The “final” fantasy in an epic saga unfolds…
All things come to an end at some point and for the Xenoblade Chronicles series that time has finally come. In this review of ours for Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed, we aim to discuss more than just the DLC campaign, but also provide some extra insight into the creation of this series, for added depth.
Once more, when discussing the main game, we will be rather vague when it comes to the game’s plot, so as to avoid spoilers wherever possible, however, anything of relevance that has been covered already or showcased in a trailer prior to the release of Future Redeemed, is fair game for discussion. What’s more, given that Future Redeemed is ultimately a DLC story, much like Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country was for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, there are going to be a lot of comparisons, but let us assure you now, it is all for a good reason.
For anyone that doesn’t need a lesson on the history of Xenoblade Chronicles, you have our permission to skip this next section:
The History of a Series: (Xenoblade Chronicles)
Xenoblade Chronicles as we know it, is the creation of Tetsuya Takahashi. During his time as an employee at Square (now known as Square Enix,) he was involved in multiple Final Fantasy games, starting with Final Fantasy III to creating concept art for Final Fantasy VII and it is because of Final Fantasy VII that all things Xeno started in the first place.
Before we got the Final Fantasy VII that we know now, one of the pitches for the game was refused by Square as it was “too mature.” Instead of doing away with the idea altogether, Tetsuya Takahashi began to rework it into a possible sequel to Chrono Trigger, only to adapt it once more and it became a little game called, “Xenogears.” Xenogears was meant to be part of a much larger story, stretched out across six episodes, but this would never come to be.
Xenogears was released in 1998 and while there were plans for a second instalment, Square made it clear that the company would focus more on Final Fantasy instead. In his own right, Tetsuya Takahashi did not agree with this and in October 1999, he would leave Square and founded Monolith Soft. He didn’t go alone either, as he was joined by twenty other Square employees, who had worked on Xenogears with him, including his wife, whom he had married in 1995.
With a new company, employees raring to go and funding from Namco (now known as Bandai Namco,) Tetsuya Takahashi now had another chance to create his six-episode long story and work began on Xenosaga. The first episode in the series would be released in 2002, but due to development difficulties and the game performing poorly, drastic changes were made. There was a drastic change within the development team and the six-part series would be reduced to three-parts instead.
As it was deemed, Xenosaga focused too much on story and Xenosaga Episode II focused more on gameplay, which didn’t go down too well, so further changes were made to try and find a balance for when Xenosaga Episode III was released in 2007. In the face of disappointment and morale issues, things would once again change for the company as 2007 was also the year that Monolith Soft became a subsidiary of Nintendo, who had brought out the majority shares.
Despite everything that had gone on with Xenogears, the developers over at Monolith Soft were able to work on many different projects and games, most of which, were published by Namco, Namco Bandai Games and later Bandai Namco Entertainment, but there were a few Nintendo titles in there as well, such as 2006’s Disaster: Day of Crisis. It was while working on Disaster that Takahashi’s thoughts would drift to the idea of a world that takes place on “the bodies of two frozen gods.”
This idea would result in the development of Monado: The Beginning of the World, except no such game with that name would be released due to a certain Nintendo CEO. The very late and great, Satoru Iwata prompted Takahashi to change the game’s title to better reflect Monolith Soft’s hard work with the Xenosaga series and just like that, Xenoblade Chronicles was born.
The game would first release in Japan in 2010 and became a commercial success. Five years later, a port of the hit Xenoblade Chronicles would be released on the Nintendo 3DS and a spiritual successor was released on the Nintendo Wii U. Pronounced “Cross”, Xenoblade Chronicles X would mark the first HD game in all Xeno history and unlike the narrative driven Xenoblade Chronicles, Xenoblade Chronicles X would focus on gameplay instead.
This change of direction, as brilliant as it was, would go on to inspire the gameplay we got in 2017’s Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for the Nintendo Switch, but served up alongside another narrative driven RPG adventure, which would continue the story in 2010’s Xenoblade Chronicles. Of course, this is then when things would start to become even more interesting. The success of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 resulted in the team being able to revisit another idea they had for the game’s possible story and made it into its own game, Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country and received a physical release in 2018.
