Review: Unleashing the Epic World of Xenoblade Chronicles 3

If there is one thing that has remained consistent about Monolith Soft since its founding over two decades ago, it’s the studio’s immense ambition in game design and storytelling – no matter what their target platforms are. They have gradually become one of the most revered developers in the Japanese RPG community with the Xenosaga trilogy, the Baten Kaitos duology, and the crossover strategy RPGs that brought a ton of gaming legends together in Namco X Capcom and the two Project X Zone installments.

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Of course, their greatest success is with their RPG series that has lasted for 12 years now – Xenoblade.

Admittedly, I am deeply fond of all the Xenoblade titles that have been released thus far, but I am willing to accept that each game is far from perfect. There are various aspects of each that are often irritating, needlessly obtuse, or downright tedious. Monolith Soft does so much to make them great, yet they also implement some systems in frustrating ways that are significant enough to dampen the overall experience.

Whether it is the gem crafting system from the first Xenoblade Chronicles, the barren main storyline in Xenoblade Chronicles X until its finale, the Field Skills from Xenoblade Chronicles 2, or even the Community system that gatekept main story progression in Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country, there always seems to be a handful of annoying quirks in each Xenoblade game. Obviously, these few bits I pointed out aren’t the only things I find vexing about them, and others may have different grievances. The point is, I generally love each of the Xenoblade games in its own way, but there has always been something in each that has been remarkable enough to hold them back from absolute greatness to me.

Each entry has been a stepping stone for Monolith Soft, though.

After years of inventing, iterating, reinventing, reiterating, and refining systems throughout the series, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 feels like the ultimate title Monolith Soft has been striving towards. This next entry in the Xenoblade series honors the legacy of all the Xenoblade titles that have come before it. Although it may exhibit, streamline, and combine many mechanics in previous titles, it manages to forge its own identity and blazes a new path in one of the most impressive Japanese RPGs I have ever played.

I will keep this review of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 as spoiler-free as possible, though keep in mind that some minor story elements will be mentioned to explain the gameplay loop of what players will be doing. No significant story revelations or reveals will be spoiled here, so consider this the final warning before I delve into it.


This might be our largest review ever on the site. Prepare yourselves.

Right off the bat, I think Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is the longest game in the series on a first-time blind, thorough playthrough. I completed as much of it as I could find before wrapping it up, and when I hit credits, I was over 143 hours in. It is an absolutely massive game filled to the brim with content; I was shocked because I thought it’d be roughly the same size as Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and 2, but Monolith Soft dared to dream bigger.

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Players find themselves in the grim world of Aionios, a land filled with endless war from top to bottom between the two massive nations of Keves and Agnus. In order to stay alive, it is imperative that troops from each side must kill each other to reap the life energy from the opposition’s dying bodies. Besides food and water, keeping Flame Clocks sufficiently “fed” with life energy is a necessity in order to continue living; murdering is as natural as eating and sleeping.

As introduced in the game’s opening, the people of Keves and Agnus are all clones that have a fixed lifespan of ten years. Upon each person’s death, whether in battle or at the end of their ten-year lifespan, they are artificially reborn in pods, though the people themselves are unaware of that. I have previously covered the basic premise in much more detail with my a few weeks ago, so I urge you to give that a quick read if you want to know more, since there is a lot more to say about the game beyond that.

The six main characters in Xenoblade Chronicle 3 come from both nations; Noah, Eunie, and Lanz are from Keves, while Mio, Taion, and Sena are from Agnus. Early on, both sides investigate a mysterious third-party signal leading to a chance encounter. Things swiftly escalate as their fierce face-off is interrupted by Guernica Vandham, an older man that is part of a mysterious group not affiliated with either Agnus or Keves. Before he is able to explain the “real enemy” that they should be fighting, a fearsome foe who declares themselves as ‘Moebius’ butts in and overwhelms everyone.

After a series of dramatic events that challenges the worldviews of the main cast of characters, circumstances have forced them to set aside their differences and journey together towards a place Guernica mentioned that could help them out – a rumored “city” located at the enormous sword impaled somewhere in the world of Aionios.


