The Trails of Cold Steel saga has always had a jam-packed roster, but Cold Steel 4 really takes the biscuit. By the time the game truly opens up in Act 2, the number of characters to choose from is frankly ridiculous, and more than a little overwhelming.
Whilst the chapters usually fix a handful of characters in your team, you usually have a choice of two or three spares, meaning you retain enough control to generally keep a ‘main’ party on the battlefield. I often found myself relegating the story-required characters onto the substitutes’ bench, and mainly controlled the same few characters throughout.
Each member of Class VII has unique crafts, brave orders and stat perks, meaning there are many different approaches to take which can all succeed. The right tactics can easily reduce even the toughest bosses on the toughest difficulties to a piece of cake.
With some very slight spoilers for the start of Act 2 (ie, the names of the characters available), here is my advice for the Trails of Cold Steel 4 best party.
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Obviously Rean is fixed for the majority of the game following Act 1. This is all well and good, since Rean is one of the strongest characters in the game. His multitude of different Brave Orders can be useful in many situations for fairly low cost, and summoning Valimar is always a good use of a ‘zero arts’ turn.
Helix is a great option for dealing big damage and inflicting break, whilst Arcane Gale is able to strike multiple enemies and cause delays. Demon Unchained has some use, but has the slight caveat that his status has to be healed to guarantee a recovery of his faculties.
In previous games I have always liked equipping Rean with accessories and master quartz that boost his CP, and Trails of Cold Steel 4 is no exception. His aptitude in every area means the Ashen Chevalier is likely to be occupying the battlefield at all time.
Juna is a fantastic character for many reasons, and definitely makes it into my Trails of Cold Steel 4 best party. Firstly, her Brave Order can (literally) help break the game. Costing 2 brave points, Sledgehammer and its upgrades drastically increases the break damage done to an enemy, and against bosses this is arguably the best way to win. It’s best to equip other characters with accessories and quartz that boost break damage and focus your strategies around this. Juna’s very own Cross Break craft is one of the best in the game for break damage in itself.
Coupling this with her Quick Star craft is a ridiculously useful tactic. The best bet is to try and break the enemy when you have a few consecutive turns left, allowing your team to all attack, unbalancing the enemy every time and recouping your BP. Using a Brave Order that accelerates or reduces delay will effectively give you licence to attack strong enemies without giving them a single turn. Quick Star then comes into its own when you are about to run out of turns and can instantly spring everyone back to the front of the queue.
Even in the latter parts of the game, this tactic literally allowed me to be completely unscathed against the hardest bosses. I would recommend equipping Juna with a CP-boosting accessory so she is not struggling to perform Quick Star. Juna’s ability to switch between striker and gunner mode is handy, and Trails of Cold Steel 4 doesn’t present too many situations where she is excluded from the main team.
“Quick as a flash, that’s our instructor”
Sara’s speed is phenomenal, making her a great addition to the team, boasting some excellent break damage with the Searing Flash/True Searing Flash craft to accompany Juna’s order. This has the bonus of delaying enemies as well.
However, what really sets her apart is her Brave Order, first called Lightspeed Flash and later upgraded to Searing Bold, which accelerates your party and greatly reduces their delay time. It may cost 5 BP, but using this on your party’s last turn when an enemy is broken will allow you to recoup 4 of these by attacking and automatically unbalancing. Sara’s own speed, plus her ability to inflict speed reduction and delays, helps link together infinite turns with the right setup.
Sara and Juna are the perfect duo, as Juna’s Quick Star can be utilised when you can see you won’t have enough BP to re-use Sara’s order. If you are really in trouble and running out of both BP and CP, then it’s advisable to equip as many characters as you can with Chrono Burst quartz, allowing you to repeatedly cast this and bump the BP back up.
I never warmed to Machias as much as other characters, but he is the perfect character to hold in reserve. His ‘Burst Drive’ craft, much like Juna’s Quick Star, is capable of getting you out of all sorts of trouble. Not only does this accelerate your team, but also recovers some EP, which comes in handy for emergency situations that call for a Chrono Burst.
