Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Direct reveals some new gameplay details

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Header

Nintendo has hosted a Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Direct stream, showcasing the upcoming new entry in the popular JRPG series. Catch up on the stream here, or scroll on for a quick summary of everything discussed.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is out for Nintendo Switch on 29th July 2022, weaving an epic new tale in the world of Aionios. It’s a place that has been torn apart by war and strife, and the only way to defeat the foes is to journey across the vast-looking open world and battle for survival and what’s right. Starring Noah, Agnus and a group of his friends, you’re on the run from both of your home nations, leading a resistance group trying to restore peace to the world.

The Direct showed new glimpses of the game’s narrative, and plenty opportunities to take in the regional British accents for all the English localised voice acting.

One of the key factors in the story is a Logan’s Run-style Flame Clock that determines how long you live. Starting with a mere 10 years of life, it can only be replenished and your life lengthened by fighting the war and taking the time of others. Noah and Mio as ‘off-seers’ for the rival nations who play special flutes to see their compatriots sent into the afterlife.

They’re thrust together by a mutual mission, the rival trios of Noah, Eunie and Lanz, and Mio, Taion and Sena brought together by a mysterious figure and tasked with reaching Swordmarch, the land pierced by the franchise’s iconic giant sword, to defeat the real enemy and restore order. But they’ll have to do so while being hounded by their home nations.

The game takes place in an open world to explore with gorgeous and surreal landscapes. There’s plenty of wildlife, some non-plussed, some easily angered by your presence, as well as the soldiers of Keves and Agnus fighting each other.

You can happen across colonies out in the wider world, giving you opportunities to shop, dine and speak to NPCs in the shadow of giant mechs. You’ll also want to look for rest spots at colonies and around the world, where you’ll be able to get to know your teammates better, cook, craft gems to strengthen abilities, and discuss clues given to you at colonies that could lead to quests.

Exploring will be aided by landmarks that are automatically saved and open up the option to fast travel, Quest Routes that will lead you through the world to a location, and the ability to change the time of day, so you could encounter different monsters that only appear at particular times.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Combat

You can battle whenever you draw your weapon, with the series’ brand of MMORPG-looking real time, free moving battling very much on show. You perform Arts with face buttons to strike or perform actions, chaining them together in combos, while characters have different roles and you can swap between them at any time.

One of the main difference is that you now have six characters all fighting at once, instead of just three, and that opens up more possibilities when combining classes. The Swordfighter is a well-balanced attacker, the Zephyr an evasive defender, and Medic Gunner a healer that restores HP and buffs from a distance. The Ogre can crush enemies with massive weapons, the Heavy Guard draws aggro like a tank, and the Tactician can disrupt with its magical paper talismans.

Increase these class ranks, learn Master Arts to apply to different classes, and combine Arts together in Fusion Arts.

Then there’s Heroes that you will run into in the open world. These will add a seventh character to your party in battle, and come with their own specific classes. There’s Ashera, Valdi, the twinned Nopons of Riku & Manana, Fiona, Alexandria and Gray. Valdi’s a War Medic, Alexandria an Incursor that can boost crit damage, and so on.

Most defining for battles will be the Ouroboros, a way to interlink two characters and transform into a towering creature. These come in specific pairs – Noah and Mio; Lanz and Sena; and Eunie and Taion – with a timer defining how long they can be linked. However, while linked, only one of the characters is actually in control at a given time – swapping between them give different Arts to use.

That’s a lot of ground covered, but… what about amiibo? Any amiibo you own can be used with the game to give helpful in-game items. If you use the Shulk amiibo, then you can switch the held weapon of the Swordfighter class to the Monado blade.

After release, players can look forward to more content in the £26.99 / €29.99 Expansion Pass. This includes:

  • Helpful items & outfit colour variants – 29th July (launch day)
  • Challenge Battle, new Hero character and quests & new outfits – By 31st December 2022
  • Challenge Battle, new Hero character and quests & new outfits – By 30th April 2023
  • Brand new story scenario – By 31st December 2023
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