Xenoblade Chronicles 3D title screen

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D: Why I gave up on a ‘masterpiece’

It takes a lot for me to throw in the towel with an RPG. More often than not, I’d drift away from a game and still think about how I’ll finish it one day. Not this time, not with Xenoblade Chronicles 3D¬†on the New Nintendo 3DS.

A bit of background

A few years ago, I resigned from a job I wasn’t happy in. As a little gift to cheer myself up, I saved up for an orange & white New Nintendo 2DS XL and a copy of Xenoblade Chronicles 3D. I missed out on the game’s initial release on the Wii, and I’d heard only good things about the title from friends. Not to mention that it received some pretty excellent scores from the overall gaming press.

Upon booting up the game, it was immediate just how large the world would be. I could see so many things in the distance on the 2DS’s screen. It was absolutely gorgeous.

But then, time went on. I sunk more and more hours into the game and my enthusiasm was slowly chipped away. Besides the music and visuals, I really couldn’t see what everyone else was talking about. To me, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D was just dull.

The oh so bad of Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

The main character, Shulk, has as much personality as wet celery, and his best friend is pretty much just a walking piece of wood. Their voices and dialogue are grating at worst and generic anime tropes at best. Perhaps it’s just the conversion from home console to handheld, but all of the voices just sounded… off. It was as if they terminated from a place other than the character that was talking.

I struggled to really give a damn about anyone at all, regardless of their plight or status as an NPC.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D screen shot

And then we have the combat. Ugh, the combat. I must say that I’d only played 19 hours of Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, so I don’t know if more combat options open up later on (and should I really give the game more than a generous 20 hours?) What I can say is that pressing the A button while the other characters in my party do whatever they want to is pretty boring. After my allotted time, I wasn’t going to slay any more crabs or bunnies so that I can complete the random quests.

And let’s just get to the side-quests, shall we? There’s really only so many times I can be asked so slay monster X, collect fruit Y, or harvest gem Z, before I question how lazy the populous of this world truly is. Yes, this is a trope of many RPGs, but here it just doesn’t feel integrated well. And these quests never stop — more often than not you’ll complete them during another mission and may not fully realise it.

The game’s interface is so damn clunky. It doesn’t feel as though items and stats should be where they’re situated in the menus, and trying to figure out skills is another exercise in insanity.

I understand that some of these issues have cropped up because of the console’s small dual screens, but that doesn’t make swallowing those pills any easier. Concessions have to made when porting, but not at the expense of playability.

The Good in Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

However, with all of my gripes, the game is gorgeous. Or, at least, it is when I squint my eyes. There’s a limited field of view on the New 2DS XL, but what I could see was stunning. I love the weather effects and day-night cycle, but it’s wasted there. The developers did a fantastic job getting the game to run on a system that small and under-powered, but it still really needed a crisper output

It’s another reason why I’m giving up on Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, I just can’t see a damn thing and it’s frustrating. Is that a tree, a rock, something I can attack? Well, I just don’t know until I’m almost on top of it!

The music in Xenoblade Chronicles 3D is perfect. Even now, I’m listening to it and just thinking about how much better the soundtrack deserved. It was composed by Yoko Shimomura (Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy XV) and Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger, Xenosaga), both highly talented veterans in the field. Each and every melody is simply beautiful, simply powerful. The orchestral arrangement is sublime. It demands your attention

The End?

This is the end of the road for Xenoblade Chronicles 3D and I. We had a few nights out together, but I think we just want different things out of life. When I get a chance, I’ll trade in the game at a local game store and just take life from there. One day, when I actually pick up a Nintendo Switch, I may try the Definitive Edition of the game – maybe that will make the game more palatable.

Until then, I’ve officially given-up on Xenoblade Chronicles 3D. I wish it only the best of luck with its future partners.