I am about 4 hours into Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and it is already miles ahead of XBC2. I enjoyed XBC1, and XBC2 was mechanically more-or-less the same. If XBC1 was about friendship and interlocking systems, though, XBC2 was about.... harems? Sexism? Gacha?
In contrast, XBC3 is about death. It's not new ground for a game, but it's a welcome retreat from XBC2, or even Xenoblade Chronicles X, which I mostly understand to be about how Los Angeles is an alien and unwelcoming environment . In XBC3, characters talk about death constantly. You are rewarded for stopping at soldier's corpses and giving them a brief funeral. There's even a brief appearance of a "flame clock", essentially a death clock, which (again, four hours in) suddenly disappears with no apparent consequence and having no apparent use. I'm interested if that inconsequential mechanic is intentionally setting up a callback or if its going to get lost in the next 100 hours.
I find myself very interested in the story! I want to see where it takes me next.