Over a decade since the story began, Nintendo and Monolith Soft’s Xenoblade Chronicles series finally becomes a trilogy in this epic adventure, featuring best-in-the-series combat. Let's take a look at Xenoblade Chronicles 3!
The Way Out Of Our World
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 takes place in the war-torn world of Aionios, where artificial soldiers of Keves and Agnus, all made with a lifespan of ten years, fight each other for survival by stealing the opposing side’s life source, while the nefarious legion of consuls known as “Moebius” pull all the strings. However, six soldiers, three from each side, are forced to unite against their fellow soldiers and Moebius after they gain an incredible fusion power from the “Ourobouros Stone”. This chain of events leads to an epic story of survival as our six heroes must reach “The City” and end the war once and for all.
This emotional rollercoaster combined with mature themes and moments of heart and levity have come to define the series. The main characters are loveable, with their character arcs and the rapport they develop with each other being emotionally investing, especially for Noah and Mio’s relationship.
What’s more, this is one of the best-looking games you can play on the Switch, with its cell-shaded character designs and stunning world visuals and aesthetics, along with the animation during fight cutscenes being nothing short of spectacular. To top it all off, the pause menu is the most visually unique in the series, it looks like a simulation, as if you’re looking into the character’s minds.
Yes, there are some side characters that are less interesting than others, like most members of Moebius, but many of them, such as the “Hero Quest” characters like Valdi and Fiona, stand out. Some people might find the cutscenes overly long or dialogue heavy but the story being as engaging as it is more than makes up for it.
Some aspects of the sound department are repetitive, like the party member’s voice lines (as is the case throughout the series), the menu theme, and especially the Chain Attack theme: while they are still great, they can get tiring after some hours. But the rest of the game’s soundtrack is as far from tiring as can be! The new battle themes are now more dynamic and are glorious to listen to, but it’s the cutscene event themes that are the ones that sell all emotions. The track “A Life Sent On” is a flute melody diegetically woven into the game’s world as it is played by the “Off-Seers” to send the departed away and is a crucial part of the story and its themes.
Fighting For The future
For the first time in the series, you can have up to six main party members in battle, each with their own unique arts and skills based on their region. Xenoblade 3’s battle system works like its predecessors, but it implements a new twist in the form of a class system with three unique types. Attackers Noah and Sena focus on damaging enemies, Defenders Mio and Lanz focus on drawing enemy aggro towards them, while Healers Eunie and Taion provide heals and buffs to party members while inflicting debuffs on enemies (they’re also the only class type that can revive fallen party members, so keeping them alive is crucial).
The attacks and their status effects also function like the past games. For example, Kevesi Arts need to recharge after use (like in Xenoblade 1), and Agnian Arts need auto-attacks to become usable, (like in Xenoblade 2), with the return of flexible and satisfying combo strings that bring benefits to battle (e.g., “Break-Topple-Launch-Smash" multiplies damage). However, these arts can be combined to create even more powerful “Fusion Arts”, which also combine status effects depending on the arts combined.
But combat gets even better with the new “Interlink” ability, where the Kevesi and Agnian party members fuse together to form one powerful being. Their attacks become even more powerful and provide status effects depending on their power level, which can be filled up to Level 3 using Fusion Arts. But, to balance this mechanic out, there’s a heat gauge which renders the forms unusable for a while when it reaches its limit. So, it’s crucial to decide when to use this ability along with ensuring its power isn’t abused!
There’s also the return of “Chain Attacks”, which now function differently in this three-quel. Selecting a character’s “Chain Order” at the beginning provides a status effect and there is a meter that needs to be filled using TP (Tactical Points) from character arts, so that character performs a special attack. Attackers multiply their TP multiplied when they’re selected first, Defenders reactivate members with the most TP, and Healers keep the meter at 99% when used to fill it up. It’s incredibly satisfying to use your arts and tactics wisely and fill the meter way past the 100% mark to deal some serious damage.
Overall, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has an excellent combat system that combines the best aspects of the first two games and implements unique, balanced, and satisfying new features that helps it stand out on its own.
Adventures Through Keves And Agnus
Unsurprisingly, the scale of Aionios’ world is just as gargantuan as in the previous games. While story progression is still linear, there’s tons of areas and landmarks to discover (some even looking familiar to long-time fans), whether roaming around the open world or constructing new shortcuts using collectables in your inventory. There’s also a treasure trove of containers to find full of gold, crystals, and the new Nopon Coins, and a vast variety of monsters to slay, especially the more dangerous “unique monsters”! Making a new discovery is still just as rewarding as it was before, and it makes the game very much worth delving back into after finishing the story.
However, you can’t have a JRPG without side quests, and while not all of them are great, there are many that give you new insight of the world, and they still add a bunch of new lore to the game’s world from the perspective of NPCs. The best side-quests are undoubtedly the “Hero Quests”, which unlock new “Hero” characters that serve as an extra party member, an evolution of the “Blade” characters in Xenoblade 2. Each one has their unique Class and Chain Order, giving you much more variety to choose from when finding which one works best for you.
As to be expected, there’s a boatload of customisation options to make the game more accessible. There are series staples like customising character stats by having them equip accessories and gems, as well as a skill tree, which is now used for upgrading your Ouroborous powers. There’s also the new addition of “Rest Spots” (found in the overworld), which are useful for levelling up your characters, crafting gems, and cooking meals with timed status effects. However, changing your party members to any class in the game, even those of the pre-mentioned Hero characters, is by far the best accessibility option as it gives the player even more variety to play with! The customisation is great for fans of the series to play around with, while also being accessible to newcomers of JRPGs in general.
As a bonus, the game even allows the use of Amiibo, which gives you extra items that might be useful in your journey, and if you use a Xenoblade Amiibo, you’ll have Noah wield weapons from the previous games (e.g., Shulk Amiibo gives you the Monado). These are nothing more than accessories, but they’re still very cool, especially if you missed feeling the power of the Monado!
Overall, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is another excellent experience in the series, with its amazing story, incredible combat system with tons of character customization, and gargantuan world with hours of extra content. Whether you're a fan of Xenoblade or JRPGS in general, or a newcomer who’s getting into the genre, pick this one up. You’ll have the time of your life!