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Combat (XC3)

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For other articles titled "Combat", see Combat (disambiguation).

Combat or battle is a central gameplay mechanic in Xenoblade Chronicles 3. 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. Instead, holding minus will enter a special combat menu which can only be entered in combat (or when targeting an enemy).
  • Automatic restoration of HP over time is disabled, and non-player-controlled party members can be incapacitated.
  • 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, if all party members are incapacitated, or "Give Up" is selected from the combat menu. In the former two cases, the party reenters the ordinary out-of-combat state (or, in some circumstances, a cutscene); in the latter two cases, 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.

Character controlling and switching[edit]

One character or Interlink at a time is controlled in combat, while the others are controlled by AI, except during Chain Attacks during which all characters' actions are controlled. The player may control one of the 6 main party members (or one of their Interlinks), but not the active Hero even if there is one in the party.

It is possible to switch which character is being controlled in combat by holding ZL and pressing L or R. Doing so is a free action; it does not interrupt the action of either the character being switched to or the one being switched off of, and may be done very rapidly multiple times in succession.

When character switching is unlocked, one always cycles through the characters Noah, Mio, Eunie, Taion, Lanz, and Sena in that order (or the reverse order depending upon which button is pressed). Heroes and incapacitated characters, as well as those who are airborne, cannot be switched to or controlled.



Attacks are the main means of winning combat by inflicting damage. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has two main kinds of attack: auto-attacks and the family of Battle Arts, which include standard Arts, Talent Arts, and more situational attacks such as Chain Arts.


Main article: Auto-attack (XC3)

Auto-attacks are the simplest and, typically, the weakest form of attack. They are performed automatically by standing still within a certain distance from the enemy (a distance dependent upon weapon; when in-range, a sword icon appears above the Class Arts on the UI).

Some Arts recharge via auto-attacks: when an auto-attack lands (including when it is blocked but not when it is evaded), each such Art is recharged by a certain amount. These Arts are indicated by diamond-shaped icons. Auto-attacks can be canceled into Battle Arts and Talent Arts. Their animation can be interrupted at any time by moving or using any other attack.

Battle Arts[edit]

Main article: Battle Art (XC3)

Battle Arts (also known simply as "Arts") are attacks that the player has control over. The most basic kind are performed by pressing the X, Y, or B button, or up, right, or down on the D-pad. There are several types of these standard Arts: the most common such types are physical and ether attacks which damage the enemy, healing arts which heal the user or their allies, arts which inflict buffs or debuffs, arts which place a field effect, and stances which temporarily place an effect on the user. It is also possible that one art enacts multiple of the above effects.

Battle Arts recharge in two main ways: those with a circular icon recharge over time (and typically come from Kevesi classes), whereas those with a diamond-shaped icon recharge by auto-attacking and by cancelling attacks into other attacks (and come from Agnian classes). There are also other, rarer means of recharging arts, such as the special effects of other attacks.

In any setup, there are two main types of standard Arts equipped. The first is Class Arts, which are specific to the character's class and are executed via the X, Y, and B buttons. The second is Master Arts, which are executed via up, right, and down on the D-pad. Master Arts are almost always chosen from the list of arts of any class for which the character has reached a high enough class rank, with two restrictions: only a portion of the Arts from each class are masterable, and all Master Arts must be of the opposite recharge type to the Class Arts. (For example, if a character is using the Kevesi class Swordfighter, all Master Arts must be from Agnian classes.) A small number of classes have their own list of available Master Arts, and Arts from other classes may not be equipped.

It is possible to use a Class Art and a Master Art simultaneously, resulting in a Fusion Art. Doing so will only result in the Class Art's animation playing, alongside a white bullet projectile representing the Master Art, and grant an additional bonus depending upon the Arts used. Which Class Art can be fused with which Master Art is determined by how the player has chosen to bind Arts to buttons.

