We finally got a full overview of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 today and the next Switch JRPG looks huge. A 20-minute Nintendo Direct showed off more of the game’s existential story beats, multi-layered combat mechanics, and other activities players will be able to do in its giant open world. Hope you like the on-screen icons, because there were a ton of them.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 was only announced in February and it is already just around the corner. Wednesday’s extended trailer made it clear that the game isn’t stepping back from its weird, esoteric roots at all. Rather, it seems to lean even more towards the series’ fascination with war, class struggle, and free will. Also mechs, including giants that act as mobile military bases.
The game takes place in a land called Aionios where the inhabitants of two warring colonies, Keves and Agnus, live unpleasant, brutal and short lives fighting for their rulers. But when two groups of young people from opposite sides meet on a special ops mission, a mysterious old man wearing glasses steps in to reveal a deeper threat lurking behind the scenes. Plot, monster hunter-inspired grinding, and great sci-fi fantasy spectacles ensue.
We also got a full look at the main cast of the game. There’s Noah, the “off-seer” in a red jacket, Eunie, a “rash and blunt” healer, Lanz, the man with the massive sword, Mio, a double-chackra off-seer, Taion, the philosophical tactician, and Sena, a small fighter who carries a giant wrecking ball. Taion is already the best by far, which probably means he will either die or betray us.
Here is a brief overview of what was shown in the Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Direct:
- Aionios looks big, really big. Xenolame has always offered unnecessarily large and beautiful worlds to auto-fight enemies with, but this one, coming five years into the Switch’s lifecycle, is the most jaw-dropping yet. I just hope the framerate and pop-in aren’t a mess when your party of six runs from quest marker to quest marker.
- Quest routes highlight the path to follow. A red line will now show you exactly where to go to reach your destination. No more following a marker up the side of a cliff just to realize you have to come back the other side.
- Crafts, cooking and resting places return. But in another layer of gamified adventures, you’ll be able to sit with your comrades around a campfire and debrief what you’ve heard from NPCs to kick off new questlines. It seems heavy unless there is also a relational aspect.
- Characters have classes. In addition to attacker, defender, and healer roles, each of the six members of your party will have associated classes they can rank up to further customize their contributions in battle. Master Arts are special abilities that can even be equipped across all classes, allowing you to create hybrid builds.
- You can recruit additional heroes. As if six characters in battle weren’t enough, there will also be unique “hero” NPCs that you’ll encounter throughout the game and can select to aid you in battle.
- Characters can merge into mini-mechs. Called “Ouroboros”, these evangelizationSuper strong looking fighters can switch between two different playstyles, each inspired by the characters that trained them. You cannot mix and match though. Fusion pairs are story-based and fixed.
Originally slated for release in September, last month Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has had its release date pushed back to July 29. Nintendo revealed on Wednesday that Monolith Soft’s latest foray into the Xeno-verse will have a US$30 ($42) Expansion Pass providing it with new characters and story content through December 2023. There will even be Amiibo support, giving players additional items, or in the case of the Shulk Amiibo, the Monado laser sword of the first Xenoblade Chronicles.
Though I can say wholeheartedly that I’m ready for anything Xenoblade Chronicles 3JRPG bullshit and more, I’ll be curious if it’s the one that can finally burst beyond the series’ core fan base. Games have traditionally been too long, repetitive, and weighed down with terrible dialogue. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 sold a decent 2 million copies on the Switch, but that’s not quite as far easy to recommend like things like personas 5 or even Tales of Arise. Maybe Xenoblade Chronicles 3 will be different. I’ll let you know after it’s released and I’ve played 100 hours of it.
Here’s the rest of Wednesday’s live:
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