Fast forward to May 2020, Xenoblade Chronicles was released anew, now a HD game in its own right and using the new engine that Monolith Soft created when developing Torna, but there was more to the release than just a HD upgrade. Much like how Torna was a prequel story to Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition came packed with an epilogue story; Future Connected.
All of a sudden, it’s still 2020 and we’re now at four stories, all within the main Xenoblade Chronicles series (Xenoblade Chronicles X/Cross is credited as being a spiritual successor, separate of the established Klaus saga). Is it finally time for Takahashi’s six-episode story to come to fruition? The short answer, yes, for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 would be released in 2022 and the prequel story that is Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed. Released in April 2023, Future Connected is the final story to tell in the Klaus saga and what a final it makes.
The Review: Aionios of Old:
With the release of last year’s Xenoblade Chronicles 3 (2022), once more fans were treated to an expansive main series entry that aspires to be better than the games that came before it, in both gameplay and story. We’re also treated to a world with a such a deep history behind it in terms of lore that while most questions get answered, there are many that go unanswered.
Fortunately, this is where Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed comes into play. As a prequel, its story takes place long before the events of Xenoblade Chronicles 3. There’s no indication as to how many years, but we do know that the events of Future Redeemed takes place after the City was destroyed, an event we learn about in Xenoblade Chronicles 3, back when it was located near the area now known as Hope’s Rest.
The destruction of the city, although it’s something we don’t get to play, is something that pops up a couple of times throughout Future Redeemed’s five chapters, via cutscenes. But before things start to get underway, the story begins with previous heroes joined by Z, attempting to battle a powerful figure. During this altercation, you’ll note that Shulk has short hair and both arms, whilst Rex has both eyes.
After their failed attempt, we are presented with a change of scenery and introduced to Matthew, a descendent of the original Noah and Mio. He’s a fighter that likes to let his fists do all the talking, and he’s not alone as he has a travelling companion in the form of A.
Unlike A, Matthew is a survivor from when the City was destroyed and now he spends his time exploring Aionios, searching for his sister and looking for other City survivors, all whilst taking down Moebius who he holds responsible for destroying the City. As for A, she serves as a polar opposite to Matthew’s rash behaviour, trying to be the voice of reason, whilst maintaining any shroud of mystery she can.
Although Future Redeemed takes place in Aionios and the world is still named as such, the game takes place in the Cent-Omnia region, which has many locations players will recognize from Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. Our two initial heroes are exploring Vermillion Woods, one of Future Redeemed’s five areas, when they happen upon an all-out battle between Kevesi and Agnian forces.
This would be the battle that introduces players to the next two characters that make up the game’s playable roster of six heroes, Glimmer and Nikol. Both have very familiar designs about them, tying them to other games, but when things don’t go as planned, Matthew finds himself having to adapt his approach to things.
One thing leads to another and, in time, the team of two eventually becomes a team of six when Rex and Shulk join the fray and much like how Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has the Lost Numbers, Future Redeemed has the Liberators.
As much as we would like to be more explicit in regards to the story details provided above, I simply can not as that is as much as we can possibly give without providing any spoilers, which as we stated earlier, is something we wish to avoid. So, before we move on to the new world of Aionios and gameplay, let us leave you with this, the DLC is the story of the founders, but it’s the founders who founded the second City and not the one that was destroyed. Also, the story can get hard and heavy very quickly and try as we might, our spoiler free synopsis simply will not do it enough justice.
As we pointed out earlier on, there are five different areas that make up the Cent-Omnia region, of which Cadensia is not a part of, but it is mentioned in passing. Each region gets larger in size and has something new to offer, due to being a refreshing take on designs and graphics that we’ve seen before and traversal skills have now been removed in place of a new traversal mechanic derived of ether slides, lifts and ladders, but you will need to fix them in order to be able to use them. Luckily, you have a Nikol for that.
