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Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Review (Nintendo Switch): The True Enemy Awaits

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 from Monolith Soft and Nintendo has been a highly anticipated release since its announcement back in February 2022.

The game, which seemingly brings together elements from Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is set in the far future world of Aionios.

Newcomers, however, can dive right in since this is a new story.


In the world of Aionios, genetically engineered super soldiers wage war between two nations – Keves and Agnus.

The two nations at war have been at it for decades and both sides make use of genetically engineered super soldiers who are born and bred for battle. To live is to fight and to fight is to live. This is the mantra of the soldiers.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s story kicks off with a large-scale battle between lower ranking colonies of Agnus and Keves.

Players are quite literally thrust straight into a skirmish in rough terrain and have to take down enemy forces while giant mecha clash in the vicinity. No pressure huh?

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Gameplay in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is introduced to you at a steady pace. You’ll be treated to a fairly hefty cutscene and then be brought up to speed with the game’s battle mechanics.

Players will learn to use Arts and how to attack enemies. Attacking enemies involves simply positioning yourself next to them on the battlefield. Your playable character in your party will automatically attack the enemy and while this might seem a tad lacklustre, the real fun comes in the form of using your Arts.

This involves using the face buttons on the right Nintendo Switch JoyCon, with each button assigned to a specific Art. Arts have their own individual cooldowns though so you can’t really button bash and hope for the best here. You need to strategically use your Arts in battle.

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Using your Arts gets further complicated by the effects that they impart upon enemies. Players will be able to backstab and topple enemies for additional damage. They’ll also be able to pull off a really flashy special Talent attack which does massive damage.

This more powerful attack is tied to a gauge that charges up during battle when using your other Arts so you’ll only be able to use it sparingly.

Combat in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is similar to the previous Xenoblade Chronicles games in that your positioning and Art usage is key to victory. Taking on enemies head on and not really applying strategy in battle will lead to your defeat when facing off against tougher foes later in the game.

Listening to what your party has to say is also important since their banter can point out weak points or tell you what to do to help you out. It’s all very intuitive and it works quite well in action.

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Circling back to the story of the game, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 might start off pretty slow and confusing with so many strange concepts being thrown around such as an “Off-seer”, “Homecoming” and “Flame Clock”.

These are just the beginning though and more is to come but the game does a fantastic job of explaining itself and its deep lore through its cutscenes and storytelling. It’s honestly gripping stuff and once you pick up the game, chances are you aren’t going to put it down because not only are the story scenes beautifully animated but the cinematic direction is excellent.

If you lack patience though, the lengthy cutscenes and the text tutorials that pop up occasionally might annoy you.

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The opening sequence with the battle between the Agnus and Keves forces will draw you in and shortly afterwards you’re treated to a flashback scene explaining some of the main character’s backstory.

This scene effectively introduces you to the main characters Noah, Eunie, Lanz and others as you’re exposed to their history. This scene, while very steeped in JRPG tropes, showcases the camaraderie between the characters and helps establish their relationships with each other with the player.

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Being genetically engineered super soldiers, each of the Agnus and Keves forces only have a limited lifespan of 10 cycles or 10 years before they are disintegrated. “Off-seers” are specialised units which are tasked with playing a flute to ensure that the dead a properly mourned and sent off into the afterlife.

The two main characters of the game are Off-seers and both are a part of a special operations unit, albeit on rival sides. The story of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 also kicks things up a notch quite quickly when your party of characters encounters a strange occurrence in the mountains.

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The “True Enemy” awaits

Without spoiling a major plot point of the game, a new antagonistic force is encountered and is referred to as the “True enemy”. This is when things really get complicated intertwining the two special ops parties from both factions in something far far more mysterious.

This is also where you’ll be introduced to a key game concept known as “Interlink”, but stating anything further crosses over too much into spoiler territory. Players are encouraged to play the game for themselves in order to enjoy it because no amount of waxing lyrical about its quality is going to convince you unless you see it in action for yourself.

If you’re a fan of JRPGs and Anime media in general, this game will definitely appeal to you.

Exploration in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is initially limited to exploring set paths and you’re met with resistance when trying to deviate from these paths. Either in the form of extremely high-level monsters which will kill you in one shot or being told that you cannot go in that direction right now because there’s more pressing issues.

Later on, exploration is opened up and the game world is flat out gorgeous. You’ll want to explore as much as possible because items and resources are scattered around on the game’s terrain and you’ll want to collect as many of these as possible.

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There are side quests or missions in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and these expand upon the story immensely.

There are quite a few of your standard fare JRPG quests though but being able to use the “Collectipedia” to hand in quests to gain “Affinity” and experience points is extremely straightforward. Affinity plays a role in enhancing the relationships between specific characters and is also used in unlocking more of the game’s lore and story.

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Graphically, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is one of the best-looking Nintendo Switch games available on the console right now. It’s mind-bogglingly amazing what Monolith Soft have pulled off here with the game being a visual feast for the eyes.

It also runs ridiculously smooth in handheld mode on the OLED Switch and everything about it oozes both style and substance even in the heat of battle. Character designs and monster designs in particular are eye-catching and the mecha designs are packed with intricate details.

While some of the in-game environments could be seen as a tad bit low detail due to the Nintendo Switch’s limited graphical capabilities, the artistic style used helps to mitigate this issue.

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The soundtrack of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is one of the best parts of the game with composers Yasunori Mitsuda, Manami Kiyota, ACE (Tomori Kudo and Hiroyo “CHiCO” Yamanaka), and Kenji Hiramatsu returning after working on Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

The “Off-Seer” flute music in particular is such a beautifully arranged piece of music and there’s more themes in the game that are all extremely well done. The voice acting of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 might be a point of contention to some people since it features a voice cast that makes use of accented language.

If you dislike British accents, you might want to swap over to the Japanese voice acting. Honestly though, the English voice acting cast did a fantastic job on this game.

Final Verdict

Overall, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 lives up to the hype surrounding it.

This is one of the best Nintendo Switch JRPGs you can buy right now and since the game is quite literally overflowing with content, you’ll be busy for hours and hours on end playing this title.

The cutscenes and cinematic direction combined with the storytelling and rich lore makes Xenoblade Chronicles 3 one of the best story-driven games of the year and we can therefore recommend picking this title up if you’re a fan of JRPGs and anime media.

If you played the previous titles, you’ll definitely enjoy this one.


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