Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review feature image

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Review – Spoiler free for your pleasure

Not for you if:

  • The only grind you like is the one at a club. (or on the beaches of Denmark mass murdering pilot whales)
  • Complex systems scare you off and can be confusing.
  • You hate hearing the same lines shouted over and over again.
  • Don't have a hundred hours to spare to finish Xenoblace Chronicles 3.
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I know this Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review is a bit late considering its 29/07/2022 release date. But Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a one hundred hour long game, if you stick to most of the main story and choose not to pursue most of the side-quests and explore every corner of the map.

As far as JRPGs go, this is now the second one on my favorites list, with Octopath Traveler still as the number one. If I had to compare it to Monster Hunter Stories 2 then Xenoblade Chronicles reigns supreme with its quality of life features and fluid combat.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review - opening cutscene

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Review – Setting

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has a lot going and I will try to summarize it in this Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review. But there is so much going on it would be impossible to touch it all without this Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review turning into a three part series.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review - the queen

Bread and butter of the series – Story

The Xenoblade series and its setting

As someone whose first entry into the Xenoblade Chronicles series is Xenoblade Chronicles 3; I was intrigued by the setting of the world. The mixture of fantasy and sci-fi blends so well and is created with such fluidity between the two genres that it feels like magic. The whole people bashing on each other with glowing swords while huge mechs bombard the battlefield is simply amazing.

While Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is the third installment in the series, I never felt that I had to play the first two in order to understand the story of Xenoblade Chronicles 3. Veterans of the series see Xenoblade Chronicles 3 as a connector between Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and 2 as story elements of both games are present in Xenoblade 3. As is clear from the opening scene where two universes seem to collide and catastrophic events change the landscape of Aionios (the world we inhabit in Xenoblade Chronicles 3).

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review – The actual story of Xenoblade Chronicles 3

Aionios is a world divided by eternal war between the Keves and Agnus fighting over each other’s life force to fill their flame clocks. The flame Clocks are huge battlefield mechs equipped for war, that tower over the battlefield as the troops below slaughter each other. All this slaughter is fueled by rapidly growing embryos and training kids for constant battle. Each soldier has a life span of ten years, if they survive that long. After ten years they come before the queen of their nation and enter her embrace, being free from the constant battle for life.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review - battle of mechs in the background

The plot is thicker than a bowl of overnight oats

Noah’s squad gets sent on a special mission to uncover a huge ether signal. Surely the Agnus faction has the same idea and a battle ensues. Here you encounter the other half of your party, the Agnus off-seer Mio, Taion an Agnus healer and Sena a hammer wielding Agnus damage dealer. As they battle it out they realize that the unidentified signal was Guernica and his crew. Overwhelmed by the forces of Keves and Agnus, his crew falls and Guernica intervenes between the fight of Noah and Mio, claiming they have a True Enemy.

Before he can elaborate further on the meaning of the True Enemy, he is shot by D. A Moebius fighter that also wants what Guernica was smuggling. Noah’s and Mio’s squad team up to fight this new threat and quickly realize D is out of their league. With his last energy Guernica activates the Ouroboros stone he was smuggling and interlinks Noah and Mio. They change into an Ouroboros and D is excited to battle the natural enemy of the Moebius. As your newfound powers defeat D he leaves mocking the party saying they will be hunted by everyone for eternity.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review - first encounter with Moebius

The plot is basically cement by now

As the Keves and Agnus factions are now hunting everyone in the party they are forced to flee. Survive on their own and figure out how to get to Swordmarch, the location of the faction Guernica was working for.

This was basically Chapter 1 and it had so much story to bring and things to reveal. Ultimately setting up storylines and building characters and tension for the rest of the game. You are now controlling a six member party that have been fighting in a war against each other for their whole life. Forced to work together to defeat not only Moebius, but also their former allies and friends.