Machias’ own order is actually pretty strong, reducing delay time considerably, but you should only use this when Sara is unavailable (see below). Otherwise, Machias is useful at breaking enemies with his Mail Breaker/Dread Breaker craft.
I would hold Machias back with a full CP gauge, and swap him in once the enemy is broken so he can use Burst Drive when needed. Make sure Juna remains on the field as well, and between the two of them you will be able to keep accelerating your party with their crafts. Just remember to keep everyone in a fairly tight radius so no-one is out of range.
Whilst not quite as important as others on the list, Fie’s immense speed and evasion make her a great compliment to Sara, Juna and Machias.
Fie has multiple uses, possessing the Tri-Cyclone craft that can both break enemies and delay them. Coupled with Juna’s Quick Star and Sara’s order, Fie can often fit in multiple attacks before the enemy can act again, allowing a crucial opportunity to keep racking up that BP.
I would suggest simply loading Fie with speed-boosting quartz and accessories, adding to this effect. Her default master quartz can inflict a delay with normal attacks, which can tot up some useful enemy delays.
Crow is a great all-round character, and I also held a real soft spot for his personality during Cold Steel 4 which encouraged me to keep him around. Calling forth another Divine Knight is also nothing to sniff at.
His Azure Destiny is similar to Rean’s Demon Unchained, coming with a steep 100 CP cost that may encourage you to equip some Gladiator accessories on him. However, it’s worth it because Crow is incredibly useful in the period before you have reduced the enemy’s Break gauge. He may not actually have a craft that deals heavy break damage, but he gains insight and by stacking increases to his critical rate he can consistently unbalance bosses to keep that BP nice and high. I would suggest a Break 3 quartz on him to balance out his lack of a strong breaking craft (and everyone else for that matter).
Crow is a reliable all-rounder, with the option to instantly switch between short and long range attacks like Juna, allowing you to tailor your attack type to whatever is most likely to unbalance. I like using Crow from the start of a tough battle, utilising his Azure Destiny before swapping him once the enemy had been broken. This would be for Fie and her excellent speed, or Machias if I was in need of an acceleration.
My preferential tactic for Trails of Cold Steel 4 was to basically chain together an unlimited number of turns, hence the characters picked above. Still, arts can be used to deal a lot of damage and I would suggest Musse is more useful than the other ATS-heavy characters because of her Brave Order.
If you are in trouble on low BP and CP, Musse’s order may just save the day. Unlike Sara’s it only costs 2 BP and reduces the EP cost of your arts by 80% for at least 10 turns (increased to 12 when powered up). This fits in nicely with the ‘break’ unbalancing chain, as it will let the same character string together a series of Chrono Bursts for a fraction of the EP cost. This should allow you to bump your BP and CP back up to use Sara’s order again and keep the relentless barrage of attacks going. You should also switch the combat link to Machias or Juna so they gain CP with their follow up attacks.
Even without breaking the enemy you can keep an incredibly long chain going with Musse’s order and Chrono Burst on someone else. If you start on zero BP, you only need to land a couple of unbalances or critical hits to gain the two needed to re-use the order. Plus, if you are linked to character who can charge EP, you are likely to activate this at least once during the order’s effect, so you can potentially keep those Chrono Bursts going indefinitely.
Musse’s Sapphirl Rain is also a very useful craft as turn-sapping status ailments like confuse, petrify and freeze are usually the biggest problem you can encounter in difficult battles. I think Musse is a great character to have on the sidelines, so you can still utilise her order when needed or swap her in to heal everyone if you end up in a spot of bother.
In conclusion, if I had to pick seven characters, it would be Rean, Juna, Sara, Crow, Machias, Musse and Fie. When you are only allowed six, I would suggest Crow or Fie to miss out since they are not strictly necessary for the unlimited attack tactics and Musse’s order is a valuable backup tool to spam Chrono Burst.
On the rare occasions the story only grants you a couple of slots, just make sure you have Juna and Sara as much as possible, with Machias as the third choice.
Hopefully these tips on the Trails of Cold Steel 4 best party will help you beat the game and reach the end of the saga.
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