Chain attacks have consistently been the most powerful tool in a player’s arsenal in the numerous Xenoblade Chronicles games. In its latest entry, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, that hasn’t changed. This time, Chain Attacks are all about strategic decision-making in the heat of the moment. This guide will tell you the basics, optimal strategies, and ways to build around Chain Attacks.
Be aware that this guide may contain spoilers. No inherent story spoilers, but you might see the use of some of the game’s optional Heroes and Classes. As a rule, the only classes that will be used are classes shown in the Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Direct. However, you might see Arts of other classes equipped as Master Arts in screenshots. Additionally, you might see some high-level unique monsters, including a few super bosses.
Chain Attacks can be used starting from the quest “Riku & Manana” in Chapter 2. During battles, you’ll find the Chain Attack gauge to the right of your screen. It fills up by landing critical hits, canceling attacks, and fulfilling Role Actions. If it’s filled up, press + to get started.
Before every round of a chain attack, you can see up to 3 characters whose Chain Orders you can select, each giving different buffs during the Chain Attack. Note that selecting a Chain Order doesn’t apply that buff immediately, but we’ll get to that shortly. After selecting a Chain Order, one-third of the Chain Attack Gauge is depleted. Because of this, you can do up to 3 rounds in a single Chain Attack. You can extend this, but again, we’ll get to that.
During Chain Attacks, you see all party members able to attack at the bottom left. You can select a party member to use with the D-pad, then use an Art with X/Y/B, using up that character’s turn. Every character has a certain amount of TP associated with them. Using that character to attack charges up the gauge to the upper right of the screen, with one 1TP equalling 1%. Once the amount of TP exceeds 100%, the character whose order was selected character uses their Chain Art and the Completion Bonus of the Order is activated. If there is still one-third of the gauge left, you can do another round. At least one character you used prior is reactivated, allowing you to use them again. However, if you run out of available characters before finishing the Order, the Chain Attack ends early. You can also manually cancel Chain Attacks, but why would you do that?
While every character starts out with a certain amount of TP, that value is increased during the Chain Attack. When the character uses an Art, TP is increased by various factors. You’ll see plenty of extra bonuses you get, like “High HP”, “No Block”, “Buff” etc. However, there are some ways to consistently increase it.
Every Chain Order is associated with a Role and a “Force” (i.e. nation), depending on the character. If the character using an Art shares the same Role as the character whose Chain Order is charging up, they get 10 extra TP.. If they share the same country of origin, they get 5 extra TP. Do note this: Chain Orders are associated with the original Role of the character. For instance, Noah’s Chain Order “Brave Assault” will always be an Attacker, even if he’s currently on healing duty. Finally, TP carries over between rounds, so the more TP you get in a round, the more you’ll have in the next.
Matching nations and Roles are a great way to consistently increase TP, but that might not be enough. And if TP gets too high, it’ll be too easy to prematurely end a round. Getting more control of which characters get reactivated might also be useful. That is where Role Effects come in, which give specific Roles specific uses in Chain Attacks.
- First Blood: when an Attacker attacks first in a round, their TP is multiplied by 125%. It’s perfect for easily getting more TP for a single unit.
- Point Limit: When using a Healer, the total TP won’t exceed 99%. Great for getting extra attacks in a round without risking it ending prematurely.
- Back in Action: When completing an order with a Defender, it reactivates the character(s) with the most TP. It excels at keeping the Chain Attack going.
Only getting one character back in a single round might make later rounds more difficult. Even with Role Effects, it might be easy to run out of characters to use. As such, you might want to go for a higher Rating. While you can end a round at 100%, that’d only give you a ‘Cool’ rating. But if the percentage exceeds 150%, you get a ‘Bravo’ rating. This increases the damage multiplier even more, but also reactivates one additional character. If you want to aim even higher, try to go for an ‘Excellent’ rating, as getting to 200% or higher reactivates 3 characters and raises the damage multiplier even further. Going any further than that only raises the damage multiplier.
This is when the Role Effects shine, as they are the key to getting these high ratings. In general, the way to go for any round in a Chain Attack is to use an Attacker first, then a Healer to get the percentage to 99%. Then, finish it off with a Defender to guarantee that the unit with the highest TP returns. However, this means that the TP of the Attacker might grow the most during the Chain Attack. Because of this, it might be best to finish off rounds with an Attacker to get a high Rating in later rounds. Additionally, Healers will always be useful, even if you’re focussing on getting high Ratings using Attackers, considering they’re safe to use, without the risk of ending the Chain Attack when you don’t want to. As such, I’ve found it useful to give some Healers one art focused on dealing damage.
