The Xenoblade Chronicles series is one that I hold very close to my heart, with each entry offering an engrossing adventure for Nintendo fans to embark on. Naturally then, I was excited for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 from the moment it was announced, whilst the fanfare leading up to its release ensured that my excitement was at its peak when I finally got around to playing it.
I must admit though, I was a tiny bit apprehensive at first – especially since there were some elements of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 that I didn’t get on with quite as much (especially since I primarily play my Nintendo Switch handheld). Thankfully, Monolith Soft have learnt some lessons in the five years since the game’s release, with Xenoblade Chronicles 3 improving upon it in almost every single way. Believe me, this is an RPG you’re not going to want to miss.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 takes place in the world of Aionios, where two nations (Keves and Agnus) find themselves in a constant state of war. Whilst each army has an almost endless supply of soldiers, they exist purely to fight; something that’s emphasised by their short lifespan that only sees them live for ten years (if they survive battle that is). If they die on the battlefield? The energy from their soul strengthens the opposing army. And if they survive to the end of their ten-year cycle? They return to their Queen, who instead takes their energy for herself.
Players take on the role of Noah, who, alongside a small group of companions, works for the Keves army as an Off-seer – a unique soldier that helps put the souls of fallen soldiers to rest by playing music through a special flute. Whilst on what should be a straightforward mission, Noah and his team encounter a unit from the Agnus army, which would typically lead to conflict. However, mysterious circumstances take place that force the two units to unite, with this peaceful resolution potentially leading the way to bringing calm to Aionion once and for all.
It’s hard to try and condense the tale of Xenoblade Chronicles 3, because believe me, this is one meaty lore-filled world that brings plenty of twists and turns across its lengthy narrative. There’s so much to learn about the history of the world, the warring nations, your party of characters, and the countless folk you meet on your journey, whilst Monolith Soft certainly haven’t been shy in going into detail with just about everything. This is a MASSIVE game, and a lot of your time will be spent taking in all of the small details about what exactly is going on.
“It’s easy to root for your party’s success thanks to how likable they are, whilst the secrets behind the strife of the world make unravelling each part of the story all the more alluring.”
It’s a good job that there’s a genuinely intriguing narrative on offer then. Don’t get me wrong, the tale is rife with typical RPG cliches and there were some moments where the story could take some unnecessarily drawn-out turns, but for the most part I found myself utterly engrossed in the adventure and eager for the heroes to strive to greatness. It’s easy to root for your party’s success thanks to how likable they are, whilst the secrets behind the strife of the world make unravelling each part of the story all the more alluring. The storytelling certainly stands out as one of the game’s greatest strengths, with the top-notch writing and riveting world some of the best seen in the series.
I know I’ve mentioned it already, but I just need to emphasise it again: Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is MASSIVE. This is an RPG that you can expect to easily break the hundred-hour mark playing – that’s without doing EVERYTHING it has to offer too, with plenty of side quests and tasks to complete for those who want to do it all. Fortunately, whilst the game is a time sink, the hours with it are incredibly well spent.
Combat will feel familiar to those who’ve played previous entries in the Xenoblade Chronicles series, though it embraces some of the better aspects across both games to make for a more refined system. Players can expect their party to auto-attack enemies whilst left to their own devices in battle, with their movement easily adjusted to ensure they’re in ideal positions to attack. Meanwhile, your Arts offer more meaningful attacks, allowing players to deal higher damage, de-buff enemies, or alternatively heal allies. Arts have to be re-charged through a variety of ways depending on what you’re using, with the auto-attacks typically filling in the gap of time whilst you wait to strike. Then you’ve got things like the Fusion Arts that bring two abilities together for a more impactful effect, whilst Master Arts bring more flexibility to the different class types in order to make your party more versatile.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 also introduces a new form of teamwork known as Ouroboros into the mix, which allows specific pairs of characters to interlink to unleash attacks with devastating effects. Not only is this tied to the game’s storytelling, but it’s also a game-changer in battle; teamwork REALLY makes the dream work in Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and some of the toughest encounters will only be survived if you use your Ouroboros attacks strategically.
