Warning: gameplay spoilers. Information about gameplay and character classes that I gathered during my playthroughs of Core Crossing to help others get started with party building and game progression. Best used alongside the developer’s Game Info guide under Discussions.
Tips and Class Guide
I completed a couple of playthroughs of Core Crossing, and below are my observations I made during them. I spent some time struck by decision paralysis when starting up the game, and this guide is intended to help others decide what classes and skills to choose in order to avoid doing the same. Be warned that once you know how the game mechanics work, it’s easy to break Core Crossing in half. Additional gameplay tips are at the bottom for this reason, ordered from least to most game-breaking.
The game isn’t super-hard and doesn’t have any overly sly tricks up its sleeves as the Etrian Odyssey games it was inspired by do, so any well-balanced party with a good mix of attacking types, healing, and support should be able to get through. Items are also available in cases where you’re missing an important skill effect. The low skill point (AP) investment costs make it impossible to ruin a character build, too, unlike in similar RPGs. You may want to pick whatever characters you think look neat and go in blind instead of reading through this.
The Guardian starts out as a great support unit. I struggled at first until I swapped out my Bloodluster for this class. The taunts can considerably raise the party’s survivability in the early game if you’re having trouble with that, with Counter adding some nice damage output, though they’ll decrease in utility once enemies start bringing out more AOEs. The DEF-/ENC-/WIL-reducing Slashes and Shout are my suggested skills for early-game debuffs, depending on your needs. There aren’t any enemies with defenses high enough to make Pierce Slash’s piercing effect a game-changer, and any skill that requires a dead party member to use is a waste of AP because the Guardian’s job is to prevent such situations in the first place. Level HP+ and Level FLO+ make the class ridiculously tanky and fast later on.
Cut Expert and Titan Slayer turn the class into a boss killer once you unlock them, easily making the Guardian my first party’s MVP in terms of damage output during boss fights. Titan Slayer is also excellent for random encounters until your HP pool grows too much for the damage boost to apply, after which Double Strike normal attacks will likely be your bread and butter. Fury Slash has the highest damage potential when you can spare the CP (mana). The downside of the Guardian offensively would be that its skills exclusively deal Sharp-type damage, except that no enemy actually seems to be immune to Sharp or reflect it.
The Dragoneer mainly spams Pick Off against random encounters during the early game for the bonus damage against mobs. Roar can also be used as a DEF/WIL debuffer if you need to be more CP-efficient. Once you unlock it, Stun Roar can be useful if you have trouble with random battles where you can’t kill the enemies within 1 turn.
I never found myself using Dragon Scale/Hide/Guard, the Breath skills, or the Eater skills. In any situation where you absolutely need a particular resist, you should be probably equipping the appropriate resist accessory instead of wasting turns. Maybe the Eater skills have a use if you’re desperately starved for elemental damage, but I’m doubtful. Buffs only last three turns in this game and don’t stack in duration, and Dragon Shout is the only one I’d consider impactful enough to be worth spending a turn not attacking on.
The elemental roar AOE attacks can and do tend to miss, making them very mediocre. If you have a better elemental attacker, taking these is pointless. Again, having pure Sharp damage on a character is seldom an issue. Vencitor, being a multi-hit move, can add some damage if you’re fighting Oversouls, the early FOE-type (blue flame icon) enemies, earlier than intended, but it’s not necessary.
The Dragoneer plays a mix of damage and debuff support roles in boss battles, cycling between using Dragon Shout and attacking, using Pick Off to debuff DEF, until the buff wears out, moving on to Dragon Claw as a combo damage/debuff skill once you get it. However, it’s not the best at either and should be backed up by other attacking/supporting party members. When you unlock Deep Slash, which is both strong and provides an omni-debuff, and Fury Slash, the class can start spewing out massive damage with its sizeable CP pool courtesy of Level CP+.
