Hello Pilots! Today I bring you something special, something out of the ordinary for my usual postings. Today, I have a guide on how to succeed in Arena, featuring strategies for Shooters, Melee, 1v1 and 3v3! Hold onto your helmets, this is going to be a big one.
Let's start our focus on the Battle Assessment (BA), then we'll look at what we know about the BA and apply it to 1v1, and finally, 3v3. So, the maximum possible BA you can get is 1.260. This is achieved through a few criteria. The first, and most important, is time. The second is Overkill, the third is whether you finish the fight at 100% armor or not.
Let's cover time. Time is the most important of the factors. Arena battles start at 4:59, when you spawn in, then when the enemy finishes spawning in, it will be 4:56. To achieve maximum time points, you need the fight to finish while the clock still says 4:56. This means you need to finish the fight within the first second of the fight. What this tells us is that Overkill skills, which were king in the old Arena, are too slow here. Even if you managed to get them down to a 0 to 3 second cooldown (CD), the cutscene of the actual skill itself takes 6 seconds, if not longer in the case of some skills like the Thunderbolt FA Gundam Back. This means that they're too slow to execute to receive the top scores.
Next on the list is Overkill, in which I mean how much total damage you did to the enemy. The higher the better, but unlike the old BA, Overkill skills are no longer viable. The amount of points you get based on damage is much, much lower than the points based on time, so Overkill skills like Trans-Am Raid or Last Shooting fall short, as the extra damage doesn't make up for the lost time. Despite that, you still should be trying to hit the enemy as hard as possible, to get those extra few points. It's easy to hit 1.258, 1.259 is also fairly common based on damage, but to get the coveted 1.260 requires an extreme amount of damage given the time constraints.
The final criteria, armor, is easy. If you are at 100% armor, you get full points. If you are not, it means you lose a hefty chunk of points, going from say, 1.258 down to 1.248 or so. In 1v1, this is a non-factor. Finishing the first within the first second means the enemy never gets a chance to attack at all. In 3v3, this is a lot more important both because the enemy gets a chance to attack and because your allies also need to be at full armor in order to get the points.
So, let's look at 1v1 Arena and how we can optimize our builds to take advantage of the BA and receive the most points.
Shooters are actually in a very good place in the new BA, which is nice compared to the old system. They aren't the absolute king of the new system, that's a Melee build, but they are 99.99% of the way there, and they get there significantly more easily than Melee builds do.
This is thanks to one unique thing that Shooters have that Melee lack. Namely, Magazine Skills. Magazine skills have an initial CD of 0 seconds, so they can be used as soon as the fight starts without any CD traits at all. This, combined with some of the best parts being event parts and therefore both easy to get and easy to max out, is what has pushed Shooters to as high as they are. They struggle to get 1.260 (I personally am sitting at 16K Shot ATK + 62% boosts in traits as a baseline and still can't hit 1.260, for example), but are pretty consistent to get 1.258s and 1.259s.
So what makes a good Shooter build? Firstly, Magazine Skills. The best one by far is the Crossbone X1 Torso's Beam Gun (XB1). It is far above all other magazine skills, to the point that some have speculated that it is bugged. Whether or not it is remains to be seen, but it is without a doubt the best we have. Next is the Chobham Shield's Beam Gun (Chobham). This part, being a 4* part, is something we can select from the Premium Materials campaign, so there's hope for people who don't have it. The final of the big three is the Strike Noir Back's Dual Linear Guns (Noir). This one comes in third because of being Physical instead of Beam and having a slow firing animation that is easy to interrupt. In an ideal build, you'll really only need the XB1, with the Chobham and Noir being used alongside it for the particularly tanky enemies.
So now that we have our suite of strong magazine skills, that takes care of the time portion of the BA. Now we need to look at damage, since we have to kill the enemy in that first second of the match. So how do we do that? Traditionally, under the old BA, Buffs were king for increasing damage. Here, however, Buffs and Awakenings are too slow. So we instead turn to part traits, ones that boost EX Skill Damage and Shooting Power. Stacking as many of these as possible, while not gimping out on our Shot ATK stat, is key to boosting our power higher without having to waste time on Buffs. The commonly seen ones are the Beam Zanba from the XB1 and the Veetwo Head. There's also the Nadleeh back, but that conflicts with the Noir so isn't used too often. Finally, there are a few more, like the Nu Head, Wing Zero Custom Head, and Hyper Mega Rifle from the Hi-Nu, but those are all Sokai limited. Now, that isn't to say traits are the be all end all, far from it. Raw Shot ATK can also carry you quite far, as you'll find out in another article I'll be posting later, but that's the basic scope of things.