Combat in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is frantic, chaotic, loud, noisy, and most importantly, very fun.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 takes an interesting approach relative to most other JRPGs when it comes to its party system. Noah, Mio, Eunie, Taion, Lanz, and Sena always stick together once they all officially join after the game’s initial chapter. All of them are unlocked and fight battles all together throughout the game. Therefore, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 side-steps the common JRPG problem of having a party character join late into the game and feel “underdeveloped” or “rushed” in their characterization because the game’s conclusion is right around the corner at that point. These characters and their relationships with each other are given ample time to be explored thoroughly and thoughtfully.

One of the bigger changes that Xenoblade veterans will notice is that this title does away with the Heart-to-Heart mechanic from previous entries. Heart-to-Hearts were optional character interaction scenes, separate from the main story, that were unlocked behind advancing character affinities with one another. In Xenoblade Chronicles 3, there is no affinity mechanic, and sequences that may have been a Heart-to-Heart event in previous games are now naturally baked into the main narrative and side quests.

This has allowed Monolith Soft to surface how these characters interact and develop with each other in a more natural manner than ever. Dialogues between the cast often feel less stiff or generic, because it isn’t a gameplay mechanic that has to be unlocked and activated in a specific spot. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is full of small, meaningful moments between characters that flesh out the cast further and take the developments shaped from these interactions into the main story.

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For instance, a situation that is troubling Eunie is noticed only by Taion because he’s the observant type. Instead of rudely asking Eunie what is disturbing her out in the open when she is trying to hide her vulnerability to others, Taion brews her a herbal tea to calm her nerves at a campsite that night. He doesn’t attempt to engage or press her on the matter because he has come to learn that isn’t the type of situation Eunie is comfortable with sharing. Instead, Taion tries to help her in a more subtle method that communicates to Eunie that he is there for her without having to outright say it for players to understand.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 ensures that everyone in the main cast gets multiple moments to show who they are and celebrate the unique bond they have made throughout their adventure. As just one example, Sena develops a sisterly bond with Eunie, a wholesome friendship with her fitness buddy Lanz, and a somewhat slightly envious connection with Noah because Mio opens up to him in ways she doesn’t to her. These connections are not isolated behind optional scenes that are missable and truly make the characters memorable.

I love the casts of all the prior Xenoblade titles, but I think Xenoblade Chronicles 3 might just be my favorite out of them yet. Monolith Soft has crafted intriguing chemistries between the six main characters, and it was a delight seeing how they interacted throughout the game. I can’t speak highly enough just at how amazing this new cast is.

Like most of the previous installments, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 takes awhile to get going. Its first 12-15 hours are filled with tutorials and has taken steps to ensure it won’t make the same mistake that its predecessors did. There is an abundance of step-by-step tutorials for exploring the world, navigating the menus, and explaining every aspect of the battle system in great detail, so players will be locked down in what they are able to do in the first several hours. It feels like a direct response from how poorly the tutorials were laid out in previous games.

As I mentioned in my preview, every single tutorial in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is stored in the Tips section in the options menu; any tutorial that covers the specifics of battle can also be manually replayed as a Training Drill that is added right after a player completes the initial tutorial introducing it. If a player accidentally forgets how to do something in the game, there are various in-game resources to refresh their memory on it now. In New Game+ playthroughs, these step-by-step tutorial sections are no longer mandatory.


Combat in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is frantic, chaotic, loud, noisy, and most importantly, very fun.

Battles in this entry are an odd evolution because it combines aspects of the combat systems from the entire Xenoblade Chronicles series to create something strangely compelling, despite how busy and overwhelming it can look and feel at first.

Before diving into the nitty gritty of what’s different in it, the basics of Xenoblade combat are still intact here. Combat encounters are seamlessly transitioned into right from the field and characters perform a basic auto-attack when they are standing still in

Update at 3:04 - 31/07/2023
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