Playthrough: XenoSummer, Part II

Box Art

Welcome to The Starlight Megaphone‘s playthrough of Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Monolith Soft’s sequel to Xenoblade Chronicles 2, released exclusively on the Nintendo Switch on 29 July 2022.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is the highly-anticipated sequel to a blockbuster title which was released early in the life of the Nintendo Switch. The success of the preceding game was so significant that Monolith Soft had to undertake significant expansion in order to build on audience expectations for a sequel, culminating in this most recent title on the Nintendo Switch. Pre-sales and early reviews have been so positive that Monolith Soft has already confirmed a DLC expansion and plans for future Xenoblade titles.

The worldwide release of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 continues to build upon a series which goes from strength to strength. The original game experienced significant success and interest (sufficient to generate an eventually successful localisation campaign in the form of Operation Rainfall). Later, the release of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was attended by rave reviews and instantaneous fan accolades. To this day, it remains one of the standards by which Switch games are judged. Now, Monolith Soft has pushed the boundararies of expectations once again with the latest game in the Xenoblade series.

Xenoblade games take place in a world which fuses futuristic technology and fantasy.

Although Xenoblade Chronicles 3 takes place in the same universe as the other games in the Xenoblade Chronicles series, the link between the games remains somewhat unclear ahead of a deep dive into the storyline of the third title. The series developers have indicated that future games in the series will draw upon this connexion, so Xenoblade Chronicles 3 may well elaborate upon the shared world in some detail. Key to all of the games so far have been blades–whether in the form of the Monado or the multiple ‘Blades’ of the second game. The third game will almost certainly continue the tradition, which has become as identifiable as Final Fantasy’s summons and Dragon Quest’s slimes.

As in earlier Xenoblade Chronicles games, the battle system relies on a high degree of player mobility, with various moves intended to be used from the front, sides, and rear of an enemy. AI is designed to help control multiple party members with a relatively high degree of competence. However, all of the characters are completely customisable. The new system is rumoured to be as complicated or even more complicated than that found in Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which will prove tantalising for technical gamers who are interested in deep and synergistic combat systems.

Battles in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 utilise even more characters than previous games.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 promises to be as vast as the previous games in the series, but the earlier games both did a fine job of establishing the setting before throwing the player into the vast expanse of the world. Certainly, this latest game will also have a world replete with opportunities that award exploration: plants to harvest, minerals to delve, secret enemies to find, and treasure waiting to be found, all in addition to the game’s numerous sidequests and forthcoming DLC. In many ways, the content of Xenoblade Chronicles titles are on the scale of that found in top-shelf MMORPGs, and the presentation is suggestive of that approach as well. Although the main story of the Xenoblade games can usually be completed in the typical thirty-to-sixty-hour JRPG timeframe, the additional content pushed the earlier games well over a hundred hours, and that will be true of this third title as well.

Please use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the game, challenges you have faced, strategies and content you have uncovered, and any aids you are using in your playthrough. Do you believe that Xenoblade Chronicles 3 will set the standard for epic JRPGs on the Switch? Do you prefer this latest title to the preceding games? Do you find the battle system liberating, or too complicated? What sorts of changes would you make to the game? What features would you add or remove? Tell us all about it and join in our discussion below! We will select some of the best comments, each week, for our podcast discussion.

The cat-people of Gormott were apparently well-received in Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

The aim in this playthrough is to complete the entirety of the game by 16 September 2022. Instead of milestones, we encourage you to play at your own pace–but please keep us updated about your thoughts and progress as you play the game. This will help to sustain our discussion and encourage other players to complete the game, and it will guide us to know when it is time to close our playthrough. Please also make use of our official Discord channel, where we have an #events channel dedicated to playthrough chat.

Please join in with us and comment about your experience! Our playthrough is intended to encourage anyone and everyone to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the genre. Comment and tell your friends!

Without further adieu, we invite you to join The Starlight Megaphone‘s staff members and readers in XenoSummer, Part II: a Xenoblade Chronicles 3 playthrough!


  1. The connection between XB1 and 2 is made very clear in the final chapter. you might as well look the cutscene up on YouTube to get that clarification.

    so far I am very excited about XB3 the story is interesting. The characters are artificial soldiers that only live for 10 years. I kind of liked the bathhouse scene where everyone bathed together because it made it clear that in a world where sexual reproduction is not a thing would negate people caring about sex differences.

    The battles seem quicker which is cool. I am really looking forward to where this plot goes because it seems to be focusing on how forced one vs the other artificial conflicts let higher level people take advantage of the general populace. The battles also seem quicker than XB2 which is good.

    we will see/

  2. Excellent! I gathered from meeting the XB1 protagonists in the Shrine in XB2 that there would be some explanation somewhere beyond the shrine portals and dialogue there. I’ll have to see if I can find the appropriate video or just read a plot synopsis.

    I’d be interested in knowing what the battle system is like, esp. because S’NooB and Imitanis are both holding off on starting for now.