Well, we have our build, now what do we do in the actual battle? Before that, we need to look at opponent selection and map choices. Some maps are much better for Arena than others. Avoid Lunar Arena (Space) at all costs. Seriously, treat any opponent on there as some 1,000,000 CPWR monster that you cannot beat. This is because that specific Arena starts with a set of boxes between you and your opponent, so you cannot kill them in a timely manner. Other Arenas I like to avoid when possible are Colony Arena (Base) and Snowfield Tundra. Base is just too large of a map for most skills to hit, meaning you have to rely on the opponent and yourself dashing in and getting your EX Skill off while dashing to finish on time and without portions of the EX Skill missing, and it's just too finnicky for my tastes. Tundra is a little bit closer, but the dip in the middle of the map between your opponent and you can cause your shots to fire over the opponent's head, and like Base, it's just too finnicky for my liking. The good maps are Jaburo (Forest), Desert Arena, and Odaiba (Base). Jaburo is a little further than the others but still close enough to be fine, just watch out for that random 1 in 10 opponent that likes to move diagonally at the start instead of coming towards you. Desert and Odaiba put you extremely close to the enemy with no obstacles and no changes in terrain and no weird AI movement patterns, making them the easiest by far to get 1.259s in.
Finally, we get to the actual performance. Well, it's quite simple...you hit the magazine skill button as soon as you possibly can. That's really it. The only nuance comes from when XB1 alone isn't enough, in which case you need to use a second EX Skill, in the Noir or Chobham. I haven't personally tested Chobham yet as I don't own it, but with the Noir, the pattern is XB1 then immediately fire the Noir after. Going Noir first then XB1 requires millisecond perfect timing on your part, where if you get it wrong you either finish at 4:55, losing points, or you never fire the Noir at all as the animation gets cancelled by the XB1. It's much easier to just use the XB1 first.
Melee are technically still king of the new BA, but the build required to get there is much more restrictive and requires absolutely tons of duplicates, making it much harder to achieve. Speaking of, let's get into it.
The absolute number one thing you must have as a Melee build for Arena, if you are trying to reach top ranks, is the Gusion Rebake Shield. The Halberd Throw EX Skill is a ranged, very fast, very strong Melee based EX Skill, and it's pretty unique in that respect. All the other ranged Shield Throw skills are Pierce based, making them much weaker. This one is Power based, and that pushes it well into the best Arena skill slot. Anyways, that's literally it. The one EX Skill Melee users will be using. However, we have a hurdle to overcome here that Shooters don't. Namely, our Halberd Throw has an Inital CD of 8 seconds. We need to lower that to a more acceptable number for Arena first. That number is a CD of 3 seconds. This is because the Arena timer starts at 4:59, but by the time the enemy spawns in and you are able to move, it is 4:56. The thing is, those 3 seconds that pass during the animations, count down on your Initial CD.
So, knowing we need to get the initial CD to 3 seconds, what can we do to get there? There are initial CD traits, but how much do we need? The short answer is 14% initial CD. Halberd Throw has a CD of 30 (8), and Initial CD traits calculate based on the longer, non-initial CD number. 14% of 30 gives us 4.2 seconds off our initial 8 seconds. Not quite enough, except that the game always rounds up when there are decimals involved, in basically every scenario I've ever seen. You can see this in action during events where say, 450% boost at a 5 EN mission awards 5 bonus coins (rounding up to 500%) or even in Arena in the first few days where 1.258 and 1.259 give the same points because of rounding up. So, what methods are there to hitting 14%? Well, we have a slew of event parts that give 12%, namely Sven Cal Bayang, the DODS Rifle, the Hyper DODS Rifle and Shiranui/Unryu, as well as two 1* ranged weapons, the Zaku Machine Gun and Bullpup Machine Gun, that give 10%. Unfortunately, using just one of these pieces isn't enough to hit our 14% mark. So you need to either use Sven + another of the ranged weapons at once, or have a 4* piece with a 6% Initial CD lvl 1 trait. The ones we see most often are the HEAT REV SWORD, Mikazuki Augus and Shinn Asuka. There's also the Sokai limited Unicorn Beam Saber. Heat Rev in particular is very good, as it is also one of the highest Melee ATK weapons that exist, at 3997 ATK. Important things to note, however, especially for those who are lucky enough to get multiple copies of the Gusion Shield, is that at lvl 3 Halberd throw, the CD goes down to 7 seconds, making 12% Initial CD enough to use it right away. Eventually, even 10% will be enough once the CD goes down to 6 seconds, but that's out of range of most people.
Having taken care of our Initial CD, we now need to push for more damage. Like with Shooters, we'll be focusing on part traits. The big ones are the Age Titus Back, Duel Gundam 57mm High Energy Beam Rifle, Susanowo Arms, Nadleeh Arms, Johnny Ridden Gelgoog Arms, Gundam Torso and Barbatos 4th Form Arms. There's also the Turn X Head, but that is Sokai limited. Now, the issue with Melee is that a lot of these parts don't work with each other, because of different Attribute restrictions, but there's enough variety to be able to get some of these to work. Age Titus, for example, should always be on a Melee build, since it works with all types and gives the highest easily accessible boost at +25%.
