This post will graze over superficial mechanical and plot elements of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 by roughly the 50-60 hour mark (~chapter 5). This is all stuff I enjoyed discovering on my own, so if you'd prefer to discover it on your own, don't read!
I'm super into XBC3. Emily Price's piece relates it to a YA novel and that's fair. It has the weird dystopian setup, strong characters, and you are reminded frequently that the protagonists are literally children.
I think the single most interesting thing about the writing is the colonies. Most of the sidequests revolve around liberating colonies from their Flame Clocks (yes, they do make a comeback from their weird initial introduction). Each colony is distinct, from its iconic Ferronis looming over the settlement to the philosophy of the commander who inevitably joins you as a party member, to the makeup of the people inhabiting it. Some colonies are full of the youngest children, others have hardened warriors or logistical geniuses. Some commanders are philosophers who want to ensure you wield power in service of dismantling oppression, others are masking their youth with put-upon airs (and heavy makeup) to project strength and hide potential weakness.
As each commander joins you, and gives you additional side quests, you are given hardcore doses of straight rhetoric. The game does not cloak its points in metaphor. It is incredibly direct. Characters tell you "Rules are closely entangled with the intentions of whoever set them", "People who see something bad happening in the world and do nothing to stop it because they are personally comfortable in the status quo are also villains". It's actually very refreshing to not have to hunt around the detrius of a game for the themes!
XBC3 is about an oppressive world set up by and for a class of elites who survive by making people who should have common cause into each other's enemies. Keves and ....Agnes (look, I can't remember the factions names, or who belong to which faction, or which bonus goes to who) have no real differences. Our band of protagonists proves that. Yet they are supposed to be "enemies", locked in eternal war, because of machinations by the Consuls/Mobius. Soldiers die, convinced of the justness of their cause. Mobius benefits, regardless of which side wins. The machinery of war grinds on. This is, unfortunately, deeply relatable.
Gosh, I'd love to share some of the screenshots I took, but it's impossible to get them off my Switch!