The RPG marathon that is Trails of Cold Steel 4 has a multitude of tactics and strategies to weigh up for its many boss fights. Even though most players will already be familiar with the battle system from previous games, Hard and Nightmare difficulties contain some encounters that can be extremely troublesome.
Thankfully, there is a particular method that can be employed against virtually every boss, which will effectively allow you to act indefinitely. Yes, there are many, many ways to break the game, but lots of them require items and quartz that aren’t obtainable until late in the game. For this reason the strategy I will focus on is one available from the start of Act 2, and basically the whole game thereafter.
Namely, exploiting how the ‘Break’ mechanic literally allows the game itself to be broken, since every hit on a broken enemy will unbalance them and grant an additional BP. Against any non-human boss, you can string together an unlimited number of turns once you have inflicted a break. The human bosses are a slightly different kettle of fish, since they will heal themselves from their Break status once they are down to half health. But not to worry, it’s still easy enough to defeat them.
When it comes to beating cryptids, quest monsters, non-human bosses and even the tricky optional boss needed to unlock the true ending, the method and setup is almost foolproof on any difficulty.
What is the Trails of Cold Steel 4 best party?
The party I would recommend is Rean, Juna, Crow and Sara, with Machias and Musse in reserve. In sections where you can select seven members, Fie is the next best character to pick due to her speed.
Of course, there are many situations where the game demands that your squad is made up of certain characters. On the bright side, there are usually a few slots you can pick for yourself, so make sure Juna and Sara are in the team as much as possible, with Machias as a backup for Juna and Musse as a backup for Sara. Crow and Fie aren’t really needed, but have enough utility that they should be in your team when you have free reign.
Note that this problem will not apply for any of the cryptids required for the Lost Arts, or the optional boss for the true ending. On these occasions, you can pick from your whole Class VII squad.
There is more detail on each character’s specific perks in the link below.
What is the Trails of Cold Steel 4 best setup?
Despite the overwhelming plethora of equipment and quartz packed within your inventory, the most important things to bear in mind for an unbeatable setup is fairly straightforward.
- Equip Juna, Crow and Machias with CP-boosting accessories. If you have a spare, then equip one to Rean.
- Equip every character possible with Chrono Burst quartz. If you can only muster a few, then give them to your members with the most EP.
- Equip your starting foursome with a Break 3 quartz, which is relatively cheap to create.
- Ensure everyone’s HP is boosted with a quartz such as HP 3, or later in the game a Sapphirl Gem.
- Equip your starting foursome with accessories and master quartz that prevent ailments. Since you won’t necessarily be able to prevent all ailments on everyone, make sure everyone is protected from effects that incapacitate your characters such as confuse, faint, freeze and petrify. You don’t really need to worry about your backup members as the enemy themselves will be incapacitated by the time they are needed.
- Once Oberon is purchasable in Act 3, this can be set as everyone’s secondary master quartz and is almost guaranteed to stop any ailments being inflected.
- Before you have Oberon, it’s still useful to have one or two characters linked to a wind master quartz so you have Recuria and Holy Breath available
- Spare slots should be used for any Lost Arts quartz, speed boosters and your most powerful offensive arts
How to beat any boss in Trails of Cold Steel 4
Start with CP and BP at full by resting or entering a bath/hot spring. If you are in a dungeon, then it’s always incredibly obvious when a boss fight is approaching. Simply fight a few battles near the orbment charging station to get the CP and BP up to their maximum, not forgetting about Machias in reserve.
When the boss fight begins, use Juna’s Sledgehammer order to greatly increase your break damage. Let loose with all high break crafts such as Rean’s Helix, Juna’s Cross Break and Sara’s Searing Flash. Use the Azure Destiny craft for Crow to gain insight, which will help him continually unbalance the enemy and keep the BP ticking up and repeatedly use Juna’s order. Swap Crow’s attack mode depending on which attacks will have the best chance of unbalancing.
At this point, as long as your HP is pretty high then even on hard and nightmare modes the only potential problems are status ailments, so if you have the relevant accessory protections you can simply keep employing your break attacks and heal if necessary – it’s still important not to let anyone get KO’d as you’ll lose all CP. Once you have broken the enemy, you have effectively won the battle so don’t worry if you are on low health when this happens and there is no need to waste turns.
WARNING: Make sure you do not inflict break on the last turn before the enemy acts. A break normally causes enough of a delay for someone to get the next turn, but the last thing you want to go is waste all of your hard work by letting them recover immediately after breaking them. If there is one turn before the enemy acts and you can see their break gauge is almost depleted, this may be a good chance to heal so you can break them after they’ve acted and your party has a bunch of consecutive turns.
Once they are broken, assess the situation – preferably you will still have high BP and a few turns to come, allowing you to attack on every turn until the last one before the boss will act.
On your final turn, use Sara’s Brave Order to accelerate your party and give everyone another attack. Get them all at close quarters, and set Juna and Crow to Striker and Sabre modes respectively so your whole party is within a fairly tight radius.
Eventually you will note you are going to be short on BP as Sara’s order costs 5 BP but the extra attacks will only recover 3 BP. This is where Juna and Machias will greatly assist, and why you want all your characters close together.
