I've thoroughly enjoyed Xenoblade Chronicles 2 despite not liking the slow battle system at first. So much that I decided to continue playing after finishing the game to fight all the unique monsters, collect all the Rare Blades and complete side quests for the extra cutscenes.
Collecting all the rare blades and maxing out Poppi QT Pi was the most time consuming so here's some tips and info on what to do after finishing the main story.
This was written for v1.2.0 of the game but should work for later versions too. I've added notes where there have been changes with newer versions of the game in bold.
Maxing to Level 99
To level up fast, the easiest way is to find a common blade that has the "beast slayer" skill. This skill may seem to have a unbelievably low 3% chance of instantly killing a beast type enemy but it triggers a lot more often that it says... Wish it was the same for summoning the last rare blade like KOS-MOS!
If you have the Galaxy Cube accessory that gives you a 60% chance of attacking again after a successful auto-attack, even better - you can get this by obtaining Salvager Rank S via Argentum, Mochichi.
Anyway once you have a common blade with this skill, go to the Temperantia, Central Plains where you can find 3 Deimos Sauros which are level 90+. You can defeat them quickly with the skill and get around 12K XP or more depending on whether the skill triggers when you execute a combo. Once you've defeated them all simply quick travel to the same spot again for them to re-spawn.
Just be sure you don't fight Leonine Sadie which looks like them and appears near the shattered weapon although you could always give the unique monster a go.
Once you hit around level 95 you might want to go for the tougher level 100+ UMs because XP drops drastically afterwards.
Quick Elemental Orbs and Chain Attacks
If you're lucky enough to have a Common Blade with the "Orb Master" skill you can create 3 elemental orbs in no time.
Version 1.3.0 of the game added a new feature that allowed you to lock your favourite Blades so be sure to make use of it.
As long as the Common Blade is currently active in the fight, any specials used during stage 1 and 2 will create an orb. This works great with the Overclocking Bangle since you can switch the blade in quickly when one of the party members have a special ready.
It's not as fast as a Poppi DoT build but with the right setup, you can finish the level 130 UM Tyrannotitan Kurodil in less than 5 minutes with a full burst chain attack.
Rex should have World Tree Drop, Overclocking Bangle. Everyone else can have Burst Symbol and Critical Symbols which will raise the damage during the Chain Attack. Here's a list of the places where you can get these accessories and some other aux cores.
World Tree Drop
Bumps up your attack every time you switch Blades by 12% up to maximum of 250%.
You can fight Artifice Orphion (Lvl 117) for this who drops a terminal key for opening a chest in the World Tree, Lower Level, Central Deck south east corner. Or, you can fight Beast Hunter William lvl 99 at Uraya, Olethro Playhouse. You'll need to complete a whole chain of quests to fight him though in the order of We Meet Again, Insurgent Investigations and Farewell Good Friend. So probably easier if you just go defeat Orphion.
Mk. VII Arek Lvl 114 in the World Tree, Upper Level also drops the accessory but hope you know how to handle adds... While you're at it, you can get some Specials 1 Attack Up V Aux Core drops too.
Letherian, Fonsett Waters, Ysheva Habor Skyfist Remington lvl 39 drop. Very useful because it lowers cooldown time for switching blades depending on unused arts. Coupled with the World Tree Drop you can buff up your damage in no time.
Cliffs of Morytha, Lower Level, Jubilee Gate, Cimson Derrick lvl 58. Tier 3 bumps up critical hit rate by 54% during a chain attack.
Tantal, Upper Level. Drop off north of Airborne Throne and into the cave to find Heroic Edwin lvl 44. You must complete Dahlia's blade quest "Fly in The Ointment" before the creature appears. This accessory bumps up your attack power when starting a chain attack.
For pouch items, I used "The Annals of Addam" and "Astrology Made Simple" which can be bought from Tantal, Biblio book seller.
If you can manage it, the following Aux Cores would be handy too but the Lvl 100+ UMs aren't easy with one having lots of adds and the other, nasty ether reflecting and AoE attacks.
