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Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed (NS)

Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed (NS) - Review

by Miles Gregory , posted on 01 June 2023 / 3,003 Views

Reviewer's Note: At points in this review I will be heading into spoiler territory. I will offer additional warning before this happens, but don’t skip ahead to the end and yell at me for spoiling key moments of the series for you. 

When I reviewed Xenoblade Chronicles 3 last year, I found the game extremely difficult to put down. I was enthralled with its world-building, story, cast of characters, and combat mechanics. Though it wasn't perfect, it was a truly fantastic experience, worthy of being not only one of the best games of the year, but one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch. In fact, at the risk of having various commenters yelling at me about why I'm wrong, I believe that Xenoblade Chronicles 3 usurped the original Xenoblade Chronicles in overall quality. It is simply THAT good.

This lofty opinion causes a bit of a double-edged sword regarding DLC for XC3. On one hand, the foundation for an incredible experience is already there. The old axiom “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” applies here. Monolith Soft could simply give me more things to do in the world and I would likely eat it up in one sitting and have a good time.  Yet, what I enjoyed about the XC3 experience was that Monolith Soft seemed to have looked at every Xenoblade Chronicles entry with a microscope, picked the parts of each title that worked the best, then adjusted and polished everything else to create the incredible and memorable experience that was delivered. Giving me more of the vanilla XC3 experience wouldn’t be nearly as impactful, and could even affect my perception of its overall quality. 

The first three out of four waves of the expansion pass were pretty much just that - more XC3. The first wave was the most mediocre of the bunch, featuring just some Nopon coins, accessories, and alternative outfits. The next two waves were a bit more substantial, each providing a new character with their own missions and backstory, as well as featuring additional challenge modes to the game. Unfortunately, the content held within those first three waves is simply not very substantial. Though I appreciate the new heroes and challenge modes, I don’t particularly feel they were worth the $29.99 USD price tag for the Expansion Pass. The good news is that Monolith Soft didn’t think that the first three waves contained enough new content either, and, instead, the final wave is the true meat and potatoes of the Expansion Pass, and is the focus of this review. 

Comparisons to Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s expansion Torna - The Golden Country are bound to be made, but I would argue that this experience is far more integral to the series' story overall than that expansion ever was. This is also where we start getting into spoiler territory, so be warned as you continue this review if you have yet to complete XC1, XC2, or XC3

Though XC3 may be inextricably linked to past games, it’s practically just fan service in comparison to what you’ll get from Future Redeemed. Immediately setting the tone for the entire experience, Future Redeemed begins with Rex, Shulk, and Z fighting against Alvis for, presumably, the sake of the world, before showing our new main protagonist, Matthew. Matthew is a headstrong, but not head swift, young fighter holding a grudge against Moebius. Monolith Soft really holds no punches here (pun intended), and instead of building Matthew up from scratch to tackle Moebius, he's almost immediately able to dispatch two powerful consuls in a matter of seconds. The decision to have Matthew begin the game with such strength makes sense from a narrative standpoint, but also prevents a feeling of tedium from once again barely being able to stand up against a lowly Armu from the start. Of course, there's plenty of growth to be had, but you feel like you’re adding to the experience of a seasoned veteran instead of a green newbie. 

Although Matthew is most definitely the primary protagonist here, all of the other characters that form your party are integral to the Xenoblade universe. A, who is with you from the very start, is a great compliment to Matthew, offering more calculated and logical responses to Matthew’s more emotionally-driven 'punch first ask questions later' attitude. Fans of the Xenoblade franchise will quickly spot several important aspects of A, though I won’t spoil them here.