Each chapter brings more mystery while uncovering some of the questions set up earlier in the game. It deepens the bonds of the characters and their interlink partner as they grow from enemies to true friends fighting to protect each other and the new friends they made along the way. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is full of story and while it’s long, it’s also good. It’s full of twists, losses and heartfelt moments that drive towards the next step of the story.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review - ascension of our characters and free of the bonds of the flame clock

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review – Gameplay

So we have a good story to back Xenoblade Chronicles 3 up. Is it fun to play in between the story cutscenes and dialogue? Yes, it’s good and addicting and a total mess at times.

Exploration

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has a huge open world to roam around in. It feels huge with gigantic mountains in the background and huge plains with roaming monsters. You will often wander around and see a gigantic unique enemy, as you get closer to the ground and your Switch will tremble with the weight of its footsteps. Hidden collectibles will divert you from the direction your main quest takes you, air drops, containers and husks of soldiers to see off.

The diversity of biomes is also pretty well done and has some unique features. A forest biome has more bodies of water to swim in and collect fish or shell materials, while the desert has more materials allocated with that biome and steep dunes where sand slides down and takes you with it.

Traversing the world is easy as every location you unlock serves as a fast travel point. Maps have at least one or several camp spots where you can train your characters, create gems and cook food for buffs before exploring or taking on that huge boss.

Combat

Oh yeah, this hit just right. The switch from exploring to combat to exploring goes so smooth. You see an enemy, target it and draw your weapon, defeat it and instantly go back to running around and picking up the loot. No cutscene intros showing both parties and some voice lines. Simply wham bam loot shower and on to the next. Combat features an auto battle system for the smaller enemies or groups and grinding out some Class Points was easier than ever and no hassle at all.

The basics of annihilating your foes in Xenoblade Chronicles 3

During my Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review I did a ton of combat. While Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is story heavy, it also means grinding out materials, CP, SP and levels in order to get your builds ready for the next step.

Combat isn’t turn based but live action, every party member has an auto attack and a series of arts (skills for the uninitiated). The characters you aren’t controlling are controlled by the AI. The general orders you give, influence what skills the AI will use or which target to attack.

As for your character, the trick lies in positioning and canceling your attacks and arts. Activating an art at the precise time an auto attack hits, speeds up the next attack and can even increase its damage. Later on you can cancel from your arts into talent arts as well to chain up to three attacks in quick succession. This fills up your chain bar quicker and speeds up combat immensely.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review - hectic combat
Systems upon systems supporting other systems

As you progress through the story more tools are unlocked to defeat your foes. Each system builds upon something brought on earlier. So it always flows naturally as it gets more complex. You get ample time to play around with the newly discovered system before Xenoblade Chronicles 3 throws in another thing to play around with. It does get pretty complex to be honest.

Not only does combat get more complex, but you also have the option to play any character with any class and level that class up to its max with every character. Start switching around classes and you have to rebuild that character, equip new accessories, gems and skills.

Add in the chain combat system for massive damage and queuing orders and characters to get the most out of it. And the option to overkill your enemies during these chain attacks for more exp after combat. Suddenly you are playing a very tactical combat sequence. But like I said: Xenoblade Chronicles 3 builds all this up naturally.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review - chain orders window
Go Go Ouroboros Rangers!

Same goes with the Ouroboros system, while a bit different, the principle remains the same. You unlock interlinking and mess around with the new attacks and enjoy the amazingly good animated mech style look. Suddenly you unlock the Ouroboros skill tree. This allows you to enhance and unlock new features for your form.

As you gain more SP, you get the option to unlock more advanced features and longer playtime in the Ouroboros form. Then later in the story you get the option to switch the “pilot” and form of the Ouroboros. When you activate the interlink skill while using Noah, his skills and form will be different from the ones Mio has. Oh, and you can pull off Ouroboros orders that are chain link attacks for Ouroboros forms. So there’s that on top as well.

But wait there’s more!

