If you’re a fan of Japanese RPGs, chances are you’re familiar with the Xenoblade Chronicles franchise. Known only as Xenoblade in Japan, the science fiction series was created by Tetsuya Takahashi, born as Xenogears in 1998 on the first PlayStation and gaining a spiritual successor in 2002 as Xenosaga.
In 2010, the first chapter of the Xenoblade Chronicles franchise appeared for the Wii. With an open world divided into zones, many side missions, an intriguing story and robust real-time turn-based combat, it has become one of the biggest hits on the Japanese company’s console. The new game is exclusive to Nintendo Switch and consolidates the handheld as the home of Japanese RPGs.
Nintendo also brought two more titles: Xenoblade Chronicles X and Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Highly praised and with a loyal fan base, they achieved a good number of sales, especially in Japan, but failed to appeal to the more casual audience due to their complex gameplay and narrative elements. deeper. The truth is that Japanese RPGs require more dedication and skill, which can put some players off.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 comes with a difficult mission: to please series veterans, but balance its gameplay elements so that more casual players and newbies can get to know the franchise and have fun. Did Nintendo and Monolith Soft manage to fulfill this difficult mission? Check it out in our review!
A Bunch of Noise
Before we start talking about the plot of Xenoblade Chronicles 3, it is necessary to emphasize something important and very positive about the game: you don’t need to have played the previous titles. This makes the latest installment in the franchise an excellent gateway to the saga. In case you’re a veteran, there are a few references to previous games, but nothing essential.
The game’s story involves two nations involved in a long war: Keves and Agnus. Soldiers are artificially created and have only 10 years to live, needing to kill enemies to feed their biological cycle. The protagonist, Noah, is accompanied by the warrior Lanz and the “doctor” Eunie, who plays the role of support, keeping the trio alive in the confrontations.
On a special mission, they encounter a rival trio from the other nation, consisting of Mio, Sena and Taion. After a brutal confrontation and a mysterious event, the group must flee and embark on a journey to face a new threat. During the adventure, the group will discover that despite being on opposite sides of the war, they are more alike than they realize.
The story is told in seven chapters, full of twists and exciting moments, where we see the characters bonding, maturing and understanding that they were fighting a war they never wanted to be part of. During the adventure, the player will be taken to colonies of Agnus and Keves, as well as beautiful landscapes in nature that hide many secrets.
Finishing the main story will take between 55 to 80 hours, with the player needing over 100 hours to enjoy everything the game has to offer and maximize the characters’ level. In case you’re not used to it, be aware that the game has many (and long!) cinematics. They are fundamental to understanding the narrative and should not be skipped, as tempting as it may be at times.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 uses a combat system similar to its predecessors. If you’ve tried some of the previous games and you didn’t like it because you found everything too complex, there’s excellent news: the new title features an extensive and well-didactic tutorial, which allows even the most casual players to understand the more advanced mechanics.
The game is a turn-based RPG with real-time actions. That is, your characters automatically attack enemies with regular attacks, just be close to the opponent. However, each member of your party has a selection of moves called “Arts”, which allow you to multiply your damage and even create combos.
A positive element that encourages the player to have dynamic combat is the player’s positioning in battles. Noah has an ability called Edge Thrust that will do much more damage if you hit an opponent from behind, while Air Slash will have a bonus damage if it is activated right after another attack. These details make the battles gain a good dose of strategy.
As with most Japanese RPGs, each character in the group has a function and is not there to make volume. For example, Healers are key in tougher battles as they heal team members as well as offering interesting bonuses, while Tanks attract the attention of stronger opponents so the rest of the party can launch their wave of attacks.
It is worth noting that unlike many games, artificial intelligence is excellent and works effectively. In fact, it works so well that some combats become ridiculously easy and you feel like you’re being carried by your friends. The main difference between the other games in the series is the fact that it has seven characters fighting simultaneously, being possible to switch between them at any time, giving greater freedom to the player.
Another important element is the additional character classes, made up of new attacks and abilities. It is possible to unlock and equip the members of the group, something I recommend to have more variety, otherwise you will spend more than 50 hours seeing the same attacks and special moves from the beginning, something that will become a true test of mental sanity.
There is also a very interesting mechanic where the characters unite in a new form called Ouroboros, a kind of giant robot, with new attacks and special moves for a limited time. It is possible to increase the link for more powerful and longer lasting transformations, something that becomes essential in the most difficult battles.
The open world of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is huge and has many monsters and enemies around. Some of them are aggressive and will attack you immediately, while others will only use violence if you draw your weapon. There are also hunts that will yield special ingredients for items and foods that will give your characters bonuses.
Side quests are interesting and allow you to get to know the game world better. Some of them also serve to deepen the story of the main characters, giving development and explaining their motivations. It is also worth mentioning that they give a good amount of experience, something fundamental to advance through the game’s chapters.
a melancholic world
When anyone doubts the Nintendo Switch’s capabilities, I recommend showing Xenoblade Chronicles 3 running on the handheld. Graphically, it’s easily one of the best looking games on the console to date. In addition, it has a satisfactory performance, with very few drops in frame rate per second, even with 7 characters in frantic combat.
Although the world is ravaged by an endless war, you will find beautiful landscapes amidst all the destruction and sadness. The scenarios are very detailed and the animations are excellent. Another highlight is the design of Ouroboros and monsters, very varied and creative. As much as they are excessive, the cinematics are of high quality, making the player feel like watching a high-investment anime.
In the narrative, Noah is a warrior who also plays a flute to “dispatch” bodies from the battlefield, in a respectful and touching ritual. This is incorporated into the soundtrack, producing epic and orchestral tracks, perfectly matching the title’s theme of death and melancholy.
The game has both Japanese and British English dubbing, but I recommend you try the journey in the first option for greater immersion. Unfortunately, it’s yet another Nintendo Switch game that doesn’t have a translation into our language, which could alienate those who don’t speak English.
Worth the investment?
If you’re a fan of Japanese RPGs, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a must-have game for your collection. However, if you are a casual gamer looking for an epic adventure with a long duration, an impressive open world and a different gameplay than what we see regularly, you can also have a lot of fun with the title.
Despite the complex combat system, its learning curve is patient with the player, even if it lingers a bit on the explanations. However, it’s worth noting that you’ll need to constantly diversify your playstyle, through new classes or exploration, so you don’t fall into the specter of repetition, something common in such a long title.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is only available on Nintendo Switch and costs BRL 299 in the standard version, while the deluxe version comes out BRL 448 on the eShop.
The game takes the Nintendo Switch to the max, featuring above-average graphics for the console.
Despite being complex and robust, the combat system is taught in a didactic and clear way.
The story can be enjoyed by those who have not played the previous titles and brings an exciting narrative.
The title has tracks that use the game’s own theme to deliver beautiful melodies.
Full of contents and secrets, it is an addictive Japanese RPG that surpasses dozens of hours of effort.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is one of the best RPGs of recent years and a must-have title for Nintendo Switch owners.
*TudoCelular thanks Nintendo’s advice for providing a copy of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 for analysis!