As you make your way through the world of Bionis, the Affinity you've built among your characters and NPCS will have a significant impact on play. There are a number of ways to increase (and decrease) Affinity, but the rewards for raising it are well worth the effort.
Playable Character Affinity
Affinity between the members of your party is absolutely critical, which makes sense. The more people like and trust each other, the better they will work together. Although there is a numerical value to Affinity ranging between zero and 5,000 points, the Affinity Chart sums this up with five faces:
- Yellow hexagon - this face represents an Affinity score below 1,000 points.
- Green square - this face represents an Affinity score between 1,000 and 1,999 points.
- Blue circle - this face represents an Affinity score between 2,000 and 2,999 points.
- Purple gear - this face represents an Affinity score between 3,000 and 4,999 points.
- Pink heart - this face represents the max Affinity score of 5,000 points.
Increasing Affinity between playable characters has several measurable benefits. Every level you improve your character's Affinity for each other grants another Skill Link slot - allowing you to designate shared skills between party members. The higher the Affinity between characters, the more Heart-to-Hearts become available. Raising Affinity also produces higher quality Gems, both in the number of turns it takes to craft and by allowing other party members to assist.
While battling together, there are a number of opportunities to raise Affinity between characters:
- Chain Attacks - performing a chain attack gives ten Affinity points to every character in the battle.
- Healing or reviving - helping a party member who has been knocked out, dazed, toppled, etc... gives 20 Affinity points.
- Burst Affinity - at random points in battle, you will be prompted to press the B button to encourage a party member giving between 30 and ten Affinity points based on the size of the target ring.
Although the reward for these actions is small, those points really do add up, so make sure to take advantage of them when they are available.
Characters who complete side quests together will gain between 20 and 100 Affinity points. With nearly 500 quests in the game, even the small reward quests really add up. On top of the Affinity points, completing quests will also reward you with experience, money, and/or items, while boosting your reputation score for the area.
There are special cut scenes called Heart-to-Hearts scattered throughout the world of Bionis. These scenes can only be accessed by specific characters and only once you've met the Affinity requiremets. When you examine the Heart-to-Heart symbol (two hands clasped) and you've met the requirements, it will lauch a cut scene in which two characters reminisce. You will be given options on how to respond and, depending on your choices, the Affinity between the characters will be raised or lowered.
If you have not met the Affinity requirements or do not have the characters needed for the Heart-to-Heart, you will get a message saying that the requirements will be revealed later. Additionally, the epilogue story, Future Connected has Quiet Moments which are similar, but do not have Affinity requirements or dialogue options.
For the location of every single Heart-to-Heart, as well as the requirements and how to get the most out of your choices, see our Heart-to-Heart Guide.
One of the easiest ways to raise Affinity between playable characters is giving presents. By exchanging gifts between playable characters, you can raise (and lower) their Affinity. There are hundreds of Collectibles which can be given as gifts and each item has a different point value for each character. However, they are easy to farm in all areas of the game, so spending a little time collecting them can give you the added advantage in your Affinity scores.
There is also at least one instance in which an Affinity score goes up based on progressing the storyline. I won't be going into detail because of the spoilers involved, however, the events in question happen in the Galahad Fortress.
While raising Affinity between your party members is important, it's just as important to raise Affinity with NPCs. Every single named NPC - of which there are close to 200, can impact your reputation scores in different areas. By improving your reputation in an area, NPCs will offer you more quests and have more items to trade. With limited exceptions, a named NPC is always found in the same region of one of five specific areas:
- Colony 9 Area includes Colony 9 and Tephra Cave
- Colony 6 Area include Bionis' Leg and Colony 6
- Central Bionis include Satorl Marsh, Makna Forest, and Frontier Village
- Upper Bionis includes Eryth Sea, Alcamoth, and Valak Mountain
- Hidden Village include Fallen Arm, Mechonis Field, Central Factory, and Agniratha
The more quests you complete in an area, the higher your reputation score will go. Like Affinity between party members, there is a numerical value ranging from zero to 8,000 for each area which you cannot see, but there is a star system which can tell you the range of your score:
- One Star - less than 2,000 points.
- Two Stars - less than 4,000 points.
- Three Stars - less than 6,000 points
- Four Stars - less than 8,000 points.
- Five Stars - the max of 8,000 points.
In addition to the five stars visible, there are also benchmarks for 1/4 and 1/2 star intervals in each rating. Many quests will, for example, require three and a half stars or two and a quarter stars.
There are a couple named NPCs who will move from one area to another in the course of the story, but you can track down any named NPC you've interacted with using the Affinity Chart. To look up information about specific NPCs, follow these instructions:
- Press X to open the Main Menu.
- Using the left joystick or D-pad, scroll down to Affinity Chart.
- Press A to select Affinity Chart.
- Using the left joystick or D-pad, place the circle over the area you wish to check.
- Press A to select the area.
- Using the left joystick or D-pad, scroll down to the NPC you wish to know more about.
- Press ZL for a character's profile.
- Press ZR for a character's trade list.
Every named NPC you speak to will be added to the list, and will also appear on the Affinity Chart: Settlements. While the latter is useful for seeing connections between NPCs, the list is easier to navigate. In each character's profile, you will find their general location, more specific usual spot, and hours of activity, as well as less useful personal information. The trade list will have all the items they will trade at their current Affinity level. As you raise Affinity with NPCs, they will offer more items to trade.
In addition to providing more quests, improving your reputation score in an area means NPCs will offer more items for trade. Trading can save you the time of tracking down high value items, and in some cases, it is the only way to get certain items. However, trades are all one-to-one, and you have to trade an item of equal or greater value of the items you want.
The trade value of any material is equal to the item's base sell price, while the trade value of a weapon, armor, or Collectible is ten times the item's base sell price. Two skills increase the value of items which the party offers for trade:
- Riki's "Friends Now!" skill adds 5%.
- Shulk's "Hero's Privilege" skill adds 20%.
In addition to their trade items, every NPC has an Overtrade Item. This is a special item they will give if the item you trade them is worth more than the item you're getting. To get an overtrade item, the difference between your item and their item must be equal to or greater than the value of their overtrade item.
For example, Suzanna, an NPC in Colony 9, has an overtrade item of Ancient Armor worth 450. If you trade her an item worth 510 or more for a Broken Antenna (worth 60), she will insist you take the Ancient Armor as well. Different NPCs have different Overtrade Items. While Suzanna required 450 or more to get her Overtrade items, another NPC Moritz's Overtrade Item is only worth 290.
Do you have any questions about how to raise Affinity scores or what Affinity scores do? Drop us a comment below and be sure to check out our other Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition guides so you can unlock the secrets of the Monado!
Casian Holly has been writing about gaming at iMore since 2019, but their real passion is Pokémon. From the games to the anime, cards and toys, they eat, sleep, and breathe all things Pokémon. You can check out their many Pokémon Go and Pokémon Sword and Shield guides and coverage here on iMore.