Affinity Max Attack V
Cliffs of Morya, Lower Level, Way of Practitioner, Gladiator Orion lvl 100.
Specials 1 Attack Up V
World Tree, Upper Level, Mk. VII Arek Lvl 114. I found the best way to fight this boss is to pull them over to a corner of the room so that the bikes have restricted space to move around in.
"Tiger! Tiger!" and Customising Poppi
Whether you want to give Poppi one of those crazy solo damage overtime (DoT) builds you see on YouTube or just want to turn her into a DPS tank you're going to need to play lots of "Tiger! Tiger!". I didn't really keep track but you'll probably need at least 100,000 ethers to round off a build and expand all the slots.
I recommend farming stage 2 since it's the easiest. If you manage to collect all chests you are rewarded with 500 ethers too so you can get at least 1000 ethers per run.
There is a secret bonus area hidden in every stage that gives you 10 ethers per crystal instead of just 1 but you'll have to know where to look and it doesn't always appear. Sometimes it can appear twice if you're lucky.
Then you can just sell the parts you don't need - I converted all the non level 5 parts which netted a couple of thousand ethers.
You don't need to play Stage 5 for tier 5 parts because you can make them but, it will give you exclusive (and extremely rare!) items namely "Master" parts and the light element but they aren't really essential.
As of v1.1.1 there is an easy mode which... Doesn't change much other than no damage taken when you hit objects. I haven't managed to hit any when collecting treasure chests anyway.
You should have come by these if you've been exploring areas thoroughly enough. I missed the last 2, one of which required some lockpicking and fortitude field skills.
Uraya, Head, Greatmaw Rapids
As soon as you fast travel to the location just turn round to the pool behind you and it's on the LHS.
Mor Ardain, Old Factory, Industrial Upper Duct
Head straight pass the cross road then jump off the platform and enter the Work Station Tower on the RHS. Head up 3 flights of stairs then out onto the platform. Follow the path round to find the red chest.
Tantal, Palace, Hall of Reception
This is just in the storage room the king showed Zeke and it's in the west just past the guard.
Land of Morytha, Streets, Fallen Skyscraper
Make your way up the skyscraper until you reach the broken highway. You should have to climb a very tall fence where a monster appears when you approach it. Once you exit the skyscraper onto the highway, turn right to head south. Follow the path until the end where there's rubble and ball scout. You'll find a path behind the rubble that leads west.
World Tree, Lower Level, Sky Bridge
Use the elevator in the SE. Make your way down the slope and turn left where there should be a UM - if you haven't defeated it. The white chest is in the place where it rolls out of.
Raising Blade Trust and Thought Clouds
Other than luck, a character's thought cloud can also affect the outcome of a bond which is bravery, truth, compassion and justice, By increasing trust and unlocking affinity circles with blades, you can level up these thoughts to a maximum of 10.
Quoting one of the NPCs Lomlom who you can find in Argentum, "For person with much bravery, bond with blade determined by bravery. Other three attributes not even important!"
So in other words, whatever thought is the highest during the bond sequence will end up raising the chances of that particular element appearing apparently. Either the base though has to be the highest or, you can use a booster to make it the highest. Each thought is linked to the following elements:
Bravery - Fire/Water
Truth - Wind/Ice
Compassion - Earth/Electric
Justice - Light/Dark
However, although the game says that, I find that even with thoughts maxed out, 999 luck and selectively using boosters doesn't change much... The resulting element ends up being random mostly anyway.
That said, it might still be worth working on since there are official hints in the game. Some data mining on Reddit where people generate data to work out a pattern also suggests it does influence the end roll in a way.
To raise thought levels fast, you can spam items into a pouch that has been expanded to at least 30 max per item. Set 2 common blades whose trust level is at E - ideally the idea you're trying to increase i.e. if it's justice then work on the trust for dark blades. Then keep refilling the pouch by spamming the A button. This counts as the item being consumed.
You can speed up the process by obtaining the following "deed" key items which will increase ideal point gains by an extra point. You'll have to develop the places and complete all the merc missions though.