Still, it is in the Future Redeemed’s gameplay and Affinity Points system that truly makes Future Redeemed into the formidable title that it is. Arts and skills are back, as is a HUD and information screens that mirror Xenoblade Chronicles 3, but since the powers of Ouroboros are vastly different to how they’re depicted in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 as they have yet to be perfected.
Instead, the Ouroboros transformations are done away with entirely and while some remnants of the powers remain, they have been replaced by Unity Combos; special attacks where two members of your party come together for a devastating onslaught. Unity Combos can be powered up by using arts when battling, but unlike the Ouroboros transformations where specific characters were paired up and that was it, in Future Redeemed you can actually mix and match your characters to find the Unity Combos pairing you prefer more and when coupled with special items, it makes them even more devasting.
Where Future Redeemed starts to really come away from how Xenoblade Chronicles 3 was designed, is with Future Redeemed’s Affinity mechanic and character development. In both games, battles allow your team to gain experience and level, but in Future Redeemed, to develop your heroes, things like gem slots, accessories and art slots need to be unlocked.
You’ll also have a whole host of skills and other options that need to be developed, but they require Affinity Points to unlock each character’s Affinity nodes. As for how to earn said points, let’s discuss Affinity Goals. There are six distinct categories: Exploration, Battle Missions, Affinity Scenes, Community, Enemypaedia and Collectopedia.
Meeting certain requirements for any of the categories will earn you Affinity Points, but as you can imagine, the how differs with each category. With Exploration, finding landmarks and locations, or just a container full of goodies can net you some points. Battle Missions sees you rewarded with Affinity Points for defeating Unique Monsters, Affinity Scenes requires you to view thew game’s many Affinity Scenes, which is a replacement for Heart-to-Heart scenes.
Community then shakes things up as Affinity Points for this category are awarded by meeting those who call Cent-Omnia home and fulfilling their Community Tasks. Then with the Enemyopaedia, players now have an extra valid reason to go out and slaughter the many monsters, creatures and enemies that call Aionios home and by taking down the specified number of each type, more Affinity Points can be earned.
Last but not least, we now have the Collectopedia. Much like in Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition and Future Connected, the Collectopedia functions in the same way, except instead of giving players rewards based on items and equipment, its more Affinity Points.
So, to put it bluntly, everything you do, no matter how you choose to play, it all comes together in a reward-based system that praises you for everything you do and ties the whole thing together nicely in a fantastic way that makes the whole of Future Redeemed all the more worthwhile.
However, the one thing we love most about this revised Xenoblade Chronicles saga, is the fact that the game now has a checklist for each of the game’s areas, which informs you on how many locations, containers, secret areas, Unique Monsters and more, are available. Finally, players can keep track of all that they have done and accomplished and take a gander any time you need to from the game’s map and see how much more you need to do before you have truly done everything you possibly can in Future Redeemed. If only one thing from Future Redeemed carries over to the next game, please let it be this.
The Tale of Two DLCs: Torna vs Future Redeemed
We said there would be plenty of comparisons to Torna and we weren’t kidding, but for the main details it was decided it would be best if we could try to stick them in one singular part of this review, whilst serving as an FAQ/Q&A of sorts. So, here we go.
Like Torna, Future Redeemed is a prequel story that takes place before a main game. Both are available as part of the expansion pass that was released for their respective games. Unlike Torna, despite both titles being titled as standalone games, there is no physical release of Future Redeemed planned.
That’s not the only difference, of course, as whilst both games are considered standalone, with Torna, you can actually play it without ever having played any other Xenoblade Chronicles game as no previous knowledge is required for maximum enjoyment. Whereas with Future Redeemed, although you can try playing it with no prior knowledge, given the fact the story, characters and more, make this adventure a very fan service heavy title, for maximum enjoyment, you need that knowledge.
Future Redeemed is the culmination of a saga that started in 2010 and without the previous games having been experienced first, there is plenty of emotional depth, references and connections that you will miss out on.
