THE FOLLOWING GUIDE IS BASED ON PC GAMEPLAY USING AN XBOX CONTROLLER
Artes are nothing more than battle moves and combos you might find in action games. In the artes screen, you simply need to assign each arte to whichever button you like (Y, B, A, or X), and pressing those buttons in battle will execute the assigned move. You may only assign four artes for battle, but you begin the game with many more, so you should switch them out regularly.
Artes are unique to each character, and every character will learn new artes as they level up. This is why alternating artes is so important: it gives you an idea of the most powerful attacks and combos, as well as improving unity and teamwork.
Certain enemies are weak against certain artes, and using these against them will not only do more damage, but may initiate a status ailment, such as stun, which leaves the opponent open to double damage. However, should you be stunned, an enemy can steal a soul from you. It is thus important to read the descriptions of each arte, so as to get an idea of what status ailment, bonus, or amount of soul gauge (SG) it will expend.
To see what an enemy's weaknesses are hold down RB during combat. If you wish to learn more about your enemy, such as their statistics, common equipment drops, or status ailments that they can inflict, hold down RB and tap B.
There are also moves known as hidden artes, which you will gain more of as you level up characters. These artes cover a fairly wide area of the battle field, and the damage inflicted is dependent on the strength of the target's defence. Since they consume a large amount of SG, you cannot use them very often.
Beginning a combo with a martial art, followed by a hidden arte, will do the most damage and is, as the game says, "a dependable tactic". There is also a trick that can cause hidden artes to cost fewer souls: if you chain a combo using two martial artes, followed by a hidden arte, the hidden arte will deplete only 20% of the SG.
Finally, the most powerful arte a character can perform is a break soul. This is an arte that will span the entire battlefield and causes massive damage. To perform a break soul, you must have at least 3 souls available. While in combat, hold down LT and watch the carnage take place. Break souls will also allow you to use combos after your SG has been depleted. A break soul will also heal your character significantly, even if you are currently afflicted with a status ailment.
Unfortunately, as with any powerful attack, it comes at a cost: the enemy will gain a soul, and you will lose one soul each time you use a break soul attack. The attack is also risky, as the lower your HP, the more damage the break soul will inflict on enemies. If you do not quickly increase HP with a healing arte or item, like Apple Gel, you will KO.
A final word on artes: as I've mentioned, some enemies have weaknesses to certain artes. If you want maximum damage output, look out for enemy weakness (hold RB while in combat), and then set your artes accordingly. You can do this during combat by pressing LB and selecting artes. If an enemy is weak against, say, 'Searing Edge', 'Tearing Thorn', and Harsh Rebuttal', you can use those to cause a weak point combo. To do this, simply go to the arte screen, and you will see four different stages per button (A, B, Y, and X). Set the three artes to X (so stage one will be Searing Edge, stage two will be Tearing Thorn, and stage 3 will be Harsh Rebuttal', with whichever arte you wish in stage four). Now, in combat, spam X, as those four artes will be performed one after the other is 'stages' to form a combo.
The soul gauge is simply a fancy term for a stamina/manner bar. It decreases whenever you use artes, and once it is fully depleted, you may still use artes, but they will be slower and open your character up to being attacked. Another detrimental effect of a depleted soul gauge is that combos can be easily interrupted, and attacks can be deflected back at you. You will also be knocked back when trying to defend, which in itself depletes the soul gauge rather quickly.
At the beginning of the game, you will start battle with 3 souls, but you will be able to carry up to 5 in battle. Each actual soul allows for 30 SG, meaning you can complete a combo, or a series of combos costing up to 30 SG per actual soul (you'll notice the little stars on the SG are not fully depleted after a combo, because you are using pieces of a soul, and not the soul itself).
The more souls you currently have affects several things:
- Enemies will deal more damage
- Enemies can more easily afflict status ailments
- It is harder to inflict status ailments on enemies
Seems unfair doesn't it? Ah well, there had to be some challenge or we wouldn't play the game, would we?
Guard and Quickstep
To guard from an incoming attack, hold down LB. This lowers the level of damage taken. A quickstep is a sort of dodging technique, and is achieved by guarding, while holding the direction trigger in a certain direction. However, quicksteps do consumes souls. Should a quickstep be performed at the exact moment before an enemy is about to hit you, and the timing is perfect, you will dodge the attack and receive only 1 damage. With perfect timing, you will also receive a bonus to your SG.
Master skills are bonuses that will always be present on a piece of equipment, such as "gain 20% HP from a successful combo'. The more that specific piece of equipment is used, the higher the level of the master skill, until, eventually, the character using that equipment will learn the master skill permanently, even when not wearing the equipment.
If a character equips a piece of equipment when they already have the master skill, the equipment will allow the bonus to be doubled.
I've already discussed the merits of dismantling unused equipment in my Tips and Tricks guide, but it really is essential to keep equipment up to date and levelled so as to have the edge in battle.
Above is the dismantling screen. To the left, are the pieces of equipment that the party currently has in their possession. If the name of the equipment is blanked out, it means someone is using it. Dismantling items is essential to enhancing items, as through dismantling, you receive resources needed to enhance other equipment. On the lower left, you can see which materials you will receive by dismantling the Blood Blade +1.
Now that you have materials from dismantling unused items, you can enhance items that are being used by your party. Above, you'll see I've enhanced Foreign Daggers, which required 1 bronze scrap (bottom left). Luckily, I received bronze scraps from dismantling the Blood Blade. Now that I've enhanced the Foreign Daggers, they have not only been levelled up, but received an enhancement bonus of +10% damage against stunned foes and +20 HP recovery from attacking stunned foes. Of course, to enhance equipment will require gald. The cost is in the bottom right corner. Don't worry about that though, as you'll be raking in gald from opening chests and killing monsters.
At the top right of the screen, you'll see the types of equipment that can be dismantled/enhanced. Cycle through them to make sure than none are going unused. If they are an upgrade to what a member of your party is currently equipped with, switch out his/her equipment, then dismantle the unused equipment, and use those materials to enhance your weapons, accessories, or garb.
Knocked out (KO)
If a character is KO, they can be brought back to the battle using life bottles, which you pick up all over the world, or buy at shops. To avoid KO, it is important to pay attention to the HP of every character on the battlefield. Should their HP be dangerously low, open the items tab (LB) and give that character Apple Gel. You can also use healing artes, which healers will learn as you progress in the game. should a character be KO at the end of the battle, they will be revived with 1 HP (give them Apple Gel IMMEDIATELY in case another battle is imminent).
A final word
Combat is no easy task in Tales of Berseria, and wrapping your head around all of the tutorials constantly popping up is simply overwhelming. These are the basic techniques you need to know to get you started. Should you need more hints and tips, simply comment below and I'll get started on a more in-depth guide to combat, and whatever else you may need help with.