The Striker puts out solid damage with very low CP expenditure in the early game with Kiai or Meditate and its double-hit standard attack. The initial attack skills are underwhelming. Weak-damage skills have low damage boosts to the point that the Striker actually does less damage with them than its standard attack. You might want to add one or two of Smash/Crush/Impact/Sweep into your attack rotation when you unlock them if your party needs debuffs.
The class’s damage output against bosses spikes in the midgame as soon as you take Omega Fist. Bullet Fist can be good for random encounters but isn’t necessary, as Omega Fist’s boost applies a lot of the time due to the Striker’s smaller HP pool relative to the Guardian’s. The Striker’s damage output starts falling off in the late game compared to the Guardian’s or the Dragoneer’s but is still serviceable all the way through with Fury Strike.
There are a few enemy encounters where only having Blunt-type damage will screw you over, so one of the Earth-element attack skills can help in those cases. Houou Qi also can be used as an alternative to Meditate that doesn’t raise accuracy but gives your basic attack the Fire element.
The other Qi skills aren’t of much use. HP+ and FLO+ are must-haves, as you might expect. Qigong isn’t a bad skill per se, but I never encountered a situation where using it was the best move. In general, the problem with self-status dispels is that they require you to have control of the character, making them useless against most of the ailments you want to get rid of immediately.
Having a healer class is really important in this game. If you’re not sure which to pick, this is a safe default. The Blesser is AP-hungry compared to other classes, so you’ll want to save at least some AP Candies for it.
Your top priorities are the weak single-target healing and ailment cure spells, weak AOE healing and ailment cure spells, and single-target revive. Party debuffs aren’t relevant early on, so the single-target version can safely be skipped. I went for the AOE enemy buff removal skill myself, but the single-target should be fine if you want to save on AP.
I personally never had my characters had die often enough to require the AOE revive skill, but the effect is still a very powerful one, and it could be handy to keep in your back pocket for emergencies. The party WIL buff can help keep your party from being chunked by AOE spells in the first place, especially if you don’t have a source of ENC debuffs. Physical attacks can generally be out-healed without the Blesser’s DEF buff.
The healing skills scale with your character, and the weak healing skills consistently healed 1/2 or more of max character HP in my playthrough with it, so skipping the moderate-strength healing skills is fine if you don’t find yourself needing them.
I’d also recommend waiting on the Holy damage skills until later on, as you’ll be spending unnecessary CP using them on the easy fights and will be too busy healing to cast them during the hard fights. The Blesser’s magic offense is middling, so only the medium-strength AOE and the strong two Holy skills are worth using at all.
As they only apply to a single character, the reflect skills aren’t impactful enough to use your turns on. Having Holy-element absorb doesn’t do anything except in one or two fights, and not much even then.
This is another AP-hungry class. The Magi does a lot of damage during random encounters, while it’s kind of middle-of-the-road during boss battles, albeit still strong enough to pull its weight. This is a good choice of magic attacker if you’re unsure of what to use.
Ignoring weaknesses and resistances, Electric is the best attack element, as it can skip enemies’ turns with the Shock ailment. Wind is next-best, as it can debuff defenses with Blown, and Water can slow enemies down and reduce evasion with Wet if necessary. The Burn damage from Fire isn’t high enough to bother with. These are all in the form of statuses, and the status infliction chances aren’t too reliable, especially against bosses, so they should be treated as pleasant bonuses rather than counted upon. You’ll also still want to diversify to handle resistances instead of just picking Electric everything.
You’ll definitely want Initial ENC and the four weak attacks first. The CP savings from Composure also add up over time. I’d suggest only picking one of the single-target medium-strength spells at most, as you can make do with the AOEs for any enemy that resists it. The CP+ passive is a no-brainer.
The party-wide ENC buff can be useful if you have multiple magic attackers. The WIL buff might help your party from getting gibbed by AOE spells if you really need it, but every turn you spend casting it is a turn you’re not doing damage.
The Curser is actually completely bonkers.
