Xenoblade Chronicles 3 drops you in the world of Aionios in the middle of a long war. The game starts off straightforward enough, but over time it becomes something else entirely in terms of both narrative and game mechanics. Battles are flashy and hectic, and your menus will have options added to them constantly.
In this Xenoblade Chronicles 3 beginner’s guide, we’ll give you tips from our time with game to get you started faster. We’ll talk about the game’s pacing, getting used to the ever-expanding battle mechanics, collecting resources and items, managing gear, and exploration.
It’s a slow-paced game
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 introduces its mechanics — specifically skills and other battle mechanics — at a leisurely pace. To the point where you’ll be getting tutorial screens a couple dozen hours in. Be patient.
Everything introduced builds on or adds to everything before it. It’s not that the game in hour one is radically different from hour 20, but there will be enough added that it will feel like it. Just let the game go at its own pace. Get good enough at what is introduced to be comfortable with it, and then move on. There’s a good chance the next story beat will introduce another new mechanic to keep things interesting.
Use Training Drills to practice
All of those new battle mechanics will get introduced in the middle of fights, and you’ll get a chance to use them right away — but the prompts and explanations won’t show up again. If (and when) you get confused or lose track of how exactly to do something, head to your menu.
Go to System > Training Drills and select the skill you want to practice. This is a bite-sized tutorial that will let you nail down exactly how all those new mechanics work.
Learn how to fight, and then stop fighting
Combat in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a weird mix of rhythm, positioning, and waiting. You’re really just waiting for your Arts to charge, and then triggering them in a series to deal as much damage as fast as you can. In the background, your allies will be doing the same thing automatically.
Once you catch on, feel free to set everyone to automatic. When a fight starts, watch for the prompt on the left under your team’s portraits and then hit the minus button. That sets the entire fight to automatic. You’ll still be able to control tactics, but you won’t have to manage the minutiae of yet another fight against an angry hyena monster.
That prompt won’t appear for pivotal or important fights, so you’ll still need to know what you’re doing.
You don’t have to fight every monster
While you’re running through the world, you’ll see lots of monsters dotting the landscape. Fighting them will earn you experience for leveling up and, later, increasing your class rank. But Xenoblade Chronicles 3 isn’t about grinding. In fact, once you level up past where an area’s monsters are, they tend to stop attacking you.
Use the monsters to get you to the next level and then look for an appropriate challenge. Don’t waste your time fighting every low-level rabbit — you’ll get way more XP from tackling something around your same level.
Collect some items, but not everything
There are items scattered everywhere as you explore. It might be tempting to pick up everything you see. But all those items have pretty limited uses.
Mostly, you’ll use them to fill collection side quests called Collectopedia Cards. These happen in the background and turning them in will get you some bonus XP. You’ll see them in the Quests menu on the far right tab. (Also, you can turn them in multiple times.)
Since you can’t actually see what item you’re picking up, you don’t really have any control here. Just pick up most items you see and watch for the Collectopedia icon to appear on the right side of the screen under your map.
Items with a scale icon are safe to sell
It’s probably worth hanging on to most items you pick up — you might need them for a Collectopedia quest later. Some items, though, are just for selling to vendors. These items are marked with a scale icon. Sell those every time. (In fact, a little later in the game, you’ll sell them automatically.)
Gear is subtle
You can’t change your team’s clothing or weapons in Xenoblade Chronicles 3; those are determined by their class. You can, however, change out their accessories.
Accessories provide stat boosts. The benefits of an accessory can be pretty subtle, though, like an 11% boost to HP healed by healing Arts, or a 6% increase to Physical Defense, or extra damage against a certain type of enemy.
The actual stats aren’t that important. Just try to match the accessory to the role each teammate is playing. Defenders need extra HP and a better Block Rate. Healers are the only ones who benefit from accessories that boost healing. Attackers will spend more time auto-attacking than others.
It’s (frustratingly) subtle, but swapping out accessories can make all the difference in a fight.
Unlock new landmarks as you explore
There’s not exactly a lot to find as you explore the world of Xenoblade Chronicles 3. Your path is pretty linear. Sure, you might find a few new items as you reach new areas, but you’re not going to miss much if you just beeline for your next destination.
What you will find as you explore, though, are Landmarks. Landmarks are fast travel destinations. Unlocking them will make your life a lot easier down the road. You don’t have to uncover every inch of the map every time you reach a new area, but poke around a little to find Landmarks when you can.