Bard Banter: Favorites From Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Release Date: July 29, 2022
File Size: 15GB
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
Bard Banter is a series which highlights great music found within the best genre of all – the RPG.
In our recent review of Xenoblade Chronicles 3, I (the author) claimed that the game “has the most grandiose and mature soundtrack of the trilogy.” Perhaps a controversial statement, considering a number of the title’s tracks that lift leitmotifs from the previous two entries. However, in terms of its instrumentation, there are many tracks in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 that evoke a more theatrical, grandiose feel, and its tight focus on orchestration means that even its victory laps around older themes feel fully-realized. There are just as many atmospheric tracks as there are classic, rollicking songs befitting a Japanese RPG, and we’ve compiled a selection of some standouts here. We’ll go into detail as to why each is included below.
Millick Meadows (Day)
As far as “first, expansive areas” go, Millick Meadows represents a thrilling, adventurous high point in the Xenoblade series. Sure, Gaur Plains and Gormott were very similar in their presentation, with the latter of the two serving as a nice bridge in terms of instrumentation, but this latest track is transportative with a strong melodic line and beautiful mixture of elements. All of the traditional parts of this area are here: green hills, a certain immovable gorilla, and this track that has the same sweeping sense of a broadening world. Of the three previously discussed tracks, this one is my personal favorite, feeling less like a video game and more like a concert piece, or some fantastical movie score.
A Formidable Enemy
Let’s face it: Xenoblade rides on its battle themes. This one in particular is a highly contextual track that is meant to introduce a new sort of foe to the standard fare. These elite enemies are stronger than your usual roaming monsters, but aren’t as intimidating as the named monsters that have become standard in the series. While this game’s version of “You Will Know Our Names” is pretty amazing, I found myself going out of the way to engage these monsters instead just so I could hear this rocking track. What do you think?
Li Garte Prison Camp
With a number of more linear moments in its main narrative, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 has more opportunities to generate atmosphere based on the mood of the story beats. The oppression and dread of Li Garte Prison Camp is hard to ignore in this track, but the most foreboding element is how smoothly the proposed plan revolving around this location is going- if things are going off without a hitch, why treat us with this overwhelming instrumentation? It also fits into the more Eastern motifs of the Agnus faction, which reflects this identity both musically and visually. Tracks like these might feel slightly one-note, but seeing as they are meant to serve as musical stings that sear into the brain, this one remains a standout due to all the other elements of the game coalescing around it.
Tutorial Battle (Combat)
Tutorial Battle (Field)
Nope, that wasn’t a formatting error. And if you find that these two tracks sound pretty similar to one another, you’re not wrong. This is another example of a new feature in Xenoblade, known as dynamic music, which it uses to great effect in the front and rear of its narrative. The fact that this is the tutorial battle music for the game is pretty amazing, but what enhances the effect is the high tension exploration track that it weaves in and out of seamlessly while the player progresses the narrative. It communicates high stakes, a strong sense of momentum, and a darker tone to match with the bleak outlook on Aionios.
The Ouroboros Awakens
Used in the first trailer revealing the game to the public, this high-emotion, magnificent track is iconic for more than one reason. But when paired with the narrative weight of our core cast discovering their latent power, it reaches new heights. You’ll hear variations of this theme throughout the game, but this one manages to stand out and remain a delight on return listening. It also has a number of different movements, with different sections communicating new revelations in a way that feels weighty and momentous.
Keves Castle Battle Theme
The normal Keves battle theme is one that most players will associate with the game, but this heightened version that plays during an intense narrative beat and remains exclusive to a single area in the game is perhaps one of my favorite battle tracks of the series. That might also be caused by its striking uniqueness, taking on a marching tempo that brings with it a sense of high-stakes assault. That just about matches its corresponding storyline relevance perfectly, and although this track punctuates its moment perfectly, it also manages to be endlessly enjoyable, perhaps due to its circular nature.
Battle! Vs. Moebius
“Epic” doesn’t even begin to describe this overwhelming track, which plays against a very particular enemy type that you’ll find yourself squaring off against multiple times. On each occasion, you’ll have this intimidating track to look forward to, a song that captures the titanic forces at play in this world and the uphill struggle you’ll be facing. This is just one of many different boss themes you’ll encounter, and yes, there’s even a more intense version of this track to discover. No Xenoblade title has a theme that quite matches the sense of awe and dread that comes from the start of this theme, and that’s just one of many reasons it lands on my list of favorites.
Those are just a few songs from a soundtrack dripping with intrigue, drama, sorrow, joy, and so much more. Do you have any personal favorites from Xenoblade Chronicles 3? Feel free to share them below or across one of our many social media accounts. We hope you enjoyed listening!