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Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review

Nowadays, there are really only two types of video games that are produced; ones that are created as cheap and efficiently as possible with the intent of generating a large profit, and ones created with genuine love and passion with the intent of putting out a great product. I’m happy to report that Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is most certainly the much preferred latter, with Monolith Soft and Nintendo providing what can only be described as an absolutely masterfully crafted experience. Everything from the graphics to the story is nothing short of brilliant, coming together in the form of what’s an almost perfect JRPG. Even if you’ve never played a Xenoblade game before, I wholeheartedly recommend picking up XC3 when it launches for Nintendo Switch on 29th July 2022.

I would like to start off this review for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 by praising its soundtrack. Every time I booted up the game, I found myself sitting back for a brief moment just to appreciate the beautiful orchestration that plays during the main menu before continuing forward with my save file. In fact, I’m actually listening to it right in this very moment as I type out this paragraph. Of course, It’s not just the menu that features well-orchestrated music, but rather the entire game. Whether it’s an action sequence or a peaceful one, the music always compliments the scene very nicely. This is all thanks to Xenoblade series composer veterans Manami Kiyota, ACE (TOMOri Kudo, CHiCO), Kenji Hiramatsu and Mariam Abounnasr, as well as Yasunori Mitsuda, who has also done music work for other JRPG games such as Chrono Trigger and Xenogears.

Music isn’t just a background element however, it’s also a big part of the overarching plot. Some characters are assigned the role of off-seer, tasked with respectfully sending off the deceased by playing an emotional retualmatic flute melody. Outside of small internet circles, video games are unfortunately not very respected as a medium when it comes to quality storytelling, and Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a perfect example of why it darn well should be. Sure it’s filled with countless clichés and dry humor, but that’s so obviously part of the charm. The underlying story is deep, meaningful, and engaging, with every cutscene drawing your eyes to the screen, even if just for the gorgeous visuals and special effects. Stakes continuously feel like they’re painstakingly high, and we’re talking life or death situations that could possibly change the way you look at the world itself. Chapter after chapter, my butt was glued to my seat and my hands to my controller. I was very impressed with most of the voice acting, both Japanese and English, so kudos to everyone involved. Be sure to check out our preview of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 to get a good idea at exactly what the story entails, but even over there, things are very vague as to not spoil anyone looking to play the game with as little knowledge as they can manage.

Xenoblade is one of Nintendo’s more teen/adult oriented exclusive franchises, without reaching Bayonetta levels of salaciousness. That being said, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 does include its fair share of violence, language, sexuality, and thematic elements, although most of it is there for the purpose of driving the plot forward, and it doesn’t ever feel like it’s overstaying its welcome. Apart from cleavage, the occasional comedic innuendo, and a few instances of tamer curse words like sh*t being muttered, violence is where most of the maturity comes from, because as mentioned before, the central plot focuses heavily on themes of mass war and death. Even during shower scenes, a thick fog fully covers anything that could be considered as obscene.

Even though Xenoblade Chronicles 3 mostly features an open world, with the exception of surprisingly brief loading times between areas, it’s also fairly linear. Exploration pretty much comes down to completing side quests, gathering materials that will help you on your adventure (there is thankfully no limit to the amount of items you can hold), and defeating enemy encounters to earn EXP and level-up your party members. Progressing through the main story is done by traveling from point A to point B, with a waypoint always conveniently available on the minimap so you don’t get lost in the vast environments while trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do next. As with the other games in the Xenoblade series, all of the traditional JRPG elements are here, executed in a uniquely satisfying manner. New mechanics are introduced frequently as to always make the gameplay feel fresh, even after you think you finally got the hang of the complex and elaborate yet highly fun and engaging battle system. There’s a bit of a learning curve to be sure, even right from the start, but despite the overabundance of statistics, abilities, and mechanics, it never feels particularly overwhelming to the player.

Although framerate takes a bit of a hit as you progress through the game and enemies become more abundant, it otherwise sticks to a stable 30fps the majority of the time. I know I already mentioned it in our preview, but I just can’t get over how breathtakingly excellent the game looks at all times, especially on the bright and colorful screen of the Nintendo Switch OLED Model. There are definitely some obvious optimization methods that are used for performance purposes, like the grass under your feet fading in and out, some lower quality textures, and fluctuating resolution, but overall I have nothing but bewilderment with how this game is running on, need I remind you, a relatively small handheld device intended for on-the-go usage. Cutscenes in particular feel like you’re watching a big-budget anime, and although 3D animation is oftentimes shunned when used for anime, it undoubtedly works in Xenoblade’s favor.