Class Arts and Master Arts can each be canceled into Fusion Arts, and vice versa. Before The Art of Flow is obtained, Class Arts and Master Arts cannot be cancelled into one another; after it is obtained, any of the above three types of art may be cancelled into any other type. In all cases, each type may also be cancelled into a Talent Art. Arts can be interrupted by Chain Attacks, but not by moving, and they cannot be interrupted by other attacks outside of their cancel window. These standard Arts are the main attacks used in Chain Attacks.

Talent Arts[edit]
Main article: Talent Art (XC3)

Talent Arts are powerful Arts performed by a character, executed by pressing A. These may have a multitude of effects: many are simply strong attacks, but others may provide rare buffs, draw aggro, or have the character enter a stance. Talent Arts are recharged by performing Role Actions: fulfilling specific conditions which depend upon the role of the character's current class.


Similarly to out-of-battle, the player-controlled character can move around in combat. However, this is in general more limited; the movement speed is cut to a fraction of the out-of-battle movement speed and jumping is disabled. Movement is also not possible during Arts; it can be done during auto-attacks, although doing so will interrupt the attack.

Pressing the right stick while moving in combat results in a Quick Move (also called "dodging" or "somersaulting"). This is a short burst of speed in the held direction, and is ideal for repositioning characters as quickly as possible.

Non-player-controlled party members will not follow the player-controlled character unless the party sheathes their weapons; sheathing weapons also restores movement speed, disables Quick Move, and reenables jumping.

Chain Attacks[edit]

Main article: Chain Attack (XC3)

Chain Attacks are powerful sequences of attacks, initiated by pressing + when the Chain Attack gauge is full. In a Chain Attack, the enemy stops attacking and the party may use multiple Arts in sequence, with additional damage. When performed well, they are typically enough to deal most if not all of any enemy's HP in damage; they also may give bonuses to EXP earnt if an enemy is reduced below 0 HP with one. As such, they are often used to finish fights.

In a Chain Attack, the player chooses one playable character's Chain Order, a beneficial effect. This decreases the Chain Attack gauge by a third. The player then executes Arts from any character in the party, each of which add TP to a running total. When the total reaches or exceeds 100, the Chain Order is put into effect, its character launches a powerful Chain Art, one or more characters who executed Arts are refreshed to be able to attack again, the Chain Attack damage multiplier increases, and a new Chain Order can be selected. This continues until there are no refreshed characters to execute Arts, or until the Chain Attack gauge is empty.

All characters attack the same target during a Chain Attack (although AOE moves may still hit nearby targets). Chain Attacks allow the player to "Overkill" the target once it has been defeated, granting additional EXP and CP. If Overkill is configured to be disabled, the Chain Attack will simply end instead.

Miscellaneous actions[edit]

  • Players can switch between enemy targets by pressing L or R. This cycles between targeting all enemies currently in battle and any other enemies in range.
  • Holding ZL and pressing the D-pad buttons allows for "tactics" to be enabled or disabled, affecting how the AI plays. These include "Focus attacks" (whether the AI-controlled party members will target the same enemy as the player-controlled party member or not), "Fusion First" (whether or not the AI will use Arts as Fusion Arts wherever possible), "Follow Leader" (which causes AI party members to stop attacking and run towards the player-controlled character), and "Any/Break/Smash Combo" (which Art Combo paths the AI will prioritize).
  • Healers can revive incapacitated party members by standing over them and holding A for a period of time. Doing so brings them back to partial HP with all Arts on cooldown.
  • The player can sheathe the party's weapons by holding A for a period. This causes all characters to stop attacking and reenables ordinary out-of-combat movement options, and disables character switching. If the player-controlled character is incapacitated while the party's weapons are sheathed, combat ends, regardless of if there are Healers left alive in the party.
  • Holding minus opens a menu that allows the player to give up on, or in some cases restart, the current battle. The "give up" option functions identically to incapacitating the entire party.


