The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II - Battle Strategies
Active Time Bar System
Like in Trails of Cold Steel, Trails of Cold Steel II features turn-based combat coupled with an Active Time Bar system. Displayed in the upper left-hand corner during battle, the "AT Bar" will show the turn order for both enemies and allies alike. Move anywhere on the field, disturb the turn order with arts that bolster or lower speed, use crafts to delay an enemy's turn, and take advantage of the various status effects shown along the AT Bar that may help or hinder you in battle!
Slash, Pierce, Thrust, & Strike
The various weapons wielded in battle by Class VII and its supporters have affinities for dealing certain types of damage–Slashing, Piercing, Thrusting, and Striking. Enemies may have a weakness to one particular type of damage, and having the right character deliver a physical attack raises the chance of that enemy becoming "unbalanced," netting a free follow-up attack from their combat link partner.
How an enemy is attacked on the field before an encounter determines what kind of advantages can be earned at the beginning of battle. Attacking from the front earns no advantage, while attacking from behind could possibly stun them and earn Class VII extra turns. If the enemy's weakness happens to be the damage type the lead character on the field inflicts and you also happen to be particularly strong, you might even be fortunate enough to take down the enemy right then and there, skipping the entire fight while making off with the goods.
These same attacks can also damage boxes, pots, or directly interact with parts of the environment on the field map. No one seems to mind if you break their stuff and take what's inside, so go out there and be the fiendishly destructive walking disaster you've always dreamed of becoming!
Divine Knight System
There are times when Rean and his classmates are in a pinch against the humanoid, mechanized enemies known as Soldats or against particularly powerful monsters. Rather than face them head on, it's best to call upon the Divine Knight Valimar, shifting the battle system to something never before featured in the Trails series.
Attack: Head, Body, Arms
While being piloted by Rean, Valimar can target one of three parts of an enemy Soldat—its head, its body, or its arms. Each part will have a different unbalance efficacy, indicated by a number of stars (★). Paying close attention to its stance throughout the battle will indicate its weakness, and attacking these weaknesses is the key to taking them down quickly or accumulating "Bravery Points" and executing a powerful attack known as a Rush attack.
Partners & EX Arts
Rean is Valimar's Awakener, but members of Class VII, Instructor Sara included, are considered "secondary contractors," meaning they can support Rean and Valimar during battle with special attacks called EX Arts. EX Arts are unique to each character and can either attack enemies, heal Valimar, or imbue him with special status effects, adding an extra level of thoughtful strategy to Divine Knight battles.
After a certain point in the story, Valimar can be summoned outside of Divine Knight battles. He will act for several turns and can only be called once per battle, but with his immense power, whether Rean calls him or not could mean the difference between victory and defeat.
Orbment System (Arts, Crafts, S-Crafts, & S-Breaks)
The same streamlined orbment system from Trails of Cold Steel continues in Trails of Cold Steel II with new arts, crafts, and S-Crafts spread across both returning characters and brand new allies.
Take advantage of newer, more powerful arts by upgrading slots inside of your ARCUS. Depending on your slot's level, newer, better quartz can be equipped, allowing for a constant stream of progression and arts-heavy strategies throughout the story.
There are special gems waiting to be found throughout eastern Erebonia that contain Lost Arts, potent arts with elements that fell into obscurity during the Dark Ages. Dangerous challenges must be overcome in order to earn them, but with effects so powerful that they're only allowed to be cast once per battle, obtaining them may be worth the struggle.
Combat Link System (Link Attacks)
Rean and Class VII are as one thanks to their field studies, but there are also plenty of newcomers ready to lend them a hand when needed, and with them comes a variety of handy link abilities. Thankfully, combat linking is now a given and no longer has to be earned, meaning Rean and his allies can take advantage of the Bravery Points system and unleash link bursts immediately once a full party is formed.
At the upper right corner of the screen is a small, red icon that will gradually fill as actions are performed in battle. Once filled, characters who are linked can go into Overdrive, a new ability that restores HP, EP, CP, clears all status abnormalities, causes all attacks to unbalance enemies, and allows all arts to be cast instantly. If it seems too good to be true, it's because there are a few catches: Overdrive must be earned by conquering terrifying beasts hidden within chests scattered across the country, and even then, this mode can only be used for up to three consecutive turns.
Horseback Riding & Orbal Bike (Transportation)
Horseback riding was previously only limited to the Nord Highlands, but upon recruiting a certain individual, Rean can saddle up virtually any time on the field. Angelica's orbal bike also allows for a faster means of transportation, and upon receipt can immediately be upgraded with a sidecar for passengers and some fancy new paint jobs. These looks are purely for fun and can be changed as many times as you like, so try out lots of colors and find what's right for you!