Review of Xenoblade Chronicles III

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I would like to start this review for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 with praise for the soundtrack. Every time I started the game, I sat down for a brief moment just to appreciate the beautiful orchestration that plays during the main menu before continuing with my save file. In fact, I’m listening to it at this very moment while typing this paragraph. Of course, it’s not just the menu that contains well-orchestrated music, but the entire game. Whether it’s an Action sequence or a peaceful sequence, the music always complements the scene very well. All thanks to the veteran composers of the Xenoblade series Manami Kiyota, ACE (TOMOri Kudo, CHiCO), Kenji Hiramatsu and Mariam Abounnasr, as well as Yasunori Mitsuda, who has also made music for other JRPG games such as Chrono Trigger and Xenogears.

However, the music is not only a background element, but also a big part of the overall plot. Some characters are assigned the role of the seer Off, in charge of saying goodbye respectfully to the deceased by playing an emotional retoualmatic flute melody. Outside of small internet circles, video games are unfortunately not very respected as a means of high-quality storytelling, and Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a perfect example of why it should be damn good. Of course, it is full of countless clichés and dry humor, but that is obviously part of the charm. The underlying story is deep, meaningful and captivating, with each cutscene drawing your eyes to the screen, even if it’s just great graphics and special effects. The stakes constantly feel like they’re meticulously high, and we’re talking about life-or-death situations that could potentially change the way you look at the world itself. Chapter after chapter, my butt was sticking to my seat and my hands were sticking to my controller. I was very impressed with most of the voice acting, Japanese and English, so congratulations to everyone involved. Be sure to check out our Xenoblade Chronicles 3 preview to get a good idea of what exactly the story involves, but even there things are very vague so as not to spoil anyone who wants to play the game with as little knowledge as possible.

Xenoblade is one of Nintendo’s most exclusive preteen/mature franchises without reaching the acuity levels of Bayonetta. That being said, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 contains its fair share of violence, language, sexuality and thematic elements, although most of them serve to advance the plot, and it never feels like it’s overstaying its welcome. Aside from the split, the occasional comic innuendo and some cases of more docile expletives such as whispered shit, most of the maturity comes from the violence, because, as mentioned earlier, the central plot focuses heavily on themes such as mass debatefare and death. Even in the shower scenes, a thick fog covers everything that could be considered obscene.

Although Xenoblade Chronicles 3 offers mainly an open world, with the exception of surprisingly short loading times between tracks, it is also quite linear. Exploration basically consists of completing side quests, collecting materials to help you on your adventure (fortunately, there is no limit to the number of items you can contain) and defeating enemy encounters to gain XP and improve your party members. The progression in the main story is done by traveling from point A to point B, with a waypoint always readily available on the mini-map so that you don’t get lost in the vast environments while trying to figure out what to do next. As with the other games in the Xenoblade series, here all the traditional JRPG elements are executed in a particularly satisfactory way. New mechanics are frequently introduced so that the Gameplay is always fresh, even if you think that you have finally figured it out with the complex and sophisticated, but very fun and engaging action system. Of course, there is a learning curve from the start, but despite the overabundance of statistics, skills and mechanics, it never seems particularly overwhelming for the player.

Although the frame rate decreases a little as the game progresses and the enemies become more frequent, it otherwise remains stable at 30 fps most of the time. I know I mentioned this already in our preview, but I just can’t forget how incredibly excellent the game looks at all times, especially on the bright and colorful screen of the OLED model of the Nintendo Switch. There are certainly obvious optimization methods used for performance purposes, such as fading in and out of the grass under your feet, some lower quality textures and fluctuating resolution, but overall, I don’t know how this game works, I must remind you, a relatively small portable device intended for mobile use. The cutscenes in particular give the impression of watching a big-budget Anime, and although 3D animation is often avoided with Anime, it undoubtedly works in favor of Xenoblade.

After completing the first chapter of the game, which basically works as a tutorial, teaches you the mechanics and introduces you to the plot, you will finally have a total of six characters in your party. Unlike most JRPGs, you have full control of the movements on your party members during the fight and you can easily switch between them at any time. Those that you do not currently control attack automatically, but there are also tactical methods to give you direct orders. Each character has an assigned class of swordsmen, Zephyrs, paramedics, tacticians, heavy guards or Ogres, but eventually you will unlock the ability to switch and level up individually in each group member’s class. HP, attack, healing power, dexterity, agility, critical rate, blocking rate and defense are the statistics attached to the characters, and they can be improved by using various accessories, leveling them up or changing classes. Some of these characters end up forming strong bonds with each other, which allows them to connect and transform into the particularly powerful form of Ouroboros for a short time during the action. You will also eventually be able to perform movements such as chain attacks, which is very satisfying.

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