Game review: Xenoblade Chronicles 3

After a delayed release due to development issues, and when it did arrive, tech issues abound anyway, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 arrived to close off the trilogy. Looking back at the release, will hindsight show it is worth all the praise?

For those unfamiliar, ‘Xenoblade Chronicles 3’ is the ending of the current trilogy set within the larger ‘Xeno’ franchise. In this iteration, you are initially in control of Noah, Lanz, Riku and Eunie who are given a very special mission to go and intercept what is tantamount to a UFO. Unsubtly, this of course catapults you off into the adventure at large, and roughly touted as 150 hours, a long one at that.

So the journey begins, or at least it did for me, playing this somewhat retrospectively. I need to note here that the launch was apparently plagued with technical issues. Not fantastic for a game on one platform, but thankfully not something I had to suffer through. In fairness to Xenoblade Chronicles 3, it has helped me in two ways.

1 – It has helped me to justify the continued existence of my Nintendo Switch. I genuinely don’t know how people can manage with 3 consoles and/or a gaming PC when I feel some level of guilt for two if I go a while without playing

2 – It allows me to get a bit riled up about a game being too much style, or in this case spectacle, over substance.

I like action RPGs by and large, and I like open world games, AND I like JRPGs, particularly Persona 5 which sits nicely on a pedestal I put it on – metaphorically of course. However, when the amalgamation of these ends up leaning in towards gratuitous padding and flashy…stuff, I start to feel like the game becomes more hollow.


There are aspects of the game I feel I won’t end up experiencing as people have stated ‘oh when you’re 90+ hours in it really opens up’ – which is great if you have 90+ hours to sink into something and it doesn’t threaten to re-awaken some ‘Final Fantasy 13’ anger.

One major gripe that I have as a rabid completionist is side quests. Where side quests in the open world like the Witcher 3 and Red Dead Redemption feel natural and impact a more organic world, the ones here feel like much of the competition – meaningless. Traipsing across the very pretty open world, and yes it IS very pretty, soon becomes dull and reminiscent of the unending grind that many JRPGs in particular are infamous for.

You COULD argue that you do learn more about the world and its residents, but without it helping to affect or sculpt the world in any meaningful way, it’s like a much larger version of Animal Crossing. Back onto the ‘pretty’ side of the game. It’s a well-designed and slick game to say the least. Combat is smooth, exciting and with the new ‘interlinking’ feature it allows for fairly seamless combinations of character abilities able to create some impressive special moves.

As this is happening in real-time as opposed to turn-based action, this also means we’re not stuck with lengthy cutscene-style attacks clogging up any more of the game. It’s also nicely balanced, meaning you won’t be stuck grinding out levels just to progress beyond one fight to the next, allowing you to progress through the story at a reasonable pace if you don’t need to complete everything possible before moving on.

For what it’s worth I did decide to skim several reviews before actually scoring this game as I noted it was receiving accolades such as Game of the Year and some impressive scores. However, I just don’t quite get it. I’m not sure if it’s just the watered down offering that JRPGs have been for several years, or whether I’ve become jaded over the years.

However, as much as I like the game, and think it’s an impressive show of the Switch’s abilities, despite its lower spec, it settles out happily as ‘good’.







Author: Tom, Cardiff Store