I haven’t even mentioned fusion attacks, your second set of so called Master Arts on top of our class arts, your class skills and unlocking hero classes. You end up with 7 arts to fuse, use and play around with, unlock these through leveling other classes and I won’t even go any deeper into hero classes as I would have to spoil some story for that.

But you unlock certain classes by meeting heroes. And right now I really don’t want to turn this into a 7000 word review by going any deeper into chain links, fusion links or Ouroboros orders. I’ve also typed Ouroboros way too much right now.

So yeah, lets keep it at this for this combat part of the Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review. I can’t type the O word again. My fingers. Oh and not being able to jump during combat was my biggest gripe during my Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review time. Only thing in combat I didn’t like.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review - class leveling

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review – for your eyes and ears

Ok so we got a good story and a complicated but really well built up combat system. Is it nice to look and hear? Absolutely and absolutely not. So the aesthetic of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is really heavily sci-fi inspired. I love sci-fi, so I love what I saw during my Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review time.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review - camping options

For your ears

The music of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is goddamn good and even though it repeats a million times during combat; it never gets boring. The composers and flute player going insane on his flute for that track must be having a party while they recorded it as it simply slaps.

All the background music never felt annoying or out of place and helped with setting the mood of the environment or moment. Roaming the desert had a soft tune while exploring a cave while being followed by an army had a soundtrack with a more pressing tune.

While in combat the combat noises can get pretty repetitive as you play along. The characters are shouting 24/7 at the top of their lungs with everything they do. Shouting taunts or victory shouts are always the same. I played in English and Japanese and I frankly always like Japanese more, because I don’t understand what they say. It just becomes noise and my brain doesn’t pay attention to it. JRPG life hack right there, you heard it first at BGeek people.

  • Manama dialogue is amazing
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  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review -
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review -

For your eyes

Aesthetically it’s an amazing world, performance and UI wise it’s a total mess. The UI is clumped with damage numbers, chain attack gauge, your (up to seven members) party, arts to use, enemy health, attacks, sometimes a tutorial prompt, healing or buff circles on the floor and aggro lines from the tanks. The UI is a mess and I had to go into options to switch off certain damage numbers to make it less cluttered.

Naturally a huge open world game on the Nintendo Switch has problems. Such as the usual pop in issues especially for grass or smaller details. But Xenoblade Chronicles 3 really suffers from blurriness and resolution drops. It’s like Xenoblade Chronicles 3 starts downscaling its resolution to get a better frame rate but everything starts looking so blurry it hurts your eyes.

While playing handheld I had to struggle to overcome the blurriness as it was just ugly to watch. The hardware limitations of the switch are really visible in Xenoblade Chronicles 3.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review – Nintendo Switch performance

As I mentioned before, the Nintendo Switch really struggles to render the beautiful world of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 graphically. With everything going on, foes to render and effects of battle on display it really reaches the limit.

Because the Nintendo Switch has to work this hard it also doesn’t last long when playing handheld. You don’t really want to play handheld due to the resolution scaling anyway, but if you want to it won’t last more than four hours on a Nintendo Switch with the latest battery capacity.

NOTE: I was unable to do this Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review on a Nintendo Switch Oled version. But the bigger screen is probably going to make it look a bit worse.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review - frame drops and blurriness
Blurry

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review – Conclusion

So yes, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a good game. It’s really fun to play and while it looks a bit frazzled at times it doesn’t hinder the overall experience that much. Getting bang for your buck is certainly a statement you get when talking about Xenoblade Chronicles 3, as it’s a hundred hours at least to get to the main content. Monolith Soft did an amazing job with Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and I was really happy that our sponsor CD Media Greece gave me the chance to explore the Xenoblade universe.

Stijn Ginneberge

Posts published: 120

Gaming for me is about experiencing their stories, overcoming challenges, living in fantasy worlds and exploring alien planets. You can also find me in the local game store or on an airsoft field.