Xenoblade Chronicles 3 arts, talent arts and combos

Xenoblade Chronicles 3its combat system is, in a word, fast-paced. You have six characters, each with three arts, one talent art, and at least one fusion art (possibly), all auto-attacking while also trying to string together combos to impose statuses on enemies. Also, it’s a bit of a rhythm game as you try to cancel attacks in Arts. It’s a lot to try to manage.

In that Xenoblade Chronicles 3 combat guide, we’ll walk you through the basics of combat, talk a little about arts, talent arts, and fusion arts and how to cancel them all in a series of attacks, and then we’ll talk about combos.

Quick Note: Additions to the combat system arrive slowly as the game progresses. For example, you won’t have Talent Arts at the beginning of the game, and Fusion Arts will appear even later. We’re going to include them all here because the system builds itself from the ground up to the point where it gets, frankly, really confusing.


Aggro and positioning

Let’s start with the basics. Curved, glowing lines indicate who the baddies you’re fighting are focused on – it’s called agro. You gain aggro (from an enemy) by hitting them with strong attacks or healing allies. A blue line means the enemy is attacking a tank-type character that is very good at taking damage. A red line indicates that they are targeting someone who is less able to handle the attacks.

Image: Monolith Soft/Nintendo via Polygon

Tactically, aggro determines where the enemy is facing. This matters because certain arts rely on your location relative to the enemy you’re attacking—your own positioning. For example, Noah Edge Thrust The art deals extra damage when attacking from behind. You can see your current position relative to the enemy you are attacking as an arrow above the arts icons.


Arts, Talent Arts, and Fusion Arts

By default, each of your characters will automatically attack every few seconds when you’re in range of an enemy (you’ll see a small sword symbol with an arrow above and slightly to the right of the arts icons). However, this is only your main attack and doesn’t do much damage.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 battle with Sena preparing to perform the Gemini Strike talent art.

Image: Monolith Soft/Nintendo via Polygon

  • Arts are special attacks that are stronger than auto attacks and are linked to the B, X, and Y buttons. They must be recharged between uses—Noah, Eunie, and Lanz’s Arts recharge over time, while Mio, Taion, and Sena’s Arts recharge while performing auto attacks.
  • Talent Arts are stronger arts and map to the A button. The talent art also has a cooldown, but it recharges while the character is performing “role actions” – basically doing what the class is good at. It’s as simple as Healers heal, Attackers attack and Defenders defend.
  • Fusion Arts come a little later in the game. These are Class Arts — Arts of the class you’re currently playing — combined (fused) with Master Arts — Arts of classes you’ve ranked.

Arts, Talent Arts, and Fusion Arts are strong on their own, but they get even better when you cancel them. Which brings us to…


Cancellation

You can trigger an Art or Talent Art at any time, but the most effective and fastest way to deal damage is through cancellation one attack into another. Cancellation is, frankly, a misleading name. If you trigger the next move just as it hits a previous move, you’ll cancel it — meaning the attack speeds up and deals damage faster.

  • Auto attacks can be canceled into Arts.
  • Arts can be canceled in Talent Arts.
  • Arts can also be canceled in Fusion Arts.
  • Fusion Arts can be canceled into Arts or other Fusion Arts.

This means that once your various arts have (re)charged, you can chain them together in a powerful series of attacks.


The combo

Combos are a series of arts (from different characters) that stack their status effects — and only arts that deal status effects can be used in a combo. The prime example is that of Noah Side break Art (which relies on his position) and inflicts rest state followed by Lanz Taurus Rush which inflicts Overturning. This combo will knock the enemy down for a while. How long each effect is in… uh… effect is shown by a timer to the left of the enemy’s health bar.


Tactics

Since you only ever control one character at a time, you’ll have to tell the other two (and later five) what to do. Hold down the ZL (left trigger) button to pull up the tactical menu. Pressing the different directions on the D-pad will change how everyone else fights.

  • Focus attacks (top of the D-pad) means that all party members will attack the enemy the controlled character is fighting.
  • Follow the leader and Spread out (bottom of D-pad) determines how your allies will position themselves around the enemy.
  • Any combination, A smashing combinationand Burst Combo (to the left of the D-pad) determine which combos your characters will attempt to perform. Smash Combos focus on dealing damage while Burst Combos emphasize effects.

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