A reader argues that Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is the best game of 2022 and superior to Elden Ring, even if it’s unlikely to win many awards.
One of the side effects of 2022 being such a quiet year for games is that this year’s Game Awards are going to be a pretty straightforward affair. There are very few contenders in any of the categories and even the more general ones are pretty much uncontested. Which is another way of saying that Elden Ring is going to walk off with everything. I mean, they might as well give it the award now, and all the other game of the year nods, because there’s clearly nothing else that’s even in the running.
God Of War Ragnarök is the only upcoming games that’s guaranteed (as much as anything is guaranteed) to score well but I cannot see it beating Elden Ring unless it is something radically different to the original. I can though, easily see it being worse as they’ve got a lot of hard work to do with the story, which is a lot more restricted by the legend of what Ragnarök is than the entirely original plot of the first game.
I could easily see God Of War Ragnarök being a disappointment and, frankly, the fact they’ve showed basically nothing of it so far makes me worry that they’re hiding something. Maybe a secret that’s a game-changer, but, more likely, there’s been problems and they’ve not been confident of showing anything yet.
I’ve got similar vibes about Bayonetta 3 and I doubt anyone is expecting Gotham Knights or Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to be challenging Elden Ring. But there is one game, that’s already out, which I think is better and, as I guess you’ve worked out from the title, that’s Xenoblade Chronicles 3.
I don’t expect Xenoblade Chronicles 3 to win many game of the year awards, and certainly not The Game Awards, because like everything from the Oscars to the Grammys, these things are just as much about popularity as they are actual quality.
Now, I’m not saying that Elden Ring is a bad game, far from it. I’ve put around 30 hours into it but that was enough for me. I’ve played Dark Souls as well and for me Elden Ring was just too bloated and too repetitive. It’s one of an increasing number of games that doesn’t gain anything from being open world, especially as not only have you got the earlier games to compare it with but all the best parts of Elden Ring are the more linear dungeons and castles.
By comparison, Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s open world is amazingly varied, filled with just as many secrets, but at no time feels bloated or unnecessary. There’s no reusing the same bosses a dozen times and the punishment for failure is not the video game equivalent of a punch in the face (but nor is it nothing, just as it should be).
Most importantly for me, there’s a story that I understand and characters I like. That’s one thing I’ve never understood about From’s game, is why is the story so obscure? Doesn’t your character know what’s going on? Why then are you as a player so in the dark? Would it have really hurt to explain what the Lands Between are between and what the Elden Ring actually is? Why are there no people around? Were there ever any people? Are those soldiers zombies? Were they always zombies?
Was the world always in pieces like this or did that just happen? What do all the other characters want and why is there only half a dozen that can talk? Who do those merchants sell things to when you’re not around? Why do some characters not seem bothered about their life? What do they do when you’re not around? Especially the ones that just seem to stand around in a small room all day?
As far as I’m concerned Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has all of the positives of Elden Ring but none of the negatives. It’s got a massive open world, enjoyable (but in its case original) combat, great graphics and art design, and plenty of secrets and rewards for exploration. On top of that it has enjoyable characters and villains with plausible motivations, an interesting but understandable plot, and no excessive repetition.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the 100+ hours I’ve put into it and it’s definitely my personal game of the year, I just don’t expect it to be a favourite of any of the award judges.
By reader Caliban
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