Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed is the fourth and final wave of downloadable content available in Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s expansion pass, which was released alongside the game last July. Following in the tradition that Monolith Soft started with Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s Torna — The Golden Country expansion, this final DLC release is not so much an expansion to Xenoblade Chronicles 3, but rather an entire game in and of itself.
While the skeleton of the main game’s design remains, Future Redeemed is its own standalone experience that cleverly uses the main game as a base and iterates further where need be. Taking place a nondescript amount of time before the events of the base game, Future Redeemed explores Aionios’ origins and what it looked like long before Noah and friends made their grand journey through it in Xenoblade Chronicles 3. Being set so far in the past obviously means that you’ll assume control of a whole different party: Matthew Vandham and co., a set of characters who the base game did hint at, but largely left a mystery.
Much of Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s gargantuan design is understandably scaled down in Future Redeemed. While the slice of Aionios you’re given to explore is smaller by comparison, all of the locales are brand new, aside from some intentional callbacks to the series’ past. The world might be smaller, but it certainly feels more densely packed in certain areas, with all kinds of new collectibles and secrets to be found. This is in part due to the game doing more to draw your attention to side content by keeping track of all the side objectives you’ve come across.
Xenoblade Chronicles has always largely been about exploration, but Future Redeemed offers the most convenient and organised experience for players looking to tick off every box. Exploration is also cleverly tied into character growth. By completing tasks categorised into exploration, battle missions, affinity scenes, community, the enemypedia, and the collectapedia, you can earn affinity points which can be used to unlock new skills and strengthen existing abilities and arts. Through this, Future Redeemed not only rewards you for engaging in combat but also with all the other avenues the game has to offer.
The game’s combat system might not be as rich and varied as the base game’s, mainly owing to the new inability to swap classes, but Future Redeemed’s combat makes up for this shortfall by being entirely new. While the combat system remains the same, the cast of characters you’ll control all come with their own unique classes, weapons, abilities, Arts, and skills.
The combat in Future Redeemed is just as strong as it was in the base game, which means that it also runs the risk of being just as overwhelming at times. It boasts an incredibly robust system, but it’s undeniably one that rewards you the more you put in. That being said, it is a tad pared down from the base game, replacing the Ouroboros transformations with new Unity special attacks, and consolidating the base game’s dual-branch combo system into a single attack that accommodates both the Smash and Burst status effects. Brand new initiative Arts, which activate if you can engage in combat without being seen, also add a new strategic layer to engaging in combat and ask you to consider your positioning before you do.
Returning from Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and 2 respectively, Shulk and Rex take up their new roles as mentors in the story, with the game showing what they’ve been up to since the curtains closed on their respective tales. For fans of the series, it’s a pleasure to see them make their return, but rest assured it isn’t just cheap fan service: they’re given enough development with struggles around their newfound fatherhood that justifies their return and lets them feel like real people.
This sense of care runs throughout Future Redeemed as a whole. Although it is somewhat of a victory lap, bringing the trilogy thus far to a close, it still pushes the series forward and introduces something new. There’s a deep connection to and respect for the games that came before, found in its combat, world design, narrative, and even music design, but it also builds upon what’s been established to go above and beyond.
Additionally, while players could largely follow Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s storyline without having played any of the other Xenoblade Chronicles games, the ability to follow and understand Future Redeemed’s narrative relies heavily on knowledge from the rest of the series as well. While that does raise a barrier for entry for those who haven’t played (or at least read up on) Xenoblade Chronicles and Xenoblade Chronicles 2, returning players and long-time series fans will find that Future Redeemed ties all three titles together in an immensely satisfying way. Not only does it resolve a few unanswered questions left after the end of Xenoblade Chronicles 3, but it also ties up a few loose ends left dangling after the conclusion of Chronicles 1 and 2. As a result, Future Redeemed is as much a prequel to Xenoblade Chronicles 3 as it is a sequel to both Chronicles 1 and 2.
With all of this being said, Future Redeemed is not without fault. While its smaller scope does lend itself to a much more concentrated and focused experience, it can leave the narrative pacing feeling a little askew, with a strange sense that the story is over not too long after it begins. However, it’s hard to really fault the game itself for that, given that’s more or less what you sign up for with a DLC expansion, and considering just how much it over-delivers in other areas, it’s hard to feel too let down by it.
Ultimately, everything that worked well in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 still works well in Future Redeemed, with the added bonus of having all the little bumps smoothed out. It might not be quite as long, but for a DLC expansion released almost a year after the base game, it offers more than enough value to justify dipping into Xenoblade Chronicles 3 again. At the end of the day, the worst thing about Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Connected is that after the credits rolled, I was left wanting a whole lot more.
Playing like a bite-sized Xenoblade adventure, Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Future Redeemed cleverly uses the base game to deliver an experience that’s familiar but also brand new. It can feel like it ends a little early, but until it does it's worth every minute.
Ethan reviewed Xenoblade Chronicles 3 using a digital Nintendo Switch copy purchased at retail.