After a little time away from the game, I’ve been spending my lunchtimes at work hacking and slashing my way through Ambition Mode in Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition on Nintendo Switch.
I’m nowhere near finished with this sprawling, grindy mode, but I have picked up a few interesting tips and observations along the way, so I thought we could spend today talking a bit about those things. They may well help you on your own journey to build a big ol’ Emperor-impressing temple.
Let’s dive in!
There are several areas you’ll need to develop in order to succeed in Ambition mode: allies, bodyguards, facilities, fame, weapons… and of course, your own playable character’s abilities.
Firstly and most importantly, note that unlike in Story mode, in Ambition mode you can select your own character’s costume and those of the enemy and allied forces. I encourage you to dress everyone as ridiculously as possible.
As we discussed last time, the different types of battle you can engage with when leaving the camp by the gate will determine the main “focus” of the upcoming encounter. Material-gathering battles tend to be rather small-scale and quick, so should be cleared as quickly as you can, while at the other end of the spectrum, battles that specifically note they are a good place to find allies are a fantastic means of building up the time you need for longer streaks of consecutive battles. And the more consecutive battles you do, the more rewards you will gain.
With that in mind, it’s a good idea to plump straight for these allies-centric battles early in your streak, because assuming you’ve already levelled your playable character a bit in Story mode and got them some decent (tier 3 or higher) weapons, you’ll be able to rip through the enemy officers in less than the 30 seconds you’ll get back for each win. In other words, you’ll be making an overall “profit” on time so long as you make a bee-line straight for the officers on the map and clear out as many as you can before accomplishing the main objective.
The other means of extending your time comes through the skill Gather Supplies, which brings us neatly onto bodyguards and how to manage them. This is what that Leadership stat that does absolutely nothing in Story mode is for: the higher this is, the more (and better) bodyguards you can hire at once, up to a maximum of three.
Bodyguards can be drawn from both the playable and non-playable officers you’ve recruited in battle, though the former are considerably more “expensive” than the latter, so you won’t be able to make use of them until your Leadership is over about 30 or so. To go into battle with a full entourage of three playable officers under your command, you’ll need a Leadership value of more than 90. More on how to build that up in a moment.
Also note that you can dress your bodyguards in their other costumes by temporarily switching to them in camp, choosing their outfit, then switching back to your main character. Note that you can’t do this if they’re already assigned as a bodyguard, or if they’re supervising a facility.
Each bodyguard has a passive skill whose nature you can check on the bodyguards screen in camp, and each unlocks a second when you max out your “bond” with them by repeatedly taking them into battle. They also have an active skill drawn from several possibilities; this is the important one.
The fastest means of earning Leadership is to take three bodyguards into battle as soon as you are able, then get each of them to use this active skill, regardless of what it is or if it seems to make tactical sense to do so. (The only exception to this is Gather Supplies, which becomes more effective the higher your KO count is, so make sure you trigger this towards the end of the battle but before you complete it!)
To give your orders, pause the game in battle and choose the appropriate options from the menu; the skill you want to be using will be a single-use skill at the bottom of the bodyguard’s list of abilities.
You earn a small amount of “Feat” experience for giving the order, then a larger chunk when the bodyguard successfully completes the task you have given them. By making a point of doing this every battle, you’ll quickly max out Leadership on your favourite playable character and be able to bring along your favourite allies rather than generic boys. And from there you can start focusing on abilities that are actually useful to have. Like the aforementioned Gather Supplies.
When first recruited, each bodyguard can use their main active skill once, but this can be increased by training them. To do this, back in camp, you’ll need to use the Strengthen Bodyguards option. Here, you “fuse” them with allies you don’t need (likely non-playable officers) until you level them up. Note that you’ll need quite a lot of allies to even gain one level of a skill, and this will, in turn, decrease your total number of allies! So if you’ve been trying to gain allies in order to unlock new facilities in your camp or increase your maximum Fame level, you may want to hold off from doing this until you’ve met the milestone in question.
The advantage of levelling the skills like this, as costly as it can be, is that they become able to be used more than once. This is very helpful when it comes to skills like Gather Supplies, as it means you can get a “free” time bonus several times in a single battle. If you’ve got your eye on that elephant mount that’s waiting for you after a hundred consecutive battles, you’ll need to take full advantage of this.
Back in camp, there’s not a ton to do immediately, but you’ll want to make a point of investing the Facility Materials you’ve gathered as soon as you can. The Blacksmith is a great place to invest if your weapon inventory is bulging at the seams, as at level 30 you unlock the ability to fuse weapons together, powering them up and transferring abilities from one to another. Along the way, the Blacksmith’s inventory also expands as you level him, so you may well be able to pick up some good interim weapons before getting deeper into this aspect of character progression.
Once you unlock the Barracks, be sure to send out your troops before you go out on any battle of your own, because they’ll come back with materials and sometimes allies, weapons and animals for you to make use of. Talk to the guy in front of the Barracks once you return to camp to retrieve these items — it’s easily forgotten!
Finally, if you’re getting burnt out, don’t forget that Ambition mode isn’t the only way to play the game! Character progress is persistent across the Ambition and Story modes, so if you were having particular trouble with a specific Story battle, a bit of grinding in Ambition may help — and likewise, if you’re getting bored with consecutive battles in Ambition mode, the more structured experience of Story mode might be just what the doctor ordered.
There’s plenty more to explore in Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition — but for now, the seemingly endless grind of Ambition mode is providing thoroughly enjoyable lunchtime entertainment!
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