Xenoblade 3 is already winning me over

Noah looks at his sword in disbelief that Xenoblade Chronicles 3 hasn't made it swing yet.

screenshot: nintendo

I’ve been looking forward to the next Monolith Soft game since the last game ended in 2017, albeit not without my fair share of reservations. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 It was a zigzag JRPG with a mixture of systems and very asymmetrical storytelling. As much as I love the series, I was worried Xenoblade Chronicles 3 It will be the same. So far, it is not so. It’s a successful first-party Nintendo Switch game that can hang with the rest of the library.

Five hours later, it feels like the most lush and balanced game in the series. The environments are sprawling yet bustling. Combat has a lot of layers to try but none of them seem to be overkill or arrogant. Your party menu is full of classic styles that don’t hit clichés. And the music, responsible for maintaining momentum through long, grinding sections of a game like this, is excellent as ever.

3 Xenoblade characters fight a massive battle.

screenshot: nintendo

Due to discussions about Xenoblade 3Huge runtime And how it’s still educational 10 hours inMy first concern was speed. However, the game is wasting hardly any time moving forward. You play as Noah, a member of the nation of Kevis, who along with his comrades is engaged in an existential struggle against the rival nation of Agnus. Both sides are bound by “clocks of flame” within giant mechanical bases called Ferronis that mobilize life energy from those who have fallen in battle. People are born babies and only live 10 years, or less if they don’t take enough lives to feed the clock. It’s kind of like battle royale by Philip K. rooster.

Things start out with a big battle before quickly turning into an intrigue from another world. Noah and his crew encounter rival fighters from the enemy nation while on a reconnaissance mission only to have both sides thrown into disarray after a mysterious old man tells them they are all pawns in a larger plot. Next thing you know, cyborgs fight, characters fuse together, and a deep six-character party is delivered into your hands to fight your way down Xenoblade 3secrets.

The Chaotic Battle screen displays Xenoblade 3's chaotic user interface.

screenshot: Nintendo / Kotaku

All this happens within the first two hours. I spent most of my time before and after fighting across fields, rivers, and mountain passes. Despite his strong premise and talkative group, the heart of Xenoblade 3The classic JRPG grind gameplay remains. Much of it can be accomplished on autopilot. The tougher battles against non-bosses are invoked with special lines above the heads of enemies denoting their extra strength, better rewards, or both. And unlike in Xenoblade 2Once again, the landscape is generously filled with collectible resources that you can pick up just by walking over it. Don’t stop anymore every five seconds to press a directed button to discover additional pieces of wood or mushrooms.

Combatively speaking, I’m still unlocking some basic features, but customizing special attacks (called “arts”) in battle and changing character classes unlocks too early. It’s easy to see how these intertwined systems, involving some level of mixing and matching of active and passive abilities, can lead to a lot of satisfying absurdity between the battles of the tent bosses. And while I was originally concerned that having six party members on screen at once would make fights unnecessarily chaotic, the ability to swap between them at will adds a welcome level of micromanagement to the Xenoblade 3 Which I missed so badly in the previous games (the UI remains a nightmare).

Darkness shrouds mysterious villains in Xenoblade 3.

screenshot: nintendo

My only real reprimand is that the heavy tutorial is sometimes overly explanatory and can’t be skipped. Do I need the game to help me equip a new piece of armor step by step? no. Likewise, you don’t need the characters talking about the different game systems to make them feel vaguely part of the sci-fi world building. People join the corpses and become a cyborg. Changes in magical costumes and young guys wielding giant swords are the least of my concerns.

Fortunately, none of this gets in the way too much. I’ve spent the past two days really enjoying it Xenoblade 3 While I was playing it and thinking about it constantly when I wasn’t. This rarely happens to me these days. Especially when it comes to JRPGs. but now, Xenoblade 3 I managed to combine some of my favorite elements from previous Monolith games (Mix, CabalsAnd the Free flowing fight) with what worked well in others. A group of student fighters praise, interrogate and snipe at each other as they attempt to overthrow the powers that be and during Keep confusion to a minimum. I worked in Persona 5And the Fire Emblem: Three HousesAnd right now, it’s really working for me Xenoblade 3. I have several dozen hours before I know if the rest of the game will continue.

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