Surprisingly, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Won Me Over In The First Few Hours

Surprisingly, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Won Me Over In The First Few Hours

Noah looks at his sword in disbelief because Xenoblade Chronicles 3 hasn't made him shake yet.

Screenshot: Nintendo

I’ve been waiting for Monolith Soft’s next game ever since the last one ended in 2017, though not without a fair amount of reservations. xenoblade chronicles 2 it was a meandering JRPG with a hodgepodge of systems and extremely uneven storytelling. As much as I love the series, I was worried xenoblade chronicles 3 would be the same. Until now, it is not. It’s a Nintendo Switch blockbuster of its own that may hang with the rest of the library.

Five hours later, it feels like the game’s most lush and balanced. in the series. The environments are extensive but full. The combat has many layers to experience, but none of them seem too obtuse or overbearing. His party roster is filled with classic archetypes that fall short of being clichéd. And the music, responsible for keeping the momentum going through long and convoluted sections of a game like this, is as excellent as ever.

Xenoblade 3 characters fight in a great battle.

Screenshot: Nintendo

Given the discussions about Xenoblade 3The gigantic execution time of and how he is still tutorializing 10 hours in, my main concern was the pace. However, the game wastes hardly any time getting up and running. You play as Noah, a member of the nation of Keves, who along with his comrades are locked in an existential struggle against the rival nation of Agnus. Both sides are engaged with “clocks of flame” within giant mechanical bases called Ferronis that draw life energy from those fallen in battle. People are born as children and only live 10 years, or less if they don’t take enough lives to power the clock. it’s something like real battle through Philip K. Dick.

Things start with a big battle before quickly moving into otherworldly intrigue. Noah and his team encounter rival fighters from the opposing nation during a reconnaissance mission, but both sides are thrown into chaos after a mysterious old man tells them they’re all pawns in a larger plot. Next thing you know, cyborgs are fighting, characters are merging, and a pool of six characters deep is delivered into your hands to fight your way to the bottom of Xenoblade 3the secrets.

A chaotic battle screen shows off Xenoblade 3's cluttered UI.

Screenshot: Nintendo/Kotaku

All this happens in the first two hours. I spent most of my time before and after fighting through fields, rivers, and mountain passes. Despite its heady premise and chatty ensemble, the heart of Xenoblade 3The gameplay is still the classic JRPG. Much of this can be accomplished on autopilot. Harder non-boss battles are heralded with special fonts above the enemies’ heads indicating their extra power, better rewards, or both. And unlike in Xenoblade 2, the landscapes are once again generously dotted with collectible resources that you can pick up simply by walking over them. No more stopping every five seconds to press a button to uncover additional pieces of wood for crafts or cooking mushrooms.

Combat-wise, I’m still unlocking some of the core features, but customizing special attacks (called “Arts”) in battle and changing character classes open up pretty soon. It’s easy to see how these interlocking systems, which include some level of mixing and matching of active and passive abilities, can lead to plenty of satisfying tweaks between marquee boss fights. And while I was originally concerned that having six party members on screen at once would make battles unnecessarily chaotic, being able to switch between them at will adds a welcome level of micromanagement to Xenoblade 3 which I’ve missed so much in previous games (the UI is still a nightmare).

The mysterious villains of Xenoblade 3 are shrouded in darkness.

Screenshot: Nintendo

My only real quibble is that the plethora of tutorials are sometimes too explanatory and can’t be skipped. Do I need the game to guide me step by step to equip a new armor piece? No. Likewise, I don’t need characters talking about various game systems to make them feel vaguely part of the sci-fi world-building. People are joining bodies and becoming cyborgs. Magical costume changes and young adults wielding giant swords is the least of my worries.

Fortunately, none of this interferes too much. I’ve spent the last few days really enjoying Xenoblade 3 while I was playing it and continually thinking about it when I wasn’t. That rarely happens to me these days. Especially when it comes to JRPG. But for now, Xenoblade 3 has managed to combine some of my favorite elements from previous Monolith games (mechs, cabals, fluid combat) with what has been working so well on others. Namely, the group of feisty students who praise, question, and attack each other while trying to overthrow the powers that be and while keep shrinkage to a minimum. worked on person 5, Fire Emblem: Three Housesand currently it really works for me at Xenoblade 3. I have several dozen hours to go before I know if the rest of the game is up to the task.

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