Xenoblade Chronicles A huge JRPG which is worth the time.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 | If you’re looking for the most outrageous RPGs, it’s difficult to compete with the fantastical stories and worlds I’ve been accustomed to of the Xenoblade Chronicles saga. In Xenoblade Chronicles 3 significant enhancements have been made in combat, quest design as well as the RPG Sandbox, all while keeping the insane and amazing settings, as well as a focus on fantastic characters as well as an impressive (if complicated) story. While this third installment improves certain elements that makes the journey more enjoyable unlike the mainline titles which preceded it, it does make certain of the same mistakes such as poor writing as well as weak bosses and graphics that frequently leave some things to be desired. However, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is already battling for my spot as my top choice of the cult series.
The heart of any Xenoblade game lies a genuinely strange world and an epic tale that is pushed into total chaos at the end of the game and Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has not an exception. The war-torn land of Aionios is entirely new and awe-inspiring, from the 10-year existence that of the pod-born inhabitants who are living, to the ongoing conflict to turn on “flame clocks” which each faction draws its life from, and Off-Seers who play the flute to bring the dead to life as glowing sprites. The puzzles are revealed over the vast story, and being part of the adventure is extremely satisfying in a way that only Monolith Soft seems capable of accomplishing.
Anyone who’s not played any Xenoblade game previously will be able to take pleasure in this incredibly self-contained tale. There are certainly connections and tie-ins with Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and 2 however they’re not essential to anything, so you’re not likely to notice these unless you are aware of what to look for. If you’re like me and have been following the series since the beginning there’s plenty to be enjoyed which was a pleasant reward for sticking with the series over all these years.
While the story and world are a delight to watch however, they’re rarely utilized, particularly in the case of highly unpredictable writing that sees characters repeating the same storyline over and over and hitting your head against the wall by presenting the story’s concepts and themes. The characters and concepts never cease to shine but they’re not always done with a sense of finesse and, often, three lengthy cuts are used to convey what could have been done with just one sentence. There were sections that had long cutscenes, each time that a sense of déjà vu sat over me and took away the otherwise fascinating improvement. In addition, it is important to note that nearly every anime cliche that appears within the book was used in the highest doses legally allowed. In addition, there are some serious issues with pacing, such as one part that requires you to go undercover to complete mundane tasks, or one that involves you traveling around the globe in search of pieces of metal. I frequently felt that my time was not being properly utilized by the way that filler was stuffed throughout the story. Certain parts of the game are fine however in a game that required more than 150 hours to complete, it could have been more efficient to remove certain of the unnecessary parts.When the plot drags, on, the characters shine brilliantly.
The good news is that, even when the story drags a bit the characters shine brightly, with very few exceptions. Whether you’re hanging out with the brash meathead Lanz and his simple charms or spending time with the studious bookworm Taion, it was really hard for me to not grow to love the ragtag band of misfits and ne’er-do-wells that comprise your party. Sure, they aren’t the most original characters – I’ve definitely seen their like in half a hundred games and shows before – but after so many hours with these lovable scamps, I’ve come to regard them all as my chosen family. That’s especially true when each character is given so much time in the limelight, with every party member getting extensive personal histories and fully voice-acted optional side quests that flesh out their backstories and provide additional color. Even some of the less interesting members like Sena, the under-achieving jock who I considered the runt of the litter, still ended up winning me over in the end thanks to all the time and attention given to developing her.
Of obviously, it isn’t Xenoblade without weird, bizarre places to explore The environments in this one are strange. One area is located inside the ruins of a huge sword as well as another one that takes you through the branches of an enormous tree. The exploration of these locations as you discover the secrets of Aionios can enhance the unpredictability and awe that is the universe in an incredible way. In comparison to some of the wild locations from earlier Xenoblade titles, the areas that you go to in this journey are comparatively mild. There are some highlights however nothing can even come close to climbing an enormous dead robot’s elbow or stepping in the body of a fabled creature. Instead, you’re mostly exploring standard environments like a snowy zone as well as a huge and sandy desert or an enormous body of water that has tiny islands. The game still has the feel of discovery and exploration for which Xenoblade is renowned and certainly has some unexpected elements, but I’m not sure if that the creators had gone slightly more bizarre with it given the series’ track history.
It’s also unfortunate that even though Xenoblade 3’s worlds are amazing to play in, they’re not always attractive because of their Nintendo Switch being pushed to its limits with an ambitious game. I played with the OLED model and moved between mobile and docked mode often however, even with the most recent Nintendo hardware textures, they are usually low-res. There are frequent pop-ins (and out) and I often felt that the world was a little blurry. The good thing is that I was able to quickly adjust to the visual flaws and when I accepted the reality of it the game was never a problem and it rarely slowed my enjoyment. The cutscenes, at a minimum are clear and crisp, while the framerate stays at a solid 30 when there are a myriad of things being played onscreen simultaneously However, it’s disconcerting to see these obvious limitations to hardware in a film that strives to the stars in many other ways.
