Music of Xenoblade Chronicles 3
The music of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 consists of 152 officially released tracks. Yasunori Mitsuda, ACE, Manami Kiyota, Kenji Hiramatsu, Mariam Abounnasr, and Yutaka Kunigo all contributed to composing for the game. In addition, four tracks by Yoko Shimomura are also reused.
The music of Future Redeemed is partially distinct from that of base Xenoblade Chronicles 3, in the sense that several tracks play in one which do not play in the other, and Future Redeemed-specific tracks are segregated from base game tracks in official releases. However, the overlap in music between the two is significant enough that treating them together is more appropriate than treating them separately; unless otherwise specified, "the music of Xenoblade Chronicles 3" will refer to both the base game and Future Redeemed in the following article.
Music is relevant to the game's story and lore. The main characters Noah and Mio are off-seers, people who mourn those who died in battle, and both play a flute as a part of this practise. According to Mitsuda, the flute motifs are meaningful to the music as a whole, and the instrument features prominently in the game's music, including situations where the instrument is less commonly used in equivalent music in other media (e.g. battle themes).
The countries of Keves and Agnus each have their own standard tunes learnt by all off-seers in training. However, the music played by off-seers is somewhat variable beyond this in practice. While it exclusively uses the flute, different off-seers often write their own variations on these melodies, and some even compose their own. The four pieces Off-Seer - Noah, Off-Seer - Mio, Off-Seer - Crys, and Off-Seer - Miyabi represent the melodies of choice of the four eponymous characters. Other tracks feature elements from these four pieces that are played in-universe by off-seers in specific cutscenes; notable examples are A Life Sent On, Shining Aspiration - Inherited Melody, Homecoming, and Feelings Risen to the Sky.
Aside from off-seeing, the character Na'el plays the piano, and is seen playing At Our Life's End. She is also said to be able to play Gaur Plain, (The) Tomorrow With You, and Bringer of Chaos! Ultimate, although this is not shown.
The music of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 can be roughly categorised into battle, area, cutscene, and menu themes. As is typical for games in the series, most areas have separate area music that plays during the day and the night (although the two are typically remixes of one another), in which the day theme is often somewhat more energetic and the night theme more subdued.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 makes use of dynamic music, which changes based upon circumstances in gameplay. When off-seeing in gameplay, the area music is momentarily replaced with one of several excerpts from the flute lines of A Life Sent On, corresponding to the music being played in-universe. When a playable character attacks an enemy or is aggroed, the area music ceases to play and is replaced with battle music. When battle concludes, the music switches back. In most circumstances, using a Chain Attack in battle will change the music to Chain Attack for the duration of the chain.
The most notable cases of dynamic music are when it is implemented with smooth transitioning: in certain circumstances, the currently playing music track may switch to another in a way that intentionally maintains the sense of metre and musical phrasing across the transition. This takes several forms depending upon the tracks involved and their functionality.
One form of smooth music transitioning, remix switching, is performed by two tracks having the same tempo and phrase structure. (In its simplest form, this is accomplished by having one track be the same as the other but with additional instrumentation.) Initially, one track plays; when some condition is met, the track immediately and smoothly transitions to the equivalent section of the other track. Depending upon the condition, the music may or may not switch back once the condition ends; if it does, it also does so smoothly in the same manner.
The most common implementation of this is in joint area-battle themes: a number of gameplay areas and/or story sections have area music which is musically linked to the battle music in the above manner. When combat initiates, the area music smoothly transitions to the equivalent section of the battle music, and transitions back again once combat has concluded.
The following is a list of tracks which implement remix switching:
|First track||Second track||Switching condition||Does it switch back?|
|Hostile Colony (Dynamic)||Hostile Colony||When standard battle initiates||Yes (when battle ends)|
|Words That Never Reached You (no percussion version)||Words That Never Reached You (Battle)||When the boss fight initiates||No|
|Origin Upper Reaches||Origin Depths||When taking the South Sector Passage's elevator down||Yes (when taking the elevator back up)|
|Showdown with Z, Act 1||Showdown with Z, Act 2||When the party reappears before the final phase||No|
|Black Mountains - Valak Mountain (and /Night)||Black Mountains - Prison Island (and /Night)||When using the Ether Slide to Prison Island||Yes (when crossing back)|
A variation of this is when the transition to the area or battle theme always goes to the start of the theme's loop, but offset slightly to have the pulse of the latter theme line up with that of the former theme. This is done when going between Keves Castle and Keves Castle (Battle) (in both directions), and also when going from Tactical Action to Tactical Action (Dynamic A), (Dynamic B), or (Dynamic C) depending upon the situation. (In Tactical Action's case, the transition is not smooth in the reverse direction, when going from the area theme to the battle theme.)
