Xenoblade Chronicles 3 for me.
While the game still has some things I dislike, it is a massive improvement over 2, and one of the best RPGs on the Switch. It is also surprisingly slick in its execution. The load times are very short compared to games like Witcher 3 for example (Note, not trying to bash Witcher 3, it’s solidly my second favourite game on Switch, and very close to first).
+ The game gets better and better as it progresses toward chapter 5 and 6 (out of 7 chapters) and has a rewarding New Game+ for players who wants to revisit the game and do the side quests/explore the side content.
+ The basic battle system is a lot of fun, with slickly executed dual-techs and cancel attacks.
+ Despite 7 characters on the field, the game in no way feels cluttered, and I have a lot of fun with the big party.
+ I like the characters, this game has three very good female characters, and Taion is a good male character. Noah and Lanz are a bit flat—Noah being the inoffensive main character without need of growth or any kind of insecurity, and Lanz being a polite Wakka type character, again with no need for growth or insecurities… I don’t have anything against flat characters, I just don’t find them particularly interesting… when their biggest flaws are overcoming other people’s shit, it just reminds me of real life except without any trauma from the grind—who the fuck doesn’t hate people like that? Well, I don’t hate Noah, but he’s not realistic.
+ Side content is actually very interesting, XC1 and 2 had gleanings of interesting stuff, but most of it felt like it was adding arbitrary details about the world. XC3 feels much more integrated. I have a feeling that this is an attempt to see if they can do it on a grander scale, like Witcher 3–which is both a linear and open world RPG in one; Xenoblade Chronicles X was a similar structure to Witcher 3, except it probably changed more about the world as the player progressed through the linear passages. Think of XCX like an onion, with each Chapter turning quest granting access to the next layer. I feel like they’re probably going to do that with more linearity—which is basically what Witcher did, except rather than changes to the open world, Witcher 3 granted access to new areas.
+ Some genuinely moving moments in the game (particularly in Chapter 5).
+ Great UI! I was very impressed with it, much less unwieldy than most games (like earlier Xenoblade games and Witcher 3). The UI designer should be praised, heavily. So many features brought into such ease of use (but see my negative below)
+ Lots of beautiful locations, while nothing struck me with awe in the way Makna did in XC1 and areas like pretty much all the areas of XCX (but especially Sylvalum, Noctilum, and Oblivia) there was a lot of stuff that was really nice. A number of places I stopped just I look around, not something I really did in XC2. I mean, I literally spent hour+ sessions just sightseeing in XCX, but that was a rare and beautiful game, and I normally don’t do that in games, Breath of the Wild is the only other one I can think of… I did it a lot in Skies of Arcadia too.
My negatives are mostly not as big, but they’re there.
- The chain system is still a bloated mechanic and it still sucks (IMO). But I hate all chain systems. This one is more obnoxious than XC1 or XCX, but much less obnoxious than XC2 that forced players to use it almost every battle. In XC3 you mostly don’t have to use it, but it does come up. It feels just as disconnected from the battle as 2, but at least you can tap through it. This isn’t just XC3, I hate all the chain systems, just some more than others.
- Tutorial section is like 15-20 hours! I hate tutorials, hate ‘em! Just give me the mechanics and let me use them. The story for the first chunk of the game is slow, most of the dialogue is over-explaining stuff, and I didn’t feel the game camouflaged “teaching” me the mechanics inside the story, it felt like a straight up 15-20 hour tutorial section. This was no Breath of the Wild/Witcher 3 that gave you a smaller area to learn the shit yourself, it literally held your hand through it instead. And these mechanics aren’t difficult, they’re quite intuitive, I felt patronized by the game :)
What ever happened to FF1 style Tutorials? One random person tells you “Don’t forget to equip your weapons.” - this game REALLY has a lot of over-abundant chatting about mundane things relating to mechanics early in the game.
- No real character to live vicariously through. This is just a personal one. I didn’t find Lanz, Taion, or Noah to be at all someone who I wanted to represent as “me” in the game. “WTF dude, were you born without a cock?” was going through my head every single time when none of the male characters ever made so much as a flirtation toward the women in the party when there were obvious moments to make a move. I mean, seriously? Again, just not particularly realistic to me. Geralt fucked like 20 women on his adventure :)
- Less polished than I’d like. Witcher 3 has no less text than this game, and all the dialogue was voiced. It’s kind of weird seeing some dialogue voiced and other dialogue unvoiced, this has been a big problem since Xenosaga Episode 2.
- Feature creep (see my UI praise above), this game has a lot of unnecessary stuff. So many things to upgrade, so many things to equip, switching classes all the time, it felt a little chore-like. Luckily the great UI made it very easy to take care of it all. But I really wish they’d have added an auto-equip like in FF games with a lot to equip. Why the fuck has every game after FF8 with massive equip systems (Witcher 3 included with all the skill and mutagen… junctioning) lack an auto-equip? (Or auto-junction in FF8’s case).
- Battle dialogue and field action dialogue is repetitive. It’s kind of irritating, but again, not nearly as bad as XC2–the Mor Adrian soldiers were beyond ridiculous.
Last edited by Jumpin - on 12 December 2022
That’s about all the problems I have with the game. It seems like a lot of negatives, but IMO they don’t hurt what’s great about the game, and what’s great really shines through. The negatives are more things I’d like to change, but can live with. I’m the sort of gamer that prefers a flawed game with really shiny spots to games with few/no flaws that don’t really shine brightly. Flaws are mostly irrelevant (just a wishlist) if I like the game.