Xenoblade Chronicles 3 confirmed by Nintendo Direct and Japanese overview trailer

Mio and Noah address and look at their comrades in Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Close-up views of Mio and Noah showcase the excellent character shading found in Xenoblade Chronicles 3. Pic credit: Monolith Soft/Nintendo

Xenoblade Chronicles 3, an open-world JRPG developed by Monolith Soft, was one of the showcase titles at Nintendo Direct on June 22, 2022. The title is part of the Xeno franchise renowned for rich story-telling and action-packed combat systems.

The first installment in the franchise was Xenogears on the PS1, which launched in Japan on February 11, 1998. It soon received a US localization that was well-received but somewhat controversial. And the reason for the controversy was due to the title’s deeply Gnostic themes, which some considered anti-Christian.

However, Xenogears was treading similar ground to Neon Genesis Evangelion, the groundbreaking anime TV series entrenched in Gnostic cosmogony. While Xenogears was a forward-looking JRPG, the limited PS1 hardware constrained what the series creator, Tetsuya Takahashi, could do in terms of battlefield combat, the expansiveness of the world, and visual fidelity.

Now, taking advantage of the more powerful Nintendo Switch hardware, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 impresses in many ways. Set in the world of Aionios, whose inhabitants have a maximum lifespan of 10 years, the landscape is both wondrous and fraught with danger. The game’s maps are massive, boasting beautiful and detailed vistas that invite exploration.

Another aspect that should please fans of the series is the music. It’s composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, who also worked on the music for the Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut anime.

And a Japanese preview trailer that’s about eight minutes long dropped recently, showing predominantly gameplay clips. The good news is that fans of the Xenoblade Chronicles series won’t have to wait much longer for the latest installment, as it will release on July 29, 2022.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 characters and gameplay details

The main characters originate from two factions, namely, Agnus and Keves.

From Agnus:

  • Mio – An off-seer that’s kind and compassionate
  • Taion – A quick-witted battle technician
  • Sena – Her diminutive size conceals her incredible strength

And from Keves:

  • Noah – An off-seer trusted by his comrades
  • Eunie – Upfront but has a delicate persona
  • Lanz – A well-built brawler capable of close combat

This team of characters can use colonies as base camps to rest, dine, and purchase goods. There are also rest spots throughout the world to restore health and prepare meals using collected materials. And to strengthen character abilities, players will have to craft gemstones. Furthermore, characters will discuss information they’ve gathered around the campfire, revealing new quests.

The game map is expansive, to say the least, which gives players plenty of opportunities to explore every nook and cranny of Aionios. And there are many fascinating and ferocious creatures to engage in combat. For players that hate backtracking, there’s also a quick travel feature that transports characters between landmarks found throughout the map.

How does the Xenoblade Chronicles combat system work?

A scene in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 where Taion looks ahead as his comrades proceed through the field.
Taion looks ahead as his comrades make their way through the field. Pic credit: Monolith Soft/Nintendo

Given the free-roaming nature of Xenoblade Chronicles 3, entering combat is an entirely seamless and action-centric experience. Characters draw their weapons when in close proximity to enemies and can move in any direction around these creatures. And if placed in an advantageous position, a character may inflict more damage than usual.

But winning battles largely depends on how players use Arts, which are powerful abilities that work best when strung into combos. Arts not only look visually stunning but can also topple enemies, giving the team of combatants plenty of opportunities for repeated strikes. Moreover, each Art is assigned to a button on the Nintendo Switch controller, making execution dead simple.

With its fascinating characters, intricate combat system, and vast open world, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 should appeal to both JPRG and Nintendo Switch fans. Let’s hope it meets expectations and draws new fans to the Xeno franchise.

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