There is a unique commentary behind “Xenoblade Chronicles 3”, and it grabs you right from the start.
In the world of Aionios, soldiers are bred to be killed and they live predefined, finite lives. And when they die, their death serves a purpose: their souls power the machines that wage war on their respective sides.
“Xenoblade” walks you through all of this from the start, featuring the full JRPG mode, complete with a series of cutscenes. You see firsthand what the world is like and you see how the entire main party was raised for war, seeing them go head-to-head in a flashback scene. And you know all of that by the time you’re working on battles that you can actually control.
It’s this instantly captivating narrative that powers ‘Xenoblade Chronicles 3’, the new Nintendo Switch game and the third title in the ‘Xenoblade’ franchise.
The latest “Xenoblade” does a lot of good things, boasting terrific visuals and voice acting and an in-depth combat system, but it’s the thrilling story that hooks you in and holds you back. It’s an apparent message about war, perhaps about how today’s society also uses the deaths of fallen soldiers – and how to stop the cycle.
And it’s a story you can’t avoid. The roughly 45 minutes allows you to sit back and learn this story in cutscenes, with little snippets from the early combat system tutorial. And once that’s done, you fully understand the principle of the game.
You are introduced to Noah and Mio, the respective “off-seers” of their squads, who are both on different sides of the war. Both play a unique role: “sending” the souls of the dead to the battlefield by playing their flutes.
“Xenoblade” also has no intention of running away from important topics. Your party of six (three characters from each faction) grapple with their tools of war, and each character sees the life of war from a unique perspective. They’ll share throughout, constantly giving you food for thought.
It’s all the more engaging because of the way the world holds together. Visually, “Xenoblade Chronicles 3” is an absolute feast, a detailed and dynamic world that balances brightly colored settings with well-drawn characters. You’ll travel from grassy plains to clockwork cities to canyons in a title that offers a variety of landscapes throughout its massive runtime.
It offers all of this seamlessly on the Nintendo Switch; I never encountered any frame rate issues. The game also nails the little things; you never fight the camera, always focused on the mechanics of the battle.
You’ll also fight a variety of different villains, many of which are big and powerful. “Xenoblade” also loves throwing big mech-style enemies at you. If there’s a problem with the game, it’s that the battle system is taking a long time to start. Early on, battles are simply a mix of auto-attack artistic attacks and spam whenever you can, and there’s little penalty for a complete lack of tactics.
But that changes as you play. Eventually, you’ll be able to change the classes of everyone in your party, and things get really fun once you unlock the Ouroboros mechanic, which lets you combine two soldiers into one mech.
Suddenly, the game’s tactics reach new heights, as you combine soldiers to gain attack power or protect party members near death. As the game progresses, the combat becomes more and more fun and engaging, especially as “Xenoblade” increases the overall challenges you face.
Ultimately, it ends up being the perfect complement to that absolutely spectacular story, and just another part of “Xenoblade Chronicles 3” that forces your mind to be fully engaged.
From the deep combat to the challenging story to the development of great character relationships throughout, “Xenoblade Chronicles 3” is a game that wants you to think.
It’s quite simply one of the best Nintendo Switch titles and one of the best RPGs of 2022.
‘XENOBLADE CHRONICLES 3’
Tested on Nintendo Switch OLED
5 out of 5 stars