Argentum, Fishy Fishy
Argentum, Reedirait Bookstore
Leftherian, Fonsett Island - Talmye Antiques
Note: You must check the affinity circle afterwards or the circles will not count as unlocked afterwards. There also appears to be a bug where Blades that have trust levels of E can't unlock their affinity circles after upgrading to v1.3.0 of the game so, if you try this after upgrading the game, sort by chronological order and use the most recent blades instead.
By using rare tier III "Conch Music Boxes" from Mor Ardain's Yafush Antiques, I had to refill the pouch 23 times to gain 400 trust points and max out the trust to A for a common blade.
Once you've maxed out the trust level, switch out the common blades and repeat. It can still take a long time to raise thought levels this way but this should help increase the chances of a rare blade.
Getting Rich Fast with Premium Cylinders
If you want to raise thought levels fast, you will need a lot of gil.
At best, you'll probably only have access to gold cylinders once you've raised a place development level to the full 4 stars. Just spending lots of gil buying gold cylinders is enough to raise development levels really although buying key items will be good too.
Once you've maxed out the dev level it's a matter of luck coming across the elusive premium cyclinders. Easiest way is to max out Gormott then repeatedly taking long rests at the inn there until they appear at the vendor.
They're not cheap at 25,000 but just 10 of these is enough to earn you over 1 million gil back with guaranteed white chests when salvaging even if your blades don't have the salvaging field skills.
I recommend salvaging at the Cliffs of Merytha, Lower Cliff towards the end of the game after you have completed the quest "Souvenirs from Morytha" for Dibidi there. It's easiest to collect sets of items and sell at high price even if you only have gold cylinders to start with.
You won't be able to make a profit until you beat chapter 8 of the game i.e. half way through the World Tree dungeon when you can sell Salvager Spirit sets for 120.2K each.
Farming Legendary Core Crystals
Most of the rare blades come from bonding with core crystals and as you may know, there are 3 types available to bond with - common, rare and legendary. Legendary's supposed to have the best rate of obtaining rare blades but I found that most of mine actually came from rare ones.
However, since you still have to farm to get rare cores anyway, you might as well get some legendary ones along the way. The best unique monster I found for this is the Vampiric Bride Marion in Kingdom of Uraya, Head area.
You'll find a landmark "Cataracts of Rujah" there. The giant insect seems to have defence so high it doesn't go down easily even if you're maxed at level 99 and also drops gold chips which you can use to mod weapons to bump up the drop rates.
The goal is to repeatedly perform the Driver Combo break, launch and smash so don't bother using skill arts to try and deal as much damage as possible. You want to prolong the fight. This way, you can get you more than one legendary core per fight (and lots of common/rare cores along the way).
To make it easier to break UMs, you'll need the Beta Scope accessory. Tier 3 ones can be found as drops from the Drub Sovereign near the bottom of the elevator at the First Low Orbit Station, Lower Level, Aion Hangar.
For the party setup mine consisted of Nia as the healer and Morag as the tank. With Nia, any blades that uses the Bitball weapon can break. For Rex, any blade with a great axe weapon can launch but for smashing, only Suzaku with his dual scythes can do it unfortunately. Fast Switch aux cores will help speed up the process. If you're in the level 70s you might need a tank but after that everyone can have attack roles.
It's quite fun to hear some of the blades reaction when fighting the insects, lol.
Another farming favourite is the higher level bat Insecticore Malcom in Gormott near the Zeno's Deadbole but its defence is really weak so you can't smash that too many times. The only upside I found with this monster was you didn't have to run back up the platform after collecting drops from smashes.
Rare Blades and Luck
Note: With v1.3.0 of the game, you can't reach 999 luck any more with the following setup. You'll have to swap out the main story blade such as Pyra/Mythra for Rex and have a 3rd common blade that has a luck modifier.
Notice that 3 silhouettes appear during the bonding animation. I found that the first 2 that appear are ones that you're very close to getting while the final one that appears is the one you actually get. Every time I keep seeing a rare silhouette appearing this way, I eventually manage to get them. If I didn't see anything then I end up going through a lot of cores and still get nothing from them.
