11 Essential Astral Chain Tips

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Astral Chain is one of the Switch’s finest action games yet, allowing you to create dazzling, stylish combos by fighting in tandem with your humanoid Legion companions. But with so many combat options, not to mention a slew of upgrade systems, hidden features and tough bosses, Platinum Games’ slick sci-fi adventure can be quite overwhelming.

That’s why we’re here to help you get in fighting shape. Here are 11 essential Astral Chain tips for upping your combo game, upgrading your skills and discovering the many secrets awaiting you in the Ark.

Don’t overheat your Legion 

When your Legion is in combat, a small circular meter will show how much energy it has until it taps out. Be sure to dismiss your Legion by pressing the R button before the meter reaches zero in order to recharge it quickly. If your Legion’s energy meter depletes before you recall it, the Legion will overheat, and you’ll have to wait significantly longer before you can bring it back into battle. 

Be sure to also carry some energy power-ups with you to keep the fight going, as well as upgrade your Legatus to extend your Legion’s max energy (more on that later).

Master the Sync Attack

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One of Astral Chain’s most important techniques is the Sync Attack, which allows you and your Legion to dish out big damage as a unit. To trigger a Sync Attack, simply press ZL or ZR when your character flashes light blue -- this typically happens at the end of an X-Baton combo, but you’ll also get Sync Attack opportunities after a Perfect Dodge or Perfect Call if you have the right upgrades unlocked. 

Sync Attacks can also provide big health recovery and attack bonuses if you have the right Legion abilities equipped. Be sure to experiment with different combinations of weapons and Legions for different Sync Attacks! 

Mix up your Legions in combat 

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If you want the best possible grade at the end of Astral Chain’s combat sections, you’ll need to mix it up. You’ll get point bonuses for things such as using all of your X-Baton weapons, using all of your Legions and using Sync attacks and special moves, so make sure to weave in as many Legions and abilities as possible when you’re out slaying Chimeras.  

Use your IRIS 

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One of your most critical tools in Astral Chain is the IRIS augmented reality interface, which you can activate by pressing the “+” button. The IRIS is most useful for finding clues during investigations, but it can also be handy for finding hidden item boxes, red matter (which you’ll get points for cleaning up), and Legion-specific obstacles that will net you extra items and points. IRIS is also useful during combat, as activating it will reveal enemy types as well as the health of the boss you’re facing.  

Stock up on items and upgrades between missions 

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You should never rush out of the Special Ops Bureau at the start of a mission -- if you do, you might find yourself stuck on a boss fight without enough health or combat items to help you progress. Before you head out to the start of a mission, you should visit the Infirmary to stock up on health and recovery items. You should also make a habit of visiting the Technical Crew located across from the Training Room -- that’s where you’ll be able to upgrade your X-Baton (for more damage and new attacks) and Legatus (for better Legion performance). 

Go off the beaten path 

Whether you’re at the police station or out in Harmony Square, you should always take a second to explore. Chances are you’ll run into some hidden items, as well as side quests that could net you some extra gear and experience points. Exploring is especially important when you’re in the middle of a mission, as you’ll need to complete all Red Cases (combat missions) and Blue Cases (police missions) in order to get the best possible grade in a given chapter.

Upgrade your Legion 

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The game doesn’t do a great job explaining how to do this, but you should visit the Legion tab in the pause menu frequently. Here, you’ll find a ton of critical sub-menus.

Legion Learning is where you’ll upgrade each of your Legion’s skill trees using the Gene Codes you earn from each mission. You’ll want to use the Assign Skills menu to outfit your Legion with up to two unique moves, and the Abilities screen to equip special buffs that can be critical during combat. The latter menu is especially important -- I realized far too late that I could equip my Legion with a healing bonus that gave me extra health after a successful Sync Attack, for example.

Organize your items 

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You’ll accrue a wealth of health and combat items as you play Astral Chain, but the game doesn’t do a great job surfacing the most important ones to your in-game item wheel. For easier access to the items you want to use most, open the Item tab in the pause menu and select Register on any items you want in your item wheel. This way, that medicine pack or grenade will only be a quick tap of the X button away. 

Claim your rewards 

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You’ll rack up a ton of rewards by completing the Orders (aka achievements) found in the game’s Status menu, but, annoyingly, you’ll have to claim those rewards manually. To do this, open the pause men, select Status and then Orders. You can click the right analog stick to filter all of your unclaimed rewards to the top, allowing you to snag the multitude of power-ups, upgrade materials and customization items awaiting you.  

Don’t forget about Photo Mode 

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Astral Chain has a pretty nifty Photo Mode, which you can activate by pressing right on your d-pad. While the filters and selfie options are fun, there are also several Orders tied to Photo Mode, so be sure to whip your camera out whenever you encounter a new enemy or ally for extra points and rewards.  

Get fashionable 

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Customizing your character isn’t critical to gameplay, but what’s the point of entering the astral plane if you’re not going to look as cool as possible. Whenever you need a new look, head to the Locker Room at the Special Ops Bureau. You’ll unlock a good deal of new items, colors and outfits as you progress through the game, so be sure to check back often to craft the ultimate anime police warrior of your dreams. You can also customize the look of your Legions by visiting the Legatus Terminal in the Command Room.

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.