Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review: Top tier RPG storytelling

Noah and his team standing in a green field.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

MSRP $60.00

“Xenoblade Chronicles 3 might be too frustrating for some, but it’s worth battling through tedious systems for stellar RPG storytelling.”


  • Emotional rollercoaster

  • likeable characters

  • Unique Character Classes

  • Suitable for experimentation

  • Escape-worthy visuals

The inconvenients

  • crushing fight

  • Tedious shredding of items

  • Exploration could be better

Imagine fighting a war alongside your childhood friends. It’s you and your best friends dining with your former mortal enemies, on the run from the world. Now all that’s left to do is live – if you can even do it. This is the basis of the story Xenoblade Chronicles 3one of the best narrative experiences I’ve ever had in a game.

In Nintendo’s latest RPG Monolith, Noah and his childhood friends, Lanz and Eunie, team up with Special Ops members Agnus, Mio, Sena and Taion, to find the reason they were given the power of ‘Ouroboros. The world of Aionios employs soldiers who fight to power “Flame Clocks”, which run on the life force of fallen enemies. Our heroes share a surprise encounter that blesses (or curses) them with the power to challenge this world order with an alternate form. The problem? The Consuls, the Big Bad organization behind the scenes, want to get rid of them. Many games use the “enemies become friends” trope, but Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is different. The common thread of survival makes it believable. Each character seems to know the consequences, despite choosing to ally with rebels.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has what my friends lovingly call “Xenoblade’s problems”, but they’re worth it for the game’s top-notch RPG story. to a lack of exploration which could discourage players who are not already convinced by the series.

The best story I’ve played in ages

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has a daunting runtime and massive story, but its pacing is spot on. You might feel discouraged at first due to all of its long cutscenes, but they all feel necessary and meaningful to the story. Even the banter between the characters is not wasted, as it strengthens the relationships between the characters. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 goes deep enough for you to understand a character’s motivations and pain, deep enough that every story beat feels earned.

Did I rate Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on the story alone, it would be a 10 out of 10.

The game deals with themes of loss, grief, and purpose. The characters may be in a completely different world, but I could easily identify with their struggles. We all lose people important to us and feel lost when things don’t go as planned. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 unafraid to address how meaningless life is without survival instincts and purpose.

There is also a new twist waiting at the end of each chapter. Just when I think I’ve figured out the narrative formula, something totally unexpected happens. It’s refreshing, especially with the number of RPGs that establish a clear “end goal” at the start of the game. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 makes you wonder if you really know what the game is about.

A character from Xenoblade Chronicles 3 looks into the future.

The game gives you endless time to bond with characters and level up your party before choosing to advance the story. Chapters take at least five hours to complete but can last longer thanks to additional hero quests (to recruit new party members) and regular colony quests. While equally impressive, developer Monolith Soft has found an impressive way to steadily introduce the game’s myriad systems one by one. and tie them to the plot.

jesus take the wheel

At first, the fight is a mess. You get used to it, but it takes patience to learn about multiple units and the little ways to build them. You start with six characters, then get a seventh “Hero” slot for party members you recruit along your journey. All these units fight at the same time in Real-time action RPG combat.

As one can imagine, the screen constantly lights up with numbers, including the damage you deal, the damage you receive, and healing notifications. It is not easy to differentiate what each actually does. Heals and circles are more obvious because of the colors: heals are green numbers, blue circles are defense, and red circles are attack buffs. But when it comes to differentiating who did what, that’s beyond me. You need to switch to each character to see how their kit affects them up close.

Complexity is not a defect, even if the user interface is.

Players control one character at a time and can switch between them during combat. You can only switch between the six main characters. My typical strategy was just to control whoever it was and then switch whenever someone needed a heal so I could save them before they died. Just pray the AI ​​doesn’t kill itself first.

Chain attacks, which allow you to hit your enemy with your characters’ attacks, also help defeat bosses when you need them most. This, along with the hard-hitting Ouroboros forms, is key to surviving tougher bosses later in the game. It took me forever to learn how to land higher statuses like “amazing” or “bravo” in my combos and which arts are the most optimal to learn for character classes.

Characters fight a monster in Xenoblade Chronicles 3.

The combat systems are about as layered as the plot. I wouldn’t recommend it to people new to JRPGs, simply because it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the different parts. It’s easier to digest once you’ve re-read the tutorials, experimented with the arts, and crushed a few chapters (which are very long). In this sense, complexity is not a defect, even if the user interface is.

I often flew it in combat, but played on normal difficulty. It didn’t take long for me to find a way to defeat the bosses that were mopping the floor with me, although I needed to grind a bit before going back. I ran on autopilot at first, especially since some fights popped up without any warning and played out without needing to reset.

A character is healed in Xenoblade Chronicles 3.

If you lose a fight, you have the option to retry the battle or not. There is no penalty for saying ‘no’, you simply restart from where you were before the battle and get the chance to upgrade characters and equip better gear. So while the combat system isn’t easy to understand, it’s forgiving enough to let you learn and try again without inconvenience.

If you’re a Xenoblade noob, you’ll probably be confused. The good news is that it doesn’t matter, as long as you level up your team regularly, keep classes balanced, and put minimal effort into equipping gear that seems useful.

hello cruel world

In my Xenoblade Chronicles 3 preview, I was initially unsure about exploring. After spending more time with it, I feel like it could be better, although I appreciate how it goes against the grain. The game has a standard map that allows you to return to areas you’ve already explored and fast travel to a reasonable number of teleport points. This part is practical and painless. Farming for materials and sometimes unclear paths to get to point A from point B are not.

mio slips on rope

Monster drops are important due to crafting and the quest catalog. Gems, a kind of equipable accessory, need specific materials to level up. You can also complete “grocery list” quests from colony members for rewards. Most of them involve cashing in drops for a reward. However, it’s not easy to know where to find what you need, especially with the long list of monster names. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 could benefit from an enemy encyclopedia like that of Scarlet Nexuswhich tells you where to find the drops you have already found.

The monsters from the beginning of the game are at the same level when you return to the same places. Fighting these monsters might be more satisfying if there was a “world level” like in Genshin Impactwhere monster levels correspond to characters.

You just have to be ready for an action RPG that isn’t always the picture of elegance.

I had a problem with the disappointing jump height early in the game, but I got used to it eventually. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 gives you the luxury of moving around without a stamina bar, which evened me out on my rating scale. I’m also guilty of jumping from a great height when I don’t know how to get down, as fall damage disappears when you hit the ground (within reason). Heroes offer exploration mechanics like the ability to scale marked walls and the ability to roll over cables. However, I felt they were unnecessarily tied to characters and might have worked just as well if you had learned them by hitting certain checkpoints.

Our point of view

If I noticed Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on the story alone it would be a 10 out of 10. If you get emotionally attached to the characters, especially the passionate ones who don’t want to hurt people and just do their best, then this is a must play. You just have to be ready for an action-RPG that isn’t always the picture of elegance – and be prepared to live with those quirks through a long, long adventure.

Is there a better alternative?

You can buy Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition on sale if you want to experience an earlier game at a cheaper price. It reminds me Tales of Arise with the fantasy setting and the juggling of characters, but even that’s not quite the same.

How long will it take?

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is longer than your typical JRPG. It can take over 70 hours to complete the story. Each chapter takes around five hours to complete without taking side quests into account. I haven’t even reached the top of the mountain yet.

Should I buy it?

Yes. It’s a highly cinematic and carefully crafted JRPG with a story that didn’t let me down. You can spend hours sorting through the different classes and gear.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 was tested on a Nintendo Switch in handheld mode.

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