With different party members offering different roles based upon their class as well as the introduction of a seventh party member known as a Hero that brings unique capabilities to the fray (which can eventually be taught to your main party), there’s a lot to dive into in the game’s combat. Heck, I haven’t even mentioned the Chain Attacks or the rhythm of Breaking, Toppling, and Dazing enemies, which each feel imperative to dealing the most damage to foes. There’s a whole lot on offer across combat, but it’s never overwhelming; whilst there is a learning curve in place and the busy UI can seem intimidating, battling feels streamlined and gives plenty of flexibility to the player.
There’s just a lot of depth to the combat that offers plenty of ways for players to approach each encounter. Each party member has a diverse selection of skills that feel great to use, there’s plenty of room for strategy when drawing aggro and carefully positioning your party, whilst being able to switch between each member on the fly to take advantage of their best Arts is always satisfying. I wouldn’t call Xenoblade Chronicles 3 an easy game and ill-prepared players will find even the most standard of enemies troublesome if they’re not careful, but it also feels accessible and gives players all the tools they need to beat enemies in a rewardingly stylish fashion. In my opinion, it’s the best the combat has been across the series, especially in the boss encounters where the need for strategic finesse really shines through.
“I wouldn’t call Xenoblade Chronicles 3 an easy game and ill-prepared players will find even the most standard of enemies troublesome if they’re not careful, but it also feels accessible and gives players all the tools they need to beat enemies in a rewardingly stylish fashion.”
The world itself is oozing with things to do, with players sent across another massive open world during their adventure. You’ll explore an impressive selection of varied biomes across Aionios, each of which is bustling with eye-catching landmarks, an array of enemies to take down, and luscious vistas that really push the Nintendo Switch’s capabilities as far as they can go. I’d be lying if I said that Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s world offers the same depth and detail found in open-world titles on more powerful game consoles, but it never failed to wow me with just how much it managed to offer and how great it felt to explore. It’s without a doubt one of the best-looking games on the Nintendo Switch, whilst the performance is equally impressive – even on handheld, which is a massive improvement over what players would have seen in Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
You know how I mentioned about the seventh Hero you can recruit to your party? Well, a lot of these are optional to find, but also offer new ways to traverse the world. Some areas might have been inaccessible previously in the game, but open up when you’ve unlocked the relevant skill – whether that’s something like wall climbing or sliding across ropes. It means there’s often a real incentive to go back and explore previous areas in the game, whether that’s to progress through the story or simply find secrets they might have been hiding. I know back-tracking isn’t always popular with gamers, but its use here just brought a grander sense of depth and discovery to the world.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Backtracking is often imperative to completing certain side quests too, with players given a TON of things to do across the world… maybe TOO much. Whilst some of the side quests bring with them an excellent sense of storytelling and enjoyable tasks that feels impactful, a lot feel like simple fetch quests or monster elimination quests that could get a little tiresome as the game went on. I guess it’s hard to argue about a game having too much content, especially since a lot of it is optional or can just be completed as you naturally explore the game world, but the completionist inside me also found it a little overwhelming. But hey, at least you won’t run out of things to do in the game quickly…
It’s hard for me to detail all of the things I loved about Xenoblade Chronicles 3 without dragging this out into a massive wall of text or heading into spoiler territory. The combat, the storytelling, the world, the little surprises… everything about it came together into RPG greatness and I found myself fully absorbed in the adventure right until the very end. There’s just so much depth in every aspect of its design, with the game taking the best bits of the first two releases and making an experience that feels both strategic and accessible at the same time. It offers everything fans of the series could hope for, whilst it’s even ideal for newcomers to the series.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Review
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 isn’t just the best game in the series, but also one of the best RPGs I’ve played over the last few years. It takes all of the best bits from the previous two games and wraps them up with some excellent new mechanics, with the combat feeling more satisfying than ever and the storytelling equally engrossing. It also just so happens to be a visual spectacle, with it easily one of the best-looking titles on the Nintendo switch.
It does have a few missteps here and there with some elements of the story and some of the side quests could get a bit tedious, but they’re minor issues in what is otherwise an outstanding Nintendo Switch release. Whether you’re already a fan of the series or simply dipping your toes in for the first time, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is an unmissable RPG.
Developer: Monolith Soft
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)