Climax sections of battle themes
The other main form of smooth music transitioning applies in battle. Several battle themes consist of multiple looping sections that play in different stages of the battle, and reducing the enemy's HP past certain thresholds causes the music to switch from one track (corresponding to one looping section of the battle theme) to another.
The transition is made smooth because, unlike remix switching, it does not happen immediately. Rather, once the condition to transition is met, the music waits until it reaches one of several 'transition points' in the current track to switch to the other track. These transition points are each at the ends of musical phrases, making the transition to the start of the first phrase of the following track musically smooth.
In all cases, such battle themes have either two or three loops. The first plays at the start of battle, the second generally plays when the enemy has approximately 1/2 to 1/3 of its maximum HP, and the third (when applicable) generally plays when the enemy reaches approximately 1/10 HP. The second and third loops are sometimes unofficially referred to as the 'Climax' and 'Pre-end' sections respectively, after the naming scheme of the tracks as stored in the game's files.
The condition for transitioning to the climax or pre-end section of the battle theme is based upon the enemy's current HP percentage. Every enemy which uses battle themes with climax sections has a specific HP percent threshold, the 'climax threshold'. When the enemy's HP drops below the climax threshold, the music transitions to the climax section once it next reaches a transition point, assuming the enemy is still alive. Similarly, if the enemy uses a pre-end section, the music transitions at the first transition point after the enemy reaches the pre-end HP threshold. If both the climax and pre-end thresholds are reached before the music reaches a transition point, the climax section will be skipped and the music will transition straight from the main loop to the pre-end section. (Of course, if battle ends before a transition point the music stops entirely, meaning that not every section of the track may play in every relevant fight depending upon how fast the enemy is defeated.)
The situation is more complicated when multiple enemies are in battle at once. When this is the case, the value that the game uses for "the enemy's HP" is the average HP percentage of all alive enemies. For example, if the current fight is against two enemies and the music has a climax threshold of 45%, having one enemy at 80% and the other at 20% (for an average of 50%) will not trigger the climax, but having one enemy at 80% and the other enemy at 2% (for an average of 41%) will trigger the climax. The climax section will activate at the next transition point even if the lower-health enemy is killed in the meantime (bringing the average HP of all live enemies back up to 80%).
On the other hand, if one enemy is kept at 100% while the other enemy's HP is reduced, the climax section will never trigger because the average HP of all enemies is always above 50% (until one is killed and the remaining enemy is brought below 45%.) Moreover, if an enemy is instantly killed from high HP (via a very strong attack or Doom) they do not count as ever having passed the intermediate HP values; therefore, in the scenario that one enemy is at 80% HP and the other is at 20% before being hit with an attack that reduces its HP directly to 0, the 45% climax threshold is not considered to be passed because the average enemy HP went straight from 50% to 80%.
The following is a list of battle themes that have climax and/or pre-end sections. Details on which fights use these sections, as well as the corresponding climax and pre-end thresholds, can be found on the tracks' individual pages.
|You Will Know Our Names - Finale||Yes|
|Moebius Battle 2||No||This track has two climaxes — an 'action climax' and a 'sad climax' — that play in different situations.|
|The False Queens||Yes|
|Moebius Battle/M (Phase 2)||No|
The pieces in the above list all also have 'Ending' sections — a short jingle which plays when the fight ends (as long as the battle doesn't end with a chain attack). Any instance that uses a climax section will also use an ending section, and vice versa. However, the ending sections are not transitioned smoothly into; they play instantly upon the battles' conclusion.
In part due to the large number of composers contributing to the game's music, there are few overarching trends in musical aspects. Much of the music was composed with live instrumentation; relatively few tracks noticeably use sampled instruments (although some, such as Iris Network, are entirely sampled). Various tracks borrow from substantially different musical genres such as jazz, although this tends to be limited to individual tracks as opposed to significant sections of the soundtrack as a whole.
On average, the area themes are more subdued than in the music of previous games in the series (especially among those that play exclusively during the day).
Use of motifs
Day and night area themes are remixes of one another, and some battle themes are remixes of associated area themes; see Functionality in-game. Beyond this, several main melodic lines appear throughout Xenoblade Chronicles 3's music (especially the cutscene music, although sometimes in area, battle and menu music) as motifs.
