I searched for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on YouTube yesterday before launch. The top two videos were the final cutscene and final boss battle, with a third recommended clip including the ending in its entirety. Worst yet – the thumbnail spoiled major moments in the game and would have been visible to those who are looking up reviews, trailers, or literally anything else on the game ahead of release. That sucks and there was no stopping it.
You could say it was entirely my fault, and I should have gone completely dark online when it comes to Xenoblade Chronicles 3, but I really shouldn’t have to. I shouldn’t have to curate my entire existence on the internet in the face of leakers who are uploading entire endings and boss battles for clout, even more so when these individuals are either emulating ripped versions of the game or were lucky enough to get hold of copies before anyone else.
This is a big game, and arguably the biggest JRPG of the year for many, so of course there is going to be rampant speculation and discussion on the characters and narrative. I expected that, and some who have no intention of playing the game might be curious to search up gameplay clips and specific revelations upon release. But due to YouTube’s algorithm and content creators too keen to make a splash, the final moments are being ruined before the game has even entered our consoles. There’s no need for it.
But the more I stew on my annoyance, the more I realise that putting a reasonable stop to things like this is now impossible. Even more so for people like me who work in the field and are often searching for game assets, trailers, and other information on various websites, where I’m bound to come across a minefield of potential spoilers. I warned my followers on Twitter about the videos I mentioned earlier the second I noticed how blatant they were, uncaring of who stumbles across them and has their experience of the game ruined. We shouldn’t have to put up with that because it is really going to bum some people out.
I had Xenoblade Chronicles 3 for a month ahead of its launch, and was fortunate enough to storm through the game before any potential spoilers could screw me over. Yet even now, I’m still taking on quests across colonies and learning more about the ensemble of characters, drawing value from smaller occurrences that passed me by in the rush to hit embargo. I’m one of the lucky ones and not one of the assholes online uploading entire ending clips bound to be eaten up by the algorithm because it doesn’t know what else to prioritise.
The debate around spoiler culture and what warrants a reaction is constantly evolving, and I firmly believe that if someone ruins a major character moment or plot twist for you. It has a detrimental impact on your overall enjoyment, you have a right to be pissed off. Don’t start throwing punches or ruin a friendship over such things, but you will only spoil something on purpose if you’re trying to be an asshole. Wait until people have time to play, watch, or read whatever you’re spoiling, or at least ensure you’re both on the same page before the conversation starts. Otherwise, keep your mouth shut and stop chasing internet brownie points by putting down and ruining the fun of others. Once again – there’s no need for it.
You can often feel like you’re missing out when not playing the big game of the moment at launch, afraid the momentum will pass you by, and there will be nobody left to enjoy it with when the time finally comes to indulge in it yourself. But Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a game that takes 60+ hours to beat, and everyone will work through that at their own pace. Average consumers aren’t filthy games journalists like me or enthusiastic fanboys, and thus don’t have a reason to rush through in search of needless validation. They can take their time and enjoy the game’s emotional crescendos in the way they were intended.
Many scenes in Xenoblade Chronicles 3 surprised me, eliciting beaming smiles of happiness and unexpected tears of sadness right up until the masterful conclusion. Now all of these highlights are being ruined, and the game has only just come out. Be careful out there, and I’m sorry if some asshat has already spoiled some fun for you.
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