Welcome to Save State, where my favorite game series just released another story DLC. Xenoblade 3, which released last year, just dropped its story expansion in the last couple weeks, and it was basically everything I could have asked for. Xenoblade Chronicles back in 2010 was largely self-contained, but Xenoblade 2 expanded the universe substantially and ended on a cliffhanger many expected to see completely explained in base Xenoblade 3. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be the case- until now.
The Future Redeemed DLC is effectively Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s victory lap. It ties up many plot threads introduced in Xenoblade 2 and 3, and while it doesn’t answer all of the questions, many of the major plot elements left unresolved in the base game are wrapped up here in a beautiful denouement. Future Redeemed is a climax 13 years in the making for the series, and it’s clear that if you enjoyed the previous titles in the Xenoblade series, you’ll love the story and gameplay of this DLC, too.
Future Redeemed opens up with Shulk and Rex, the protagonists of Xenoblade 1 and 2, respectively, working with the main villain of Xenoblade 3 to fight against a familiar face to fans of the series. It then quickly shifts to players controlling upbeat protagonist Matthew and his compatriot A as they search for Matthew’s missing sister Na’el. As Matthew ventures across the land of Aionios, he encounters the past heroes Shulk and Rex, as well as Nikol and Glimmer, two young fighters who bear a very familiar resemblance to characters you’ve seen before. Future Redeemed is largely a prequel to the base game of Xenoblade 3, largely explaining how things reached the point that they did.
While I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers, it’s worth noting that the main game of Xenoblade 3 largely dealt with the consequences of two worlds merging into one but largely seemed to treat this important event as an afterthought for much of the title. These consequences are front and center in Future Redeemed, ripe with fan service for the past games while also forming its own identity with its own protagonist, Matthew. It’s difficult to undersell just how likable of a protagonist Matthew’s fun and impetuous behavior makes him- he stands on his own even when the main characters of the two past titles are part of his squad.
While I’ve touched on fan service above, I think it’s worth reiterating that Future Redeemed really likes to bring up past events in the series as either plot points or easter eggs. This is wonderful for fans of the series, as almost every callback put a big smile on my face, but those who exclusively played Xenoblade 3 will be missing a lot of what makes Future Redeemed so great. This isn’t just a resolution to Xenoblade 3- it’s a resolution to 13 years’ worth of story developments and plot twists.
What helps sell everything in Future Redeemed is that the cutscenes are flashy and dynamic, while the voice acting is emotive and resonant. The backing tracks never disappoint, either, with several themes being remixes of songs that fans of the series would be intimately familiar with. There’s a wide variety of things to do in each of the five locations in Future Redeemed, and every single possible secret you find rewards you with some benefit in some capacity.
Many times Xenoblade games have a hard time balancing rewards from exploration with combat, as only the most hardened completionists will fully explore all of the large maps present in these titles. In Future Redeemed, they’ve struck the best balance with this the series has ever had. Completing side quests, finding new locations, defeating specific numbers of monsters, registering items in the collectapedia, and defeating unique monsters- all of these activities, and more, reward you with valuable Affinity Points, or AP.
AP is used to fill out each character’s skill tree, and the skill tree can offer everything from increasing the damage for specific skills to giving you powerful passives like increased HP or crit rate. It was always a joy to build a ladder or repair an elevator because, not only would that let me explore more, but it also meant I could afford a new skill for one of my characters. The large, contiguous zone of Aionios you get to explore throughout Future Redeemed is a joy to pick through every nook and cranny of, because you’ll find AP and items to expand how many gems, accessories, or even skill trees you have access to by turning over every rock you see.
As far as combat goes, Future Redeemed is closer to its base game’s combat than Torna: The Golden Country was to Xenoblade 2. Each player character has 6 total arts you can unlock and use, as well as a powerful talent art, and you can combine 2 arts at once to use powerful fusion arts with bonus effects if each are off cooldown. Matthew and Rex are your primary attackers, and they do a phenomenal job of stealing aggro from the defenders, Shulk and Nikol. Typically, they bite off more than they can chew and need to have a little lie-down, but A and Glimmer can be relied upon to heal everyone, especially once you buff up their arts.
Future Redeemed is an absolutely superb title, and while it’s a little on the short side compared to Torna: The Golden Country, it still should take 20-35 hours to beat and fully experience the DLC. Much of Future Redeemed is spent in exploration and story segments, with fully voiced cutscenes, and it’s such a joy to see Shulk and Rex in mentor roles that I actually was hoping we’d get to see more of them than what we got, greedy though that may be.
Back in my review of Xenoblade 3, I mentioned that it left a few things unexplained in its story, possibly held back to include in its story DLC. That was, unfortunately, the case. Future Redeemed not only features a wide variety of references and fan service, but explains many questions left from the main story of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 while also introducing some more of its own, especially towards the end where it drops references to even earlier works by the writer of Xenoblade!
Honestly, there’s no real fault I could find in Future Redeemed. It introduces its own story with a great protagonist, and answers many of my primary questions after finishing Xenoblade 2 and 3. If there’s any problem I had with this DLC at all, it’s that I wanted there to be more of it, especially after its final story events.
If you even remotely enjoyed Xenoblade Chronicles 1, 2, and 3, then Future Redeemed is absolutely something you’ll enjoy. That being said, I think it’s safe to wrap up this particular entry of Save State.
Remember to tune in again in a couple weeks on your Vector Industries brand devices for the next edition of Save State!
Developers: Monolith Soft
Platforms: Nintendo Switch