Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review: The most effective RPG story I’ve played in ages

Xenoblade Chronicles 3

MSRP $60.00

“Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is perhaps too frustrating for some, but its price fighting through tedious systems for the RPG’s stellar storytelling.”


  • Emotional rollercoaster
  • Likable characters
  • Unique character classes
  • Experimentation-friendly
  • Swoonworthy visuals


  • Overwhelming combat
  • Tedious item grinding
  • Exploration might be higher

Imagine fighting a war alongside your childhood friends. It’s you and your besties dining together with your ex-mortal enemies, on the run from the world. Now, all there’s left to do is live — when you may even make it. That’s the premise for the story of Xenoblade Chronicles 3, the most effective 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 Agnus special ops members Mio, Sena, and Taion to seek out the rationale they got the ability of Ouroboros. The world of Aionios employs soldiers who fight to fuel “Flame Clocks,” which run on the life force of fallen enemies. Our heroes share a surprise encounter that blesses (or curses) them with the ability to defy that world order with an alternate form. The catch? The Consuls, the Big Bad organization behind the scenes, desires to do away with them. Many games use the “enemies turned friends” trope, but Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is different. The common thread of survival makes it believable. Each character seems to know the implications, despite making the alternative to ally with rebels.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has what my friends lovingly consult with because the “Xenoblade problems,” but they’re price it for the sport’s top-tier RPG story. Just brace yourself for some complicated combat, overly tedious item hunting, and lacking exploration that may postpone players who aren’t already bought in on the series.

Best story I’ve played in ages

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has a frightening runtime and an enormous story, but its pacing is ideal. You may feel postpone at first resulting from all its lengthy cutscenes, but all of them feel essential and meaningful to the story. Even the banter between characters isn’t wasted, because it builds the relationships between characters. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 goes into enough depth for you to grasp a personality’s motivations and pain, enough that each story beat feels earned.

Were I grading Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on story alone, it could be a ten out of 10. 

The sport tackles themes of loss, grief, and purpose. Characters could also be in a totally different world, but I could easily relate to their struggles. All of us lose people necessary to us and feel lost when things don’t go as planned. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 isn’t afraid to tackle how meaningless life is without survival instinct and purpose.

There’s a latest twist waiting at the tip of each chapter too. Just when I believe I even have the narrative formula discovered, something totally unexpected happens. It’s refreshing, especially with what number of RPGs lay out a transparent “ end goal” originally of the sport. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 makes you query when you really know what the sport is about.

A character in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 looks ahead.

The sport gives you infinite time to bond with the characters and level up your party before selecting to progress the story. Chapters take no less than five hours but can last more due to the extra hero quests (to recruit latest party members) and regular colony quests. Though just as impressive is that developer Monolith Soft found a powerful approach to steadily introduce the sport’s myriad of systems one after the other and tie them into the plot.

Jesus take the wheel

At first, combat is a large number. You get used to it, nevertheless it takes patience to find out about multiple units and the small ways you possibly can construct each. You begin with six characters after which get a seventh “Hero” slot for party members you recruit throughout your journey. All these units fight without delay in real-time motion RPG combat.

As one may think, the screen continually lights up with numbers, including the damage you deal, damage you receive, and healing notifications. It isn’t easy to distinguish between what everyone seems to be actually doing. Healing and circles are more obvious because of colours: heals are green numbers, blue circles are defense, and red circles are attack buffs. But in terms of differentiating between who did what damage, it beats me. You could have to change to every character to see how their kit is affecting them up close.

The complexity isn’t a flaw, even when the UI is.

Players control one character at a time and might switch between them through the fight. You possibly can only switch between the six principal characters. My typical strategy was just controlling whomever after which switching each time someone needed a heal so I could save them before they died. Just pray that the AI doesn’t kill itself first.

Chain Attacks, which mean you can pummel your enemy with attacks out of your characters, also help to take down bosses once you most need them. That, plus the heavy-hitting Ouroboros forms, are key to surviving tougher bosses later in the sport. It took me endlessly to learn how you can land higher rating statuses like “amazing” or “bravo” in my combos and which arts are most optimal to learn for character classes.