So, if there's a particular rare blade you're after and you don't see it appearing as one of the first 2 silhouettes, it probably means you have to keep boosting your thoughts or luck... With the exception of KOS-MOS who doesn't seem to have a early silhouette.
To max out your luck to at least 900+ there are accessories and common blades you can use. Common blades can have luck modifiers that can reach +23% and each 1% can make a difference.
As for the accessories, you can use the same strategy as with farming crystals i.e. driver combo break, launch and smash to farm.
Gold Gear Choker (Tier III, +27)
From Vess' Tranquility quest.
Comet Chocker (Tier II, +31%)
Drop from the UM Mk VI Margot (Lvl 64) in the World Tree, Lower Level, Data Processing Room, north of Sky Bridge. You'll have to climb up one of two towers to get in there.
If you plan to modify the main blades with these chips too to +50 luck then only common blades, Pyra or Mythra can benefit from the chip boost it seems unfortunately.
Magnet Chip - Knuckle Claws, Megalance
Unique enemy, Judicial Kollin (Lvl 33). Travel to Mor Ardain, Upper Level, Old Industrial District. From the roof go all the way down the stairs then follow the passage south until you reach a room, Delize's Infirmary to find the lizard.
Pentagon Chip - Aegis Sword
Unique enemy, Skyfist Remmington (Lvl 39). Leftherian, Fonsett Water, Ysheva Harbor.
Urelite Chip - Greataxes, Twin Rings, Scythes
Unique enemy, Enlightened Morris (Lvl 42). South west from Kingdom of Tantal, Lower Level, Great Pillar Passage at the frozen pond where you'll need Fire Mastery and Wind Mastery 4 to defrost the pond. Then you need Water Mastery 5 and Fortitude 3 to dive in to get to Pipitto's Haunt.
Fortunately, not all rare blades are from the random core synchs. The following is a list of the ones from quests:
|Poppi QT π||"Powered-up Poppi" back at Tora's home.|
|Kasandra||Buy the "Greedy Monster" report and defeat the monster in Empire of Mor Ardain.
|Praxis||"Crystal Clear". Buy the Core Crystal Hunters report then go to the back alley area in Gormott when you have more than 10 core crystals on you to trigger a cutscene.|
|Theory||"Blade-Sharp Memory". Head to the Mercenary Camp, Kingdom of Uraya once Praxis' trust level is at 4.|
|Vess||"Tranquility" available in Gormott, Torigo.|
|Sheba||Buy the crystal from Gormott's "Margia's Odds & Ends". Good blade to have early in the game and 500K gil doesn't take that long if you salvage at Mor Ardain's Port.|
|Herald||There's a Shrine of Sealing behind a wall in Kingdom of Tantal that you'll need Super Strength to smash through.|
All the other blades will depend on luck. Zenobia ended up being one of my last two. Last but not least (and also the toughest one to get for most people it seems) was KOS-MOS...
For the record I had Rex's luck maxed to 999 because he was the easiest to max. From the screenshot you can see justice was highest at 9 for his thought cloud and I used 1 justice booster with 1 rare core before I finally got KOS-MOS. Rex is a master driver so probably shouldn't have but, it's not hard to get Overdrives from 4 crown common blades if you send them off on merc missions after maxing their trust.
Note: Version 1.3.0 of the game makes it even easier to gain Overdrives where you can go to Tantal and pay the Travelling Bard near the cafe area 1,000,000 bonus XP for one.
In the end, it's all a matter of luck. So if you don't get the blade you're after, take a break, do something else for a while then try again.
Version 1.3.0 of the game added 7 new blades which you can only get in the new "New Game Advance" mode including Akhos, Mikhail and Patroka. They can all only be obtained via lottery again unfortunately... With the exception of Mikhail who you can recruit after replaying through to chapter 9. Simply visit the Land of Morytha, World Tree, Megaflote Base and you'll find him there.
Most of the new blades appeared really quickly and mostly via rare cores but again, the last one took the longest to appear.