Eventually, you stumble upon Glimmer and Nikol, Agnian and Kevesi soldiers respectively. You meet them both as they're battling each other in a war torn area, not unlike the beginning of XC3. These fighters are rather unique. Glimmer, a healer, fights with a staff which morphs to resemble a viola. Her harsh and stubborn attitude is almost a direct contradiction to the smooth melodies she effortlessly creates mid-battle. Nikol, a defender, is actually unable to summon a blade himself. Instead, he relies on his clever mechanical engineering, inventing a backpack with two mechanical arms that fight on his behalf. Nikol’s genius engineering is stifled by his insecurities, however. While Glimmer feels fighting is all she has ever known, and is afraid of a world without it, Nikol is relieved at the idea of not having to fight anymore. In a sense, these two are from more than just opposing sides, but opposing conflicts entirely. Those with sharp eyes may spot the importance of these two in XC3. However, there's an even larger role that Glimmer and Nikol manage to fill - one that may even make fans gush. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t stress how important the story here is to the Xenoblade Chronicles universe overall. Instead of focusing on the war between two rival nations, Future Redeemed emphasizes the formation of The City, the utilization of Origin, and the Trinity Processor. Those of you who haven’t beaten XC1 or XC2 might be out of luck here. While XC3 could be played without prior knowledge of past entries, its most substantial piece of DLC almost requires that knowledge, lest you be left lost and confused. I suppose some will feel like this kind of prerequisite is a negative, but given the lack of some major series plot points in XC3 I think it’s necessary for the series as a whole. I no longer feel like there is a significant void between the ending of XC1 & XC2 and the beginning of XC3. Sure, there's still some history that can be explored, but nothing so substantial as to make me feel empty.

Now, because this story begins before the Ouroboros form was perfected, the combat has been changed in some distinct ways. In its stead, the Unity system is now present. This system works with the reaction statuses that have been present in the series since its inception. By using fusion arts you'll gradually fill up your Unity gauge. Simply incorporate the typical Xenoblade combo (i.e. break, topple, etc.). Once your enemy is launched, you can then use your Unity Combo, which will further smash or burst your opponent. Even if your Unity gauge hasn’t filled, maybe another party member’s has. Using their Unity Combo is as simple as holding ZL and pressing the corresponding button. The ability to control your teammates’ Unity Combos, in addition to smash and burst being relegated to these combos, really gives a greater impression of control. Though it wasn’t frequent, in past Xenoblade titles I would sometimes get frustrated at the A.I. for causing the wrong reaction status at the wrong time, such as smashing an enemy when I wanted them to remain launched.

Similarly to the Ouroboros form, you can use these Unity Combos in Chain Attacks as well. Just make sure that you've used each corresponding member in a Unity and the option should be available. In addition, you can customize your Unity formations as well. You can pair Rex with Shulk, Matthew, Glimmer, or any other combination you may want. There are also items that you can add onto your characters to give them specific chain attack statuses, such as the next hero gains 10TP or healers gain less aggro. Again, this change helps produce the feeling of greater command of your attacks. Though early on it was quite difficult to obtain a TP score of 150%, eventually I was able to get scores much higher than I ever could in XC3, with my record being around 650% or so.

Some combat mechanics don’t make a return, however. There's no longer a class system, which also means there aren’t really additional heroes outside of your basic party. This is a bit disappointing, as collecting different heroes, learning their back stories, and then perfecting their unique combat style felt addicting. In addition, your party has fewer Talent Arts to use overall. In this sense, while the changes found in Future Redeemed help you feel more in control while in combat, there's also less customization for your particular play style. However, due to the more piecemeal pace of Future Redeemed (i.e. it not being a 120+ hour RPG, and more in the realm of 25-30 hours for non-completionists), it doesn’t grow tiresome in any way.

Since there's no longer any class system, there's no longer any leveling of your class either. However, there are other ways to improve your characters outside of traditional experience grinding. In fact, Future Redeemed may have one of my favorite leveling systems within a Xenoblade Chronicles game: Affinity Points. Yes, affinity has been a part of the XC series since its inception, but not with this implementation. Instead of affinity being tied directly to relationships within the world, it's now tied to a variety of different compendium actions. Forming relationships with townsfolk by talking to them and completing quests of course works, and so does simply completing your collectopedia or exploring in general. However, the one implementation that I found most satisfying used the enemypedia. Taking inspiration from Pokemon Legends: Arceus, you're tasked with collecting Affinity Points by battling and defeating particular enemies a certain number of times. As if there wasn’t already enough incentive to explore the worlds in Xenoblade Chronicles releases, there's now even greater reason to do so. Around every corner is an item to grab, an enemy to defeat, or a new location to explore, which also means more points to put into your characters to improve their talent arts or base stats. 

