Xenoblade Chronicles 3 (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Justin Prinsloo 14.08.2022

Review for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on Nintendo Switch

Despite only being announced less than half a year before its release, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 managed to conjure significant enthusiasm ahead of its launch on the 29th of July. Continuing the series' unmistakeable JRPG formula - namely, compelling storytelling and one of the most unique combat systems in the genre - Xenoblade 3 is the most ambitious and meaty instalment in this beloved 12-year-old series. The sprawling experience proffers much to unpack, but one unavoidable thing ties the whole experience together: a magical sense of place and a lasting, impactful adventure that transcends the medium.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is five years in the making, but its development was kept moderately muted until its announcement this February. Following the well-received Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, Monolith Soft has crafted its most compelling tale to date, with a riveting story that sinks in its hooks right from the get-go - and simply doesn't let go.

The story follows a band of misfits from two military nations locked in perpetual war with each other. Set in the grand world of Aionios, the nations of Keves and Agnes breed warriors from birth to fight each other, living out brief lifespans of 10 years before passing on and being reincarnated to rejoin the battle anew.

The group of six protagonists - three from Keves and three from Agnes - are forced together by events out of their control. They must put their differences aside as they become fugitives in both of their nations. The principle protagonists are Noah (a stoic Kevesi swordbearer) and Mio (a gentle-spirited but fierce Agnian warrior), who are supernaturally - and unwillingly - bonded during battle. This bond enables them to transcend their programming, and prompts existential questions about their strange existence which lead them to seek answers as to the nature of the world they inhabit.

Both Noah and Mio are off-seers - special units tasked with 'seeing off' the departed souls of their fallen comrades. Together, they resolve to put aside their ingrained biases in their pursuit of the truth, along with their comrades Lanz, Eunie, Sena and Taion.

Screenshot for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on Nintendo Switch

In typical Xenoblade fashion, there are heartfelt and moving moments aplenty. The relationship between the six principle protagonists feels like a living, breathing thing, perfectly scripted and compellingly dynamic. This dynamism is not just present within the story, but in the excellent combat as well. Each of the six playable protagonists have their own individual class that falls into one of three roles: attacker, defender and healer.

The functions of these roles are rather self-explanatory; attackers are the main damage dealers, defenders are tanks that draw enemy attention away from other units, and healers can provide welcome HP boosts in the heat of battle, or apply buffs and debuffs. With the staple auto attacking combat that relies on well-timed 'Arts' to be fired off at key moments, this may seem like a simple system at first, but the mechanics deepen at a satisfying rate within the first few hours.

For example, somewhere around the 8-hour mark the ability to change classes unlocks, allowing each character to effectively try out the battle styles of their comrades. Certain abilities unlocked while using each class can be used even when changing to another class, incentivising using every class on every character at some point. Taking it even further, you can recruit certain supporting characters - non-playable - to your party, each with their own unique classes. These classes can also be equipped by the six playable characters.

As you can imagine, this results in a staggering potential for tactical variety in battle. In addition, certain attacks will inflict statuses on enemies; players of previous entries will be familiar with the Break > Topple > Daze > Burst order of attacks to maximise damage on their foes. There are two distinct combo types here: the aforementioned Burst and Smash. Smash starts along similar lines, but instead of dazing the enemy, you can launch them into the air before smashing them back down to earth for maximum damage. It's devastating and extremely satisfying to pull off.

There are also Chain Attacks to consider, a time freeze mechanic that requires selecting an attack order for each protagonist to maximise damage from the chosen sequence. Present also is the anime-esque Ouroboros mode that sees two chosen player characters fuse to become a giant, unstoppable killing machine on the battlefield. There are so many overlapping battle mechanics that result in the gameplay becoming a riveting, joyous and perfectly balanced experience that demands a strategic approach in the tougher battles. By the time all of these mechanics have been unlocked, the glee gained from just routinely playing Xenoblade 3 is unstoppably palpable.

Screenshot for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on Nintendo Switch

Across this gargantuan JRPG adventure, you will encounter a gorgeously realised world populated with characters so believable that immersion is inescapable. There are a wealth of side missions to tackle, each with worthwhile rewards, and a host of unique monsters to slay. Every aspect of the experience serves to bring this singular world to life, even through the opening hours that from a gameplay perspective are admittedly slow even for a JRPG. Still, the story and characters kept this reviewer invested while learning the ropes, and he found that it all serves to take the series' blend of sci-fi and fantasy to new heights.

One of this reviewer's highlights of the entirety of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is the sound design. Sound effects are particularly well-constructed and the English voice work is very strong (the regional accents return and are better than ever). Even if it can be subject to the occasional bout of JRPG-ness, the ultimate result is exemplary.

The sound design as a whole is worth noting, but the true over-achiever here is the unreal soundtrack. Chiefly composed by the indomitable Yasunori Mitsuda, the sublime classical soundtrack makes ingenious use of the flute - which is also used in-game by Noah and Mio in their work as off-seers of departed soldiers. Every track is emotive, riveting and intelligently composed, from the menu music to the multiple battle tracks. This is something special.

Xenoblade 3 astounds on a technical level, as well. Visually it's spectacular - a treat to behold with its gorgeous vistas and expertly choreographed action sequences. Every cutscene is near-flawlessly choreographed and beautifully presented; rarely is the love that was poured into a video game of this magnitude so satisfyingly present.

Screenshot for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on Nintendo Switch

Of course, all this means that Xenoblade 3 is a graphically demanding experience, especially for the relatively reduced firepower of the Nintendo Switch. The wide open environments and busy battles can be a drain on the Switch's resources, resulting in minor framerate dips and occasionally muddy textures, but this isn't anything overbearing or particularly distracting. In truth, it's forgivable for how spectacular the visuals are when everything is running smoothly, given the heavy use of particle effects and blisteringly busy battle sequences. For the most part, the Switch manages to handle the demands placed upon it very well here.

Technical optimisation aside, the attention to detail present in the gameplay and presentation is evident in the storytelling as well. This is an excellently written experience, which becomes jaw-droppingly impressive the longer it goes on. Every moving part is integrated perfectly and benefits the flow and form of gameplay, resulting in a beautiful orchestra of a video game that is very difficult to put down.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 might not have been out for long, but it's already made a strong case for being the best entry in the series, and one of the mightiest JRPGs to come out of this generation. It deftly combines the very best of all the previous Xenoblade titles - the stellar storytelling of the first entry and the enhanced combat mechanics of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 - to masterful effect. Despite the huge time commitment it demands, this is an experience that pulls on the heartstrings from the very start and doesn't stop throughout, making it essential playing for anyone even remotely interested in what it has to offer.

Screenshot for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 10 out of 10

Masterpiece - Platinum Award

Rated 10 out of 10

JRPGs do not get better than this. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is Nintendo's finest to date and a must-play for fans of the genre. The moving story, delightful characters and deep, thrilling gameplay loop set this apart as a title that transcends the sum of its parts. There's so much to see and do and such a powerful story to be told, and it's all perfectly pieced together to result in a title that impresses on every level.


Monolith Soft




Real Time RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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