Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is one of the those JRPG experiences where you hop in, and find yourself, forty hours later, to be a quarter of the way through the game, but you don’t care because you absolutely love it. The game delivers on everything you’d expect a JRPG to provide: luxurious open world filled with beautiful views, a combat system refined from the previous games, a cast of six memorable characters that you will find yourself strongly connecting with. Above all, it excels most in its storytelling, the narrative will capture you emotionally and keep you so invested that you must see it through.
Welcome to the world of Aionios. The game begins with an introduction to some of our main characters, Noah, Lanz, and Eunie, all part of one of the main nations of the game, Keves. You’ll learn shortly after they are at constant war with another nation, known as Agnus, where we’ll meet the remaining cast of main characters: Mio, Taion, and Sena. The reason for the constant war is due to the fact that these soldiers must collect life force from slaying the opposing side, in order to fill up something known as a Flame Clock.
Soldiers are assigned to Flame Clocks that belong to their colonies, and these must stay filled up, as if it runs out the soldiers associated with it will die. If that wasn’t troubling enough, all soldiers only have a life span of 10 terms, being trained as soldiers from birth. Our heroes from each side finally meet each other, when both sides are assigned the same mission to intercept a ship apparently not belonging to either nations. When everyone arrives at the mysterious fallen ship, then the story truly begins and the questioning of their true purposes start…
Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s story is without a doubt, one of its strongest selling points. If you find yourself connecting to tragic war stories that involve themes of love, companionship, freedom, greed and more, then this is the right game for you. With a cast of six characters, the biggest concern one might find is if the game will do a good job of exploring and providing enough background for each one. Luckily, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 does an exemplary job of fleshing out each character, not only for their role in the main story, but also giving them connections to one another and the world around them. After several hours of playing, you’ll be able to see and appreciate their respective narrative arcs.
What’s unique to Xenoblade Chronicles 3, a new addition to the series altogether, is the use of hero quests. As a type of side quest, these will not only reward you with characters to join your team to use throughout the game, but can also be used to advance classes. Heroes that join from these quests are well implemented, by not only providing more interesting lore to the world but they each have important story-like connections to one of the six main characters, and it will be that character who actually inherits the heroes class.
Speaking of Classes, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 returns with the auto attack combat introduced throughout the series but makes some refinements and additions, adding even more depth to the system. As previously mentioned, classes have been added, each of them having its own moves associated with it, while following a main role: Defender, Healer, or Attacker. All of the main characters will be able to swap between each of the classes as well as unlock the class-related outfit. As you level up, you will also begin to learn master arts, moves you can take from one class and use it in another. It is also possible to combine these art moves together in “Fusion Arts”.
The class system allows for a great level of freedom and strategy while taking down enemies, giving access to dozens of arts to use at your disposal. And if that wasn’t enough, let’s briefly talk about Ouroboros. This operates through a system called interlinking, where two characters fuse together to create a stronger mech-like being. The real fun with Ouroborus comes when you mix it with another returning battle mechanic called Chain Attack, which allows you to pull off some real flashy combos.
Monolith Soft once again performs magic with how grand and vibrant the open world is in the game, especially on current Switch hardware. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 does an excellent job not only filling up the maps with many monster types, but also giving you reasons to explore the world. You will find landmarks which serve as fast travel points, tons of containers containing random goodies, colonies to discover, secret areas to find, mini-bosses, side quests, puzzles, and honestly so much more that I’m hardly even scratching the surface.
When I say the maps are huge, they are, no joke, absolutely massive. I couldn’t help but wonder why there weren’t some traversal options for faster traveling. It is possible to just fast travel around the maps, but what if you just wanted to free roam and explore? Why couldn’t I just hop into my Ouroboros form for a faster walking method? Hero Characters, while I absolutely loved them, I couldn’t help but think, why can’t we play as them? I can’t be the only one who grew attached to some and wished I could travel around the world as them. There were some questionable end of battle dialogue like “Lanz wants something a bit more meatier” that just played after every single enemy encounter, that do tend to get grating and make you wish to put the game on mute altogether.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3, with a few exceptions, improves upon everything introduced to the series. There were so many quality of life updates with probably one of the most important ones being swimming and fighting, a long awaited feature, that you can’t help but forget the bad. Legendary composers, Yasunori Mitsuda & company, return with another glorious score with some beautifully flute melodies, relating to the games protagonists, that continue to be some of the best music your ears will hear. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 delivers an exceptional journey truly worth investing 80+ hours into, continuing to push what open world games can deliver. I recommend you play the previous two mainline games as there are important connections you won’t want to miss, but still, newcomers can certainly come into this game first and still walk away with an amazing experience. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a JRPG adventure you won’t want to pass on and without a doubt one of the best Switch games released so far.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Xenoblade Chronicles 3 delivers an outstanding story that will provide you with a wealth of memorable characters and moments. You’ll find yourself spending dozens of hours in its vibrant open world from wanting to simply explore to engaging in every combat scenario. While the game has a few questionable decisions, it is without a doubt one of Monolith Soft and Nintendo’s greatest creations. – JaredL