilities, and many conditional effects require high affinity. Affinity is increased by successfully attacking the enemy; it is decreased by being incapacitated, being hit by certain moves, and when the Driver and Blade are too far apart from one another.
Affinity is the main indicator of momentum in combat; high affinity typically indicates that a fight is going well (and, due to the beneficial effects of high affinity, may continue to go well), whereas low affinity often indicates that the fight is going poorly for the party. Its huge effect on combat means that keeping affinity high is a critical aspect of ensuring combat goes smoothly.
- Main article: Party Gauge (XC2)
The Party Gauge is a meter displayed in the upper left of the combat UI, divided into three sections. It fills up slowly by performing actions in battle such as critical hits. One full section must be consumed in order to revive someone from being incapacitated, and all three sections may be consumed to use a Chain Attack or activate Overdrive.
- Main article: Overdrive (XC2)
Overdrive is a state which can be entered when Elma is in the party. It increases the damage, recharge rate, and reaction success rate of the entire party for a limited time, although this time can be extended by reactivating Overdrive. The magnitude of the bonuses is dependent upon how many hits the party lands on the enemy during Overdrive. Chain Attacks cannot be activated during Overdrive.
Due to the requirement of using Elma, Overdrive is seldom used before postgame; it is particularly useful on Bringer of Chaos difficulty due to the relative inefficiency of Chain Attacks.
Many factors which influence combat can be seen and, to varying extents, modified while out of combat.
Between 1 and 3 Drivers can be active at once; the others do not appear on the field or in combat (although they do appear in cutscenes). Under most circumstances, the set of active Drivers can be changed at will. Exactly one Driver is player-controlled; "movement" corresponds to moving this Driver, and almost all combat actions which the player can take correspond to actions of this Driver or their Blade(s).
Each Driver can use between one and three Blades at once, selected from the set of Blades the Driver has resonated with (with some exceptions). These Blades are the only ones available to the Driver in combat. The Blade set to the Driver's top slot is the one that appears with them on the field, and the one that is active at the start of combat.
If the set of characters available to the party changes for story reasons, the game gives the player the opportunity to add and/or remove Drivers from the party. Alternatively, the active Drivers and their available Blades can be changed out of combat in the menu, including the number of active Drivers in the party.
- Main article: Class (XC2)
The role of each Blade set on a Driver (i.e. whether they are an ATK, HLR, or TNK) determines the Driver's class. This provides the Driver with passive buffs to any or all of damage dealt, HP potion effect, and damage taken, and modifies the amount of aggro they receive.
- Main article: Affinity Chart (XC2)
Each Driver and Blade has an Affinity Chart, a collection of nodes that each correspond to an upgrade for the Driver or Blade in question.
Driver Affinity Charts contain the list of Driver Skills, unlocked using SP, whereas Blade Affinity Charts contain upgrades for the Blade's Specials, Battle Skills (often-passive combat abilities unique to the Blade), and Field Skills. Blade Affinity Chart nodes are unlocked by meeting certain requirements.
Both types of Affinity Chart can be found in the menu.
- Main article: Stats (XC2)
A Driver and Blade's stats are mostly relevant in combat. Stats depend upon the level of the Driver, trust of the Blade, and equipment. Each Blade also increases one or more of the stats of the Driver (the "stat mod"); this increase occurs as long as the Blade is equipped to the Driver, not only when the Blade is active. A special stat, called idea levels, will increase the damage done by attacks of idea's matching elements.
Each Driver and Blade can be given equipment that modifies their stats or provides some (usually) beneficial effect. There are three main types of equipment:
- Core Chips are equipment given to the Blade. These (along with the Blade's weapon) determine the Auto-attack stat, crit rate, and block rate of the Blade.
- Aux Cores are also Blade equipment. They are additional, often conditional, bonuses to the Blade's effectiveness in combat.
- Accessories are equipment given to the Driver. They may increase any one of a Driver's stats, or provide a wide range of beneficial effects.
- Main article: Pouch item
Pouch items are purchasable or craftable items which can be put in a Driver's pouch(es) in the menu. They temporarily provide beneficial effects to the Driver in combat; some of these effects can be extremely powerful, such as recharging Driver Arts over time.
- Main article: Difficulty (XC2)
The difficulty setting changes certain values during combat. Easy difficulty has many numerical values adjusted to make fights quantitatively easier than on Normal difficulty, whereas Bringer of Chaos difficulty adjusts these values in the other direction, making fights quantitatively harder, as well as introducing enemy Rage Strikes. Custom difficulty allows for the player to adjust the relevant values to their taste (Rage Strikes do not happen on custom difficulty).
In Torna ~ The Golden Country
In TTGC, instead of teams consisting of one Driver and up to three Blades, teams consist of a Driver and two Blades. Instead of the Driver attacking with the Blade's weapon for auto-attacks and Driver Arts, and the Blade attacking for Specials, all three types of attacks are made by the character in the "vanguard", who may be a Driver or Blade. One character remains in the "rearguard"; either the Driver (if a Blade is in the vanguard) or one Blade (if the Driver is in the vanguard). A team cannot have a Blade in both the vanguard and rearguard.
In practice, the distinction between this and the main game's system is largely cosmetic — in either case, the player may swap between using three different weapons, which results in three different sets of auto-attacks, Driver Arts (renamed "Vanguard Arts"), and Specials. Moreover, in each case, swapping the character in the vanguard recharges all Vanguard Arts to full. However, there are two main functional differences:
- Since the character in the vanguard is the one who performs Specials, movement is not possible during Specials.
- Switching between a Driver and two Blades is more subtle than switching between three Blades: there is one cooldown for switching between the character in the vanguard and rearguard, and one cooldown for swapping between Blades (regardless of whether a Blade is in the vanguard or rearguard). This means that it may take two button presses to swap a desired character into the vanguard rather than one.
The equivalent of Blade Arts in TTGC are Rearguard Arts. These are functionally very similar to Blade Arts, except that they can be levelled up like Driver/Vanguard Arts, and some directly attack the enemy.
Every playable character in TTGC has a Talent Art that is unique to that character and has no main-game XC2 equivalent. These typically are not attacks, but rather special moves that power up the user or the party, or hinder the enemy in some non-damaging way. Each Talent Art has a certain condition for its use, and some can only be used when the character is incapacitated.
Also unique to TTGC are Switch Arts: when the character in the vanguard is switched, the character newly entering the vanguard uses their Switch Art. This is a damage-dealing art that inflicts a stage of the Driver Combo.
In TTGC, when HP is lost, a portion of it is stored as recoverable HP. This ticks down over time, and if the character in the vanguard is switched, the recoverable HP turns to regular HP.
Specials of any element can continue a Blade Combo, although only some sequences, referred to as "critical routes", will grant invincibility upon reaching stage 3, any Special may place an Element Orb on the enemy, not just those that finish a Blade Combo. Critical routes are largely the same sequences of elements as the main game's Blade Combos, with some branches being removed on the third stage. As an example, Earth-Fire-Earth is the critical route for Mega Eruption but Earth-Fire-Wind is not a critical route for Volcanic Storm.