The Xenoblade Chronicles series is one of the most loved Japanese role-playing games available on Nintendo platforms. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 marks the third entry in the series and offers some of the most compelling stories and fantastic gameplay yet.
Xenoblade Chronicles has always had deep mechanics that seem overwhelming on the surface, but as one of the more accessible role-playing games out there, it’s always been great for longtime genre fans and those trying it for the first time. So with a few games in their back pocket, can Monolith Soft bring back all that made the franchise click, while also experimenting with new concepts?
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Details
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Developer(s): Monolith Soft
Genre: Action role-playing
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Compelling and heart wrenching story
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 begins with a bit of history behind a conflict between two warring factions living on the planet. These nations, Keves and Agnus, have been at war for some time, using soldiers who serve one purpose: to fight. With Keves and Agnus always at war, there is a requirement for more and more units, but there is a catch – soldiers only live for 10 years. It’s 10 years of fighting, and that is all the people know.
Because of a few plot points we won’t spoil here, 3 members of Agnus and 3 members of Keves are thrown together on an epic adventure, realizing that all the world has turned on them, and they must restore order. While it may sound silly, it is a fantastic story that had me wondering what might happen next. So many Japanese role-playing games have cliché stories with subpar twists and turns, but Xenoblade Chronicles 3 holds together well throughout. And the character direction is second-to-none. Even as I crossed 60 hours played, I was still heavily invested in the protagonists, and the stories that unraveled around them.
What pulls the group together is their connections that allow them to perform the Ouroboros. The Ouroboros is when two fighters come together as one, becoming a unique, extremely powerful warrior. As it so happens, each Agnus member is able to team up with a Keves member to perform this mystical bond, bringing the uneasy alliance a bit more stability.
The mechanics in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 are broken down into two parts: battle mechanics and world building mechanics. In this entry, as the team spreads out across the vast planet, they begin liberating areas from enemy control, after which little hubs spring up, full of people to meet, quests to do, and so much more. It’s a unique system that allows the world of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 to feel so much more alive. Seeing the fruit of your labours manifest itself in this way is great, and is a driving force behind why you might undertake so many of these liberation efforts.
Battles feel similar to Xenoblade Chronicles 2, although much more refined and user friendly. The game slowly layers more and more depth into the combat, beginning with auto attacks, moving into casting Artes, using special Artes, and more. Various mechanics from the previous entry return, with the obvious omission of the Blades system. No great loss, in my opinion.
Each character brings unique attributes to the battlefield, with rings appearing on the ground. Each ring might provide a different bonus, perhaps healing power or improved attack stats. While I ignored these at first, using them strategically in more difficult fights became a must. Again, however, figuring it all out was so easy, and the flow of battle rarely felt clunky.
Excellent delivery, mostly beautiful landscapes
The voice acting in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is spot on. In so many other releases in recent months, voice acting always seems to be an afterthought. While only the cut scenes are voice acted, the quality of that acting is top notch, breathing life into the various characters and creating a bond you might not normally expect between characters and the player. The soundtrack, as well, is wonderfully done, with soft tones as you explore the mostly lush world, and heavier drops as you enter and engage in combat.
The world of Aionios is mostly spectacular, with beautiful views and gorgeous flora and fauna to keep your head on a swivel as you explore the world. As is not uncommon with most massive games on Nintendo Switch, it really does put pressure on the console’s hardware. There are a few muddled textures and some frame rate issues from time-to-time. That being said, the portability of the experience is so phenomenal that overlooking a few issues isn’t that hard. The issues I found were so minor, that after a few hours I stopped really noticing them, and became engrossed with the story and characters.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is an exceptional entry in the series
Monolith Soft has been perfecting the Xenoblade Chronicles franchise for quite a while now. Thankfully, each entry builds upon the last, creating better stories and better experiences overall. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 feels much more like the original release in terms of environment and storytelling, but the influences from the second entry are apparent and appreciated.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 did so much to improve on the original in terms of storytelling and gameplay, and that carries over, even if the overall vibe does not. There is depth here you probably won’t expect, but all of the depth is well executed from forced tutorials to easy reminders throughout. While playing Xenoblade Chronicles 3 might seem daunting, the accessibility is superb. It really is a game that all gaming fans can get into if there is a desire.
+ Phenomenal story and cast of characters
+ Best looking game in the series
+ Great voice acting
– Occasional performance issues
– A few muddy textures here and there
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF XENOBLADE CHRONICLES 3
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5