For the most part, ailments are middling to bad in RPGs like this against bosses because it might take half a dozen turns to inflict even a single ailment due to low infliction rates. Cursiciton, the Curser’s AOE omni-curse spell, solves this issue by trying to inflict over half a dozen ailments simultaneously on every single enemy (including the permanent Poison), several of which can shut a boss down. Every time you use it, it’s like taking half a dozen or more turns at once. Skills like this are broken when they’re specials that need to be charged up, and Cursiciton can be used every turn. Not even the final boss is completely immune, although you may have to use it a few times to get a skill-disabling ailment to stick.
As far as offensive spell selection goes, the Curser has the Ruin-spell line, the Ill-spell line, and a Grim-element spell line. The Ruin-spell series is the consistent choice, as inflicting debuffs to get the damage bonus is trivial. The Ill-spells offer higher potential damage, the trade-off being that it’s harder to inflict an ailment to get the bonus. In addition, not all ailments give the same bonus. I found that Ill-/Poison gave about 30% more damage output during a test boss battle compared to Ruin-, while Ill-/Blind gave 25% less. Damage bonuses don’t stack. Which you should focus on depends on your risk/reward tolerance, but there isn’t any situation in-game where the Ruin-spells are too weak and you don’t have better options. The Grim-element attacks are stronger than either due to being multi-hit, but there are many enemies in the game that are either resistant or immune to Grim.
During the early-to-mid game, you’ll probably spend most of your time finishing off weakened enemies with your Lv. 1 attack spells. Against tougher random encounters, AOE Stun can buy you free turns, while the Grim skills can take down healthier enemies, but all of those cost more CP.
The Curser is best used as a secondary magic damage source during boss battles early on, tossing one of the AOE debuffs into your rotation if the rest of your party lacks one you need. Replace the latter with Omnicito’s omni-debuff once you hit Lv. 15. The class isn’t a nuke like the Bushi but can still deal enough damage to not be dead weight.
As for statuses, Dumb seems to have a higher infliction rate against big enemies than Stun, potentially buying you a few precious turns against bosses in desperate situations, but it’s a Hail Mary move rather than something to depend on. 1 AP for a chance to draw a get-out-of-jail-free card isn’t a bad thing to have, but it’s skippable. I’ve never seen Stun work against bosses, so it should be considered randoms-only.
Poison damage is based on the target’s HP, which makes it do little in most encounters compared to Stun. It hits the cap of 100 damage per turn against big enemies, but so does the plentiful Toxic Liquid item. The main use of Poison is as an ailment that doesn’t time out as other ones do, allowing you to take easier advantage of any skill bonuses relying on the enemy being statused. Whether this is worth AP would depend on your party, though you’ll probably have AP to spare unless you take multiple AOE debuff skills.
If you want to use the class’s Ill-spells, you’ll want multiple party members with skills that inflict ailments as a secondary effect (e.g. the Enforcer’s Toxic Tip) so you don’t waste turns trying to inflict Poison and accomplishing nothing, though having your whole party use Toxic Liquid against bosses on the first turn isn’t a bad idea if multiple party members can benefit from it. I’ve gone as long as half of a boss fight failing with the Curser’s Poison skills before successfully inflicting it, negating any benefit it may have given.
Cursiciton makes all other single-target ailment spells obsolete. As soon as you unlock it at Lv. 20, just cycle between the omni-curse and omni-debuff constantly during boss fights, sticking whatever skill you want in between. You can safely spam the omni-curse during random encounters, too, with the only downside being that it costs 10 CP per battle.
The Bushi is the queen of damage. If you need lots of damage, the Bushi deals lots of damage, even more damage than the already-disgusting late-game Guardian. Damage. Take Wide Draw and Initial CRIT first, then enjoy deleting enemies on Turn 1 all the way to the end of the game. Hilt Hit provides early-game Blunt coverage, though I found the Stun effect useless.
