Chain Attacks are a battle mechanic in Xenoblade Chronicles. They can be used by both the party and certain groups of enemies. The members of the Chain Attack take turns attacking one after the other with one enemy targeted.
The party can use Chain Attacks when the three bars of the Party Gauge are full. If two or more members of the party can perform a Chain Attack, blue lines connecting the members will be shown on the screen. Chain Attacks will disrupt and change an attack foreseen in a Vision.
Enemies able to perform Chain Attacks
Chain Attacks may be used by groups of enemies that fight with the party for a prolonged amount of time. Any group that has two or more enemies may use a Chain Attack, indicated by red lines connecting the active enemies together. Only kindred or grouped enemies can use Chain Attacks together. Enemies capable of performing Chain Attacks are humanoid or Mechon enemies, except those assisting their leader:
- Trainer Harmelon assisted by two Berserk Arduns
- Vagrant Alfead and two Brave Tirkin
- Field Altrich and two Lancer Tirkin
Story Exclusive Enemies
Chain multipliers boost arts' power and healing during a Chain Attack. The chain multiplier will only go up when arts of the same color are used consecutively, such as all red arts (Shulk's Back Slash and Riki's Sneaky). The maximum chain multiplier is five, which is labeled as "MAX" on the gauge.
Talent Arts are neutral and can be linked with any color art. For example, a red art followed by a Talent Art and a blue art will still have a chain multiplier of three. Monado arts are treated as Talent Arts in a Chain Attack.
The multipliers in a Chain Attack can be calculated as followed:
- "x1" = damage = Normal
- "x2" = damage +100%
- "x3" = damage +300%
- "x4" = damage +500%
- "MAX" = damage +700%
Keep in mind that this multiplier stacks with all other additive damage multipliers.
Chain links are the attacks that are used inside of a Chain Attack. These can range from zero consecutive attacks to fifteen.
After the second or third art used in a Chain Attack, a "B" prompt may appear. If the "B" button is successfully pressed, similar to that of Burst Affinity, another link will be added to the party's Chain Attack. If prompt is missed, the Chain Attack immediately comes to an end. The prompt ring's converging speed increases as the number of chain links increases.
There are a few factors that influence the chance of the prompt appearing:
- Affinity between the characters in the Chain Attack.
- Where the circle is stopped; on the white line or after it.
- Characters' Tension.
- Character's skills, such as Shulk's Chain of Friendship.
There is a formula to try and determine the chance of a successful chain link:
chance of chain link continuation = tension level parameter (expressed in percent) + 30 * (affinity points / 5000) + additional chain link skill (15% from Shulk; 5% from Reyn) + B button press accuracy
Skill links come from Shulk's Humanity skill tree and Reyn's Camaraderie skill tree, if applicable. If the B button is pressed just when the ring lands on the rim of the circle, the chain link for the next battle member is increased by 20%. Otherwise, there is no chain link bonus.
Tension level parameters are as followed:
- Very low tension = 0
- Low tension = 15
- Normal = 20
- High tension = 25
- Very high tension = 30
Active status ailments have various reactions during Chain Attacks. This can help or hinder the party, depending on what status is currently applied and when the Chain Attack is used.
- During a Chain Attack, the damage timer for the party and for enemies freezes. This means that if ten seconds were left to suffer a status when a Chain Attack starts, those ten seconds will still remain when the Chain Attack is finished.
- Debuffs can be healed during a Chain Attack by using appropriate arts. They will be removed instantly and will not resume after the Chain Attack ends.
- If a status art such as Riki's Burninate is used on an enemy during a Chain Attack, the effects will trigger; however, they will not start taking effect until the Chain Attack ends.
- If an enemy is already under the influence of a status effect, the timer will stop until the Chain Attack is over. This allows for many follow-ups.
- If an enemy is under the influence of a status effect, arts that deal extra damage will continue to do so; this includes gems.
- Some enemies are resistant to certain status effects; this can be averted during a Chain Attack, as all enemies with a resistance will be unable to stop the status effect. However, if the enemy is immune to a particular status effect, it will keep its immunity during the Chain Attack.
Status effects on the party such as Topple and Daze will have their effects frozen, preventing any effected party member from participating in a Chain Attack.
- Though a Chain Attack can be initiated while a party member is suffering from a status effect, only the party members that are able to move will be able to participate. This can greatly reduce damage and healing opportunities.
Arts used during Chain Attacks are affected by a variety of factors. These can vary from removing debuffs to eliminating cooldown times, or the ability to stack status effects. While using a Chain Attack, all arts become available to use as long as their normal conditions are met. However, after an art is used, it will not be available for the next chain link.
- Talent Arts can only be used if they are available before the Chain Link begins. Their effects are the same as normal and also receive the chain multiplier bonus if they are an offensive or healing art.
- Sharla cannot use her Talent Art during a Chain Attack; if used, it would remove her from being able to participate in the Chain Attack.
Hindering Player Arts
- There are some arts that can keep a party member from participating in the Chain Attack. Two such Arts are Riki's Play Dead and Sharla's Cooldown.
- Sharla will continue to build Overheat while she is in a Chain Attack, however her rifle will not overheat allowing her to use arts indefinitely during the Chain Attack.