Heroes can’t use Fusion Arts, and might not hit the same damage numbers as an Ouroboros member. However, Heroes have some aces up their sleeve.
First off, Heroes have their own Chain Orders. Similarly to the party members, not all of them are made equally. For instance, Zeon’s Chain Order (increase Defender aggro and granting armor veil to all allies) is not really that useful if you’re using a Chain Attack as a finisher. On the other hand, Alexandria’s gives you a flat increase in critical hit rate, which is always useful. However, you should always use Hero Chain Orders as soon as they come up, regardless of their effect. Why? Well, selecting a Hero Chain Order does not consume a third of the Chain Attack Gauge. As such, they allow for you to use a fourth round, which is obviously a great benefit.
Let’s start by emphasizing this: Heroes can NOT trigger Role Effects. They don’t get First Blood bonuses, finishing with a Defender Hero does not reactivate the character with the highest TP, and don’t rely on Valdi to cap TP at 99%. However, they have unique effects when using them to attack, which are the Heroic Chains. Some of these effects trigger when the Hero acts first in a round, some when they finish a round, and some trigger just by attacking. For instance, Alexandria’s Heroic Chain is basically First Blood, but also gives her attack a 100% critical hit rate. Alternatively, Juniper increases the damage multiplier by 50 percentage points while participating in a round.
As such, Heroes give out unique bonuses that can change the tide of any Chain Attack. When you recruit a new one, be sure to head into a Chain Attack and see what they’re capable of. For one, you can check a Hero’s Heroic Chain by going to the Hero Roster, under System in the main menu. Simply select a Hero, then head to the third tab.
When they’re first introduced, Ouroboros Orders might seem confusing. Not only do you get them alongside the Agnian Ouroboros forms, but they introduce 2 very different methods to trigger them. In reality, there are 2 types of Chain Attacks, depending on how you activate Ouroboros Orders. Let’s discuss them.
Type 1: Using 2 Ouroboros Orders in a Chain Attack
The first method is the most straightforward way to trigger Ouroboros Orders. For this one, simply activate a Chain Attack while currently controlling a lvl 3 Ouroboros. In the first round, you’ll only be able to select the Ouroboros Order of the Interlinked party member you were controlling. Then, simply finish the round as normal, and the Interlinked duo will use their Ouroboros Order. In the next round, all party members will be reactivated, and you’ll use the Ouroboros Order of the opposite party member. For instance, if you start off this type of Chain Attack with Eunie’s Ouroboros Order, Taion gets to use his in round 2. After completing that order, the Chain Attack is over.
As such, this type of Chain Attack is inherently weaker, as you’re limited to 2 rounds, without any way to increase that. As such, it might be best to avoid this type. However, considering all your party members are reactivated in round 2, it’s an incredibly safe type of Chain Attack. Consider using this as a panic button.
Type 2: Using an Ouroboros Order as a finisher
The second type is way more straightforward, as you don’t need to initiate a Chain Attack in a special way. What you do need to do to trigger an Ouroboros finish is use the Chain Order of 2 characters in the same pair. After using the Orders of a duo, the next round will feature an Ouroboros Order. However, there are things of note.
- Selecting an Ouroboros Order causes all characters to be reactivated.
- You only have one shot of getting an Ouroboros Order. If you don’t choose it, you can’t get it back later on in the Chain.
- After using an Ouroboros Order, the Chain Attack ends, no matter how much Chain Attack gauge you have left.
- You can use an Ouroboros Order to add one extra round to the Chain Attack. Let’s say you used Noah’s Order in round 1, a Hero’s in round 2, Sena’s in round 3. If you select Mio’s in round 4, the Chain Attack Gauge will be depleted, so you’d think that’d be the final round. However, finish that round, and you get 1 option to choose from Noah or Mio’s Ouroboros Order. All party members are then reactivated for the final blow.
As such, this is the most effective rotation for a Chain Attack. In rounds 1, 2 and 3, use a Hero Order and the Order of 2 characters, not from the same Ouroboros duo. In round 4, use the Order that’d complete the duo. Their Ouroboros Order can then be used in round 5. This not only gives you one more round, but Ouroboros Orders also deal awesome damage.
Another returning feature from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is Overkill. When you defeat an enemy in a Chain Attack, any additional damage dealt is converted into an EXP multiplier, that charges up the more damage you deal. The higher the multiplier, the more XP, CP and gold you get, to a maximum of 1000% the normal award. As such, you should always aim for an Overkill. Make sure to go to System -> Game and check if Overkill is enabled. However, if you did so many side quests to become over-leveled, consider turning this feature off.
Let’s finish off this guide with some rapid-fire tips, concerning the use of Chain Attacks for offense and defense.