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Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Everything We Know

First announced just back in February, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is the long-awaited next entry in Monolith Soft’s Xenoblade series. Based on the footage we’ve seen so far, the open-world RPG seemingly follows the massive footsteps of its predecessors, offering players a fascinating world to explore that’s filled with quests, a touching story, and memorable characters. Here’s everything we know about the upcoming title ahead of its release.

Release date

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is set to release exclusively for Nintendo Switch on July 29, 2022. Interestingly enough, this release date is actually two months earlier than Nintendo originally announced, a pretty rare feat in the games industry.

The story

Set in a futuristic society torn apart by war, it feels safe to call Xenoblade Chronicles 3 the most dystopian entry in the Xenoblade series. The game primarily examines two factions–Keves and Agnus–who are in constant battle with one another. These battles are fought by young soldiers who are artificially created and given 10 years–referred to as “terms” in-game–to live. However, such a violent lifestyle means hardly any of them even live that long.

On both Keves and Agnus exist special units called Off-Seers who are in charge of sending the spirits of fallen soldiers off to the great beyond through playing a special song. The trailers first introduce us to Noah, a flute-wielding Off-Seer serving the nation of Keves, before also showcasing Mio, an Agnian Off-Seer currently in her tenth year.

Shortly after the game begins, Noah and his two allies, Eunie and Lanz, find themselves caught in an even bigger battle than the one between Keves and Agnus. Ultimately, the trio is forced to team up with their former enemies to take on a bigger threat, though just what that threat might be is still unclear.

The characters

While the game’s story might focus primarily on Off-Seers Noah and Mio, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 features six playable characters: Noah, Mio, Eunie, Lanz, Sena, and Taion.

Noah, Eunie, and Lanz are childhood friends who hail from Keves, the black-clad, warring society driven by technology. Mio, Sena, and Taion, on the other hand, call the mystical nation of Agnus home. While these two factions might be caught in a never-ending cycle of war and ruin, it would seem some inciting incident–and the reveal of a true and common enemy–ultimately unites the former enemies.

As of yet, not much is known about these characters, though it would appear Eunie and Lanz boast more confident and fiery demeanors compared to Sena and the scholarly Taion.

The gameplay

In our hands-on preview with the game, we wrote that Xenoblade Chronicles 3 could be Nintendo’s biggest open-world game thus far. While the game begins fairly linearly, it quickly opens up to reveal a massive world filled with quests, crafting, optional bosses, and more.

Like its predecessors, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 features an MMO-style combat system where party members are divided into three main classes: attackers, defenders, and healers. To translate these roles into ones traditionally found in MMOs, attackers are your DPS, defenders are tanks, and healers are support. However, your ability to customize your party doesn’t stop there. In addition to these main classes, your party members can also choose from various subclasses, each with their own unique weapons and outfits.

Best of all, once you have your roles assigned and choose which character you want to control, you no longer are confined to solely battling with that character like you were in previous Xenoblade Chronicles games. In Xenoblade Chronicles 3, you are permitted to rotate between your six party members mid-battle, allowing you to execute powerful combos using your skills–referred to in-game as Arts–and battle more strategically than ever before.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 also contains the Ouroboros ability, which allows two compatible party members to fuse together into a giant mech-like creature. Based on the trailers, it seems safe to assume Noah and Mio share this intense connection–and it’s likely the other four party members do as well.

Trailers

Revealed during February 2022’s Nintendo Direct, the first trailer for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 gave us a brief look at the game’s war-torn world, its characters, and what exploration will look like. This trailer also included a September 2022 release date, which was later moved forward.

Following the more narrative-heavy first trailer, Xenoblade Chronicle 3’s second trailer focused a lot more on combat. In addition to showing off the game’s MMO-style battle system, it also gave us our first look at Ouroboros abilities, a strange power that allows two linked party members to merge together into a mech-like being that looks straight out of Neon Genesis Evangelion. This trailer also revealed the game’s release date: July 29, 2022.

During June 2022’s Nintendo Direct, Monolith Soft released the most comprehensive look at Xenoblade Chronicles 3 yet. The trailer opens with a closer look at a mysterious and assuredly evil organization before diving into some of the game’s heavier lore. In this trailer, it was revealed that our party members only live for ten years–or terms–before ultimately dying. During this decade, they are bound to serve their country’s military, meaning many die long before their time is officially up. Based on this trailer, it seems like Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s primary theme is life, and how we inject meaning into it.

Another trailer was just released and provides an overview of the game’s combat, structure, and plot.

So, do I need to play Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and 2 before I start 3?

Nope! Like oh-so-many JRPGs, while the games are a part of the same series–and are ripe for dedicated fans to theorize how they could be connected–the Xenoblade Chronicle games are not explicitly tied to one another.

Oddly enough, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 isn’t even the third game in the series, as Xenoblade Chronicles X exists as well. To quote Monolith Soft director Tetsuya Takahashi, “The ‘Xeno’ name […] really just exists to make it clear that these are Tetsuya Takahashi productions.” While there might be fun references to other titles in the series throughout each game, series newcomers should have no issues diving in.

How to preorder

Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s physical edition is currently available to preorder at retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and GameStop. If you’d prefer to pick up a digital copy, you can also preorder the game via the Nintendo Switch eShop.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Special Edition

As of now, Nintendo has not announced any preorder bonuses for Xenoblade Chronicles 3. However, there is a Special Edition of the game, priced at $90 and solely available through the My Nintendo Store, that comes with a steelbook case, hardcover art book, and a special box featuring limited-edition cover art. Unfortunately, this version of the game is currently sold out, and it’s still unclear if additional stock will be available at a later date.

The expansion pass

Keeping with Nintendo’s current trend of coupling expansion passes with their games, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 offers a $30 expansion pass featuring additional story content and other exciting drops. The pass gives players access to four pieces of additional content over the course of the next year and a half.

The first of the expansion pack’s perks launches simultaneously with the game. This drop allows subscribers to claim “useful items” as well as new outfits and accessories for the party.

Vol. 1 of the #XenobladeChronicles3 Expansion Pass arrives on launch day and will include useful items for your journey as well as new outfits!
Are you ready to start your adventure in Aionios on 7/29?
Learn more:https://t.co/j4lrxoqOMK pic.twitter.com/BXfNNbEmp6

— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) July 15, 2022

The second drop, which is scheduled to release by December 31, 2022, features new challenge battles, new outfits, and a brand-new hero character with accompanying quests. This will then be repeated in the third part of the expansion, which is slated to release next spring, followed by a brand-new story scenario by December 31, 2023. The Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Expansion Pass is currently available to preorder via the Nintendo Switch eShop.

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