Next, Arena selection. Everything that applies for Shooters, applies for Melee. The only difference is that Tundra is a little better for Halberd Throw than magazine skills. The one thing to note is that currently, the Desert map is bugged, and seems to give an extra 6% Initial CD to your suit for some reason, which means you can potentially swap out one of the Initial CD parts for more damage. Finally, performance. This is even easier than shooters. You just...hit the one button, your Gunpla yeets the axe, and the fight is done.
3v3 requires a slightly different set up than 1v1, most importantly because if your allies take damage, that means you lose the points in your BA as if you had taken damage. So you need to keep everyone at full armor during the fight, and with 0 control over your allies, that becomes difficult. This is overcome by running a skill that heals the squad, and ending the fight with it. In terms of group heals, the only real options are the Blitz Head, NT-1Torso, and Quebeley Head. NT-1 Torso doesn't allow for XB1 Torso usage, so that's not really an option. Quebeley Head is Sokai limited, leaving really only the Blitz Head, and even then, that skill does not heal you, only your allies, so you need to pay extra attention to not being hit. If none of those are available, then you need to run a damaging skill that has a healing component. The big ones are Overkills, while other non-Overkill options include Sanakapool Arms and GP01 Back.
What the need for heals changes is that Shooters now need to run Initial CD as well, and in the case of Overkill skills, they need 22% Initial CD. You can get away with a little less since you aren't using the Overkills right away at the start, instead ending the fight with them, but I wouldn't risk running less than 20%. 20% would mean a 3 second CD, any longer and it starts to get unreliable on having it ready in time. Initial CD parts for Shooters are particularly rough, with not a single good non 4* part. HEAT REV SWORD, Vajra Beam Saber, Unicorn Saber, Aile Strike Gundam 57mm High Energy Beam Rifle, Shield Buster Rifle, and at a stretch, Mikazuki Augus and Shinn Asuka. This is a rough world for Shooters. It might be better to have your allies run Initial CD and healing skills for themselves, and then time your own kills to match with the heals so that you can finish the fight right after a heal.
Maps stay the same as before, but performance changes greatly here. You still do the same things as in 1v1, but with the chaotic nature of 3v3 I find a lot of mid range shots end up missing from the extra movement going on, meaning you want to fight really close to the enemies. Likewise, if using an Overkill to heal, you don't actually want the Overkill animation to continue to play and get the kill using it. You want the heal to go off as the enemy dies to your allies, cutting the animation short and saving you those few seconds on the clock.
Like with Shooters, 3v3 requires a different set up for Melee. Like Shooters, it mainly involves adding a heal to your skill set to heal the group. Luckily for us, Melee has a much better time hitting the 22% necessary Initial CD. However, the challenge Melee faces is that you need to kill two enemies, and Halberd Throw can only kill one. So we need a third EX Skill, one that is similar to Halberd Throw. There are a few options, but the best one I've found is the Sengoku Astray Arms for Hidden Arm & Samurai Sword. It hits almost as hard as the Halberd Throw, is Physical so it's still boosted by Age Titus Back, and comes with a built in dash to help close the distance. For Healing Overkills, the ones I found to be best are Red Astray Frame Legs for Bisect, or Freedom Legs for Xiphias Rail Cannon, mostly because the Leg slot is very low value for Melee builds, offering no Initial CD or damage increasing traits. The Freedom Legs are better due to higher Melee ATK, but it's pretty negligible and since the Freedom Legs are Sokai limited, it's easier to get your hands on Bisect.
Map choice remains the same, performance changes, just like for Shooters. For Melee, you'll want to close the distance and use your dash EX Skill like Hidden Arms & Samurai Sword first, followed by Halberd Throw second, and then finally end on your Heal right before the match ends. Like with Shooters, you don't want your Overkill to actually play the animation. I found the easiest way to do this is to have an In-Fighter or Defender pilot, set the match to Semi-Auto so they do the dashing for you, and then just hitting the EX Skills at the appropriate times. Your mileage may vary, of course.
The final thing to talk about is opponent selection, for 1v1 and 3v3. As a general rule, always go for the lowest CPWR opponent in the highest possible points bracket, assuming there are multiple opponents in the same points bracket. Also, attribute advantages are super important as well, in that you should always pick one you have an advantage over, even if it's a little bit higher in CPWR than another option. You should also always avoid one that you have disadvantage against.
Whew, that was a doozy. Hopefully this helps you all out in getting higher ranks, and therefore higher HC payouts from Arena. Also hopefully this won't interfere with my chances of finally landing that 1st place finish. I'll see you next time Pilots!