Full disclosure. I didn’t get Xenoblade Chronicles X until Christmas last year. I wasn’t sure about the game, despite hearing numerous intriguing things about it, and me being a solid RPG gamer. However, after hearing some reviews, I decided to get it via a gift, and I did. I haven’t regretted it since.
It’s almost impossible to quantify how good this game is. From nearly the first moments, in which we have a beautiful cinematic lay out the situation of the title, from the first missions, to the world and beyond, Xenoblade Chronicles is that good.
Though I won’t go into spoilers, it is important to outline the basics of the story. You are an unnamed protagonist, who is a survivor of a “lifeboat” ship called the White Whale, which left Earth in order to survive its assured destruction by two alien races. After drifting in space for two years, you’re attacked, and crash land on the planet Mira, a place vastly different from Earth.
As a survivor, you’re shown the new home of the human race, New LA, and are shown how things work on this new world. Soon enough, you’re drafted (willingly) into a special military group called BLADE, whose role is to ensure the safety of NEW LA, explore the planet Mira and find a special part of the ship called the Life Hold.
To be honest, that’s all you need to know, as everything else is a story unto itself.
I read in a review about Xenoblade Chronicles X that the story was very simplistic, that was honestly one of the worries I had originally. Looking at the game now, I see that the reviewer was slightly mistaken, as the story is the world itself, and the people in it. Not just the “story missions” you take part in. This truly becomes real as you see a mission board literally filled with requests from people for help from you and other BLADE members. Add that to the Affinity Missions, where you help out certain members of your party, and the aforementioned Story Missions, and you have a world bursting with content for you to find, fulfill, and explore.
Which of course leads me to Mira itself. The world is beautiful! The details on the environments, the creatures, and all the things in between truly paints Mira as a fully developed world. It honestly gives credibility to the delay the game suffered, for if it wasn’t in as good a detail as we see in the final version of the game? We would’ve complained about it.
Also though, like a true world, there’s no one true “path” to get to various points. In fact, you’ll soon find yourself having to explore several parts of the world just to find the way you’re trying to go. In one mission, a place I was supposed to go to led me to several different areas, all of which weren’t the correct path. Then, I found a small outlet that was indeed the correct path, and all was well in the world.
You might think that frustrating, and I’ll admit, in some cases it was. But most of the time, I was simply enjoying looking at the world of Mira up close, and seeing what it had to offer. It’s vibrant, full of life. There are five major areas of the world, all very different from one another, and all filled with creatures that inhabit the various biospheres. It’s huge, and it’ll take a long time to fully explore and see all the nooks and crannies.
Long traveling times not your thing? Fear not, there is a very clever fast jump system in Xenoblade Chronicles X that allows you to jump to beacons you’ve set up, or, landmarks that you have found. These are boon for both traveling, and for missions. Because of traveling to the tip top of a region from New LA, you can fast jump to a point you’ve been to before on the map, and then travel from there. Much less hassle and stress.
Now, as a true RPG, there is combat, and a lot of it! But in the proper and good way. After all, you’re on a world that had little to no humanoid inhabitants for a while, so there’s plenty of indigenous life out there, and you deal with them whether you want to or not at times. Like the original Xenoblade Chronicles, the combat system is based on weapons and “Arts”, which are special skills you use in battle. Learning the system is a little tricky at first, and it will take a lot practice to truly master and get your “perfect skill set”, however. Once you have it, you’ll be ready no matter who is in your party. Upgrading is simple, and effective. From buying new weapons and armor, to giving more power to your skills, its incredibly intuitive.
What’s more, you’ll see the purpose behind the leveling up. As not only do missions occasionally through very powerful monsters your way, but, the missions themselves sometimes require a level above the one you’re on. This serves as a nice warning saying “hey, you should really be here or above before doing this mission”, and the warning is appreciated. Because just because you’re a certain level, doesn’t mean the monsters in the area you’re going to have to be that same level. Like a natural world, there are monsters of every size and level almost in every area. This can be a struggle at times, as getting through certain areas will require patience and stealth. However, it does add to the effect of the world, and forces you to be aware of what’s around you at all times.
One of the biggest joys of the game though is the Skells. Mechanical exosuits that you well and truly earn, then can use, abuse, and enhance to become a monster killer of legendary proportions. Thankfully, these aren’t just thrust on you, as that would ruin part of the game in my mind. Like I noted, you earn these, and even when you get one, it’s kind of incomplete. Once it’s 100% ready, you’ll roam the ground and the skies with ease, and it’s a blast. The game will put you in your place if you get cocky though, as the Skells can “die”, and cost money to replace if broken too much. That being said, customizing the look, weaponry, and abilities of your Skell is a truly fun experience.
Like I said earlier in the review, I won’t delve too deep into the story. What I will say, is that it’s deeper than you think, and the twists that are put in front of you are both shocking and impressive. You’ll meet various alien lifeforms, each with their own style of society and code they live by. Each one adding to the experience. The team you build each has their own personalities and stories both before and after Earth, and its fascinating to dive into them via their Affinity Missions. You’ll soon find your perfect partners, and want to level them up to upgrade what they can do for you in battle.
Now, this has been a mostly positive review, as will the score, but, the game is not perfect. Aside from the monster problem I noted above, a key problem I’ve often faced is the Gathering Missions. As you might guess, you’re tasked with finding items in the world of Mira for others to use. That’s good in some ways, as it breaks up the missions, but, when you’re not guided to where the items are? You will be lost.
I frequently, and happily, consulted guides and other gamers experiences to find out where the items were. If I had bought this day one? I probably would’ve gotten stuck for a long, long time. This only builds as more and more Gathering missions are made. Some of which you need to complete in order to proceed with the overall game.
Which actually brings me to my second key problem. When doing certain missions, mainly Affinity and Story missions, you cannot just “drop” them for another mission. You have to complete them before doing something else. This can be frustrating as certain missions will make you fail a lot, or have you waiting for some time before things happen to complete them. This will test the patience of many I’m sure.
Finally, a bad thing via the Wii U itself, the Gamepad only has a roughly 3-hour battery life, so you will have to recharge before doing another long run. That’s fine…but I know people who prefer binging games rather than stopping and starting.
Despite all that though, Xenoblade Chronicles X is a magnificent game for the Wii U, Nintendo used the Wii U Gamepad to perfection, and I honestly played the game on the Gamepad the whole time, didn’t need my TV. This game is fun, and deep, and detailed, and something that I honestly spent all of New Year’s playing. If you like RPG’s, fantasy, sci-fi, mech suits, or just want a game to play for a long time with fear of boredom or regret. Get Xenoblade Chronicles X.