Main article: Interlink

From the end of Chapter 2, the main six party members may Interlink during battle. This allows them to take on an Ouroboros form, invincible to incoming damage, and with a different set of attacks and Skills. The available Interlink partners are Noah and Mio, Eunie and Taion, and Lanz and Sena. Initially, Interlinking is limited to the Ouroboros form associated with the Kevesi character in the pair; from the end of chapter 3, it is possible to switch to the Interlink partner's Ouroboros form as an action.

An Interlink lasts for a specific limited amount of time, represented by the "heat gauge" in the place of the standard HP gauge on the left of the UI. While out of Interlink, the heat gauge will steadily decrease. An Interlink may be cancelled prematurely, before the heat gauge is full; doing so will allow Interlinking again before the heat gauge reaches 0. However, if the heat gauge is allowed to reach its maximum ("overheat"), the pair will not be able to Interlink again until after the heat gauge reaches 0.

Interlinks take four different levels, level 0 to level 3. Interlinking at a higher level will result in much greater damage and decreased cooldown on Talent Arts. At level 3, several moves gain the ability to inflict a stage of the Art combo on all enemies in the current fight.

The Interlink level is built up out-of-Interlink by either member of the Interlink pair using Fusion Arts. Specifically, Fusion Arts used by the player add 100 points to an invisible gauge tracking Fusion Art use, and those used by AI-controlled party members add 150 points. If either member of the pair is incapacitated, the pair loses 500 points, and if an Interlink is cancelled or overheats, the gauge is reset to 0. Reaching 400 points sets the interlink level to 1, 900 points sets it to 2, and 1500 points sets it to 3. Although incapacitation causes the point total to go down, this cannot decrease the Interlink level; only cancelling or overheating the Interlink (or exiting combat) causes the gauge to drop.

Other in-combat effects and techniques[edit]


Main article: Aggro (XC3)

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 party member. Aggro increases when a character damages the enemy or heals the party, and decreases over time or as the enemy deals damage to the character. Aggro values and changes to these values can be increased or decreased by a multitude of effects. In general, characters with the Defender role are designed to hold an enemy's attention, whereas those with a Healer or Attacker role are designed to avoid taking aggro (although this does not always work in practice, and some characters of non-Defender classes may be better suited to taking aggro).


Main article: Healing (XC3)

Healing is a means by which party members' HP can be increased (besides being revived from incapacitation), and is crucial to many setups (exceptions include setups optimised for damage reduction, evasion, incapacitation reviving, or speedkills). It comes in several forms: certain Battle Arts provide direct healing to the entire party, certain buffs provide healing under specific circumstances, and certain effects provide healing to specific characters upon performing certain actions (e.g. landing a critical hit).


Main article: Hit chance (XC3)

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 and accuracy of the attacker, and the agility and evasion of the target. Certain moves cause the user to evade all attacks for the duration of the move's animation, and other attacks cannot be evaded.


Main article: Block (XC3)

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 and prevents the hit from being critical (see below). The chance of a playable character blocking a hit is primarily dependent upon the weapon the character is using. Some Battle Arts cause block rate to increase to 100% for the duration of the animation.

If a playable character uses an auto-attack or Art, and a hit is blocked, the attack is halted and the attacker goes through a short recoil animation. (This does not apply to Talent Arts.)


Main article: Cancel (XC3)

In many cases, it is not necessary to let an attack's entire animation play out before starting another attack. Auto-attacks and Battle Arts each have a few frames in the middle of their animation when they can be cancelled into a different attack or action (depending upon circumstances). Doing so results in the previous action's animation ending prematurely, interrupted by the following action. This is primarily useful for speeding up the rate at which actions can be performed, and some effects grant special bonuses to actions which are canceled into.

Critical hits[edit]

Main article: Critical hit (XC3)

Each hit of each attack has a certain chance of being a critical hit ('crit'), doing more damage and building up the Chain Attack Gauge. This chance depends primarily on the weapon used in an attack. By default, crits do 1.25 times the damage of an ordinary hit, although this can be increased further with buffs and other passive effects.

