As a long time Xenoblade fan I’ve been loving every minute of Xenoblade Chronicles 3. These games are famous for their rich worlds and fun characters to explore them with. However, I found that some of my favorite parts of Xenoblade 3 come from some of the smaller changes. While playing through Xenoblade Chronicles 3 I found myself impressed at a lot of smart changes that reduce typical JRPG tedium.
Character Swapping in Battle
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 allows you to have 7 characters active in battle at the same time. Compared to the 3 person parties of Xenoblade 1 and Xenoblade 2 you already have a lot more depth. On top of the larger party size, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 finally adds the ability to swap your character mid battle. By holding ZL and hitting either L or R you are able to swap to a different character at any time.
This feature allows the player to have greater control over what happens during battle. Whether it’s repositioning an AI that got stuck on terrain, ensuring my healers use their cooldowns at the right time, or even just checking my other party member’s cooldowns, I’ve found this feature to help make battles feel way more engaging than past titles. If swapping between multiple party members sounds overwhelming or confusing, then it’s worth noting that this feature is entirely optional and not required to complete the game.
More Interactive Environments
While the environments have always been a huge selling point of the Xenoblade Chronicles games, they have been prone to feeling a bit empty at times. In Xenoblade Chronicles 3, not only are the areas bigger, but they are also much more densely packed with things to do. Occasionally supply drops will drop from the sky, you’ll stumble upon ruined structures to repair, you’ll encounter heroes, and there is plenty of loot to find in general.
One thing that really helps the environments feel more alive is the way that party memebers will comment on the world. Sometimes a party member will run ahead of you to point out a nearby container. While sometimes these containers are easy to spot I’ve found that a lot of the time my party will spot them before I do. Your party will also comment on enemy behavior, like a bunny digging up rocks, a Tirkin falling over, or even an otter cracking clams. The way that the party comments on the world really helps to make the world feel more like a real place you’re exploring rather than a video game area.
Fighting aquatic enemies in previous Xenoblade games was always a chore. In order to fight swimming enemies, you needed to lure them to the shore first. If an enemy swam too far away during a fight it would just end the battle and you’d have to start over. Furthermore, the shorter your party member, the worse they were at fighting near water. The Nopon Party members Tora and Riki, would often be useless in water fights as they could barely stand in ankle deep water.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 changes this by finally allowing your party to fight while swimming. Fighting while swimming is exactly the same as fighting on land. The only real difference is the characters will perform all animations while treading water. It might not look the cleanest, but this change makes fighting aquatic enemies way less of a headache.
More Skip Travel Points
Xenoblade Chronicles games are huge. Even all the way back on the Wii, the original Xenoblade Chronicles featured some massive areas. While these areas are fun to explore, they can become tedious to traverse after a while. To alleviate this, these games let you fast travel to any discovered landmarks. Even so, some areas, like Alcamoth in Xenoblade Chronicles, had a lot of empty space and a noticeable lack of landmarks.
In Xenoblade Chronicles 3 you can now skip travel to not only landmarks, but also campsites, monster graves, and canteens. Particularly the addition of monster graves as a fast travel point provides additional incentive to defeat unique monsters as it allows you to quickly revisit the same area. So even though the world of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is bigger than previous entries, the amount of fast travel points makes traversing the world much quicker. Load times when skip travelling within the same region are also very quick.
Skipping Character Dialogue
If you’ve ever played an RPG then you’ve definitely accidentally spoken to an NPC that’s a bit too wordy. In Xenoblade Chronicles 3 if you accidentally enter a conversation, you can cancel out of it by holding X. This is a small thing, but remedies a minor annoyance I find myself experiencing all too frequently in other RPGs.
Gem Crafting has received a major overhaul from previous games. While you used to craft individual gems that could only be equipped by one character at a time, in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Gem Crafting has been streamlined. After crafting a gem once it can be equipped to any character regardless of if it is being used by other characters. In this regard Gem Crafting feels more like upgrading a skill tree, where you unlock better effects by using rarer materials.
The big upside of this system is you no longer will amass an inventory of hundreds of gems, and equipping the ones you want to specific characters is quick and intuitive. Given there is only 20 different types of gems, this system is as clean and simple as its ever been.
If you’ve ever played Xenoblade Chronicles 2 you might remember the absolute headache that was field skills. Field skills allowed you to access certain areas based on the abilities of your blades. Essentially each blade could have a skill between levels 1-5 depending on your affinity with that blade. You would then come across points in the world that required your party to have a specific skills total levels to be above a certain threshold to progress. This could cause players who didn’t fill out their affinity charts to encounter roadblocks, and in general made you swap around your party constantly between blades you needed to pass field skill checks and the blades you actually wanted to use in battle.
In Xenoblade Chronicles 3 field skills are back, but are incredibly streamlined. You are given access to certain traversal skills upon completing Hero Quests. These range from climbing vines, to walking up steep slopes, and walking tightropes. These field skills don’t interrupt gameplay at all, and they are always equipped to your main party.
Xenoblade 3 Changes the Series for the Better
Outside of the smaller changes, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 also delivers with a bigger world to explore, an engaging story, beautiful soundtrack, fun characters, and loads of content. If you’re a fan of Xenoblade or JRPGs in general, I’d say this game is a must play. If you want more Xenoblade Chronicles 3 content check out some of our guides.