The first thing early adopters of Xenoblade Chronicles X will have noticed is that it is a very large game with an often overwhelming amount to take in. Tutorials are infrequent and generally difficult to initially grasp. Those who live for JRPGs will no doubt enjoy discovering and tinkering with all the intricacies themselves. For those of you who tend to struggle with open worlds and intimidating mechanics, fear not. I’ve put together some of the most efficient tips and strategies to help you get the most out of your journey and make life easier early on. I know I would’ve appreciated a few when setting off on my grand adventure.
If you haven’t read my extensive review of Monolith Soft’s massive adventure, be sure to check it out here.
The GamePad is your best friend
Immediately after you join BLADE, the world map of Mira is displayed on the GamePad, otherwise known as your Comm Device. This is by far the most handy tool in the game and one you should focus your attention on at all times. Segment View is a map mode which splits each region into, well, segments. Each of these areas show locations and detailed information for FrontierNav Sites, Tyrants, Treasure and missions. The color of each segment also corresponds to the danger level of enemies which inhabit the area. With your own current location pinpointed and the ability to fast travel to any landmark, it couldn’t be any more efficient.
Oh wait, yes it could! By switching to the FrontierNav View you can easily view information about installed Data Probes and how much resources they’re currently generating; their types can be changed at any time as well. Comprehensive details such as production ranking and a list of minable resources are also available, ensuring you get the most out of probe management. Once you’ve wrapped your head around it all, it’s safe to say you’d feel lost without the Comm Device. The GamePad is the perfect partner for exploring Mira and bumping up the survey rate.
Explore and experience
Mira is one of the richest game worlds you’re ever likely to experience, so take your time with it. Whether that entails exploring the land to seek out undiscovered locations, complete missions, defeat Tyrant beasts or install an endless number of Data Probes. It’ll all help towards story progression either way, as well as present you with some attractive bonuses — from XP to items. Don’t rush, soak it all up. There’s no time like your first.
Power-up! Don’t forget to upgrade your Arts, Skills and Equipment
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to regularly maintain your party. It can be the difference between the most humiliating defeat and a “no sweat” triumphant victory. Arts are your main method of attack and defense, so you should focus on upgrading those first. Upgrading Arts will always reduce their cool-down time. Depending on the type of Art, it can also increase damage, effect duration and the power of its additional effects. Good stuff all round.
Skills are also worth bearing in mind. These are small power-ups which are acquired by ranking up in a particular Class (yes, we’ll get to that next). These passive abilities can consist of anything from increasing maximum HP to boosting physical damage. Once equipped to a character, their effects become active immediately. Up to four Skills can be assigned to each character and can be upgraded in the same way as Arts.
Whether it’s Arts or Skills you want to strengthen, it’s going to cost Battle Points. These are obtained by leveling up or increasing Class rank, discovering base camps, retrieving treasure, completing Squad Missions, or even adding items to the Collectopedia. Despite all these methods of earning, Battle Points are quite precious. After a few upgrades, you’ll be cleaned out sooner than you were expecting. As such, I’d advise prioritizing upgrading Arts and Skills you actually plan on using, instead of throwing points away willy-nilly. Basically, don’t bother upgrading Arts that aren’t even assigned to your move palette. It’s wasteful and you’ll regret it.
The other most important upgrade is with your equipment. Be sure to visit the Shop Terminal and purchase new weapons and armor on a semi-regular basis. Every ten levels or so should suffice. It makes a huge difference, and you don’t have to understand all the ins and outs of equipment stats to find the better item. If the item you’re viewing has stats marked blue, it means those particular attributes are stronger than that of your currently equipped item, and vice versa for red. If you’re completely clueless, head to your Ground Gear. Under the sub-menu is an option to equip “strongest gear” which automatically selects the most powerful items you have in your Inventory.
It’s all well and good remembering to beef up your player character, but don’t forget this has to be done manually for each member of the party. The AI is smart, but not THAT smart.
Change your Class regularly
Classes are the routes to progression in combat. Each one comes with its own Art moveset, stat bonuses and weapon types. Some provide a more balanced mix, while others are geared toward strictly offense or defense. You start out on the “Drifter” Class before further paths open up. Considering each Class maxes out at Rank 10, it’d be very wise to switch out and immediately start leveling up a new one. There’s no harm in experimenting with these, especially early on in the game. Find out which play style suits you best before moving on to the advanced Classes.
Fill in the Collectopedia already!
