Nintendo games often have one thing in common: They are family-friendly. Xenoblade Chronicles elegantly breaks this formula. What makes this series outstanding, and what has changed until Xenoblade Chronicles 3? We look into the franchise’s evolution and give an outlook of part 4.
For over a decade, Nintendo has collaborated with developer Monolith Soft to create some of our time’s grandest and most ambitious JRPGs. And the released games are both commercially and respected by critics.
Each Xenoblade, from its debut on the Wii in 2010 to the latest Switch-exclusive installment, immerses players in vast and captivating worlds with intricate gameplay and some of the wildest narratives ever experienced in an RPG. Let’s take a closer look at the series’ evolution over the past 13 years.
It all started with Xenoblade Chronicles on Nintendo Wii in 2010
The series had a fantastic start. The first installment offers many captivating gameplay features, like a vast open world (which consists of the lifeless bodies of two gigantic god-beings!) and engaging real-time combat. The title comes with unique character classes that allow for deep customizations. The game’s Affinity system promotes interaction and teamplay while bringing many benefits to the MMO like Affinity coins and battle bonuses.
Xenoblade Chronicles also implements the party system. As the protagonist, Shulk, you form a group with two more characters, each with unique abilities, combat roles, and playstyles, between which you can switch back and forth based on the specific situation. It also introduces the so-called chain attacks, powerful battle maneuvers allowing you to unleash coordinated attacks with your party members. In addition, the open world takes advantage of the dynamic day and night cycle, which influences the behavior of NPCs, the availability of certain quests, and even the strength of enemies.
Already the first installment provides a rich and immersive RPG adventure full of customizations, storytelling, side quests, and deep exploration. Do you want to enjoy the it on the Switch? Then feel free to grab the Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, a remaster with polished graphics.
Xenoblade Chronicles X on Nintendo Wii U (2015)
The second part, Xenoblade Chronicles X, builds on the successful formula and develops it significantly further. Players can explore the vast Planet of Mira, which has an even larger open world than its predecessor. XC X not only expands the number of party members to four interchangeable characters, but you can now directly command your teammates during combat and coordinate them strategically. One of the standout features of XC X has been the introduction of the “Skell Mechs,” powerful robotic suits that characters can pilot. These mechs provide enhanced mobility, powerful attacks, and unique abilities, adding a new layer of strategic depth to combat and exploration.
The “Squad Missions,” in which players could team up and enjoy online multiplayer for the first time in the series, also created a lot of hype. A feature that Nintendo, unfortunately, dropped in the following titles.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on Nintendo Switch (2017)
XC 2, released on the Switch, introduces several new gameplay features that distinguish it from previous games. It implements the “Blade System,” in which characters called “Drivers” can connect to living weapons called “Blades.” The Blades offer unique abilities, skills, and weapons and play an important role in combat and character development. The game features an expanded combo system, allowing players to combine various arts and abilities of both Drivers and Blades. Executing well-timed combos enables powerful attacks and increases damage output, adding a layer of strategy to battles. In addition, the XC 2 introduced new Salvaging and Collection mechanics and mercenary missions (“merc mission”), with which players could gather valuable items, materials, and resources.
Released in 2018, the “Torna – The Golden Country” expansion deepens the prequel’s story and introduces new playable characters, unique combat mechanics, and additional areas to the game.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is Nintendo’s hidden gem (2022)
You can consider the third installment as Nintendo’s great, often-overlooked treasure. XC 3 continues its predecessors’ tradition but also changes things. With new exciting mechanics, the title feels both fresh and yet familiar. We recommend playing the predecessors, but you can get into the game without prior knowledge. The title and its story are much darker than XC 2 and do without a shallow introduction (in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 the people in the world of Aionios have only 10 years to live and you find yourself directly in an all-out war).
Now you can battle with a much larger squad because XC 3 offers groups that now consist of six switchable main characters instead of three (four in XC X), which you can swap in and out as needed. An additional hero character brings the group up to seven fighters, creating really fast-paced gameplay. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 also introduces a fresh combat mechanic called “Interlinking,” allowing two playable characters to merge and unleash their “Ouroboros form.” This formidable state surpasses the individual abilities of each character and grants access to unique special abilities and attacks, amplifying their collective power. In addition to interlinking, the newly introduced dash and dodge mechanic also enriches the high-speed combat of Xenoblade Chronicles 3.
On April 25, “Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed” came out as a prequel to XC 3. This expansion is a treasure trove of nostalgic story arcs, beloved characters making a comeback, and jaw-dropping reveals that will leave longtime fans in awe.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a JRPG at its finest
If you’re seeking a decisive singleplayer Switch game to captivate you throughout the entirety of 2023, then look no further. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 takes combat to new heights with its intricate complexity. The characters are more profound, the emotion soulful, dark, absurd, and jovial and the story even longer and wilder. It’s undeniably one of the best RPGs on Nintendo Switch, pushing the series to new horizons without sacrificing its unique essence.
Standard vs. Special Edition
XC 3 comes in two editions: the Standard and Special Edition.
While the Standard Edition grants you access to the base game, the Xenoblade Special Edition, also known as Collector’s Edition, takes it up a notch with an alluring steel bookcase and a magnificent 250-page concept art book.
Unfortunately, the Special Edition is sold out, and you must shell out a lot of money on eBay to get your hands on this coveted edition. But in any case, you can get the game in the Nintendo Store.
What about Xenoblade Chronicles 4?
So, what’s the next step for the popular franchise? Is there a Xenoblade Chronicles 4 on the horizon? XC 3 is considered the series’ pinnacle, but it’s probably not the last installment. Monolith Soft still has a lot of things in store for us. In an interview with Nintendo, developer Genki Yokota confirmed that the series is far away from ending:
Yes, it will still go on! I want to keep it going as long as possible!
So we can look to the future with reassurance and excitement. It is still unclear whether the new part will be called Xenoblade Chronicles 4, when it will be released, and what content can be expected, though. It will probably get another name for more story arcs – but who knows? We’ll keep you updated.
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Which Xenoblade Chronicles installment do you like the most? Are you also considering XC 3 the best title? Let us know in the comments below.