Here’s a question I found myself asking myself as I kicked off playing Nintendo’s Xenoblade Chronicles 3 – can you enjoy and appreciate a game in a series that you’ve never played before?
Over my countless years of playing video games, there have been a few times where I’ve jumped into a franchise with no experience with previous instalments. I’m thinking of Final Fantasy VII when it first arrived on the PlayStation, or when I started off with Resident Evil 2 before I’d spent much time, if any, with the first in the series. And back when Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time debut on the Nintendo 64, I’d never played a Zelda game before.
In all of those instances, my lack of playtime in any previous game was totally irrelavent, mainly because the creators had crafted engaging stories that immediately brought you into their respective worlds; you didn’t need any expertise or knowledge of what came before. Such is the case with Xenoblade Chronicles 3, the exceptional new game that is gorgeous to look at and works hard to be accessible to newcomers.
Here’s how Nintendo describes it: Join Noah and Mio, members of the two opposing nations of Keves and Agnus, on a heartfelt journey through a warring world with a dark secret. Traverse massive, fantastical landscapes and master seamless real-time RPG combat as you expose the true enemy pulling the strings.
There’s a lot happening in Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and that description does a solid job of summerizing the whole thing. That being said, as someone who didn’t have a clue about the world I was walking into, the game itself does a solid job of immersing you in its environments and storyline as well. This begins right off the top with gorgeous cut scenes that look absolutely amazing, especially if you’ve got your Nintendo docked and you’re watching on a 4K television, like I was. The voice acting is excellent and you get a handle on the lead character of Noah and his teammates pretty quickly.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 feels big and epic, a mix of fantasy and science fiction, in the realm that reminds me of aforementioned Final Fantasy VII. My biggest hurdle in playing the game so far has been the battles, which I can’t help but find somewhat confusing in terms of locking onto whoever you’re battling. Other games that I’ve played with similar battle structures have been more intuitive thatn what Xenoblade Chronicles 3 presents, and while this aspect isn’t horrible by any stretch, I would have preferred to feel as though I could jump right into battle and not think about things as much as I have. Luckily, there’s a training mode that will certainly help you get up to speed, and one I definitely need to spend more time in it honing my skills.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a big time commitment, with main story gameplay reportedly clocking in at 90 hours; I am nowhere near there, with hours and hours to go, but I will say I’ve had zero issues getting involved with the game. Unlike Lord of the Rings: Return of the King or Return of the Jedi or Jaws 3-D, you don’t need any previous knowledge the franchise to appreciate the title and become emotionaly invested, so if you’re looking for a game that beautifully pushed your Switch to its limits, Xenobade Chronicles 3 is absolutely worth your dollars.