Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Affinity Guide: everything you need to know about the affinity chart for both characters and blades
When it comes to the RPGs of 2017, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 features some of the more in-depth character customization systems - and much of how you build out your character is defined by the Affinity Chart, a simple looking character upgrade grid that actually holds a surprising level of depth within it.
On other areas of the site we've already covered the other elements of character progression and team composition for combat in Xenoblade 2 including a Battle System Guide, information on the blade system, a full list of unlockable rare blades and much more - but this page is going to be all about the affinity chart and associated systems - they're a major part of combat in Xenoblade 2 and will make a huge difference to how you play out your combat encounters.
So, here goes - we're going to get into how affinity upgrades work, how they impact you and even offer some tips on what affinity upgrades might be best to pick up early on to make Xenoblade 2's combat a breeze. Let's get to it...
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 can get pretty complicated, but we've got guides to help out...
- Battle System Guide: Combat strategy tips and tricks
- Blades Guide: the best blades, plus unlocking, upgrading and using overdrive protocol
- Classes Guide: All the roles and jobs available to party members
- Rare Blades Guide: All elements, roles, field skills, and where to find every rare blade
- Booster Guide: all about Bravery, Truth, Compassion and Justice Boosters
- Pouch Items and where to find Pouch Expansions
- Tiger Tiger Guide: how to play and upgrade Poppi
- Unlocking Vess via the Tranquility side quest
- Finding Confusion Ivy for the Concerned Carpenter Side Quest
- Snow-White Rhino Location for the Young Man's Prize Side Quest
Using the Xenoblade 2 Affinity Chart to Upgrade Characters
The Affinity Chart in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is found in the characters section of the main menu. It's the thrid option along, and bringing it up will allow you to see a single character's affinity chart. Every single playable driver character has one of these affinity charts, and you'll be able to flick between the affinity chart for each character currently available to you using the ZL and ZR buttons on your Switch controller of choice. You can see what character affinity chart menus look like above.
Blades also have affinity charts - this is something we touch on in our guide to Xenoblade 2's blades system in general - and we'll also talk about it further down on this page, but for now let's focus on characters.
In order to get new skills from the affinity chart, you'll need to spend skill points. Skill points are earned for every single enemy you defeat in combat, so the easiest way to get skill points for the affinity chart to upgade is to engage in that age-old RPG past-time: grinding. Xenoblade 2's huge world is packed with enemies to take on, so just find a level-appropriate area to battle in and get to fighting, or alternatively continue on with the story, which'll also push you into more fights. Completing quests will also earn you bonus skill points on occasion.
Each character will have access to 5 unlockable skills in the first phase, but this will then increase to 10 and finally 15 as you progress through the affinity chart.
Every single character in the game their own unique set of upgrades on their unique affinity upgrade chart, and this skill tree basically pushes characters to lean into their natural strengths. While the blade system does allow you to change up a lot of the characters significantly, this is where Xenoblade 2 has what feels mmost like a traditional class system, where some characters will simply be naturally better at some things than others. You do, however, have some control over the order in which a character recieves their upgrades. On that note...
Xenoblade 2: The Best Character Skills to buy from the Affinity Chart Early
Sadly, there isn't as much raw choice as you might hope in Xenoblade 2's affinity chart, as you can't purchase later upgrades until you've purchased all thsoe before it. The chart's semicircle shape dictates this: in order to buy a skill on the second rung, you'll first need to own the skills that precede it.
With that said, there is a basic recommendation we'd make for all characters regardless of their skill trees: grab the health upgrades first. Xenoblade 2 pretty quickly ramps up the stakes in its combat by introducing hard-hitting enemies that can do some nasty damage if you get in their way, and the open world is full of high-level foes who you're quite likely to accidentally aggro at some stage.
By picking up the health upgrades first, you'll ensure you can survive these sorts of encounters long enough to either get your combat footing or to run away and escape. Once you've got the health upgrades, the next thing you should probably prioritise for characters is strength, since that'll allow you to dish out the damage you'll need in order to actually defeat enemies. For some more support-leaning characters other skills may be more initially appealing.
Ultimately the choice is yours, and the relatively linear nature of the skill trees does mean that you'll end up at the same point eventually anyway.
Upgrading Blades with their Affinity Chart and understanding Blade Affinity in Xenoblade 2
While there's an awful lot of them, every single blade in Xenoblade 2 also has access to their very own affinity chart. This looks similar to the one for characters and is accessed in a similar way (head to Manage Blades this time, then Affinity Chart) but is also much larger with a greater variety of skills to choose from. Blade Affinity Rewards are also unlocked in a different way.
As you might notice, the options on this grid are called Affinity Rewards, not Skills. This is basically because they're tied to the affinity between a blade and their driver. Affinity will increase when a driver and a blade resonate with each other in combat, and fighting more alongside a blade and defeating enemies with them will increase affinity. Affinity is even represented visually in combat:
In the above screenshot you'll see a yellow line connecting blade and driver - this is an affinity line. These come in different colors and have different lengths, starting out blue and shorter range but eventually evolving into a yellow connection that can stretch much further. The better and stronger an affinity between blade and driver, the more skills (aka Affinity Rewards) they'll be able to access as upgrades in their own affinity chart.
As with the driver/character skill affinity charts, you'll have to unlock the preceding skills before heading to the ones on later roles. You'll find a wide variety of skills and perks on this affinity chart, from things relating to field skills to passive and active buffs for combat.
The tree unlocks in linear stages, though you'll still want to plan ahead what upgrades you'll want to buy first in any given row. In many cases there will be prerequisites to unlock the ability to use any skill - and you can freely scan around the affinity chart of your favorite blades to see what you need to do to power them up.
Xenoblade 2's blades vary greatly in terms of how useful and powerful they are, with the very best in the game the difficult to obtain rare blades. Don't let this define your choices, however - every single blade in the game can be made more viable by simply digging into their upgrades and grinding out affinity bonds through using them in combat. Experiment with your blades and their upgrades on the affinity chart - it can make even weaker blades far more viable and useful.