The world of Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition can be daunting, and not just because it takes place on two petrified, continent-sized titans. Originally released in 2010, this updated version of the cult-classic JRPG features a number of additions and quality of life improvements. The visuals have been updated to match with the style of its sequel, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and there is a whole new post-game epilogue to experience as well.

Nevertheless, being dropped into Shulk’s over-sized sneakers is a bit like walking into a casino for the first time. There are so many menus to read and buttons to press and while it’s all very flashy and pleasing to look at, it’s also easy to get lost in. Even outside of Expert Mode, the game can be challenging. This guide will explain the basic fundamentals of quests and combat in this grand adventure.

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Quests in Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition

Story Quests

Like many good role-playing games, Xenoblade Chronicles puts a heavy emphasis on its story. The narrative can be pushed forward by completing Story Quests, which appear on the map as little red flags. Following the dotted line on the mini-map will show the player the route to the next plot beat. If a refresher on the plot is ever needed, the player can pull up a story memo by hitting ZR.

Side Quests

In addition to Story Quests, there are also Side Quests. A LOT of Side Quests. Quest givers will always have a gray exclamation point over their heads and on the map. Some quest-givers have multiple Side Quests that can be taken on at a single time by continuing to talk to them. It’s usually a good idea to take on Side Quests from any nearby quest givers, but there is no need to take every single one, nor is it necessary to complete every Side Quest.

In fact, it’s hardly ever necessary to go too far from the beaten path in order to complete Side Quests. As the player follows the main story, the majority of these Side Quests can be completed along the way, as most simply consist of killing a certain number of a certain enemy and collecting the item they drop. Everything necessary to fight or pick up for a Side Quest will have either a red exclamation point over it, or a blue exclamation point if it’s for a Side Quest the player has set as the “Active Side Quest” in the Quest Log.

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As soon as the requirements for these Side Quests are met, the player will automatically get their rewards. Some Side Quests are a little more in depth and might require backtracking to the actual quest giver, but these are in the minority, and are well-telegraphed in the game by having less generic titles than something like “Monster Quest 4 – Part 3.”

Combat Fundamentals in Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition

Unlike the majority of party-based JRPGs, Xenoblade Chronicles features a combat system most similar to what would be found in an MMORPG like World of Warcraft. Battles take place in real-time, and the player can use L or R to target any nearby enemy. Some enemies will try and strike first based on whether they can see or hear the player, but if the player starts the engagement (by targeting the enemy and then pressing A) they have a chance to increase their Tension by hitting B in time with the big blue B that appears on the screen. Increasing Tension will provide a stat boost from the get-go.

Once the player is within range of an enemy, their character and the rest of their party will automatically begin attacking the enemy. This is great to chip away at a health bar, but the real strategy comes when using Arts, which are designated by the array of icons at the bottom of the screen. These are special abilities with cool-down periods. More Arts are unlocked as the game progresses, but the starting ones are the most fundamental and necessary for these important early game strategies:

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Positional Attacks

Certain attacks will only be effective based on where it lands on the enemy. For example, more damage can be done if the player uses the Back Slash attack on an enemy’s back. When the player is in a good position to land one of these attacks, a little exclamation point will appear next to the Art icon. Look out for these exclamation points and land these Arts whenever you can.

Break, Topple, and Daze Attacks

The best way to dish out damage is to knock down an enemy first, but there are several steps necessary to do this. First, the player will have to land a Break attack. Break attacks are the pink Arts located at the bottom of the screen. After a Break attack is used, the player can topple an enemy with a green colored Art. Since the player can only control one character at a time, it’s important to pay attention to what the rest of their party is doing, and what status debuffs are in effect on the enemy (if, for instance, Shulk has just used a Break attack, there will then be a pink icon next to the enemy; a green topple Art should be used next). Once an enemy is toppled, lay into it with some heavy attacks, but also hit it with a yellow colored daze Art to keep the enemy’s aggro from growing.

Chain Attacks

Chain attacks are a way to get the whole party on the same page. Since the player can input commands for the whole party during a chain attack, this is a great opportunity to Break, Topple, and Daze an enemy. To successfully do this, it’s helpful to be aware of the arrangement of your party, which can always be changed in the menu. The player can also execute three commands of the same color for an additional bonus. For example, there will be an added bonus to using three red-colored attack Arts. Similarly, more health can be recovered by using three blue colored healing Arts.

Non-Combat Tips for Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition

There is a lot to keep track of in the early aughts of this meaty JRPG, but it’s best to get a handle on the combat mechanics early on and to focus on the story while picking up and completing Side Quests as Shulk goes about his business. Items and loot don’t need to be fussed over too much in the beginning, as plenty of money is available just by completing Side Quests. Any items picked up can always be sold, but they might be handier later on in subsequent Side Quests. Where items should be spent, though, is in the Collectopedia. In this menu, the player can donate one of each area-specific item. Doing so unlocks some pretty valuable items.

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Other than all that, the most important thing is to play and have fun. The game can be challenging, but it’s hardly ever punishing.

Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is available on the Nintendo Switch.

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