Make your choice between Chudan and Jodan once you hit Lv. 5. Bushido might potentially be useful, but the Bushi already hits like a truck without the buff in your attack rotation, and it’s better to have someone else buffing your ATK instead in the late game if possible.
You’ll want all four of the elemental attacks eventually once you unlock them, but I recommend starting with two that provide the attack elements and debuffs your party needs the most. They’re highly useful against both randoms and big enemies. Level HP+ is also a must-have.
CRIT+ and Cut Expert take your damage output to the next level. Take them both ASAP once you hit Lv. 15. Hissatsu Ikken can also be used if you don’t want to risk wasting a turn hitting an enemy’s elemental immunity during a random encounter, but it’s effectively an effect-less attack unless you have enough HP built up through the HP+ passive, HP training accessory, and HP-boosting accessories. If you do, it starts one-shotting many monsters with absurd numbers. I’ve seen 7000.
In late-game fights, the most damaging move is Fury Slash. Hitting a weakness with an elemental skill is the next-best option whenever CP usage or the ATK debuff is a concern.
The Enforcer is an okay physical attack/support hybrid class, playing a similar role to the Dragoneer. The Enforcer’s main flaws are that its damage output is so-so throughout most of the game and that its ailment skills have a high chance of failing when you need them to work the most. As the Enforcer has a lot of skills involving debuffs and ailments, how useful it is is dependent on party synergy. If you aren’t taking advantage of them, the Dragoneer is better from early- to mid-game.
Pick Off and Knock Down with Initial CRIT is the go-to early-game combo, of course. Blend In + Surprise Slash doesn’t do nearly enough damage to justify the setup. Recompose and its debuff-negating effect on kill is basically meant to be used with Fury Slash and should be taken much later, although it’s virtually useless during the boss fights where that would be most helpful.
Fatal Cut is good when you unlock it if you have other members to inflict ailments. Eye Cut, which has a decent proc rate even against bosses, with Fatal Cut is all right if you have another party member that can take advantage of the Blind. The Lv. 1 Cut skills deal so little damage that they may as well be pure ailment skills, so the others can’t be counted upon. All three effectively do the same thing, so picking just one of them is fine. If you want to use Poison, Toxic Tip is like an infinite supply of free Toxic Liquid.
Noct Bane is your only choice until Fury Slash for damage output comparable to other physical attackers’ as you approach the late game, but it burns through CP, and a lot of the enemies you face shrug off Grim-element attacks.
In the late game, the optimal strategy for both the Enforcer and Dragoneer becomes to use Fury Slash, and they both deal around the same amount of damage with the skill. The differences are that the Dragoneer has a bigger CP pool and a strong omni-debuff attack skill to add to your attack rotation, while the Enforcer has a passive to negate the ATK/FLO self-debuff if you kill an enemy and a passive Turn 1 crit rate buff. Which is better depends on what roles the rest of your party already fill, though I’d lean towards Dragoneer in general.
The Miko is similar to the Blesser, only with better attacking magic and more limited healing magic. Like the Blesser, the Miko has AP requirements on the high side. The elemental attacking spells the Miko possesses can hit the same enemy more than once and can potentially target more weaknesses, making them superior to the Blesser’s Holy spells. Unlike the Blesser, the Miko can contribute enough damage immediately to make a significant difference in battles. It also gets bonus CP passives, making wasting CP less of a concern.
However, the class gets its AOE ailment cure spell later, which can be a problem early on, and the Miko doesn’t get the Blesser’s AOE revive, strong healing skills, or party DEF or WIL buffs. Instead, it gets a combination of the weaker immediate healing skills and regeneration/ailment recovery/debuff recovery skills, meaning you may need to rely on prediction to keep your party alive in certain cases. The delayed omni-buff can be used to power up an attacker at the opening of a boss fight, but the Miko has better things to do with its turns otherwise. The single-target full regen spell is too slow to be worth bothering with. Level CP+ is an obvious immediate pick. The field HP recovery skill heals far too slowly to offer a benefit over manual healing.