Recharge rate[edit]

Under ordinary circumstances, an attack which has a recharge of (say) 10 seconds will be ready to use again 10 seconds after the animation finishes, and an attack with a recharge of 5 Auto-attacks or Role Actions will be ready after the obvious number of relevant actions are performed. However, these values are not set in stone; many effects affect recharge rate. When all relevant recharge-rate-affecting effects are summed, the resulting value acts as a flat multiplier on the amount of time or number of actions required to recharge an attack.

For example, a given Talent Art may require 9 Role Actions to recharge. However, if the combination of effects on a character gives them +200% to their recharge rate, they will only need to carry out 3 Role Actions to recharge the Talent Art.

Status effects[edit]

Status effects are temporary modifications to a character's combat prowess. They may be beneficial, detrimental, or both.


Main article: Buff (XC3)

A buff is a temporary boost to a character's abilities. They range from increasing attack or defense to providing additional healing to increasing recharge rate, or even a combination of the above. A character's Battle Arts may provide a buff to themselves and/or their allies.

Buffs are represented by a blue pentagon next to a character's HP bar.


Main article: Debuff (XC3)

Debuffs are temporary effects that hinder a character's abilities, such as decreasing their damage or their recharge rate. Debuffs are generally inflicted upon a character by their enemies.

Debuffs are represented by a red pentagon next to a character's HP bar.

Damage over time[edit]

Certain debuffs: Blaze, Bleed, Freeze, and Poison — inflict damage over time (DOT) as a bonus effect. This continues for as long as the debuff timer lasts. The DOT strength is a certain fraction of the damage inflicted by the attack which inflicted the debuff.


Main article: Stance

Stances are temporary effects which a character places upon themselves. Unlike buffs and debuffs, only one stance may be active on a character at once. Stances are generally beneficial, although some may have detrimental effects to balance out particularly-beneficial ones. They are represented by a dark blue hexagon next to a character's HP bar.


Rage is an attribute of strong enemies such as unique monsters and bosses. When an applicable enemy reaches a certain HP threshold, indicated by a fire icon on their HP bar, they become enraged, indicated by their HP bar gaining a fire effect. Becoming enraged is not unlike a stance, although it is not mutually exclusive with other stances; it may change the enemy's attributes, and often enables and/or disables certain attacks or varations on attacks. Generally, enraged enemies are more dangerous to fight.

The rage effect can be temporarily quelled with Burst, and Smashing a to-be-enraged enemy increases the HP threshold at which they enrage (i.e. they will enrage sooner).


Main article: Reaction (XC3)

Reactions are temporary negative effects, like debuffs. They directly impede the target's ability to act; for example, Blowdown launches the target backwards, preventing them from acting until they land and right themselves, and Sleep prevents the target from acting until they wake up.

Time-based reactions on player-controlled characters can often have their duration shortened by button mashing.

Art combos[edit]

Main article: Art Combo (XC3)

An Art Combo is when specific types of reactions are used in quick succession. They allow the player to control the flow of battle by hindering the enemy's ability to act, and may have additional effects based upon the current stage of the combo.

Six reactions form parts of an Art combo. There are two paths: Break - Topple - Daze - Burst, and Break - Topple - Launch - Smash.

  • Break is used to start an Art combo. It momentarily causes an enemy to flinch, halting their movement. The Break status lasts for several seconds, during which the target is susceptible to being Toppled.
  • Topple can only be inflicted upon an enemy suffering from Break. It prevents the enemy from attacking and dodging.
  • Daze follows from Topple. In addition to the effects of Topple, it prevents attacks on the target from generating Aggro.
  • Burst follows from Daze. It ends the Art combo by quelling an enemy's Rage for a period of time, and causes them to drop items.
  • Launch follows from Topple. In addition to the effects of Topple, it increases the damage the enemy takes.
  • Smash follows from Launch. It ends the Art combo, dealing massive damage to the enemy, and increases the HP threshold at which the enemy enrages, if applicable.

