Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed Is a Delightful Finale for Series Fans
Monolith Soft has executed it superbly, providing an emotional treat that acts as a highly satisfying coda to everything that has come before.
Monolith Soft’s Xenoblade Chronicles series has been a great success story over the past decade-plus. With last year’s Xenoblade Chronicles 3 further connecting Xenoblade Chronicles and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 while still acting as a readily standalone title, the developer has placed a final cap on the trilogy with its prequel story DLC Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed. It won’t be any surprise to series fans, but Monolith Soft has executed it superbly, providing an emotional treat that acts as a highly satisfying coda to everything that has come before.
Although it can technically be played beforehand, the story of Future Redeemed necessitates players have completed Xenoblade Chronicles 3 at the very least as spoilers are abound. Set many years before the events of the main game, it follows Matthew, a survivor from the independent City, as he searches for his sister Na’el and any other fellow survivors. He is joined by enigmatic companion A as they journey in the region of Cent-Omnia, which was not explored in the main game. Otherwise the world of Aionios is largely the same; those from the City are trying to make their own lives divorced from the nations of Keves and Agnus, which are locked in a perpetual war fought by limited-lifespan soldiers who exist only to fight.
Matthew and A quickly come across Agnian soldier Glimmer and Kevesi soldier Nikol, who are locked in a fight after all of their allies are wiped out in a vicious battle. Impetuously intervening, Matthew breaks them free of their enforced cycle of war, and in the events that follow the quartet winds up joining forces with the two very familiar leaders of another group called the Liberators, themselves on their own mission to protect the world. With the full party of six thus established, they set out to try and stop the machinations of Alpha, who has decided that this imperfect world is not fit to continue.
The more familiar one is with all of the events of the series, the more one is going to get out of Future Redeemed. It is thoroughly emotional fanservice for series fans, but it makes superb use of its history to provide plenty of details that fans will greatly appreciate, all while wrapping everything up in an incredibly satisfying manner. The connections are incredibly deep, be they the high-minded plot threads and themes that have run across all three games, to the little personal touches that call back to very specific locations, characters, and events. It’s a fantastic twenty-hour assumed swansong for a series that has delivered hundreds of hours of brilliance as it puts the final touches on the conclusion of Xenoblade Chronicles 3.
Aiding everything is the exemplary writing, localisation, and presentation. The main characters are wonderful, themselves drawing on their connections to others from across the series, and their interactions help play on those bonds, providing details and touches that fans will greatly enjoy picking up in its layered manner. The cutscene direction is fantastic, as is the world design as players get to revisit some noteworthy landscapes in their new guise; one in particular feels like a proper homecoming heralded by some emotionally familiar music and the score is again a real highlight of the genre. Matthew’s brash and impulsive character forms a great dichotomy with the logical and cool A, while Glimmer’s slow warming and Nikol’s technical expertise both play important roles in helping them find their place and build certain relationships.
Gameplay is very similar to that of Xenoblade Chronicles 3, but there are adjustments made to consider the more compact length and add enough of a spin to feel fresh rather than just be a rehash. Each party member has their own set class, divided into the usual defender, attacker, and healer categories. The series’ standard experience system is fully present, but the primary difference for character growth comes in unlocking equipment and loadout options, which encourages exploration. By completing side content and exploring to find chests and relics, players find items that can unlock various upgrade options and equipment slots for each of the characters.
Like the main game, Future Redeemed features three difficulty settings that can be freely swapped between. Much of what applies to Xenoblade Chronicles 3 regarding combat and balance applies here; it’s thoroughly enjoyable and the AI performs its roles adeptly as players can freely switch which characters they control. Ouroboros forms are replaced by new Unity Skills, but the Chain Attacks return to help cause massive damages and get players out of tough spots.
The new side content comes in the form of Affinity Goals; a set of collectible tasks and objectives made up of all of the side content in the game from minor to major. These include filling out the Collectapedia or Enemypedia by collecting as many items or beating up as many different enemies as possible, exploring points of interest on the map, and meeting NPCs and completing any sidequests they offer. Players are by no means obligated to go out and find absolutely everything they can, but it readily rewards players for exploring with a dense world and a friendly fast-travel system that means there isn’t excessive time spent wasted going back and forth. Helping draw players to points of interest is the X-Reader, which offers radar-like pings when players get close enough to them.
Players can repair or build traversal elements on the map, primarily ladders and Ether Slides. It can be a little frustrating to get a ping on the radar, only to discover it can’t be reached yet, but it’s a useful tool and the sound can be turned down or off if it starts to grate. There is strong satisfaction in being able to reach those out of the way points later and find the hidden treasures within, both visual and practical.
Finding a way to satisfactorily build upon a magnificent Game of the Year winner is a tough challenge, let alone connecting it to a trilogy of massive beloved titles, but Monolith Soft has pulled it off with aplomb. Future Redeemed is true a love-letter to the complete series and though fans should require no persuasion from me to dive in, it offers one final delight within a series that already offers so much.