I heard from someone that it's actually been pretty much done for a while, and Nintendo were just sitting on it, waiting on a good time to release it. I guess if that's the case they figured they could move it earlier.
Early impressions I've read of this one have been fantastic. "Better than expected" one person said. I'm hyped!
We got XBC:Torna from the library in preparation. Didn't play it when it released because XBC2 was too fresh and I didn't really want to experience a prequel (where you basically would know exactly how it ended) right after. But now I've pretty much forgotten everything about it, except there was an amazing cat-girl who should star in her own game!
This is a series my wife and I play together - me handling most of the combat and her doing everything else - and so it is a joy to spend the 100+ hours with each game, ha ha. Together time!
None of the others needed you to know anything about the previous games, so you should be alright. Though I guess XBC3 at least references XBC2 in some ways? I saw someone say something like that before going on media blackout. I don't want to know anything before going in, really. I love these experiences too much.
Do you ever plan to play those? If not, just watch story recaps.
The DLC for XC1 feels specific to XC1 and while it doesn't add more to the greater lore, it does add some nice touches to some character arcs.
The DLC for XC2 is something I'm still working through. It's a bit boring at the moment though. So far I don't see how it adds to much but maybe I'll be wrong. Nonetheless, it doesn't feel like it would be integral to XC3, let alone 2.
@DrFinkelstein I actually might have time to kill over the next couple days. I hear Future Connected is only like 10 hours long, so maybe I’ll make sure I play it. I won’t be able to pick up XB3 until we get home to FL so maybe it’s a good excuse to run through it.
I didn’t play Torna either but I’d assume that won’t play into the new game. I can imagine FC having some kind of importance. I also love these games so any excuse is a good enough one to play one of these.
I'm about 12 hours in. It's pretty good! The story and characters are compelling to me. Soundtrack feels solid, if not at the level of 1. Everything feels nice, definitely been wanting to play it whenever I'm not playing it, which is a good sign.
Butttttttttttttttt... it feels kind of linear so far? Like I keep waiting for the moment where the game opens up (this has to be coming, right?!), and you get a few teases of this, but there hasn't really been that one big dense area ripe for exploration yet. This was my issue with 2 as well but 2 at least threw you into Gormott early on (even if that ended up being one of the few areas designed like that) whereas I've been in a few areas already and they're all somewhat linear. Even when they aren't linear tere are also a kind of surprising (for a Xenoblade game) amount of parts where you just CAN'T go a certain direction yet. No artificial barriers even, it's all just open in front of you, but someone in your party will be all "We shouldn't go that way yet" and it won't let you. Ug.
There is a part of me that wonders if I'm forgetting how linear 1 was. X had those huge open worlds and I tend to associate Xenoblade with that, but X might have been the exception. Still, I remember 1 having a lot of big open worlds as well.
I know that sounds negative but overall I'd probably still rank it above 2 so far... it just needs to open up SOON. The best part of the Xenoblade games is the huge dense areas with a ton of exploration possibility.
I think 1 had a lot of story at the beginning, but I feel like it had you exploring Colony 9 pretty early. I haven’t started this yet…pretty big commitment! Waiting for some solid time before I can really sit down and sink my teeth into it.
EDIT: Marked some stuff as spoilers, even though I don't think they qualify as such. Just marking stuff that wasn't known or apparent to me before starting the game, since I tried to go in as dark as possible.
About 40 hours in, and I'm not sure what to think. It's really good overall, and I like it more than X, but that's as far as my praise goes right now. Mechanically I think it's better than 2 in many ways, the storytelling has mostly been pretty effective, and I'm eager to see how it's all connected to the first two games.
But, the game forces you down certain paths much more clumsily than any other Xenoblade, like @Zero says, which really hurts the joy of exploration, and I have a hard time caring too much about the world or the characters beyond the connection to the trilogy's overarching plot.
X1 and X2 were just stacking beautiful and dreamy environments like pancakes, and then filled them with creatively designed towns populated with characters living their little lives parallel to your grand adventure. X3 has been nothing but drab military camps full of NPCs with the exact same general problems, motivations and attitudes so far. Flame clock this, resources that. There's nothing there to give the pretty vistas any real flavour or context.
It makes perfect plot sense for the NPCs not to be able to provide much in the way of ancient lore, colourful anecdotes about nearby locations or more varied topics of conversation, but that doesn't make it any less dry. I could spend countless hours running around Colony 9 or Fonsa Myma doing sidequests and just soaking in the atmosphere in the previous games, but now I'm always eager to move on in the hopes that the game will let me discover some bustling town hub that can provide contrast to the dreary camps and battlegrounds, and connect the lives of the soldiers with the everything else. I kind of need that since the main cast isn't exactly on a Nia or Reyn level, in my opinion. At least not so far.
If they manage to give me something like that hub, this could, maybe, end up being my second favourite X game after the first one, but if they don't I could see it dropping down to the bottom of the list in the end.
But, I love the series more than I love most, and I still think the game's really good, despite my whining. I was planning to finish Elden Ring before starting this up, but the hunger for Xenoblade was too strong, and this blows Elden Ring out of the water for me. Haven't touched it since X3 hit. The fights are fun, the new chain attack system is cool, there's tons of classes, equipment, skills and arts to screw around with, the environments are pretty and what little X1/X2 references I've spotted are quite intriguing. Also, the game's got one of the best boss battle themes I've ever heard, not to mention that menu music, which is downright unnecessarily good.
@r_hjort I think that is the word I was looking for, "pancake"! Those area designs that aren't just wide but often tall as well, so much packed in there that you could explore and explore and still not see it all. So far there hasn't really been an area like that. My memory might be off but I feel like maybe at least half? of the areas in the original were like this, basically all of the areas in X were, and at least a few in 2 were (Gormott, Mor Ardain a bit... Tantal maybe?)
When the reviews came in and were a lot better than X and 2 I think I just sort of assumed that the game was closer to the way 1 was designed, but... maybe not?!
@Zero Even The Argentum Guild in 2 had tons of verticality, even if it's just a smaller location, and parts of Uraya had it too, even though that was definitely mostly a horizontal layout. I think both 1 and 2 did a much better job of making the locations feel larger too, by obscuring just the right amount of stuff at the right moments, so even if 3 has larger areas with more total square mileage, they don't really come off as such.
Like, the Bionis Leg opened up as a huge ass field at first, but subtle changes in elevation hid mountains, lakes and caves that you'd find as you went farther in, so it almost felt like the area grew larger as you explored it, rather than just more known, or whatever. Makna Forest had the trees and the haze, Gormott had tons of different paths and several vertical levels connected in several ways that couldn't simply be charted out by just getting up high and looking out across the place.
X3's environments don't necessarily give you a spot where you can see everything straight away or at all, but some of the layouts so far have felt like they do, if that makes sense. I guess the lack of lore and occasional "we-can't-go-beyond-this-arbitrary-point-because-quest" message contributes a lot to that. The game won't let me go up that cliff right now, and I haven't heard of anything cool that might be up there, so I'm just not gonna care about it.