For the party, each reaction must be inflicted in succession before the previous reaction's duration ends to continue the combo; it is impossible to (say) Daze a non-Toppled enemy. Some enemy attacks do not have this restriction, although others do.


Main article: Field

Arts may create a Field when used. These affect a circular area on the ground, providing a buff for the field's user and their allies, a debuff for their enemies, or both. Fields last for a certain maximum duration, and their effects can stack.

A limited number of fields may be placed by the party at once. Once this number is exceeded, the field with the lowest remaining duration disappears ("dissolves") while providing a burst of damage, healing, or giving all affected characters the ordinary version of their buff.

Every Defender class has a Skill which provides a permanent field effect centred on themselves. Generally, allies who stand within the relevant circle are aided defensively in some manner.



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Many factors which influence combat can be seen and, to varying extents, modified while out of combat.

Party setup[edit]

All six main characters are generally active in the party at once, except for when story forbids it and during the Archsage's Gauntlet. Up to one Hero may also join the party as a seventh member, though they cannot be controlled directly.


Main article: Level (XC3)

Level is an indicator of the party's overall progression through the game. There are 99 levels, 1 to 99, and in a new game the party starts with each character at level 1. Defeating enemies and completing certain other actions grants EXP, and if a character reaches an EXP threshold, their level will increase.

A character's level determines their base stats; the higher the level, the higher the stats. Enemies also have levels, and each enemy type can typically appear at any level within a certain range; being at a higher or lower level modifies the enemy's stats accordingly. Generally, a party with characters at level X will be able to take on enemies at level X with low difficulty for standard enemies, intermediate difficulty for elite monsters, and high difficulty for unique monsters (although this is of course highly dependent upon how optimised the party setup is in other aspects).

Low-level characters are restricted in their setup; they cannot equip as many Master Arts, accessories, etc. as high-level characters until certain level thresholds are met.


Main article: Skill (XC3)

Skills are passive bonuses provided to a character. Each of the main 6 playable characters may equip 7 Skills, four determined by the class and three Master Skills (see below), whereas Heroes' Skills are all preset.


Main article: Class (XC3)

A character's available moveset and abilities primarily depends on their Class. Each Class provides a multiplicative modifier to each of a character's stats, and most also provide them with a set of 5 Class Arts (of which 3 may be equipped at once) and 4 Skills (all of which are equipped at once). A character's Class determines their Role: each Class is classified as Attacker, Defender, or Healer (with the exception of Soulhacker, which follows its own rules).

Classes are typically unlocked for the main party members by completing Hero Quests. Earning CP allows a character to increase their rank in a Class, from 1 up to 20. Ranking up improves the stat modifiers, Arts, and Skills, and certain ranks may allow an Art or Skill to be mastered.

Master Arts and Skills[edit]

In addition to choosing 3 from the 5 available Class Arts, each character chooses three (non-talent) Master Arts and a Talent Art to equip, as well as up to three Master Skills. In some cases, these are also determined by the Class. Only the main 6 party members can use Master Arts and Skills.


Main article: Gem (XC3)

Each character chooses up to three Gems to use. These provide specific quantitative buffs to specific character attributes. Each Gem has ten versions, from rank I to rank X; Gems of any version can be crafted at Rest Spots using specific sets of materials. A Gem must be crafted (at any rank) before it can be equipped, and the rank at which it is equipped corresponds to the highest rank at which it has been crafted.


Main article: Accessory (XC3)

Characters may also equip up to three accessories, items which provide one from of a variety of (mostly-)beneficial effects. Accessories are dropped as loot from enemies, given as rewards from treasure troves and quests, or bought from shops.

