I’m glad this series still lives on
If it wasn’t for the efforts of people like the folks behind Operation Rainfall, a lot of us may have never experienced the original Xenoblade Chronicles. Which, in turn, means we may have never played its sequels. Now there’s a lot of “what ifs” in there, as Nintendo and Monolith Soft could have collectively decided to localize the series at any point — but I’m happy that everything played out the way it has so far. That includes the road that led to Xenoblade Chronicles 3, which could end up becoming my favorite of the series.
[This article contains no major spoilers for the storyline, but you may want to go in completely blind.]
So we can’t talk about much at the moment (I’ll be brief!), but suffice to say I’m really pleased with what I’ve seen so far.
Combat takes a bit to get going (you really need an array of abilities, and even the class-change system to rev things up beyond an auto-attack-fest). The initial landscapes are more pointed, meant to draw you toward story beats. But in the grand scheme of things, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 doesn’t take that long to crescendo into something a lot of JRPG fans will find themselves heavily invested in. As more and more game systems unlock, things get more interesting from a micro and macro standpoint. We’ll talk about that more in the review.
The main thing I wanted to touch on today is the world itself, as the beating heart of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is the cast. You get some backstory on Noah and his crew woven into the game as period cutscene interludes, then meet another faction a few hours into the game: kicking off the crux of the conflict, and adding even more drama into the mix. That faction has their own set of flashbacks, cleverly filling in portions of their personal stories as you trek on.
At this point I felt comfortable going all-in. Not only did I want to see where the story went, I had to witness where these characters would end up. Linking six people together in the same party (with guests serving as the seventh member) is working out fantastically for Xenoblade Chronicles 3, as you get to constantly spend time with this crew and bond with them. I know some people will likely take umbrage with toiling away with the same party members (especially if you don’t make a connection with any one of them), but this is a rare case where I’m delighted to learn more about every person involved.
My advice? Go in as blindly as you can. Most of what has been shown so far encompasses the first few chapters of the game, so even then you’re mostly coming in fresh. I’m even keeping this piece as vague as possible! Expect our full review closer to launch.