Xenoblade Chronicles 3 - One major flaw away from a Masterpiece
Like probably 95% of the jrpg sphere, i've been playing Xenoblade Chronicles 3 lately, and like a quarter of the sphere (probably), i've been no lifing it.
What a journey, what a game. 170 Hours in 2 weeks according to my save file, but if we remove afk, discussion and food time the game was technically running, it should amount more to 140-150 Hours. I finished every Hero and ascension quest, got every Colony atleast to 4 stars and 5 star'd quite a few of em.
That should say how much i enjoyed the game, and alot while i was playing i thought "This might be a 10/10!". Sadly, some stuff, the one major flaw and a few smaller ones, quite soured my mood so the game didn't finish on the 10, but let's go this step by step, shall we?
Gameplay - Fun Xenoblade as always
Mixing elements from both XBC1 and XBC2, the game creates a fast fun combat flow once the game opens up more, especially coupled with it's customization/class change system. Also, finally, we can switch characters mid combat! I have been wanting this ever since i first played XBC1, honestly.
Two things however make the combat truly shine:
The best chain attack system yet
Ouroboros forms being the right way to do overpowered stuff
As fun as the gameplay is however, there're some stuff i miss from the older games:
Xenoblade 1 still has more unique bosses than the other games combined. Despite me liking the base gameplay of 2 and 3 much much more, i always remember the unique boss fights in 1 fondly
Stutter stepping and auto attack chains from 2 are also things i miss. I also miss the seal effects Blade combos had, could've been built in into the chain attack system somehow.
All in all however, Gameplay was great!
Gotta say tho, Agnus classes are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than Kevesi classes. Like late game i was running 6 Agnus/1 Keves party lol.
Characters - Amazing cast
The game starts with introducing our whole main party straight up from the prologue. Noah, Lanz, Eunie, Mio, Sena and Taion. Frontloading the introduction, these are the characters you are gonna spend 100+ Hours with, and they are, to say the least..GREAT!
Ok, at the start they don't do much with them, and honestly i was afraid i will have a bland cast on my hand, but once chapter 3 hits and the world opens up and you start getting hero quests, the party interaction and chemistry also starts going up until it breaks through the roof during the game!
So much that i might say the whole Party is MC and not just Noah/Mio. All of them are main characters, that's how good the cast is. Even the weakest of the 6 (which many would say Sena) gets to shine quite brightly in some side/hero quests (although funnily enough not her own, as she get's hijacked there). They are also all super entertaining *cough*Eunie'sbus*cough*
And even the side cast, the heroes, is really really good, even if some of their quests do fumble a bit, but with 17 characters (+2 post game) side cast i can let some weaker stuff slide.
Side quest and world building perfection
My experience with Xenoblade and sidequests can usually be summarized by the following:
The worst in the genre.
Wether 1 (especially 1 with it's 400+ shitty sidequests), 2, or Torna, the sidequests were always a pain in the arse.
So imagine my surprise when 3 pulls a switcheroo and suddenly i have finally seen a rpg achieve sidequest almost perfection. 99% of the quests are fun, expand the world, feel almost main story important, develop the cast,the side cast and the NPCs, and make for probably the most alive world i ever saw. Everything just flows so well together and it affects the world in so many ways.
Without spoiling, everytime i wanted the world to show me something because of side quests i did...the game delievers.
Every rpg, j or otherwise, needs to learn how to do sidequests and worldbuilding from this game. This is peak rpg sidequesting & worldbuilding. NPCs here have more development than main casts of most some other games.
Story - Fun, but flawed
The Xenoblade fanbase is at war. The XBC1 and XBC2 fans are tearing each other apart, fighting for their waifubandos, acting like teens forever and everyone is meme'ing about Melia and Nia. An eternal loop no one can escape from.
What's a developer to do? What's a Takahashi to do?
Simple, make a story out of it! and ensure that Melia suffers more
And it works....mostly.
The story starts with Keves (the XBC1 Nation) and Agnus (the XBC2 Nation) at an eternal war...and the 3 characters from each nation somehow banding together after a certain accident. You adventure together, see the world, help peeps, reach the peak of the series at ch5/6, etc.
Typical jrpg stuff, ya know. It's good, it's fun, and it works well, especially with the meaty side content. However i have a couple complaints here, one of which is a pretty big one...but let's do the not so big ones first.
I really dislike how...disconnected this game feels from the other ones. The connection is more a footnote than anything, really. Sure, good for first time players, but those who played the older games might feel disappointed if they expect this game to continue stuff from the other games. The game is self contained to it's own detriment imo.
Also aside from the ch5/6 peak series part, i feel like the story doesn't hit as many high notes as 2 did, especially endgame. And am a bit conflicted about the ending, but nothing major.
But the one thing that keeps me from calling this game a masterpiece....
Villains, where the game heavily fumbles
The villains in this game are some of the worst to ever exist genre wide. Coming from the Torna gang in 2, they were a massive downgrade.
"Evil laughing alphabet" would be more than enough to describe them all. Every scene they appear in is stupid, they are stupid...
and for the most of the story i honestly didn't mind it *that* much, because in the narrative of the story, they worked. Evil laughing alphabet toying with people lives in a story where precioussness of live is a centeral theme?
Yeah ok, that works. Villains still stupid, but i can stomache that. Atleast they could make for some fun memes that way.
What i can't stomach however is the game trying to go all philosophical with them, and try to justify or redeem them...which is exactly what it does along with introducing a concept that doesn't work with the introduced world at all to try and make the alphabets look philosophical.
Some peeps are just evil bastards, and trying to go all deep and philosophical with them just makes it all worse and it feels the game just wanted to be more deep at the end for no reason...except it was shallow as a puddle and it just worsens the whole thing when they could've focused instead on what the game did well, and just made the villains some evil bastards and that's it.
If you want to put a philosophy lecture in your story, you also need the antagonists that work with said lecture. Xenoblade 3's villains are like the complete opposite of that, and the theme the game introduces later on just falls flat with said villains and the introduced world.
I could go on a spoiler rant here, because honestly, this is the one blight on an otherwise masterful game....but it's a giant blight. A blight the game also sadly focuses on too much later on.
The game has some absolute battle bangers. Overkill banger music during battles....
However, the field themes were quite weak. Nothing like Gaur, Gormott, Tantal or Mor Ardain. One could argue bombastic music like 1/2 wouldn't fit the game mood in 3, but somber bangers exist, so...
I've seen some people comparing the OST to Tales music...and yeah when it comes to field themes i agree.
Also while chain attack theme was a sparking banger, it got a bit annoying with how it interrupted boss tracks lol.
Gameplay - A
Characters - S
Story - B
Music - B
Misc. - A
@Armagon @lightcosmo Incase you guys are interested in my full thoughts xD
Should i mention IO as well hmm