Xenoblade is back, but is it better than ever?
A heartfelt RPG adventure awaits in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 for Nintendo Switch. Join Noah, Mio and their friends as they traverse epic landscapes, battle ferocious creatures and fight to break the never-ending cycle of violence that binds their homelands. Aionios is a world of natural splendour, and the backdrop to an endless conflict between two opposing nations: Keves and Agnus. Time is of the essence for the people of Aionios, who fight relentlessly to extend their lives long enough to realise a 10-year period of service.
The Xenoblade Chronicles series is one of Nintendo’s more recent IPs, but it has done well since its initial beginnings on the Nintendo Wii, with that original game getting a 3DS and Switch remake. Xenoblade Chronicles X remains the only entry that is not on Switch for some reason and currently resides only on Wii U, but hopefully one day we’ll get that ported over too. I’ve personally loved each game so far, so I was more than happy to see where they would go with the third entry, but would it be everything I hoped for?
I cannot stress enough that it takes a good few hours for the third game to hit its stride. The opening section tells you the basics and sets up the characters well, but it’s a slow-burner overall and you really feel like after that passes then the game finally opens up to you properly, which is where the game shines. It has hours upon hours of quests, side-quests and the rest of the typical JRPG fair for you to sift through. It’ll take you a damn long time if you want to see everything, that’s for sure.
Combat remains the same as in past games, which has divided fans throughout the series’ beginning but I think it works well overall. You essentially let the battle play in auto-pilot but move near your allies so they can give you buffs for attacks or heal you, there are more manual controls thrown in too, but these are minimal overall. The good news is that there’s a nice range of difficulty options thrown in for those who may be worried that it’s going to either be too easy or too difficult, so the choice is yours here.
The story itself is definitely the best of the series so far. Monolith Soft has done wonders here, not relying on JRPG cliches but actually making characters sound like human beings instead of your usual anime-types. I was impressed with the voice-acting too, which to be fair is a mixed bag when it comes to JRPGs.
There’s still more to come from Xenoblade Chronicles 3 too with it’s Expansion Pass. Volume 1 is out now and has some items you can claim as well as outfit variants, while Vol 2 releases before the end of the year with a new playable character, new quests, challenge battles and new outfits. Volume 3 offers the same as Volume 2 but will release by April 2023 and the final Volume will offer a brand-new story scenario but also has a sparse release of “By the end of December 31st, 2023”. So, we have the DLC mapped out, but the dates are a bit over the place. Still, good to know there’s a wealth of content coming to what is already a game with an insane amount of it.
Visually, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 looks great and shows there’s still some life left in the Switch yet. The characters are well designed and animated, while the open world looks great to explore. The framerate is mostly consistent, but it does have its moments here and there, while the soundtrack is very impressive here and also the best in the series to date.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is the best in the series to date, but it does take a good while to get going. If you push through those first opening hours, then you’ll discover an incredible JRPG with a superb story to boot. Simply put, this game deserves to be played on your Switch now.