- The two flute lines used in A Life Sent On, Off-Seer - Noah and Off-Seer - Mio, are each used (independently, although often together) in a multitude of tracks. For example, the music of the title screen, Off-Seer, is based upon Off-Seer - Noah. The two flute lines can each be subdivided into an A section and a B section; each are frequently used independently of one another, resulting in four main melodic lines associated with A Life Sent On.
- Ouroboros Awakening gives rise to two main motifs, each of which represent Ouroboros. These motifs also appear in tracks such as the area themes of the City.
- The four main melodies of the track Moebius, which are independently used in tracks such as Ferronis and Origin, represent Moebius. The 3rd such melody has substantial similarities to the first Ouroboros motif, especially with regards to rhythm and melodic contour.
- Future Redeemed features a melody that plays in At Our Life's End, Two Worlds and Two Hearts, and Future Awaits.
Several other melodies appear in multiple tracks, albeit to a lesser extent than the above four. For example, a motif based upon Drifting Soul from the music of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 plays in tracks associated with Nia.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Original Soundtrack
- Main article: Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Original Soundtrack
The Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Original Soundtrack, which released on the 29th of July, 2023 (limited edition) and the 2nd of August, 2023 (standard edition), is the official soundtrack set for this game. It consists of 142 tracks from both the base game and music associated with Future Redeemed.
It comes in two editions; a standard edition and a limited edition, the latter of which features a deluxe booklet and scale replicas of the flutes used by Noah and Mio (or those used in the composition of the game's music). The music is also included as part of the Xenoblade Chronicles Original Soundtrack Trinity Box.
The official Japanese website for Xenoblade 3 features a button labelled 'BGM' (an acronym commonly used in Japanese to signify 'background music') which, when pressed, plays music. Originally, it played A Life Sent On; after the Xenoblade 3 direct on 22 June 2022, The Weight of Life and Keves Battle were also added as options. In the weeks leading up to the game's release, You Will Know Our Names - Finale, Millick Meadows, Chain Attack, A Step Away, and A Formidable Enemy were added to the list of playable tracks. The Future Redeemed website features an equivalent button which plays New Battle!!!.
Xenoblade Note vol. 5, a blog post on Nintendo's Japanese website, included links to several unlisted YouTube videos of the game's music: A Life Sent On, The Weight of Life, and Keves Battle. Xenoblade Note vol. 8, posted later, featured an equivalent link to Millick Meadows.
The XenobladeJP twitter account, as well as the accounts of various regional Nintendo departments, posted various tracks from the game leading up to the game's release. The tracks featured were the same tracks as the ones playable on the official website.
Several tracks which play in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and/or Future Redeemed also played in previous games in the Xenoblade series. These are mostly included in the games' respective soundtracks:
- Shulk and Fiora is on the Xenoblade Original Soundtrack.
- Shulk and Fiora, Time to Fight! (Definitive Edition ver.), Colony 9 (Definitive Edition ver.), Colony 9/Night (Definitive Edition ver.), and Fogbeasts are on the Xenoblade Definitive Edition Original Soundtrack.
- Jump Towards the Morning Sun, With People and Darkness, Elysium in the Dream, Battle!!, and Salvage Result are on the Xenoblade2 Original Soundtrack.
- Collectopaedia Category Complete and Secret Area Discovered play in Xenoblade Chronicles, although they have not been included on any soundtrack.
Unlike in the music of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, short jingles that play in response to gameplay triggers have not been featured in official releases of the game's music. Curiously, copyright data for all such jingles was nevertheless uploaded to the JASRAC database. The titles of the jingles come from this copyright information, although it is technically unknown which titles correspond to which jingles.
Several tracks are slight variations of one another, and in several cases only one variation has been featured on an official release. Notable examples of omitted track variations are Origin Upper Reaches, Showdown with Z, Act 1, Redeem the Future (Instrumental), and the regular, action, and sad climax sections of Moebius Battle 2.
In other media
- A section of Carrying the Weight of Life was performed at The Game Awards in 2022.
- A Step Away, Where We Belong, and Future Awaits are available in Karaoke JOYSOUND for Nintendo Switch.
- In Tetris 99, when the player is using the Xenoblade Chronicles 3 themed skin, the background music in-game switches to Tactical Action, Origin Battle, and Keves Battle (depending on how many players are left in the game).
- Xenoblade Chronicles 3's music was nominated at The Game Awards in 2022 for Best Score & Music.