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Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Review

Developer: Monolith Soft

Composers: Yasunori Mitsuda, Manami Kiyota, ACE

Genres: Action role-playing game, Fighting game, Adventure game

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Publishers: Nintendo, Nintendo of America Inc.

Series: Xenoblade Chronicles, Xeno

"I purchased a copy of the game from my local game store"

Tetsuya Takahashi is one of the greatest minds in gaming. Since 1998’s legendary Xenogears, Takahashi has been striving to develop a story so astronomical that spans the course of 10000 years that he wrote an outline for this saga known as Xenogears Perfect Works which was a 6 episode series with Xenogears being episode 5. He left Squaresoft (now Square-Enix) to form his own company known as Monolith Soft and worked with Bandai Namco to create a spiritual followup and prequel with Xenosaga which was also meant to be a 6 episode story using Perfect Works as an outline yet it was ultimately cut down to 3 main games with an ending that ultimately (and unofficially) leads into Xenogears. After being acquired by Nintendo, Monolith Soft began working on a new IP known as Monado: Beginning of the world which eventually became Xenoblade Chronicles in 2010 and went on to become the genesis of a monumental series that is one of Nintendo’s most loved series. Here we are in 2022 and we have the latest release with Xenoblade Chronicles 3 being one of the most anticipated games of the year. Does this game live up to the pedigree of the franchise and Takahashi’s previous works? Let’s find out!

We’re going to give the general gist of the story without diving into spoilers. I spent roughly 140 hours with this game before completing it and it was one of the absolute best stories in the Xeno series that I have ever experienced and is full of constant surprises, callbacks both to previous entries and to the other Xeno games Xenogears and Xenosaga, and is ultimately both a love letter to longtime fans and a welcome entry to new players that doesn’t require knowledge of previous entries yet rewards you for it if you have played them.

The world of Aionios is rife with endless war as the two factions Keves and Agnus battle for dominance. We are met with Noah who is an off-seer for Keves who is carrying a flute and is performing a funeral rites sending for the soldiers that have fallen in battle. Noah is then joined by his military brethren Eunie and Lanz and they eventually come across a mysterious man who is transporting what seems to be an egg-like device and it is at this point that we shift over to seeing another off-seer in Mio and her compatriots Taion and Sena of the opposing faction Agnus. These six eventually cross paths and with the mysterious egg-like device carried by that man who gives them the ability of the Ouroboros. With the people of Aionios only having 10 years to live and with the life forces of the dead aka their ether feeding the opposing sides’ flame clocks; the world of Xenoblade 3 is decidedly more bleek than the earlier entries (on the surface). What will it take to end this war between Keves and Agnus and what secrets from the past may lead to a solution or ruin?

If you’ve played Xenoblade Chronicles or more specifically Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and it’s expansion Torna: The Golden Country, then you’ll be at home with a lot of the mechanics and intricacies of the game. There’s no way that I could cover all of the mechanics of the gameplay in a review that wouldn’t seem to un a little long in the tooth so I’ll just give you a gist of it. You’ll still get your turn-based real-time gameplay with menus that grow and expand as you progress through the game along with returning class systems from previous entries while also gaining a few new mechanics such as the ability to switch classes/jobs for each of the characters which is a call back to what was available for your main character in Xenoblade Chronicles X. This level of customization of the classes unlocks an endless number of possibilities for how you build out each of your characters; yes, some characters are better suited to specific classes like healer, mage, tank, and sword master, the fact that you can custom build everyone allows you to experiment to your hearts content.

Another aspect of what makes the classes special is the fact that they determine what the pace of battle is like. Mio has a starter class allows her to string together various arts together to rain down the pain on enemies while Lanz’s starter class is that of a burly tank with a great sword that switches between a shield with a turret and is able draw aggro (like Reyn from XBC 1) while Noah is your all-rounder with the most balanced arts and stats.

I personally love how the game opens up as you progress with you unlocking new arts, abilities, classes, and characters in a way that feels much more akin to the way Xenoblade 1 did which I enjoyed the most of all the Xenoblade games. Its awesome how you will gain quest specific characters known as Heroes that are the appointed leaders of various colonies scattered across the expanses of Aionios. As you complete their specific quests, they will not only unlock but also allow you to unlock further questlines that add substantial depth to the already phenomenal story told in Xenoblade Chronicles 3.

Graphically, this is perhaps the best looking Xenoblade game that has released and from a performance standpoint is the best running in both docked and handheld mode with it not being plagued by the issues that were apparent in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 where that game had a substantial drop in graphics down to 540p and even 360p in both handheld and docked modes before several patches helped fix those issues. In my time with the game, I never ran into any performance issues or frame rate dips or graphical hiccups as the game ran at a smooth 720p handheld and 900p when docked. If you have the Switch OLED then this game really takes advantage of that gorgeous screen and just pops with its vibrancy!

Roaming about the vastness of Aionios and seeing the expanse of the endless sea or the wonders of the night sky’s bioluminescent or the remains of the dead bodies of titans is all just breathtaking and supremely good at visually showcasing the state of the world that we’re in.

The OST of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is honestly one of the most amazing in the series history that is only outclassed by the supreme wonder that is Xenosaga Episode 3: Thus Spoke Zarathustra. You will hear sweeping orchestral ecstasy that will evoke numerous emotions and are all fitting for the scenes that they are in be they cutscenes showcasing the horrors of war between the two nations or if you’re on your last stand in the midst of a tough battle with a boss or enemy that may be of a higher level than you are. All in all, series composer Yoshinori Mitsuda is putting on some of his finest work here as he's been involved in every Xeno title since Xenogears. I will say that I was expecting to hear a new rendition of or a return of his finest works such as "One who bares fangs at God" or its Xenosaga remix "Abel's Ark" but we don' get anything like that. The voice acting is once again top notch with outstanding performances from the main and supporting casts that are fitting for every moment that they are in.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is the best Xenoblade game in the franchise and sits right up there as one of the best Xeno titles in the overarching series that answers a lot of questions for fans along with tying up loose ends left by previous entries and also links both directly and indirectly with Xenogears and Xenosaga and fits right in with Perfect Works and Perfect Guide. If you are Xeno fan then you’ll be rewarded for sticking with the series and if you’re new to the franchise then this will be a welcome entry point for you to get into one of the most immersive gaming franchises in the world. GET THIS GAME NOW!

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