Astral Chain isn’t PlatinumGames’ first time overlaying RPG elements on their signature combat systems. Both the player and their otherworldly Legion partners can beef up their attack options. While the main upgrade path is far more straightforward, however, each Legion has an individual skill tree.
Of course, the intention is to fully max out all the members of your party, but there are some talents worth steering towards as soon as possible. Listed here are five of the Legion skills you should be driving towards...along with five that aren’t even worth slowing down for. Customize your Legion’s build with the information here, and go for those S+ ranks!
10 Target First: Slow Shot
One of the final unlockable skills for the Arrow Legion makes it worth working toward as soon as possible. The Arrow Legion fires skyward, and arrows rain down encasing any enemy they touch in a bubble of bullet time. As the battlefields you engage in become more hectic, this is a necessary measure for keeping enemies from ganging up on you. It also has a relatively quick cooldown, so Slow Shot will usually be ready again by the time you swap to another Legion and back to Arrow.
9 Skip: Hit Rush
Choosing this skill feels like a no-brainer: after all, it’s one of the first unlockables for every Legion. Hit Rush unchains your partner to go berserk on any enemy, while allowing you to summon a second Legion as backup. Once unchained, however, your Legion no longer responds to commands until their attack is finished or interrupted. “The more the merrier” is a powerfully tempting idea, but hardly worth the trade-off. At most, this makes your partner a decoy auto-turret. This, after all, is a game about control -- and there are better ways of controlling your damage dealt in this game.
8 Target First: Round Sword
A Sword Legion-specific ability, Round Sword will be very familiar to anyone who’s acquainted with Vergil from the Devil May Cry series. Activation creates a rotating shield of blades hovering around the Legion. By turning your partner into a blender guided by the right analog stick, it’s a simple matter to deal constant damage on top of your own attacks. A skill like Power Charge can further increase the damage per strike. The Axe Legion may be the undisputed king of close-quarters damage in your Astral Chain gang, but quite often the Sword Legion won’t even get the chance to bind a target before Round Sword chews them up!
7 Skip: Auto-Bind
Auto-Bind flings the Legion out in a quick lasso maneuver, using the titular Astral Chain to restrain any enemy in its radius. To those struggling with incorporating the chain in combat, this may seem like a boon. In addition, the Chain Boost ability can be equipped on a Legion to increase your Legion’s reach with Auto-Bind.
Much like Hit Rush, however, this automated offense exposes the player to attack by taking control from them. Even with a relatively short cooldown on the skill to retry if you miss, repeated uses of Auto-Bind on the same enemy produces diminishing returns. That’s even if Auto-Bind connects: the Chimeras the player faces rapidly develop their own ways of avoiding the chain from above and below.
6 Target First: Crash Bomb
The Axe Legion has several passive talents to defend the player...but odds are you didn’t pick up a PlatinumGames title to play defensively. Instead, consider Crash Bomb as the Ax Legion skill you shouldn’t leave NERV -- er, NEURON headquarters without. At your command, the Ax Legion plants a phantom duplicate of its blade into the ground. Within seconds, the blade erupts into an explosion of energy that can catch multiple foes in its blast.
A version of this skill is baked into the Ax Legion’s combo set -- at the end of a certain sequence, it’ll ram a Crash Bomb through the torso of whatever Chimera it’s been fighting and leave it to detonate. The shockingly short cooldown means it’s easy to kite enemies into the radius of the bomb and mop up the survivors in time to plant a fresh one.
5 Skip: Triple Sword
Both the Sword or Arrow Legion can send attacks along the length of the chain that connects them to the player, striking anyone caught between them. The Sword Legion’s version bounces Round Sword back and forth to mulch up anything caught in its path. It’s possible to keep Triple Sword going by timing your button presses for the Legion and your character when the blades reach the corresponding end, but it’s difficult to position. Anything this can do, Round Sword does better -- without requiring your focus on a single enemy.
4 Target First: Speed Star / Power Charge
Tied on this list are two offensive buffs that are available to all Legions. Don’t take their convenience for granted, however. Their names make it obvious what the benefits are -- harder strikes and faster movement -- but their results speak for themselves. Power Charge buffs both regular and special moves. An earlier example is Round Sword, but this can render sync attacks with the Legion and their partner into one-hit kills on weaker enemies.
Speed Star, on the other hand, works in and out of combat. Yes, this does equal faster attack speed, but increased mobility across the game’s surprisingly expansive levels. It also means that Speed Star is the perfect enhancement during Blue Cases involving pursuit. Furthermore, Speed Star helps you maneuver more sluggish legions like Arm and Axe around the battlefield.The biggest benefit is that these skills can be simultaneously active in order to give maximum oomph to your regular moveset!
3 Skip: Air Shot
The Arrow Legion’s version of Triple Sword rains shots on enemies in close proximity to the chain. Like the aforementioned move, the inclusion of this skill seems incredibly optimistic in its supposition that anything you fight in this game will hold still long enough for these attacks to connect. Even if an enemy was bound in place by the chain, Air Shot does roughly the same damage as repeatedly striking them with normal attacks. At most, this seems to be an entertaining novelty; but in any case it’s a waste of a skill slot.
2 Target First: Howl
As if to emphasize its importance, this is the central node on the Beast Legion’s skill tree. Appropriate, then, that it’s easily the most solid foundation for any combat strategy Astral Chain can support. The wolf-like cry from the Legion stuns all in its area of effect, which is perfect for crowd control. Howl itself does no damage, but any player taking advantage of this opportunity will be doing that themselves. An additional benefit to this skill is that its use is nearly instantaneous. Hop on the Beast Legion, kite enemies as closely together as possible, then dismount and unleash Howl! The player’s reward is a flurry of blows on your stunned foes.
1 Skip: Sync Keep
As the skill trees open up among the Legions, the player should become knowledgeable of Abilities. These glowing pickups dropped from defeated enemies and completed missions can be slotted into Legions to augment their various attributes, combat or otherwise. As the Legions’ skill trees are filled out, they gain more Ability slots. All kinds of buffs -- from preventing status effects to a manual parry motion -- can be added in.
Sync Keep makes those abilities available to the player even when the Legion is not active. While this may seem like a boon, Sync Keep is undermined by two factors. The first is Effect Spread, an ability which accomplishes the exact same thing. Secondly, responsible management of the Legion’s energy meter should make certain that the Legion is always available. With these elements in mind, Sync Keep is an unnecessary redundancy.