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.