Another big difference between Torna and Future Redeemed, is that unlike the game that came before it, Torna was made with a different engine to that of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which resulted in improved graphics and performance. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and Future Redeemed, however, were both made on the same engine and mirror each other perfectly. Having said that, Future Redeemed does feature improved gameplay, which is easily the best the series has had to offer so far.
Then there’s content. Both campaigns feature all of the regular staples of a Xenoblade Chronicles game, such as side quests, Unique Monsters, Secret Areas, exploration and a community-based system. With Torna, whilst the community feature was enjoyed by us, it wasn’t the most liked feature the game had. Still, it was worthwhile as it helps to make players care more about the NPCs around them before we come to that devastating ending. In Future Redeemed, however, the idea has been reworked and improved and feels a little more special as it ties into everything else nicely.
Still, if we’re talking about forgetting all the side quests and everything else that’s not really relevant if you just want to play the game’s story as quickly as possible, you could easily blitz through both Torna and Future Redeemed in around 14-16 hours. Then with Torna you can either spend another four to six hours to complete the rest of the game’s content, or just start another playthrough with New Game+, which adds an extra bit of content to the original campaign, including new Unique Monsters. With Future Redeemed, however, there is no New Game+ or extra incentive to play through Future Redeemed again.
Don’t be too disheartened though as beating Future Redeemed does see players rewarded with certain features, which you can make the most as you finish off any quest or Affinity Goal left outstanding. It also gives you another reason to go back to the main game, but let’s not get into that right now. Instead, what we will say is depending on how long it takes you to level up or complete the collectopedia and finish things off, you can easily turn that 14-16 hours playthrough into 23-30 hours. So, it is bigger, to a degree, but it is luck/RNG dependent.
Lastly, story and tone. As the prequel that we know it is, Torna’s story feels smaller compared to Future Redeemed in the grand scheme of things, but then Torna has a localised story, whereas Future Redeemed has a story that takes characters, gameplay and inspiration from every main series Xenoblade Chronicles game and brings them altogether for thrilling, yet satisfying conclusion.
Both games do a formidable job at making you care about their characters and come with plenty of emotional damage, but to answer which one is better? It’s a matter of personal preference. Both games are standout DLC that has been developed to perfection and offer the best possible experience inspired by the games that came before them. What’s more, both games are deserving of being considered their own full-length games, the only difference is they are smaller in length in content when compared to the larger offerings of the series, but when compared to other PRGs, they’re easily among some of the best RPG experiences we’ve had in a long time.
The Final Verdict:
Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country raised the bar on what a Xenoblade Chronicles story could be when coupled with astonishing gameplay and Future Redeemed does an incredible job in trying to match what its predecessor accomplished. With so many lessons learned across the years, Tetsuya Takahashi and his team have accomplished something truly incredible. Their story has kept us engaged for two decades and now the final chapter has been told.
The bravery they had to try and take from all story elements and tie them together for a fitting conclusion, is nothing to be sniffed at. Each entry in the Xenoblade Chronicles series is better than the last and Future Redeemed was the missing piece needed to cement Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s place as being a masterpiece in its own right. It’s bound to get overshadowed by The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, which is set up to be the best game of this decade, but with Future Redeemed, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is an exceptionally close second.
We don’t know where the next Xenoblade Chronicles game will take us, or how many stories it will consist of this time around, but we know it’s bound to be incredible and Future Redeemed is a big part of that. Even with some questions left unanswered, and others that have been created because of Future Redeemed, we’ll say it clearly, “this is the DLC you for have been waiting for.”
2 thoughts on “[Review] The Definitive Review of Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed”
[…] week, we had the opportunity to play through this incredible DLC and spoke very highly of it in our definitive review that covered every aspect of the game, including the history of a series and Torna comparisons. A […]
[…] week, we had the opportunity to play through this incredible DLC and spoke very highly of it in our definitive review that covered every aspect of the game, including the history of a series and Torna comparisons. […]