    The plot outline sounds like a good one and thankfully not overused. They really do create good things at Monolith Soft.

  3. Got in about six hours yesterday and going to spend all day today playing it together with my sister (but seperate Switches).

    It feels very inspired by XC1, but also with some things from 2. Overall the style is more similar to I I feel.

    It has a very ominous tone knowing how short they live and I have cleenex ready 😂

    Have already spent a lot of time roaming around picking up shiny things and fighting monsters and less on story so I’m still in chapter one a bit under half way into the chapter. More thoughts later on 😊

    One thing though! Collectopedia!!!

  4. The battle system so far is like XB2’s basic system but quicker and with greater focus on positioning. There are more attacks that require to be on the side or behind and also characters are setting up circles that you can position yourself in to get benefits like passive healing and attack up. The battle system is much more explained here with the ability to look up all tutorials and even replay the battles where the game had you apply what it was teaching you. I had a boss battle where the main character turned into a super powered mode which was a lot slower but could use abilities constantly which was interesting. I’m kind of looking forward to the battles getting a little more involved like they did in the previous two games because so far it’s kind of simple.

  5. Got in about 20 hours this weekend 😅 Both me and my sister is loving it so far. It’s a very dark world and things are getting intense even just in chapter 2. I’m in chapter 3 now. Battlesystem exploded yesterday too. There’s classes, ranks, heroes, chainattacks, fusions. Pretty much everything you expect from a Xenoblade.

  6. The battle system is pretty great yeah. The addition of a class system that changes your appearance with skills and abilities you can take with you to other classes is pretty cool. I love stuff like that. The heroes remind me of asterisk holders from Bravely Default. You get a class by doing their quest and you get to dress up like them. Although it’s cool that you also get to use one of them in your party. I like that the people from the XB1 camp charge their arts over time and the XB2 people charge by using auto attacks.

    The ability to turn into a superpowered mode for an amount of time in any battle at the cost of having two characters in the battle is interesting. It’s not always the best option to use it, especially if it’s going to take away a critical healer or defender you need on the field. The story is pretty good so far but some of the main characters are kind of undeveloped at the moment. I know almost nothing about the excitable girl that starts with the Ogre class other than that she is very positive.

  7. That’s true, it does remind a bit of BD, I didn’t think of that! I have just gotten the first one so I haven’t really used it much yet.

  8. Oh and another thing I like is the ability to see how far into the chapter you are. It gives and indication that maybe not go into that next point if you are short on time because you know it’s likely a veey long cutscene.

  9. I didn’t remember you could see your chapter progress. I’ve been midway through chapter 3 for a while because I’ve been running into hero quests and doing those. The final boss in the hero quest for Colony 9 took forever for me to beat.

    I really like how they force the super annoying flame clock mechanic on you at the start of the game which forces you to kill enemies constantly to avoid getting de-buffed just to take it away at the end of the chapter. A big part of the story has been how the flame clocks suck because they force the various colonies to kill each other to avoid death and the party going around trying to free everyone from the clocks. I thought it was a good example of game-play mechanics helping accentuate the point the plot is trying to make by making you dislike the flame clock.

  10. I was expecting someone else commenting in last few days but whatever. w
    We only seem to have 2 other people playing. I am in chapter 5 of what I assume is 10 chapters. The plot has really become more interesting around mid chapter 4. The scene where the party discovers babies, romantic relationships, parenthood and sexual reproduction was really fun. The plot was just kind of ok but it really went up a level around mid chapter 4. I am really interested in where this is going. Also the party is all wearing eyepatches now for reasons. I find this fun personally.

  11. I’m at the start of the final chapter. The story is good not great. It has some really good parts but also I am kind of sick of the game hitting the same themes over and over and over. Every hero quest is the same where you convince them you are good and that the current system is bad, fight the Mobius boss and then smash the flame clock.

    The transition between chapter 5 and 6 took an entire play session. It was around two and a half to three hours of cut-scenes sandwiched between a bunch of boss battles. The cut-scenes where very good but I still just wanted to get back to the game.

    The side-quests in this one are less optional than in past games because the ability to level your classes past level 10 to level 20 is locked behind quests. A lot of those quests also have prerequisite quests you have to do first. It’s as you would expect of a Xenoblade game. I do think if you really wanted to you could get through the main game just fine without any upgraded classes though. It’s nice that the quests are more rewarding but I also am annoyed that they are more mandatory then in previous games.

  12. @LC11: Thank you for the update! I’m glad that I chose to drop out of the Xeno series before this playthrough. The thing that frustrates me more than anything in an otherwise excellent game is a superfluity of text and/or side quests. It sounds like that is the case with this latest entry, so I’m glad that I didn’t spend money and time only to find out that it was frustrating.

    I have grown really impatient with excessive text. I recently completed Octopath Traveler, and that game has more pointless text than any game I can think of. The vast majority of it is not even particularly well written, to say nothing of the broken pseudo-Middle English gobbledygook which is the hunter village language. It’s a deeply frustrating experience trying to replay it and having to skip through what must be literally tens of hours of middle-tier written dialogue.

