Eric Kelly On December 3, 2015 at 11:49 am

WiiU_XenobladeChroniclesX_logo_02_png_jpgcopyXenoblade Chronicles was a wonderful game on the Wii that did incredibly well in the States despite the odds stacked against it. It even managed to inspire a handheld port on the New 3DS. So you can imagine it would be a hard act to follow regarding Monolithsoft’s newest game. Xenoblade Chronicles X does much to enrich the experience of Xenoblade’s basic gameplay systems. While there are some refinements to the formula, some things weren’t fixed. But what is there is terrific enough that it still sits high among games of its type. Open world games would do well to learn from it.

The game’s plot is a pretty basic setup. Humanity had a swift and sudden invasion from a powerful alien force which resulted in a handful of people escaping Earth’s destruction. The one ship that escaped drifted through space before the their assailants caught up with them, which broke up their ship enough that the most vital parts got caught by the nearby planet’s gravitational pull. Various parts were then scattered across the planet and they were stranded on it. Months later after they settled, they engaged in a search to find the missing pieces of their ship which are vital to their survival. During one of these searches, they uncover your player character, who is the custom created avatar that you construct. The options in the creator are a few presets, and there’s only a handful of options that you can use to further customize beyond that point. There’s enough there to be satisfied, although they game kind of hoses players wanting to be a man but not old and unattractive looking. It seems being a ‘Boy’ is the closest you’ll get to being someone that vaguely looks to be in their 20 to 40’s.

As for the gameplay, much of the mechanics are borrowed from Xenoblade. You wander around a world in third person, only now the scale is much larger and the story largely takes a backseat to the exploration. In fact the story won’t even move forward unless you want it to, barring the completely unnecessary prerequisites needed to even undertake the mission. On one hand, these requirements are a stopper from just doing the story missions outright. On the other, they encourage players to explore the world and engage in the affinity missions, which can unlock new characters or skills to use in combat. Also it’s a not-so subtle way telling the player that ‘the next story mission might be difficult, so use this as an opportunity to get stronger’ kind of nudge. The only problem with this is that the game doesn’t always tell you where these affinity missions, certain people, or quest items can be found. There is still a wealth of info that’s conveyed on the gamepad’s touchscreen, and its integration is both welcome and a necessity. This game could only be done competently on the Wii U. But a few of those details slip through the cracks, which can be slightly irritating at times.

What’s far more impressive is the combat. Like Xenoblade, the game takes the MMO like mechanics while adding some more action elements to spice the game up. Arts still have cool-downs, but they now sometimes make use of TP, which is also used to revive fallen characters or to go into Overdrive mode, which replaces the Unity attacks of the previous game. While the cast of Xenoblade were playable characters, you can only play as your avatar. To address this, Xenoblade X has introduced a class system. Each class plays wildly different from each other and interchangeable. Mastering any advanced class will let the player use the weapon types and their respective skills of that class in other classes, allowing for hybridization. Things get even more interesting once you get access to Skells, the mechs in the game. These mecha make exploration more convenient as they are generally faster, and you can make those gargantuan monsters that have beaten you down a much easier undertaking. And then you eventually get the ability to fly, further expanding exploration. The ability to fly also makes it easier to locate all of the data probe locations so you can expand your production of Miranium and regular credit earning. Miranium is a currency used to invest in companies to make new products, as well as developing items directly. Credits are mostly earned from the revenue that you earn from the probes, which is a good thing, as Skells can be costly.

There are a few issues from the previous game that still haven’t been addressed however. Targeting enemies is still a bit difficult, and with new destructible appendages on the enemies, it can be even more frustrating to get a proper lock. The game also makes it needlessly annoying to construct a party. There’s no easy way to switch characters in and out of your active party, and of course most of them need to gain levels once you decide add them. So you expect them to die a lot until they catch up. The game also has a day and night cycle, but the ability to freely change the time to any point in a day is removed. Now you are forced to seek out places on the map represented by a clock on the map, all to change the time. These two features were handled perfectly in the previous game, so it’s baffling as to why they dropped the ball here. Another thing that’s annoying is that while the game seems to remember which passive skills you’ve equipped to a class, it can’t remember which weapons you had on that class once you go back to the old one. Every time you switch, you’ll have to go into the equipment screen to take off the default weaponry it forces on you. These design failings aren’t enough to severely hamper one’s enjoyment of the game however. The game’s visuals aren’t the greatest example of the GPU inside the Wii U, but its art direction, use of color, and sheer scale of the game’s world is often breathtaking; even more so when you can observe the landscape from the skies.

The soundtrack is terrific, with the use of cheeseball lyrics in battle that really sell this game’s status as a JRPG. The tracks outside battle are equally great as well. There is only one language track though, and while the actors used are mostly competent, the heroes performances are drier compared to the villains. That can also be said of the quality of the story, which is less interesting than Xenoblade’s. The game is mostly about the gameplay, and it’s the game’s greatest strength. There is subtle multiplayer support which you can join other players to take down monsters in either instanced like settings, and you can even recruit players’ avatars temporarily to aid you the single player content. There are also squad tasks that other players can accomplish by simply being a part of the same division as you. These rewards can be used to get other useful items that make grinding and hunting less tedious. It’s a well-rounded experience, and despite the hiccups, its benefits heavily outweigh its foibles. To those who are looking for an experience that will reward those who put forth the investment, it’s highly recommended to play this game.


Despite the handful of head-scratching design issues, it doesn’t diminish the game enough to get heavily demerited in score


While not looking the best visual powerhouse of other current gen games, the game triumphs with its sheer scale and level of performance, even if it has to do some dirty tricks to get there.


The soundtrack is a fantastic ensemble of music that also brings in the welcome cheesiness with its occasional lyrics. Voicing acting is a bit mixed though, and only available in English.


Much like its predecessor, the game’s good qualities outshine it’s bad ones out of the sheer joy that can be derived from exploring the world and engaging in combat. It’s also very much a game that will reward you proportionally to the amount of time you put into it.

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