Prepare to buckle down for a long journey as Xenoblade Chronicles 3 takes you all over Aionios with six unlikely adventurers. Although they were first at odds, our companions grow to become a capable party as they find themselves between two warring factions, Keves and Agnus, and attempt to bring a step to the senseless violence of the ongoing conflict.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a massive JRPG, and the journey is tremendous to the end, with multiple side quests and activities to keep you busy. Although you can shorten your time and reach the end pretty quickly, the side content is just as satisfying as everything in the main story. There are only a handful of minor bumps in the road throughout the journey, but from start to finish, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 will grip your heart and keep you invested at every turn.
Breaking the Cycle
The main story of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 focuses on our six main characters: Noah, Lanz, Eunie, Mio, Sena, and Taion. Noah, Lanz, and Eunie serve the Keves nation, and Mio, Sena, and Taion serve Agnus. Both nations are constantly at war against each other, and the soldiers they use only have a maximum of 10 years, quickly aging within that life to become perfect soldiers to only serve on the battlefield. It’s a tragic cycle that our heroes hope to somehow break on their journey, and achieving that is no easy task when it’s all everyone knows.
It’s difficult not to talk about the main story and focus on any potential spoilers or twists throughout this journey. However, the emotional rollercoaster from reaching these story points and arriving at the end is highly enjoyable. All six characters fit a unique part of a puzzle, making each unique from the others without causing conflict. They sync well, resulting in outstanding performances in main story scenes and side quests.
On the topic of side quests, these adventures are always inviting you to go out of your way when discovering a new region, or keeping your attention before advancing to the next area. None of them felt like too much busy work, and these smaller stories fit well in the larger narrative; they’re more meaningful compared to how other games might handle side content. There are a handful of fetch quests that are a bit of a letdown, but those are quickly dismissed for the more meaty adventures and Hero quests. Not only were these side stories well told, but they were also good excuses to return to the game’s thrilling combat.
Audacious combat with a full house
Combat in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a high mark for the series. The seemingly simple flow can quickly become a complicated endeavor that initially feels overwhelming, but combat becomes a manageable experience with enough practice. You do not control your character’s basic attacks, but you control their abilities, known as Arts. Each Art has a special ability you can use, or if you fulfill a specific requirement, you can unleash extra damage against opponents. In addition, some attacks may cause certain conditions against an enemy, which you want to synchronize with your party members to cause an enemy to fly into the air or fall to the ground.
The combat system has a lot going on, but heated battles are relatively manageable because you only directly control a single character at a time. The AI is exceptionally good at caring for itself, making your job much easier. You also swap your character’s classes out frequently as they pick up new ones and unlock more Arts to use to create unique character builds on every member of your party. Initially, I had a problem with this, as I wanted to stick with a class for a bit longer, but the game continued encouraging me to switch out of a class after I had mastered it. It was never a requirement, but the game continued to remind me to a point where it felt like a necessary step to follow.
What might throw off players is the number of party members you have participating in a battle. You use all six characters simultaneously, along with a Hero character accompanying them throughout the journey. The Hero character can be any you’ve met, meaning you can use them to fill out a missing class or help support your party’s Healer, Defender, or Attacker main characters. That’s a total of seven party members, not counting the enemies you’ll be fighting against. Needless to say, it’s incredibly crowded, and when these larger battles occur, it can become challenging to keep track of everything until it’s too late. I certainly felt this multiple times in battle and had to repeat a handful of them to try again.
What was truly enjoyable was the music in both major story battles and regular encounters I found wandering through the game. The music was always wonderful to hear, and even listening to repeated soundtracks never felt tiresome. Most JRPGs have a problem with monotonous music playing during battles, but I never felt that here, sealing the delight of Xenoblade’s combat.
Alongside an excellent story and combat was the amount of exploration there was to do in Xenoblade. Each new area had a massive area waiting to be explored, and most of it was not required for you to go through to complete the main story. As a result, it was easy to miss a good chunk of an area if you wanted to focus solely on the campaign, which is never a bad thing if that drives you forward. However, the empty space on the map was extremely inviting, and the payoffs were always worth it.
You might encounter side quests you might have otherwise missed, unique creatures to fight, more resources to use in crafting, and fun areas. The environment might appear less than appealing to look at when you arrive, almost vacant and deserted, but it had a very open-world RPG that made the world feel ravaged by war. There were plenty of locations with people walking around and NPCs to speak with, but these were in distinct areas, and the outside world felt like a living scar to explore.
The gripping story of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 will resonate with many players, with an emotional conclusion that will make this game a memorable experience and standard for JRPG narratives moving forward. Combine this with a lovely, albeit crowded, combat system, and this Xenoblade stands above the rest in the series quickly as the best among them.
9 / 10
|+||Electrifying combat systems and expansive areas with plenty to explore|
|+||An emotional narrative with phenomenal voice work|
|+||Enjoyable music in and out of combat|
|–||Crowded party combat makes it easy to lose track of everything|
|–||Slightly plain and flat landscapes|