Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Might Be The Best Entry In The Series Yet

When taking the onslaught of nearly daily news for the upcoming Xenoblade Chronicles 3 into account, it’s difficult for longtime fans to contain their excitement. From impressively improved visuals to a newly revamped combat system, it certainly seems as if developer Monolithsoft is going all out for this fourth full entry in the series.

Thankfully, the Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Nintendo Direct helpfully summated much of the scattered information released over the past few months, alongside emphasizing the English dub.

With all that said, let’s dive into each significant facet of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and discuss why they contribute towards this game potentially being the best in the series, at least to me.

Combat Overhaul

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has the most ambitious combat system yet, housing a Class system that looks to easily surpass Xenoblade Chronicles X’s iteration of the idea. Every character has their initial default combative roles before being granted the ability to change into each other’s toolkits.

This mechanic has the capacity to boast an almost intimidating degree of strategical depth, with specifically chosen Arts (Master Arts) even transferable between Classes. As if that wasn’t enough, switchable seventh party members can also join the fray with their own useable Classes for the primary cast to utilize for themselves.

As someone who was not a fan of the Blade gacha system of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the Class system looks like an incredible alternative. Players will still get the opportunity to have individually styled playthroughs based on how they want to approach battles. However, the primary difference here when compared to Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is that there is actual choice instead of being at the whim of RNG. Plus, characters don’t look locked behind a roulette.

That system certainly had its fans, yet it created an innate disconnect between progression and me, so I’ve been immensely relieved to see that Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is not following in that mechanic’s arbitrarily luck-based footsteps.

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I’m also looking forward to Fusion Arts, attacks comprising the abilities of two Arts in one maneuver. Adding on to the Class system and Master Arts, this mechanic adds yet another layer of choice that will hopefully feel meaningful on a moderately consistent basis. Admittedly, the most inwardly challenging part of any Xenoblade title is usually a decent way past the beginning, where one hasn’t yet parsed the intricacies of how to approach combat once they acquire the unique game-respective tools.

I suspect that Xenoblade Chronicles 3 will face this dilemma most strongly simply because of how many of its implementations are fresh, but I’d love to be wrong on that front. Ultimately, Xenoblade games most strongly benefit from players experimenting with what they have at their disposal. Still, the bare essentials of combat should always be evident.

Adequately paced and intelligently worded tutorials can go a long way in easing a player’s sense of direction, so here’s hoping they can deliver on that. There is a part of me somewhat blindly believing that more care will be put into the tutorials, considering how much effort has been poured into the presentation. We’ll dive into that later, though.

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Getting back on track, much of the combat seems to revolve around the general concept of melding, with Ouroborus quite literally doing just that. Character pairs fusing is pretty wild, and the revealed designs are jaw-dropping. I’ve never been a fan of mechs, yet the Ouroborus transformations in this game are the first time I’ve found them appealing. The differing aesthetic design and gameplay benefits that arise from specific characters taking the wheel are also a collectively awesome touch that I was legitimately not expecting.

Considering their timed nature, these occurrences will probably lack the depth granted by the Class system, but that’s completely fine. At the moment, I’m viewing them as a more advanced base of Chain Attacks, where one can just go buck wild on dealing damage.

The last mechanic I want to mention briefly is Quick Move, which was introduced via the official Xenoblade Japan Twitter account in April of this year. This technique will allow players to quickly dash in a chosen direction, assuredly ideal for repositioning. I’m hoping for this movement to add some swiftness to combat since having to adjust one’s stance in previous games always felt leisurely, even in dire circumstances, due to the casts’ sluggish pacing.

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Presentation

Every Xenoblade game has looked fantastic for the platforms they reside on, with the more recent outings looking particularly phenomenal. The first Xenoblade Chronicles was impressive for Wii standards considering that game’s scope, and Xenoblade Chronicles X looked borderline unreal for the Wii U. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 did a great job highlighting the Switch’s graphical capacities, and now Xenoblade Chronicles 3 looks to be pushing the Switch to its limits.

The environmental screenshots and character models can speak for themselves, but what deserves the most noteworthy attention is the different lip-syncing for Japanese and English dubs. As one who plays with the English dub, several scenes in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 were off-putting because of the models just not qualitatively lining up with their mouths.

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A praiseworthy degree of effort has clearly been poured into correcting that fault, which leads to me believing that if something this granular was adjusted, other parts of the experience would be met with the same fine-toothed comb approach, such as the tutorials. Of course, I am absolutely making a relatively blind assumption there. Still, I don’t think anyone expected lip-syncing to be changed for the better.

As a brief and somewhat random aside, the different designs for the cast’s Class changes are stellar, and I’m looking forward to rocking whatever cosmetic assortments I desire.

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Voice Direction

Thanks to the Nintendo Direct, we heard a lengthy preview of what to expect from the game’s English dub. Honestly, this was one of the parts I was most concerned about after experiencing Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Torna the Golden Country, and Future Connected. Each of those titles had inadequately directed English dubs that took me out of it more than I’d like to admit.

It’s too soon to say with certainty that Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has better voice direction, hearkening back to the first game and Xenoblade Chronicles X, but I’m willing to have faith after what we’ve heard so far. Everyone sounds more appropriately directed with their line deliveries and general tone. Chalk that all up as another point of excitement for this game.

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Story & Cast

I’d rather not partake in theory-crafting and assess the basics of what we already know. Needless to say, the plot premise of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is bleak. Ten-year lifespans, cyclical war perpetuating unimaginably agonizing strife, and a cast divided between opposing nations. It’s too soon to make assessed judgments on the cast, though they’ve all left fantastic impressions.

For closer looks at the primary cast, check out our dedicated coverage:

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Mio’s in her last term of life, so there’s undoubtedly a fair bit of constant tension in the air. There do seem to be lighthearted moments, though, such as the oasis moment between Mio and Sena in the recent Direct. Having the courage to have more wholesome moments like those in such a dark narrative is admirable since their genuineness is amplified tenfold.

The cast being fugitives on the run is a trope I’m a fan of as it has the potential to morph genuine senses of desperation into whole-hearted bonding. Plus, when they make drastic strides toward a better tomorrow, the satisfaction of overthrowing the status quo is indescribably fulfilling.

I’m glad we don’t know the story’s specificities yet and only know the initial objective and slight other tidbits, such as the ominous Consul, so there’s plenty of room for surprise. Nintendo has struck a terrific balance with the marketing to ensure we know just enough before going in.

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I’m a rather new fan of the Xenoblade series. Being a massive fan of Xenosaga, Xenoblade naturally caught my interest, and I’m glad I stuck with it. Despite some bumps in the road, the enthralling world design and decently engaging narratives have compelled me.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is the first entry I’ve been following the news cycle for, so I’ve naturally been quite hyped. However, regardless of whether the game lives up to expectations, I know I’ll at least have a fun time exploring and listening to a damn good soundtrack.

View our extensively dedicated and detailed Xenoblade Chronicles 3 coverage:

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