Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Combat: A Definitive Guide For Beginners


Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Combat has some serious depth. While quite intuitive, the intricate web of interconnecting mechanics can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re new to the JRPG genre. Luckily, we’ve spent a lot of time with Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and we’re ready to pass on everything we know to you.

Released on Nintendo Switch, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 was very well received. Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s memorable cast of characters, along with the distinct progression of JRPG storytelling, all help make the title truly special. However, as with many entries in the genre, you’ll have to fight your way through a multitude of battles while navigating Aionios. These battles are hugely satisfying, and you’ll be fueled by the core mechanics for the first eight or so hours of gameplay.

However, even with the relatively gentle pace of the tutorial, there is still plenty to follow. Plus, with a new Challenge Mode set to release in the Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Expansion Pass, there’s never been a better time to get to grips with the title’s robust and rewarding combat system.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Combat Guide

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Combat: The Basics

two characters fight smaller monsters in a field.

(Image credit: future)

In order to familiarize yourself with combat in Xenoblade Chronicles 3, you will need to understand five main mechanics: Arts, Fusion Arts, Party Management, Interlinking, and Chain Attacks. While there’s more to the combat system than just these mechanics, if you master these five fundamentals, you’ll be well on your way to meeting any challenge Xenoblade Chronicles 3 might throw at you.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Combat: Auto-attacks, movement and aggro

Several area effect attacks are triggered

(Image credit: future)

Before you get to that, though, you’ll need to learn a bit more about autoattacks, movement, and aggro. In Xenoblade Chronicles 3, you are free to move around the battlefield as things unfold in real time. Your character will also automatically attack the enemy you have targeted, assuming they are within range. Above all, if you move, your character will no longer attack automatically. This means you’ll have to choose between mobility and damage output.

Our advice is to find a sweet spot, plant yourself there, and then slash the enemy into ribbons, only moving when you have to.

As you fight, you will notice arc lines between enemy combatants and party members. These lines represent the attention of the enemy fighter in question, otherwise known as Aggro. It’s the job of the Defender classes to draw Aggro to keep the rest of the party safe. Managing aggro is key to surviving in Xenoblade Chronicles 3. If you’re not playing a Defender class and drawing Aggro, move next to the nearest Defender to benefit from their defensive buffs.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Combat: Arts

A character attacks several monsters

(Image credit: future)

Located in the bottom right corner of the screen, Arts are the bread and butter of combat in Xenoblade Chronicles 3. Arts range from area-of-effect attacks to stances to party goers. If in doubt, read the Art description in the main menu.

However, to get the most out of the arts, you need to know about cancellation and combos.


A character fights a flying beast

(Image credit: future)

Canceling offers many bonuses, as well as an increase in Arts recharge speed, and is almost always worth a try. To cancel, time the use of an art right after completing an auto attack. If successful, you will see a purple circle like in the image above.


A character knocks down a monster

(Image credit: future)

Some Arts inflict special statuses that can be used to initiate powerful combos. These statuses are Burst, Topple, Smash, Launch, Break and Daze. Perform Arts that inflict these effects in a certain order, and you will render them powerless. There are two main combo sequences you should be aware of.

  • Break > Knockdown > Throw > Smash
  • Break > Knock Down > Stupor > Flurry

Apply the attacks in this order and your enemies will be down in no time.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Combat: Fusion Arts

A character uses a big attack against a monster

(Image credit: Monolith Soft)

Fusion Arts can be used by holding down ZR when one of your normal Arts and one of your Master Arts are both recharged. This will allow you to combine both attacks into one hit. Master Arts can be equipped after a certain point in the story, once you unlock the ability to change classes.

Using Fusion Arts will gradually increase your Interlink Level and Chain Attack Gauge, while allowing for some pretty nifty effects.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Combat: Party Management

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 characters stand side by side

(Image credit: Nintendo)

As with any JRPG, party management is essential, as is choosing the right classes for the job. There are three types of classes in Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Attacker, Defender, and Healer. You will need a balance of all three to survive. Defenders are essential for attracting the attention of more vulnerable party members, while Healers are the only classes capable of healing others and reviving allies. Without the attackers, you’ll run out of steam long before you finish the fight.

Basically, after a certain point in the story, you’ll be able to change the classes of your party members, as well as switch characters to change who you control mid-battle. Both of these are essential to both character progression and combat success. Don’t be afraid to micro-manage.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Combat: Interconnection

Three purple figures stand side by side

(Image credit: Monolith Soft)

Early in the story, you’ll unlock Interlinking, a means by which your party members can merge into a more powerful form: the Ouroboros. Although you can Interlink at any time, we advise you to use Fusion Arts to increase your level of Interlink, so that once fused, you will be able to trigger stronger effects from your attacks. Once interconnected, your Ouroboros will build up heat, eventually overheat, and terminate the interconnect. Use your limited time wisely.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Combat: Chain Attacks

Three characters to choose from a string order menu

(Image credit: future)

In the upper right corner of the screen, you will see your chain attack gauge. You can fill it using Fusion Arts. Once it’s full, hit the ‘+’ button and you’ll launch a chain attack.

During these attacks, real-time combat will pause and you can select party members to launch individual attacks. However, each party member only gets one attack as standard, so choose wisely. Before each set of attacks, you will need to choose a chain order that will apply a significant buff. From Noah to Sara, each of your characters has a unique and different chain order.

In this state, your attacks generate Tactical Points (TP). Each time you exceed 100% TP, you will execute the order and spend part of the chain attack gauge. Exceed 150% or 200% and you will get additional damage bonuses as well as additional attacks. Once the gauge is depleted, your chain will be complete. At the end of each round, you will pick up a party member. This increases to two if you exceed 150% TP and to three if you manage to reach 200%.

Different classes and orders have different effects on the chain attack process: attackers get bonus TP if they are the first to attack, healers cap the gauge at 99% while defenders make sure your attacker with the highest TP is recovered at the end of a turn, as long as you end the turn with their attack. Master chain attacks and watch those tasty damage numbers soar!

Congratulations, you are now well on your way to mastering combat in Xenoblade Chronicles 3. May your enemies tremble in fear.


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