Those shiny blue objects you’ve been scooping up and hoarding? Well, if you don’t currently require them for a quest, they’re not much use sitting around in your Inventory. Stick them in the Collectopedia, the database for all the mysterious goodies to be found throughout Mira. Each continent is arranged in categories, with sections to fill out for fruits, veggies, fauna, etc.
Xenoblade fans should know all about this already, and exactly why it’s worth using. Registering collectibles gives you useful rewards. Blocks marked with a star signify “Lucky Panels.” Assigning items to these slots will net you some Battle Points for upgrading Arts. More Battle Points, as well as Holo-figures and special Data Probes are awarded for completing categories, rows, and entire regions. So what are you waiting for? Get collecting!
Upgrade your Mechanical Field-Skill
All that junk you discover out in the field known as treasure? Each one is tied to a Field-Skill, available in three different varieties: Mechanical, Biological and Archaeological. To open certain treasures, you need to ensure the required level of the relevant Field-Skill matches your own. Salvaging goods from “Indigen Dung” is messy business, but not everyone has the stomach — it will require a specific level in the Biological skill. You start off with each of the three abilities at Level 1, but how do you upgrade them? Simple: increase your BLADE level.
Buh-BLADE level?! What’s that? It’s about as complicated as your character level. Instead of requiring experience points to level up, you need Division Points. These are earned through BLADE activities such as installing Data Probes, defeating Indigens, and completing missions. Depending on your chosen Division, you will earn even more points for partaking in specialty activities. For example, Curators will receive extra for picking up collectibles. As if it wasn’t rewarding enough.
Each time your BLADE level rises, talk to Eleonora outside of Mission Control. You’ll be gifted fancy bonuses for customizing the hub as well as the choice of a single Field-Skill upgrade. My advice would be to focus on the Mechanical skill from the get go, especially if you want to focus on getting through the story and surveying the land. The reason? Data Probes. These will always require the Mechanical Field-Skill, so it makes sense to prioritize powering it up. You don’t want to spend hours tracking down a Data Probe only to find out your level isn’t high enough to install it!
Play around with Data Probes
As soon as you’ve installed a number of Data Probes, you’ll begin to receive money and other bonuses at regularly timed intervals. It’s possible to use the segment map on the GamePad to switch out any basic device and replace it with another type of probe to generate more resources. Mining Probes have a higher production ability and increase the amount of Miranium produced. Research Probes yield much greater financial profit depending on the number of secret and scenic spots discovered around a particular area. Then there are Storage Probes to increase maximum Miranium capacity, Booster Probes to increase the primary functions of other probes, among many others.
If probes of the same type are connected in links of three, five, or eight, it can boost their effects dramatically. Sounds rather complex, yes? That’s because it is, but it’s arguably one of the most important features in the game and one you should adjust to sooner rather than later. It’s the quickest and most efficient way to earn money and Miranium without having to do a whole lot but wait around for the return profit. A more hands-on tutorial is offered during “The Probe-fessional” mission after Chapter 3. I’d get right on that if I were you!
Make time for all party members
The further you progress through the game’s story missions, the more characters you’ll unlock for your party. While it’s fine to have preferences, it’s also a good idea to swap around and experiment every now and then. I say this because during some point in the story, you’ll be required to use characters you haven’t bothered with since the start of the game. Neglecting them will cause more frustrations later on when you discover they’re under-leveled and you don’t have the required Affinity level with them to complete mandatory missions. Feel free to commit to your favorites, just don’t forget about the others. Invite them out on a mission every now and then.
Use Reward Tickets wisely
Reward Tickets are earned by completing Squad Tasks, the shared objectives between online players which occasionally pop up in the bottom right corner of the screen. These usually including defeating certain types of Indigen or picking up specific collectibles. Unlike the collectibles, target enemies can easy be tracked down by the “S” mark floating above their heads.
These tasks are usually quick to finish, and you’ll even find yourself effortlessly earning Reward Tickets thanks to the members of your lobby completing tasks. But what are Reward Tickets and just why are they so useful? Find out by heading to the Network Console in the BLADE Barracks. As you can see, these tickets can be spent on literally any material in the game, no matter how rare. This can be an absolute lifesaver when it comes to fetch quests when the enemy you need to gather materials from is just as uncommon as the item drops themselves. Spend ’em wisely.