Interlink setup[edit]

The main six party members may also have the Arts which they use in an Interlink set up in the menu. Master Arts and Skills do not exist for Ouroboros in the same manner as for regular combat, so this is mostly limited to choosing which Arts to use.

Soul Tree[edit]

Main article: Soul Tree

The main six party members each have a Soul Tree, a collection of nodes that increase their Ouroboros form's power. Each node corresponds to unlocking or levelling up an Art or Skill, stat increases, or (in some cases) Ouroboros-specific effects such as reducing the Heat Gauge buildup over time. Each Soul Tree has a node "Unlock Arts Canceling", which allows the respective Ouroboros to cancel non-talent Arts into non-talent Arts.

Only one node on the tree is available to unlock at the start. Aside from this, only nodes which are directly connected to unlocked nodes may be unlocked. Unlocking a node also costs SP, with costs generally increasing the deeper into the tree a node is.

A character may share up to two nodes on their tree with their Interlink partner, granting them the effects of that node. (Only one node can be shared until the character's Ascension Quest is completed.)


Main article: Stats (XC3)

A character's stats are mostly relevant in combat. Stats depend upon the level of the character, current Class and its rank, and any additional effects from Skills or equipment that directly modify stats.


Main article: Skirmish

Skirmishes are a particular type of combat. In the overworld, two enemies or groups of enemies may be found fighting each other. Approaching them initiates a skirmish, in which the player chooses one of the two sides on which to join in the fight. Defeating all of the enemies on the other side grants the player rewards such as CP or Silver Nopon Coins, and enemies on the side the player chose will not attack the party.

Some skirmishes prevent the player from siding with one group of enemies, for story-based reasons.

Difficulty levels[edit]

Main article: Difficulty (XC3)

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 Hard difficulty adjusts these values in the other direction, making fights quantitatively harder.

In Future Redeemed[edit]

Combat in Future Redeemed (FR) is fundamentally very similar to that of the Xenoblade Chronicles 3 main game. There are, however, several important differences.

In FR, each character is locked to a specific Class, and gets all their Arts and Skills from that Class. This includes a Talent Art, any Arts bound to B/X/Y (renamed "Primary Arts"), and Arts bound to D-pad up/right/down (renamed "Ouroboros Powers"). They can be used individually or in a Fusion Art like in the main game. Using them in a Fusion Art does not grant any of the ordinary Fusion Art bonuses, however; instead it adds a bonus effect specific to the pair of Arts fused.

To obtain and upgrade Skills and Arts, each character has an Affinity Chart. This consists of a collection of Arts, Skills, and their upgrades, all of which may be bought using AP. For each character, the chart is split into three sections; the first is unlocked from the start, and the other two must be unlocked using Affinity Growth Unlock Kits.

Enemies have weaknesses: each enemy is weak to attacks from either the front, side, back, or attacks during Art Combos. Attacking an enemy while fulfilling the relevant weakness condition results in a large increase in damage dealt.

Some enemies become more powerful when there are other enemies in the fight. Specifically, they may deal more damage and take less damage for every enemy currently in the fight, excluding themselves.


Main article: Unity

Interlinks are replaced with the Unity mechanic. Each controllable character is paired with another (the exact pairings can be changed, unlike Interlinks). Each combination of two characters provides those characters with a specific Skill called a Unity Skill, and allows them to make a specific attack called a Unity Combo.

Unity Combos are strong attacks performed by both members of the Unity pair. They are recharged by performing Arts, with Fusion Arts granting slightly more charge than two separate Arts would. If a Unity Combo is used on an enemy suffering from Launch, a powerful additional final hit will be added which inflicts Smash, Burst, or Blowdown. This is the only way to inflict Smash or Burst on enemies. Moreover, in this case, the Awakening buff will be granted to both members of the Unity pair.

Unity Combos function similarly to Ouroboros Orders in Chain Attacks; if both members of the Unity pair complete a Chain Order, a special Chain Order will appear for which the Chain Art is their Unity Combo.


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