If Juna is going to be the last party member to act, then activate her Quick Star craft to give everyone another turn, which will allow you to replenish enough BP to use Sara’s order again on your party’s last turn.
If Juna is not the last party member to act, then swap whoever it is for Machias, so he can come in with full CP and use his Burst Drive craft instead. With Juna and Machias both on the field you can keep utilising Sara’s order on your last turn, but on the occasions where you have insufficient BP, use one of these crafts to keep the combo ticking over.
From now on, it’s pretty simple – if you can see you will have 5 BP on your last turn, use Sara’s order. If you can see you will not have 5 BP on your last turn, then use Juna or Machias’ craft to accelerate until you do.
Here, you’ll need to keep an eye on Juna and Machias’ CP. I would suggest switching your battle link around on every turn so one of them is always inflicting the follow up attack. For example, if it is Rean’s turn and he is linked to Sara then swap to Machias so Machias gains the 10 CP for landing a bonus attack rather than Sara.
Likewise, if Juna is linked to Rean and is going to use an attack rather than Quick Star, then swap to Machias on her turn. Basically, your other two members don’t need their CP so it’s best to keep Machias and Juna as stocked up as possible. This is a free way of doing it that can be easy to forget.
Having said that, since they will still accumulate CP naturally from their own attacks, have your other two members use delay-based crafts to occasionally knock back the enemy further and fit in some extra turns.
This strategy should win you the majority of battles with no further considerations, even on Nightmare difficulty. However, there may be occasions where you do not have enough CP to use Quick Star or Burst Drive, and don’t have the necessary BP to activate Sara’s order. This is why you needed to equip Chrono Burst quartz, which is the contingency plan.
If you have at least 2 BP, then use Musse’s order and start casting Chrono Burst over and over, landing an attack on the first turn and then repeating Chrono Burst on the second turn. Even without Musse’s order, you should have enough EP to cast a few of them and get your BP back up. Link with Machias who will sometimes replenish EP for the character casting the art, plus he will recover his own CP with follow up attacks and soon be able to use Burst Drive again.
After a few Chrono Bursts, you’ll be back in a position to use Sara’s order and rinse and repeat the strategy. If Juna also has an accessory/quartz to gain some CP per turn, she will be back in business for Quick Star after your spell of Chrono Bursts.
On the off-chance your Chrono Burst spammer ended up low on EP, then think ahead and if you end up in the same situation again, have a different character spam it next time.
The Quick Star and Burst Drive crafts also come with some additional benefits, as Machias grants some EP recovery to help with the steep Chrono Burst cost, and Juna provides a speed bonus which will sometimes allow characters to fit in two attacks before the boss’s turn.
What about human bosses?
When it comes to human bosses, such as the Ironbloods and Ouroboros enforcers, there is a bit more thought needed but the same strategy will work in the end.
The issue is once they are down to half health, they will make a comment before recovering from their break status. Now, on their next turn they will usually enter an ‘enhanced’ mode, which once again replenishes their Break gauge.
Therefore, you have two options – either make sure you break them again before they act, or let them have another turn before focusing on breaking – do not waste turns and BP trying to break them if you are going to allow them another turn.
Once you get to the halfway point and the boss rudely de-breaks themselves, revert back to Juna’s order with break-heavy damage and get Crow back into the fore. I would now suggest an amalgamation of the previous strategy, coupled with the normal accelerate tactics to prolong your chain and break them before they act again. You will need a few Chrono Bursts to accumulate the BP necessary, but the strategy will still work as before – you don’t need an unlimited chain, only enough to break them a second time. Focus on unbalance-heavy attacks, Crow’s Azure Destiny and Musse’s order with Chrono Bursts being repeated until you land enough unbalances.
If the absolute worst happens and you can see you will run out of EP before getting the necessary 2 BP to activate Musse’s order again, then you can do the unthinkable and use an EP-healing item.
After breaking them again, it’s plain sailing as before. From Act 3 onwards, once I had nailed this strategy and got used to it, most bosses literally didn’t get a single hit against me, including the final boss.
What if there are multiple enemies?
Many boss fights feature a bunch of opponents at the same time. This doesn’t change the tactics, and can actually make things easier. You only need to break one of them to use the strategy, since you are still going to consistently accelerate ahead of everyone and therefore act before any of of the non-broken bosses as well.
Priority should always go to keeping your chain going with Quick Star and Burst Drive, but you can afford plenty of attacks that will hit a wider area such as Rean’s Arcane Gale. Sara’s Thunder Vortex can sunction the baddies together, allowing you to switch to Juna’s Gunner mode and hit multiple enemies. Machias also has this benefit with his normal attacks affecting a wider area.
This can make the battle easier because whilst you are consistently unbalancing the boss you have inflicted a break on, you can also whittle down the HP and Break gauge of the other foe(s) alongside them. If you are lucky, you will break one of them shortly after the first enemy heals from their Break status, so the chain can continue undisturbed.
Yes, it’s a bit cheap and perhaps takes a bit of the fun out of some battles, but this guide is (mostly) a surefire way to get through the most difficult bosses in the game. In fairness, the hardest difficulties are incredibly tough unless you find a game-breaking solution.
Check out our review of Trails of Cold Steel 4 here.