- Any art that causes a status effect can be stacked, allowing a timer to be built up on an enemy that lasts much longer than normal. This can lead to what is known as "Topple Locking".
- Any art that would cause status damage, such as Melia's Fire Elemental, will do the damage during the turn it was used, but the Blaze effect will not activate until after the Chain Attack is over.
- Any Aura can be used during a Chain Attack and will not have its timer start until after the Chain Attack ends.
- The effects of any Aura will still work and will come in to play if the party member gets another turn during a chain link.
- Healing arts can be used like normal; however, there are arts that increase their effectiveness in Chain Attacks.
- All debuffing arts, such as Say Sorry and Tempest Kick, will still remove certain effects as per their descriptions during a Chain Attack.
- Arts that buff allies can be used normally during Chain Attacks.
- While Melia has her elementals above her, the buffs will affect the surrounding party members. It is important to make sure Melia is close enough for the party members to be in range during the Chain Attack.
- Any move with a buff radius, such as Dunban's Peerless, will buff allies in range as well, and the effect time of drawing Aggro will not be added in.
- Any art that does more than one hit, such as Dunban's Worldly Slash, will still do the full combo.
- These hits will all have the same art multiplier when the art is first used.
- Any art that has back attack bonuses will only use those bonuses if the party member is at the back of the enemy.
- Some enemies will rotate to face a character after a Chain Attack is initiated, eliminating the bonus for being behind them. Topple can be used to remedy this.
- Arts that perform knockback will still cause enemies to be moved during Chain Attacks. The party's AI will move the next party member to go within range for the next chain link.
- Arts that gain affects in certain conditions will still need these conditions to be met.
- These effects will carry over to the next chain link the party member is in. For example, if Dunban uses Serene Heart and uses Thunder in a later chain link, the added effect will still activate, as it was the last move he used.
- If a condition is met as a Chain Attack ends, the art can be used following the end of the Chain Attack as well. For example, if Dunban uses Gale Slash as the chain link ends, he can use Electric Gutbuster and gain the Break bonus.
- Inversely, if the character uses a conditional before the chain link is started the added affect is carried over. For example, if Dunban uses and connects with Gale Slash before the Chain Attack is initiated and the uses Electric Gutbuster as his first attack in the chain he will gain the added bonus of Break.
- It is important to note that the move must hit before the Chain Attack begins, or it can be canceled and cause the character to lose the bonus effect.
- Even during Chain Attacks, the party can only do one damage to a Mechon and bounce back, unless they are using the Monado, Anti-Mechon Weapons, or Monado Enchant.
- Faced Mechon are unable to be harmed by the Monado (until Prison Island is completed) and most are resistant to status effects such as Break. It is possible, however, to successfully Break or Topple these enemies with a Chain Attack.
- With the exception of Mechon and some species such as Wisps, almost all aerial enemies are Immune to Topple and Break. Chain Attacks will not remove the immunity they have; however, they can be used to deal massive damage or use status effects consistently enough make up for this lack of weakness.
- Defeating an enemy during a Chain Attack fills the party gauge by one bar and awards 25% additional EXP and AP, and double the amount of SP.
- If there are more enemies currently engaged in battle when an enemy is defeated, all party members will select a new target to continue the Chain Attack.
- During Chain Attacks, party members are immune to debuffs, so spikes can be safely dispelled or ignored.
- More critical damage can be inflicted if the enemy is Toppled or Dazed during a Chain Attack.
- Chain Attacks can be abused. This video demonstrates one of several ways.
- Once a Chain Attack is initiated, the AI will move the lead party member to where any of his or her Arts in the Battle Pallet will be able to reach the targeted enemy. Obstacles in the environment may complicate this process. After a certain amount of time of controlling the lead party member, the AI will stop, and the player will be left with whatever Arts are available with the character's proximity to the targeted enemy. This can result in the following scenarios:
- The character is far enough away from the targeted enemy that some offensive Arts are out of range and can not be used.
- The character is far enough away from the targeted enemy that only Blue Arts and Auras can be used.
- The character is far enough away from the targeted enemy that no offensive Arts can be used, and the character does not have any Blue Arts or Auras in the Battle Pallet at the time, and the character is skipped. The Chain Attack proceeds or the prompt for a Chain Link appears. The Chain Multiplier is unaffected.
In the Super Smash Bros. series
Shulk appears as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U, with his Final Smash being a Chain Attack. When the Special Button is pressed, Shulk will hold his hand out and create a spherical light. If an opponent is caught in the light, they will be transported to an empty chamber with a black sky and a white floor, and Dunban and Riki join Shulk in a chain attack. While Riki attacks with his Biter and with Lurgy, Shulk and Dunban attack with a flurry of sword strikes. Near the end, Dunban uses an upward strike sending the victim(s) into the air, allowing Shulk to deliver the midair Final Blow.
The damage output and knockback are affected by the Monado Art Shulk has active, if any. For instance, the Buster art makes this attack more powerful but will not knock enemies very far, while the Smash art launches foes significantly farther, but does little damage.
In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Shulk's final smash is still Chain Attack, but Fiora was added into the animation despite the fact that a Chain Attack with four party members is impossible.