Claim your Division Spoils daily
Self-explanatory really. If you’re playing online and earning Division Points, it all gets added to your Division’s overall daily total which earns you rewards. There are eight Divisions in all, which means your group can place anywhere between one to eight. Depending on where you rank, the broader range of bonuses are there to select from. The consumable items you redeem for free consist of extra cash, Salvage Tickets to recover damaged Skells, and fuel recovery items. It’s always worth picking up Division Spoils daily — if you’ve forgotten about them, a handy glowing icon will appear on the top of the GamePad screen.
Don’t be afraid to sneak around!
As there is no traditional progression route throughout Mira’s five lands, it’s very likely that you’ll often bump into enemies of a much greater level than your own. Some of these can be harmless, but others are extremely hostile and, if they catch a glimpse, will immediately hunt you down. But never let that put you off of reaching unexplored territory. There’s a pack of Level 30s, but you’ve only just reached double digits? No matter, if you’re careful enough, you can pass right by them. Who knows? There could be a Data Probe around the corner. It’s fun seeing what you can get away with early on and using the environment to your advantage. Try working your way up that rocky cliff to stay out of sight. Be adventurous — it can be incredibly satisfying. If all else fails…
There’s absolutely no shame in fleeing from tough enemies. You’ll be doing it a lot. In this type of game, picking your battles and knowing your limits is necessary to succeed. If you know you can’t take on that Level 50 right now, don’t sweat it. It’d only wipe you out with one attack anyway. When you’re experienced enough, you can get your revenge. If you don’t manage to get away from a strong Indigen in one piece, it doesn’t matter all that much. There is no consequence for dying. You’ll be spawned right back to your last visited landmark. Getting out of there alive will just save time.
Can’t beat a Boss? Bring the level down!
Throughout the story you will fight some extremely tough enemies, even if your party levels are on par. Understanding not everyone is a fan of challenge, the developers have kindly offered an easy alternative to the typical struggle or grind. If you’re defeated by the same boss three times in a row, the game will ask if you’d like to lower the difficulty, which decreases the boss’s level. Just like dying, there are ZERO consequences here. Admitting you can’t do it won’t come back to bite you later, so you should definitely take advantage of this if you feel yourself becoming too frustrated. Personally, I had too much pride to give in to this option, but that meant more grinding for me. Who’s the real winner?
Without turning this into an essay, that’s all the advice you could need when starting out. Though certainly not relevant to the majority of players at this point, there are also some very basic things to note regarding Skell management:
Keep an eye on Insurance
The first thing you’ll discover about Skells is how costly they are to manage. As such, you’ll want to keep a close eye on insurance at all times. Each Skell you receive comes with three insurance repairs. This will allow you to get a free replacement up to three times when your Skell has been completely destroyed. If your counter is currently on zero and you manage to destroy your robot once again, it’s going to cost ya. Either a hefty sum of Credits or a Salvage Ticket, to be precise. Once it’s expired there’s no way to purchase any further insurance for a Skell, so watch out.
If it breaks, evacuate!
Immediately after your Skell’s HP reaches zero, a Soul Challenge will appear. This is essentially a quick-time event identical to that of Soul Voices you’ve encountered in battle. Pressing “B” at the correct time and receiving a “Perfect” rating allows you to safely evacuate your Skell right before it’s blown into smithereens. The best part is, it will be repaired without dipping into the insurance. Even sweeter? When party members’ Skells are destroyed, they will always receive a perfect rating, meaning you never have to splash out on their repairs. Though, it’s very much worth bearing in mind if you’ve passed on a Skell with zero remaining insurance, their evacuation could likely result in salvage fees for whatever reason. Life lesson: don’t be a cheapskate; buy everyone shiny new mechs.
Side note: Online features become available after completing Chapter 3. Skells become available after Chapter 6, and the Flight Pack can be obtained upon finishing Chapter 9.
Don’t understand anything? Check the Manual
Seriously, you learned nothing from my advice? I must apologize and point you in the direction of the game manual. It’s pinned to the pause menu for a reason and tells a great deal more about the game’s features than I’ll ever be able to. It’s an insightful read to say the least.
Obviously this article isn’t the most comprehensive guide to Xenoblade Chronicles X. You could read an entire walkthrough and I’d still guarantee you wouldn’t have managed to wrap your head around everything. These are just a selection of pointers to get you started, or a list to refer back to if you’ve forgotten the basics.
I hope these Xenoblade Chronicles X tips help you on your journey throughout Mira, and if you have any other suggestions, chuck them in the comments below. Good luck, adventurers!