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Xenoblade Chronicles 3 combat explained

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 combat looks to be as knotty as always, with a dense and layered system of different attacks which we break down for you in our guide

Sena from Xenoblade Chronicles 3 wielding a giant hammer. She is a woman with short hair that glows blue at the edges, a white and black combat outfit, and a stern look on her face. She is in a dark place surrounded by leafless trees.

The Xenoblade series is known for having a twisty and confusing combat system – particularly the last game in the series – and Xenoblade Chronicles 3 doesn’t change that trend. It definitely looks exciting, as we shared in our Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review, but that doesn’t mean it’s simple.

Of course, Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s combat can involve lots of learning on the job, but there are still certain things we can help out with. If you’re more interested in who’s doing the fighting, check out our Xenoblade Chronicles 3 characters guide.

For a detailed look at the new protagonists and how they make the most of XC3 combat, check out our Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Noah and Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Mio guides. We’ve also got a little history lesson on Xenoblade Chronicles’ Operation Rainfall fan movement, as well as an explanation of the Xenoblade Chronicles timeline so you can be sure you know what’s going on.

Now, let’s get into the XC3 combat breakdown.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 combat

A combat scene from Xenoblade Chronicles 3, showing various party members atacking a strange, white, mechanical enemy. The screen is covers in icons and numbers.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 auto-attack

Basic XC3 combat is actually automatic, just like in the previous games. While exploring, you draw your weapon and seamlessly enter battle. The weapons you use, called Blades, are actually materialised by the character.

You can push in the right stick to do a dash, too, helping you better position yourself to make sure your auto-attacks are still within range. This can help with arts that require you to attack from a certain position, too.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 arts

Arts are more powerful attacks with buffs and debuffs, some of which can heal, while others require you to attack from a certain angle. Some can also knock down an enemy, using the break/topple/daze combo from previous games, here again in XC3 combat.

Different classes have different arts and also different roles. You can swap around your characters’ classes, so there’s buckets of freedom to experiment in XC3’s combat. Check out our Xenoblade Chronicles 3 classes guide to find out more.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 master arts

As you earn experience you move up your class rank. This allows you to learn master arts, which are beneficial arts that can be added to a different class. This basically means that classes that wouldn’t normally heal allies could still do so with the correct master art equipped.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 fusion arts

By combining compatible standard arts and master arts, you can do fusion art attacks during XC3’s combat that combine their two effects into one. There are also heroes who have even more classes, therefore more master arts, and new fusion arts. Check out our Xenoblade Chronicles 3 heroes guide to learn more about them.

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Xenoblade Chronicles 3 chain attacks

Chain attacks link multiple arts together and let you deal huge amounts more damage than usual. In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, chain attacks are a bit like a turn-based battle system, except the enemy doesn’t attack, it’s just your party.

You start by choosing a chain order, which is a buff that applies during the chain attack. You have three to choose from, and all our party members’ chain orders are pretty standard. But where XC3 combat gets exciting is when the heroes get involved, though that can be a less regular occurrence.

Once you’ve chosen your chain order, you need to choose different arts to build up the chain attack gauge with tactical points (TP). I know, our gibberish. But the way this works in-game is like a game of cards where you don’t want to lose all your cards.

The more TP you charge, the more characters get reactivated after acting. If you have below 150 TP on a chain attack, only on character reactivates, two for below 200 TP and three for 200 TP and above. The more characters you can get to reactivate, the better.

So, if you can hit 100 TP with one character, perfect! There’s no loss there, as one character gets used, and one character gets brought back. That should be your main focus, as the more TP you can put into the gauge the better chance you have of an Ouroboros order at the end.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Ouroboros Order

Two party members can fuse into a more powerful form known as an Ouroboros during XC3 combat. This is known as interlinking. There are three sets of pairs: Noah and Mio, Eunie and Taion, and Sena and Lanz. You can learn all about them in standard combat with our Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Ouroboros guide.

There are also Ouroboros orders, which can do mega damage during a chain attack. To have an Ouroboros-led chain attack, get your interlink level up to three, then activate the chain attack with the minus button. Getting an Ouroboros order at the end of a standard chain attack seems to be about the number of reactivations you get, though it isn’t completely clear.

That’s all we’ve got on XC3 combat. For more, check out everything coming in the Xenoblade Chronicles 3 expansion pass to see if it’s worth picking up.