Xeno series co-creator Takahashi Tetsuya has admitted that, should he ever decide to make a fourth entry in the Xenoblade saga, he would like the end result to be “vastly different” from previous entries.
The Monolith Soft co-founder opened up about his thoughts on the future of the popular action RPG franchise in a personal message included within the limited edition release of Xenoblade Chronicles 3‘s original soundtrack, as translated by Xeno series fansite Mira.
Reflecting specifically on his creative process behind the track Carrying the Weight of Life, Tetsuya began by noting that while the song “takes its cues from Engage the Enemy in the first Xenoblade,” there was “something about it that didn’t sit right with me.”
“I should say beforehand, the quality of the music itself is very high; I am always impressed by [composer Kenji] Hiramatsu’s passion for writing music,” he clarified. “It’s undoubtedly one of the best songs. In addition, there’s no doubt that this is what users are looking for. And yet, this is what didn’t sit well with me.”
Moving to “rewind 15 years”, Tetsuya then recalled that when developing the first Xenoblade game, his main goal was to take inspiration from the striking music of prominent Japanese composer Hiroyuki Sawano and “incorporate that kind of powerfulness into a video game”.
“I presented his music as a sample for the kind of direction I was looking for,” said Tetsuya. “Later, when Sawano and I got to work together for Xenoblade X, I told him that story, and he said, ‘I had no idea,’ and I suppose it all made sense; I remember him laughing and talking about that. And so that attempt was a great success, and Engage the Enemy became one of the iconic songs of Xenoblade.”
It was at this point that the Chrono Trigger graphics director revealed the source of his urge to evolve the Xenoblade Chronicles series.
“On the other hand, this music also represented my ‘trend’ and ‘goal,” he detailed. “Utilizing that style to this day, that didn’t sit well with me; honestly, since the days of Xenoblade 2.”
“Within Japan and overseas, this kind of style is rarely used in drama scenes anymore, and the mainstream style is to play ambient-style music that doesn’t unnecessarily arouse the viewer’s emotions, putting an emphasis on the actor’s acting and building around that,” the creator explained. “I’m not trying to say that it’s outdated at all; It’s just that my tastes and ‘goals’ have changed from before.”
“But this was quite the conundrum,” admitted Tetsuya. “A video game is a way of challenging yourself; a way to reveal your work, but on the other hand, it’s also a way to service (Note: as in, fanservice) users.”
“A game that cannot serve its fans has no future,” he declared. “A game that doesn’t take on new challenges also has no future. Striking this balance is very difficult, and I still don’t have a clear solution. You just have to do it through trial and error, each time.”
To this end, Tetsuya revealed that, as a result of this desire for change, “Carrying the Weight of Life only plays twice in [Xenoblade Chronicles 3].”
“This is because the song was only used when it was fitting for the situation, and when it felt suitable to me, personally,” he wrote. “It’s a compromise between ‘service’ and ‘goal,’ but I think it turned out well, for a compromise. I’m sure some wish it was played a little more often, but considering that one of the themes of Xenoblade 3 is to “not be afraid of change and walk into the future,” I think this is much as you can do.”
“Rather than playing on defense, going on the offense; change rather than maintain,” Tetsuya ultimately asserted. “This is a stance that I have continued to hold for thirty years.”
This philosophy in mind, the director concluded his message by affirming, “If there is another Xenoblade, it will likely be something vastly different from what came before. In style and in music, I would like to make my next goal something that will betray everyone’s expectations, in a good way.”
Unfortunately for both Tetsuya and fans, as of writing, neither Monolift Soft nor Nintendo have confirmed any plans for a future Xenoblade title.
However, should either entity feel the urge to provide fans with any content in the meantime, fans would absolutely appreciate one or both of them rescuing Xenoblade Chronicles X from its current status as a Wii U exclusive.