Characters fight a monster in Xenoblade Chronicles 3.

Combat systems are about as layered because the plot. I wouldn’t recommend it to people who find themselves latest to JRPGs, simply because it’s easy to develop into overwhelmed by the various parts. It’s easier to digest when you’ve reread tutorials, experimented with arts, and mashed through a few chapters (that are very long). In that sense, the complexity isn’t a flaw, even when the UI is.

I often winged it through battle, but I played on Normal difficulty. It didn’t take me long to work out a approach to overcome the bosses that wiped the ground with me, even when I needed to grind a bit before going back. I ran on auto-pilot to start with, especially since some fights popped up with none warning, and got through with no need to reset.

A character gets healed in Xenoblade Chronicles 3.

Should you lose a fight, you get the choice to retry the battle or not. There’s no penalty for saying “no,” you simply restart at the purpose you were before the battle and get the choice to level up characters and equip higher gear. So, even when the combat system isn’t easy to grasp, it’s forgiving enough to allow you to learn and take a look at again without drawbacks.

Should you’re a Xenoblade noob, you will likely be confused. The excellent news is that it doesn’t matter, as long as you commonly level up your team, keep the classes balanced, and put a minimum amount of effort into equipping equipment that sounds helpful.

Hello cruel world

In my Xenoblade Chronicles 3 preview, I used to be initially unsure about exploration. After spending more time with it, I do feel prefer it might be higher, though I appreciate the way it goes against the grain. The sport has a regular map that enables you to look back on areas you’ve already explored and fast travel to an inexpensive variety of teleportation points. That part is convenient and painless. Farming for materials and the sometimes unclear paths to get to point A from point B will not be.

mio sliding on rope

Monster drops are necessary due to crafting and the search catalog. Gems, a form of equippable accessory, need specific materials to level up. You can even complete “grocery list” quests from colony members for rewards. Most of them involve cashing in drops for a reward. Nonetheless, it isn’t easy to seek out out where to get what you would like, especially with the long list of monster names. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 may benefit from an enemy encyclopedia just like the one in Scarlet Nexus, which tells you where to seek out drops you’ve already found.

Early game monsters are at the identical level once you travel back to the identical locations. Fighting these monsters might be more satisfying if there was a “world level” like in Genshin Impact, where monster levels match the characters.

You only must be ready for an motion RPG that isn’t all the time the image of elegance.

I had an issue with the disappointing jump height originally of the sport, but I got used to it will definitely. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 gives you the luxurious of moving with out a stamina bar, in order that evened it out for me on my grading scale. I’m also guilty of just jumping from a tall height after I can’t work out how you can get down since the fall damage principally disappears once you hit the bottom (inside reason). Heroes offer exploration mechanics like the flexibility to climb marked partitions and the flexibility to ride on wires. Nonetheless, I felt they were pointlessly tied to characters and will’ve worked just as well when you learned them upon reaching certain checkpoints.

Our take

If I were grading Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on story alone, it could be a ten out of 10. Should you get emotionally attached to characters, especially passionate ones who don’t wish to hurt people and are only trying their best, then it’s a must-play. You only must be ready for an motion RPG that isn’t all the time the image of elegance — and be prepared to live with those quirks through an extended, long adventure.

Is there a greater alternative?

You possibly can buy Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition on sale if you desire to experience an earlier game at a less expensive price. It jogs my memory of Tales of Arise with the fantasy setting and character juggling, but even that isn’t quite the identical.

How long will it take?

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is longer than your typical JRPG. It will probably take over 70 hours to finish the story. Each chapter takes about five hours to finish without factoring in side quests. I still haven’t even reached the highest of the mountain.

Do you have to buy it?

Yes. It’s a highly cinematic, mindfully crafted JRPG with a story that hasn’t let me down. You possibly can spend hours just sorting through the various classes and equipment.

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

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