NINTENDO has been spoiling us RPG fans over the last few months with some fun games coming out, which have included Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes and Live a Live. How does Xenoblade Chronicles 3 stand out? Let’s find out, shall we?
For the purpose of spoilers, I will only be discussing the games opening hours as the story is really one of the many shining stars of the game.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is an open world game that takes part after the events of one and two, but you really don’t need to have played the other two to understand what’s going on here. Also off the bat, this game reminded me so much of Xenoblade Chronicles X, the WiiU exclusive game to the point that if you told me this was a prequel to the events of X too, I would buy that as the huge vistas and areas of the world of Aionios look to have more in common with X then any of the other games in the series.
You start the game off in the middle of an ongoing war between the two nations of Keves and Agnus, you will get the sense that the war between these two nations has been raging since the dawn of time. You will start the game out as long time friends and soldiers Noah, Lanz and Eunie as they are set off on a special mission to recover the remains of an airship, not knowing much of the details, the three do as they are told.
It is here that you will come face to face with Agnian soldiers Mio, Sena and Taion, as you can expect this falls out to an open conflict between the opposing forces over what seems to be a small green box with an unknown party there protecting it.
Before I go into the outcome of this fight, its best to know that in this war, Noah is what’s known as an ‘Off-seer’ Someone who will play a melody on his flute to send off fallen warriors on the battlefield to what is known as a ‘Flame Clock’ this is the fuel of war that powers the gigantic battle machines for all the colonies. Essentially, when someone dies they are turned into a husk of a body and then sent off by the Off-Seers. Soldiers also serve the term of 10 years once fully trained and deployed for battle. After these years of service, they are again, sent off. Being promised that this is a kind of heaven for where these soldiers go.
With your merry band of three almost being at the end of their 10 year terms, essentially never getting the opportunity to grow old. As the battle winds down a mysterious enemy appear and start attacking both squads, it is here that they realise they must team up and fight this common enemy. It’s when things are looking dier that the mysterious man then opens up the box which then almost explodes and has an effect on six characters fighting the huge army set upon them giving them the ability to converge with one another to form what will be known as an ‘Ouroboros’ which then turns the tide of the battle in the favor of the outnumbered group of six.
After defeating the overwhelming odds, they go to tend to the unknown man who, when greeted, looks odd to them due to the fact that he is grizzled and aged, something neither side of the war has ever seen before. It is here that he lets them know that they must travel to a huge structure when an enormous sword is piercing the world and face their true enemies. They then notice that they are now no longer confined to their ten years of service and seemingly free of the shackles of war. It is here where they will embark of the grand adventure of rebellion and liberating all the colonies from the clutches of the ‘real’ enemy.
I will leave the story there to avoid spoilers.
Let it now be known that in previous Xenoblade Chronicles games, I always found the voice-over acting to be a bit cringy at times as the British voices seemed a bit over the top and downright annoying in some cases. I’m happy to report that all of the voice actors in this game, whether it be the main characters or any of the many that you will meet on the adventure and top notch and a pleasure to listen to. This is a huge win in my books as it makes the game story and talking segments a pleasure to listen to and really gets you invested in what is going on story wise.
Music in this game is absolutely epic and really knows when to kick in and make you feel, like a Star Wars soundtrack, they do an amazing job of conveying feelings and emotions of the battle. I recall the first main boss I encountered and when the music kicked in, I was invested in the importance of this battle. So the soundtrack and voiceovers of this game get an absolute tick of approval from me.
The game’s battle system is also amazing and a joy to play as you are never really confined to the one role out of the six characters. They will level up in the traditional sense of any classic RPG but there are layers. You will have the overall level of the characters, then you will have their roles level up too, this is initially broken up into 6 different roles, ranging from tanks to medics, sword fighters to support roles. These will all have a cap at that point you will be advised to switch them up to make them more of a complete character. These are individually leveled up to ten at that point you can switch them out with everyone else. It really makes the combat stay fresh as each role has a purpose and while you are free to switch between characters in the heat of battle, I normally just stuck with the main character of Noah as throughout the game you will be changing anyway.
As you play through the game, the side quests involved can lead you towards hero characters, meaning your party will grow from six to seven characters on the screen at a time. These hero characters also add more roles to pick from after they have been added and their quests completed.
When in battle depending on which direction you attack can greatly affect the amount of damage inflicted on the opposing forces or just the many species of animals covering the world. If you are at a higher level than said opponents, they will choose not to aggro you or attack. This also being said, there are a huge variety of enemies to encounter, even special enemies that will have wings above them which will grant more of a challenge and reward you with bonus exp, resources and the currency of the game. The last type has almost a sparkle above them, this will mean they have more resources to farm if defeated.
The last part of the battle system is a growing gauge on the right hand side of the HUD that over time will grow and allow you to perform a huge group attack. It is here that you will pick one of the six main characters as the lead or end attacker and you will select from your team someone who will add to the overall team attack. When the gauge reaches 100 or above percent, will activate the ending attack. This can be performed numerous times depending on how you deploy your team’s attacks. The most I’ve had so far has been an efficient 4 group attack.
All that’s left to discuss is the graphics of the game, while playing on both the docked and handheld mode of this game, they are absolutely serviceable up close. But in a game like this and its huge open world, the draw distance suffers dramatically. While this does not deter you from this game, it’s at the point now that Nintendo wants to make grand scale games like this.
While it is admirable that you can have up to seven game characters on screen at a time, then add in the enemies you are fighting, it is a marvel that they are squeezing out all the power that the Nintendo can muster but the hardware really needs to be improved and the revision of the much requested Switch Pro would make these games really pop.
While we can always argue that Witcher 3 on the switch made sacrifices to be able to be played on Nintendo’s console, for a game being built from the ground up, really needs some more ‘oomph’ to give its fans a spectacular look at the world they are trying to create.
Enclosing, this is an amazing game that I don’t want to end, all the characters are likable, well voice acted and the story and side quests all keep me wanting more. I really don’t want this game to end and with the expansion pass that Monolith Soft is providing over the next year, I look forward to the next four waves of content they have in store.
This is a must play for any RPG fan and a delight for the Xenoblade Chronicles faithful.