|Xenoblade Chronicles 3
|July 29th, 2022
Xenoblade Chronicles is an important series for many of us here at oprainfall. Some of us were here for that original fan campaign, desperate to get the first game localized. For others, the series has simply come to mean a lot to them and is an important part of their life. Myself, I’m merely a lover of JRPGs and Xenoblade Chronicles has become one of those rare series that I always have fun playing and can return to for sidequesting or replaying every now and then, when I’m burnt out but want something fun to do. Xenoblade Chronicles is typically always a fun time. Now, did Xenoblade Chronicles 3 live up to those expectations? That is the question.
Well first off, let’s discuss the story. I don’t want to say too much about the actual story content, but I’ll summarize the intro for you. XC3 starts off with this world, Aionios, where two kingdoms, Keves and Agnus, have been fighting each other for who knows how long. Everyone is born into the world with only 10 years to live and is tasked with killing their enemies, people from the opposing kingdom, to live on and make it to their Homecoming; where they return their lives to their respective queen. I really enjoyed the journey and learning all the hidden secrets as I progressed through the game. However, I was still left with questions in the end and one wonders if the DLC story addition next year will answer them. I also wonder if the game was truly finished, or if Nintendo just happened to find themselves without a game to release mid-summer and thus, Monolith Soft claimed Xenoblade Chronicles 3 was ready to go and could release over a month earlier than planned. I mean, it’s mostly fine if that’s the case, but then that also makes one curious if the DLC story was even meant to be DLC, or if it’s something there was no time to add to the base game and now we’re all stuck paying extra to truly finish the game.
Let’s move on to gameplay. The gameplay is a big part of what makes a Xenoblade Chronicles game so fun. XC3 combines the two play styles of both the original Xenoblade, and XC2. The UI is setup a lot like XC2, with how you have the different arts attached to the diamond of buttons on your controller. This time, however, you have arts on both the right-side buttons and the d-pad on the left of your controller. There’s also a class system in which each class has its own arts, and you can unlock new classes from guest party characters called Heroes. Plus, everyone can change classes and learn other skills, like other JRPGs with a similar class system. The battle gameplay is mostly similar to Xenoblade 2’s system. Despite that, there is a little bit of XC1 added in. Keves class arts charge by waiting out the cooldown time. Meanwhile, Agnus class arts are charged as you hit enemies with your auto-attacks. And there are certain new features as well. The most important new feature is the one where you can fuse specific characters together into special Ouroboros forms. When fused and transformed into an Ouroboros, your characters can’t be harmed and you can use your arts as many times as you want. But gradually this form begins to overheat and therefore, you have a limited time of being free from death and being able to use your arts back to back.
The rest of the gameplay, outside of battles, involves traversing across the world, gathering collectibles as you travel and completing quests. Some of these quests get you new Hero characters or improve their classes further and some will raise the various colonies’ affinity, which automatically unlocks features, like quicker running speed across the world, for example. There’s also other stuff, such as crafting gems to equip, that improve different stats among your characters.
Based on my discussions with some others at oprainfall who have also been playing Xenoblade Chronicles 3, I know not everyone absolutely loves this entry’s soundtrack or thinks the music really stands out, like I think many Xenoblade fans found it to in the first game. Personally, I really loved the music in this entry. I mean, all of the battle music was great, although a bit drowned out by the gameplay action going on. The environment music I thought was subtle but also equally good. There might not be one super memorable area song, but when I really listened to the music as I was traveling and it got past those beginning, more subtle parts, I just thought it was all around pretty awesome. I don’t think I really noticed and appreciated the music as much in Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
While I’m comparing the three games, let’s talk about where this one falls for me in terms of favorites. Honestly, I’m not sure I can put it above either XC1 or XC2. Sure, I loved the music, but there was also something about XC3 that was disappointing. I went into it expecting this massive JRPG, thinking I’d put in over 300 hours and beat my XC2 playtime, which currently sits at 295 hours. Who knows, maybe I still will. But I don’t know, something about 3 just didn’t feel quite as massive. I think a big part of that was how easy it was to level up. To clarify, so far I’ve spent 125 hours on Xenoblade 3. In that time I’ve done a decent chunk of the various optional sidequests and content, and I’ve gone through and completed the main story. I think a significant part of what made it feel less massive is the fact that going through the story and side content skyrocketed my level so easily with bonus exp. Sure, I could’ve just not raised my level at rest spots. But then I feel like perhaps the game would be too grindy, manually raising my level without the bonus exp. It’s hard to explain, but something about this one just didn’t feel massive like I had hoped, and with how quickly I started to blast through certain story chapters and finding out how many chapters the game had, I found myself slightly disappointed and not ready to finish the game for a while.
Finally, while I’m on the subject, let’s go over a few other complaints I had with Xenoblade Chronicles 3. Forgive me for constantly comparing all three games, but it’s hard to judge this game on its own without comparing it to past titles. Graphically, I don’t think XC3 looks as good as XC2. There were various points where characters, or other things, would blur in and out on the screen. Some people always seem to complain about how XC2 looked graphically, but I never had a huge problem with that one. Second, it was difficult to go back and revisit little secret places I had located. The map has no markings on it whatsoever beyond the checkpoints you’re able to teleport between. If you wanted to go back to Dannagh Desert, for example, you can’t find that on the map. You have to have remembered a checkpoint that’s near or within the desert. Lastly, there are obviously things in Aionios that don’t seem to belong, or the origins of are completely unrecognizable. I really would’ve liked it if characters ever commented on that. Like someone in the party, perhaps Taion, could’ve questioned what Swordmarch even is, where did this massive sword come from? Or maybe comment on the fact that the forest in the Pentelas region clearly isn’t a normal forest. I don’t remember the characters ever seeming to take notice of the various out-of-place things strewn about the world.
In the end, while I do have my complaints, I still had a ton of fun with Xenoblade Chronicles 3. I’ve been extremely off and on burnt out lately and I’ve started and played so many games in the last year, only to lack the drive to actually finish them. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 was exactly what I needed. I jumped at the chance to review it back when it was announced and it didn’t completely disappoint me. It kept me occupied for over a month and I didn’t have my usual urge as of late to jump ship and find another game to try and get sucked into for a little while. I don’t know what I would have done this summer without Xenoblade Chronicles 3. I look forward to getting back into it to sidequest some more in the future and I’m anxious to see what comes out later, as far as DLC content is concerned. It wasn’t the perfect Xenoblade game I expected and was hoping for. Nonetheless, it was overall a wonderfully fun JRPG experience.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.