    Ted Wolsey gets a lot of stick for his translations, and deservedly so. but even with his C-grade translating, the localisations of the past were more agreeable just by virtue of being more concise and punchy due to space limitations. Given the choice between way too much B+ quality writing and the right amount of C quality writing, I’ll take the latter. Although neither of those options is going to be particularly fulfilling once one has experienced excellent writing, the former will be exhausting as well!

    There is an analog here to the recent Team Asano titles. They share similar issues with Xenoblade games (too much B+ dialogue, too many sidequests). It has compelled me to think of getting rid of them, to the point that I sold Bravely Default II and may sell Octopath and Triangle down the road–Octopath, especially, because of how turgid it is, and how interminable the writing. Triangle is a little better, but even then it suffers many of the same problems. I think it is a sign of how impatient I have grown with bad writing (it is especially aggravating to someone who holds a doctorate in, and whose career is researching, literature). I have kept them because they are 2D-HD titles more than for any other reason.

    I have been replaying Dragon Quest XI instead of playing XBC3, and, although I am skipping most of the text, the little that I am reading is of an exceptional quality. An A-grade localisation is so much more forgiveable. There are a lot of sidequests, too, but not as many as in the other games mentioned and the rewards are better. They are also straightforward (still, too many).

    It all comes back to that podcast we recorded on “focus”. I’m hoping that JRPG devs turn the ship around soon: ditch the vast majority of tiny, trivial side quest; dramatically reduce the amount of text; get rid of quest tracking and map indicators that simply tell the player where to go. In short, look at Zelda: Breath of the Wild as an example of success. That game is right up there in the hall of legends.

  13. I recently sold off Octopath and Triangle because I realized I had no intention of playing them again ever. I really enjoyed them when I played them but wouldn’t want to play them again ever. I fall way far on the gameplay side of the gameplay vs story debate and the only favorite game counter example I can think of (prior to Xenoblade) is FF9 for a game that I like more for the story/music/characters than gameplay.

    I beat Xenoblade 3 around week ago. The final boss was really long and had multiple stages which kind of annoyed me even if the cutscenes and such between the stages was great. It was cool to have every hero character participate but I also just wanted to complete the game and it just went on and on and on. I felt it was pretty much a summery of the Xenoblade series where it is great but it just has way too much superfluous content.

    The ending was pretty melancholy. I’m sure they will correct it in the planned sequels.(?) It wasn’t super satisfying because I was hoping it would be a wrap up of the entire series so far.

    I was planning to complete all the optional side-quests after the end but I really found I didn’t care beyond the two side characters heros you unlock after the end. They were super cool but I really lost all passion for the game after their stories were done.

    In the end ,I feel like the battle system of 3 is better than 2 but I care way more about the story, world and characters of 2. This might be the extremely rare example of me caring more about story and characters over gameplay between the two. The story and characters of 3 are kind of boring and I really don’t care that much about them compared to the XB2 characters that I loved. All of the Xenoblade games are great but also flawed. It’s really weird. I enjoyed playing all of them but I don’t want to ever play any of them ever again.

  14. @LC11: Star awarded! Congratulations!

    I am going to part with Octopath. As I mentioned on Discord, it is just not good enough to warrant a replay: the characters have too few abilities, the job system is very limited, the individual stories are only so-so good, and the ‘overarching’ story is no more than hints in each character’s story of the true final boss. And then there is the text–the vast quantities of text.

    I’m going to hang on to Triangle until I have the chance to try to replay it this week. Then I’ll decide whether its own faults are also too significant for me to replay it.

    I’m not going to plump for Diofield, but I am still planning on picking up Tactics Ogre (at least for now).

    Xenoblade was similar for me. I enjoyed 1, but I could never replay it. I was enjoying 2, but I could never play up to that point again. It’s just too demanding of my time. When I think about what must be done if I were to start over, I immediately lose any desire to replay it

  15. Our playthrough of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 ends this Friday! Please report on your final progress–our next playthrough begins one week later, and will be announced in TSM 701!

  16. Congratulations LC11! Crushed it as usual!

    I of course definitely didn’t beat it, but who even thought I would 🤣 I think it took me way more than a year and 225 hours to finish XC2 and that just because of a push from a friend since it would unlock new things in Ng+.

    I’m midway or a bit more in Ch. 4. unfortunately not much playtime this week, but it’s a long chill weekend!

    I’m adoring the game, but it won’t replace XC2 in the top spot. Or at least unlikely. It’s more like XC1 gameplay wise, graphic wise and I love it, but not as much as XC2. I guess also it was my first Xenoblade so I fell in love with the series through it. Won’t deny its’ flaws, but they are flaws that make me love it even more, they are things I want in this series.

    So far I have spent about 60 hours with the game and I feel like there is so much more to come! Can’t wait, but I’m the annoying fangirl of this series so I think I’m ending this glowing speech here 😉

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