Exploring has its own more inherent rewards as well, such as things that target character progression. Items that you collect can be used to refine better gems, but can also be used to improve your weapons. Secret areas often lead to Chain Attack modifications or even unlock kits to unlock equipment slots for accessories, talent arts, or gems. To help you in the discovery of new secrets is the X-Reader. Depending on the way you upgrade your X-Reader, it may notify you when you're near a secret, give you details on enemies, or let you know whether you're in the correct position for your Talent Arts effect. Lastly, the world itself is more than enough reason to explore. Many will recognize very familiar vistas, albeit with key changes. Though XC3 showed the fusion of many areas found within the franchise, Future Redeemed features more recognizable areas that have been changed by time. Buildings have crumbled, nature has taken over, and the world has become combined in surprising (and sometimes metaphoric) ways. As always, the world is simply beautiful; Aurora Shelf in particular - with its gigantic glowing dandelions or dripping radiant purple caverns, which look particularly vibrant on an OLED - is a sight to behold.

Graphically, Future Redeemed doesn’t make any noticeable improvements over XC3. The framerate appeared slightly more stable in combat, but this was so minute that I’m not entirely confident that I noticed an improvement at all and it’s merely an effect of going back and forth between this and a different game with a much more inconsistent framerate. There was one instance after coming back to an area following a boss battle that caused significant stuttering. However, after turning the system off and then on again these stutters went away. This could have been some type of asset streaming issue, such as a leak, but it was significant enough to warrant a small mention for those who may encounter a similar issue. Though the internal rendering resolution can get relatively low at times, the temporal reconstruction that's being implemented does a good job of improving image quality, particularly during cut scenes. Of course, you’ll still notice artifacting, particularly on hair or any object that moves quickly. Yes, there may not be a lot to say here, but that could be a good thing. XC3 was already one of, if not the, best looking open world games on Switch. Not much to say may mean little to no improvement, but it’s hard to improve upon something that's already the best. 

Though the first three packs of the Expansion Pass are just above middling, Future Redeemed ends it with a big bang. Despite Xenoblade Chronicles 3 feeling complete, Future Redeemed somehow feels so essential that I couldn’t NOT recommend this to any owner of the base game, or any player of Xenoblade Chronicles games in general. Some aspects are less expansive than its bigger brother, sure, but the shorter nature of this expansion acts as a buffer from the game feeling overly simplified in any way. Changes that were made are, instead, smart and help improve the overall gameplay. In addition, it has one of the most addicting leveling mechanics in the series to-date, and this has influenced me to almost 100% the expansion (not something I ever did with XC games before this). I’m not sure if this is the end of the Xenoblade Chronicles franchise, but if it is, it has ended on a high note.

VGChartz Verdict


This review is based on a digital copy of Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed for the NS

Read more about our Review Methodology here

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eddy7eddy (on 01 June 2023)

Thanks for this Review, I like how Monolith Soft is evolving and can't wait for their next main game!

  • +8
Doctor_MG eddy7eddy (on 02 June 2023)

Yeah, I remember the concept art a while back of a new IP that they are working on. I can't wait to find out what that is!

  • +1
eddy7eddy Doctor_MG (on 03 June 2023)

Isn't the one they have in their official site page for recruitment?

  • +1
Jaicee (on 01 June 2023)

I'll add my voice to the chorus here: Future Redeemed in particular is an outstanding addition to an outstanding base game! I spent much of this year playing through Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and it's become not only my favorite installment in the franchise, but also my favorite Nintendo game of this generation. I cannot recommend the experience enough.

  • +5
Doctor_MG Jaicee (on 02 June 2023)

I absolutely agree, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, and it's expansion, are both something special

  • +1
Leynos (on 01 June 2023)

It's fucking amazing!

  • +5
Mar1217 (on 01 June 2023)

Splendid effort to write such a lofty detailed review. Glad the studio at Monolith Soft and it's directors could end up such a trilogy with such a bang even if it wasn't intended as such when it began.
They're the reason why I believe this industry still has hope in it's future. And at some point even if Xenoblade comes back, Monolith Soft next projects could be just as ground-breaking than this was

  • +4
Doctor_MG Mar1217 (on 02 June 2023)

Thank you very much!

Yeah, I find it incredible just how well everything circles back, particularly with Future Redeemed. The ending of the second game I thought was just a slight nod, but they really pushed the premise in a whole different direction than I anticipated with the third entry.

  • +1