Game Guides

Xenoblade Chronicles Tension Explained – What Does Tension Do?

What Does Tension Do in Xenoblade Chronicles?

by Diego Perez


Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition has a fairly complex combat system, and some of its inner workings are not clearly explained in the game. One such mechanic is Tension, which can have significant effects on your efficiency during battles. It’s not as important as more prominent mechanics like Chain Attacks or Status Effects, but understanding Tension and how it works can make certain fights much easier. This is everything you need to know about Tension in Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition.

What Does Tension Do in Xenoblade Chronicles?

Tension is a representation of your characters’ morale. If things go well during a fight, Tension will increase. If things start to look bleak for your party, then Tension will decrease. You can see a character’s Tension by looking at their portrait in the top left corner of the screen. If a character looks fired up and has red arrows pointing upward, then they have high Tension, but if there are blue arrows pointing down, then they have low Tension.

Tension affects all aspects of combat, and having high Tension can swing a fight in your favor. The Party Gauge will fill much faster than normal, leading to more frequent Chain Attacks and more opportunities to revive downed allies. Damage done during Chain Attacks is also increased by up to 30%, and a character’s Critical Rate is increased by up to 30% as well. Having low Tension will decrease a character’s Critical Rate by up to 20%, and low Tension can also dramatically decrease Agility. At the lowest possible level of Tension, nearly all attacks will fail to connect.

How to Increase Tension

Tension can be increased by doing well in combat. Before combat even begins, you can get a Tension boost by pressing the B button after choosing to engage an enemy. If you time the button press just right and press B just when the ring hits the lighter outer rim of the circle, you’ll get an especially large boost. Typically, pressing the B button when this prompt shows up in the middle of combat will increase Tension. Also, things like Critical Hits and attacking enemies that are suffering Topple or Daze will provide small Tension boosts during a fight. Generally, anything that involves cooperation between party members will greatly increase Tension. Cheering up allies, helping a party member recover from a Status Effect, and executing Chain Attacks are good ways to increase Tension.


However, changing the future is the best way to increase Tension during a fight. If Shulk gets a vision, do whatever you can to stop it from happening. Use Monado Arts like Shield to protect allies from an attack or drawing aggro to change an enemy’s target are surefire ways to increase the party’s Tension. If a party member dies during battle, everyone will drop to low Tension. Other things, like Status Effects, debuffs, and missing attacks will lower individual Tension levels depending on the affected character. If Tension starts to lower, apply the above strategies to get things back on track.

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