After completing the first chapter of the game, which basically functions as the tutorial, teaching you the mechanics and easing you into the plot, you’ll eventually end up with six total characters in your party. Unlike most JRPGs, you have full movement control of your party members during battle, and you can easily swap between them at any time. The ones you aren’t currently controlling all attack automatically, but there are also tactical methods to give them direct orders. Every character has an allocated class of either swordfighter, zephyr, medic gunner, tactician, heavy guard, or ogre, but you’ll eventually unlock the ability to change and rank up the class of each party member individually. HP, attack, healing power, dexterity, agility, critical rate, block rate, and defense are the stats that are attached to the characters, and they can be improved upon through the use of various accessories, leveling up, or by changing classes. Some of these characters end up forming strong bonds with one another that allows them to interlink and transform into the specially powerful Ouroboros form for brief periods of time during battle. You’ll also eventually be able to perform moves like chain attacks, which are very satisfying to pull off.

Basic damage is dealt through auto-attacks, which is performed simply by standing still within proper range of your opponent. What’s known as Arts and Talent Arts are where strategy comes into play, and it goes without saying that the type of Arts that can be used are differentiated based on the class of the character you’re using, with healers’ focused on replenishing health, attackers’ focused on damage, etc. On top of this, there are also a limited number of passive abilities known as Skills and Gems that can be attached to your party members. Your party will fully heal after a battle is complete, as there is no equivalent to healing items in Xenoblade, which is a nice change of pace seeing as those are typically featured in JRPGS. If all of your party members die in battle, you will respawn at your last visited resting checkpoint.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of variety during encounter battles in terms of character dialogue, so they tend to repeat themselves quite frequently. This is probably the biggest weak point of the game, which honestly says a lot considering you can just turn the volume of the voices down in settings if it becomes too bothersome. The characters themselves are excellent though, with their designs being a major step up from XC2 in my opinion. They each have a very distinct personality too, with them all bouncing and riffing off of each other noticeably well throughout the story, and character development is also handled superbly.

Quite frankly, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is unequivocally astonishing in regards to both its gameplay and scope. It’s not only the best game in the series thus far, but also my favorite game of the entire year as of yet. Every second spent in the world of Aionios feels like being a kid in the world’s biggest candy store; from beginning to end, there was never a dull moment. An interesting and complex battle system, exceptionally directed cutscenes, and genuinely well-written characters filled with unique personalities, are just a few of the reasons why I adore this JRPG. I couldn’t be happier that Xenoblade as a franchise has grown in popularity in recent years, as it’s certainly become one of Nintendo’s greatest series thanks to the fantabulously impressive development work by Monolith Soft.


A copy of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 for review purposes was provided by Nintendo UK.

17 thoughts on “Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review”

  1. Related to xc1 and 2? Haven’t finished the other two but I’m daring enough to go with the new kid first and finish them up later if the stories aren’t directly connected.

    1. Related to both, 1 and 2 are both directly connected (but i wont say why since its an ending spoiler for 2) but based on what we have seen there seem to be at least 1 character from 1 in 3, and 1 character from 2 in 3. You also traverse (albeit a dead) titan from 2, which seems to have been split in half by the Mechonis sword from 1.

      1. Ok that doesn’t sound too bad. I just dont want huge plot points that I’ll completely not understand. I completed the others about 75% of the way but got distracted and now I want to start them all over again so that’s a good 100 hours each lol

  2. Xenoblade 2 fanservice heaven

    Xenoblade 2 will remain best in series. This enter has ugly main characters designs and removes fanservice.

    1. I’m not sure if you misspelled “heathen” or if you’ve just decorated your basement with XB2 stuff, hentai, and a collection of Pyra body pillows.

    2. There's good and bad fanservice

      What you call “fanservice” I see as cringe. Could not STAND how much XC2 felt like it was written by a horny 14 year old. Pyra feels like a walking sex doll. Kind of killed a lot of the more serious moments of the story.

    3. Annnnnnd this is exactly why the Xenoblade 2 fandom has it’s awful reputation.
      The terrible fan service is a big reason why I consider Xeno 2 to be the worst in the series, thank god they seem to be following in Xeno 1’s and X’s footsteps in this games (in the sense of having more serious characters and story and not forcing in tired anime fan service and stereotypes).

  3. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Gamer

    Xenoblade Chronicles 3 kinda reminds me of the golden era of call of duty and Fortnite combined. The breathtaking graphics are so extreme that I put clear tape on my screen just so I can downscale the image quality to stop me from crying happy tears. The only thing this game is lacking is micro transactions.

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