The Miko may be a bit trickier to use than the Blesser due to missing the latter’s panic button skills, but it’s probably better overall, especially if you don’t have a Magi to provide elemental magic coverage.
The Nomad is this game’s farming utility class. Neither Core Crossing’s EXP curve nor drop rates warrant wasting a party slot on this class and its boosting skills. You’re expected to complete Core Crossing at around Lv. 30, not at Lv. 70-99 as in dungeon RPGs like the Etrian Odyssey games. If you can build a party that can kill Oversouls early, you have to make an active effort—deliberately running from encounters and skipping gear you can afford—not to snap the difficulty curve in half.
Shinobi, Ranger, Bloodluster, Light Blade, and Enchanter
The classes I haven’t tested much are the Shinobi, Ranger, Bloodluster, Light Blade, and Enchanter.
Out of them, I would not recommend the Bloodluster, Light Blade, or Enchanter, as the Bloodluster’s status moves are unreliable, it lacks AOE as a healer, and not staying at full HP in this game will get a character killed; the Light Blade lacks party-wide ailment or debuff recovery as a healer class; and the Enchanter can’t do anything of value but buff and can be replaced by a Light Blade (for ATK), Magi (for ENC), or Blesser (for DEF/WIL).
The Shinobi appears to be an Enforcer with better elemental attack coverage but no Pick Off, while the Ranger is the only good source of Launch-type damage coverage if the offensive type diversity is desired.
Debuffing skills never fail to work on bosses (provided they hit), with status infliction being very unreliable in comparison for the most part. You’ll want to take heavy advantage of debuffs during boss battles if your party can inflict them.
Having a higher FLO than the enemy is very important, especially for random encounters. If your party keeps letting enemies get extra attacks off, you’ll feel it. You definitely want the shoe type that raises FLO the most. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should skip heavy armor on your physical tanks/attackers, though, as they tend to be naturally faster than magic users, especially if they have a FLO-boosting passive.
The Fury (Strike/Slash/Shot) multi-hit skills have the downside of debuffing your ATK and FLO. This often doesn’t matter because the enemies will be dead by the end of the turn, but in cases where you want to use them multiple times in a row for big damage, you’ll want to have a means of re-buffing the stats and/or removing the debuffs.
Later in the game, you unlock items that give you party-wide ATK/DEF/ENC/WIL/FLO buffs. I recommend these (or the crafted staff with an ATK-buffing skill) used by a support character as your main source of ATK buff fuel for Fury spam during extended battles. As far as I can tell, there isn’t any significant difference in strength between buff sources that would warrant using a specific one.
The accessories that boost stats on level up are meant to be balanced by your characters leveling up at similar times, forcing you to pick who gets the juicier stat boosts. If you juggle around the EXP-boosting accessories to stagger your level increases, you can min-max your party’s stat gains. The Training Choker+, the accessory that gives you +15 HP per level-up, is at the top-left of B3F of Toxic Ruins, the second area. Don’t miss it. Two Training Charm+ accessories, providing you with +15 LUK per level up, can also be found later on. My memory isn’t 100%, but I believe you can get them from the Oversouls in Bittercold Chateau, the sixth area. Enough levels with these on can raise your LUK sky-high, improving crit rates and ailment resistance.
The main threat posed by the early-game Oversouls is that they each have a big AOE attack used every few turns that’s meant to wipe your party. If you equip the right resist accessories on your whole party for each one and have enough AOE healing so that you can survive and recover from it, you should be able to defeat them eventually. Poison via Toxic Liquid or a skill can greatly speed up the process, while keeping on ATK and ENC debuffs will further reduce the risk of party members getting one-shot. The first Oversoul you encounter can be taken out at as low as party Lv. 6 so long as you have enough CP-restoring items. About 10 should be sufficient. Killing all the Oversouls as you encounter them like this can strengthen your party beyond where you’re supposed to be at.