While exploring the world, you’ll be able to recruit new members to your squad, battle weird creatures, and take your time distracting your mind with endless hours of side missions that are usually worth the effort. If you’ve been frustrated by the fetch quests in earlier games, you can anticipate it Xenoblade 3 massively improves things in this area by making the quests that are optional really feel worthwhile, through the introduction of new characters and providing a few story snippets to will make the effort worth the effort. In my final playthrough, I assisted a nopon as well as human to overcome their differences over various missions, made buddies with a robot and also helped various settlements settle their disagreements. However, there are many missions that are like filler missions and see you chasing around for rocks, berries, or other nonsense. They are just as painfully difficult to play as they’ve been, though you’re no longer being bombarded by these each five minute period.The side quests are so powerful that they feel almost like a requirement.
What’s especially impressive is that some side quests are so impactful that they almost feel like they should have been mandatory. Some end with you getting a new party member or triggering a cutscene that fleshes out an important area of a character’s backstory. And thankfully, most of these missions are even appropriately labeled so it’s easy to identify which ones you should go out of your way to do and which you’d be forgiven to skip. In an adventure that sometimes makes questionable decisions concerning how it uses all the time it demands from you, I was deeply grateful that I felt most of my time spent chasing around side quests was rewarded.
Additionally, numerous enhancements have been added to combat systems that will make it much less boring and more enjoyable as compared to its predecessors. Although the premise of combining auto-attacks with super-powered Arts and attack combos remains in good shape and a variety of possibilities are now available that keeps you from stagnation for more than 100 hours. That’s not a small achievement! This is achieved by (among others) 6 playable characters and an NPC guest that can be swapped out, brand new transforms that blend two characters in their Ouroburos form, making them nearly impossible to defeat for a short time frame as well as re-enacting chain attacks that allow you to do massive damage while playing a short mini-game.
While exploring Aionios the place, you’ll meet various wild beasts as well as famous creatures, bloodthirsty human beings as well as giant robots to battle. There aren’t all enemies to be equal, and fighting the giraffe-like creatures who slouch at you isn’t as good to robots whose movements and animations feel like a lot of effort was placed into their creation. However, the array of enemies to fight provides plenty of fresh adventures throughout the game.
There’s also a new feature that lets players trade classes and even with NPCs from guest characters who possess completely different skills. It’s true that doing this is vital to progress as you acquire new skills through mastering the skills of the other players. You could become a fantastic healer using laser guns or even an soul-stealing boxer that takes the abilities of powerful creatures from which you encountered. The fun of playing with the various classes is not just an entertaining game that kept me entertained throughout the journey it also helps break the monotony that we had to go through in earlier versions in the system for combat which was tied to one class, and had no variety.Exploring all classes keeps combat current.
The drawback is that with so many new mechanics and all the complexity of everything Xenoblade Chronicles 3 juggles, you’ll quite frequently be interrupted to read through tutorial cards – and when I say “frequently” I mean those will keep coming at you quite literally until the very end… and even beyond the credits. Not only does this slow the journey in an irritating way, but it can be downright overwhelming to keep track of some many mechanics all at once. I’ve gotta believe there’s an easier way to get me to ingest all of that information without flash cards popping up like I’m studying for the LSAT.
Another issue I’ve experienced with the series that remains one of the issues with Xenoblade 3 is how characters are still shouting the same words repeatedly and without any respite. I’ve probably heard Eunie saying “Hear this, Noah? Lanz is looking for something a little more meaty” more than 500 times throughout my game, and there isn’t any option to turn the combat dialogue off as you can with Xenoblade Chronicles Remastered. If this seems like a minor issue to the player, then it’s likely haven’t heard the exact same thing in so many instances that it’s become part of your DNA. It’s a truly terrifying experience and I’ll never be able to understand why this still remains an issue in 2022.
Boss battles can be somewhat boring, since you’ll be fighting the same type of boss enemies that do not have any distinguishing factors from each other. They are particularly fond of throwing massive humanoid monsters in purple at you, as an example that gets old fairly quickly. They also like having you go up against the same boss multiple times in a row which is why they use cutscenes as bookends to each fight. Don’t begin to think about the numerous times that you defeat the boss, only to be ushered into a cutscene in which the boss is defeated. It’s an extremely common occurrence in JRPGs (and particularly within Xenoblade as a whole) however, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 actually abuses its strengths in this regard until the point that I started to believe that every victory against a boss would be followed by the cutscene in which I lost the fight. Add all this up and you’ll have boss battles that aren’t really something I would look for, even though combat against normal enemies can be an absolute blast.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is another fantastic JRPG that has fantastic characters, an original setting, and addictive combat that is still enjoyable after the more than 150 hours required to finish it. For the first time in the series, side quests are enjoyable with the class swapping feature, while the Interlink Ouroburos mechanics will keep the new combat system fresh throughout the entire adventure. Additionally, the story is enjoyable to play until the very end, even if it’s a bit rushed and requires long, snaking deviations. However, there are plenty of strange game design choices including its uninteresting and repetitive voice-overs for combat and boring boss battles that are cookie-cutter which is unfortunate because Aionios beauty is restricted due to its hardware. All of that shouldn’t discourage you from embarking to another epic adventure in a series worthy of an enormous amount in your spare time.