I had never really played any of the Xenoblade games when I was growing up, or had any real idea of what they were all about. Mainly because, after the Super Nintendo, I never had another Nintendo console (Gameboy not included.) My focus after this was on other consoles, and I sunk my time into the realms of Sony and Microsoft almost exclusively.
And then the WiiU came out, and I was older. I had disposable cash, and thought to myself “I won’t really play it much, but it’s a current gen console and I have the others, so I want it.” It wasn’t until late last year that I actually purchased one. And there was one main reason for me suddenly wanting one really, really badly.
Xenoblade Chronicles X.
I saw a trailer for this game in my local EB, and decided I just needed it. I mean, flying around in a giant Mech (Also called a Skell) and fighting aliens?! How cool is that?! I grew up watching Gundam Wing and Power Rangers and Voltron, and what I saw brought back all these happy memories of watching giant robots beat the shit out of each other. And after sinking approximately 80 hours into the game so far, I can honestly say that this game is huge.
Xenoblade Chronicles X is the spiritual successor of Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii, and is part of the overall Xeno series. It is a sci-fi based, third person JRPG set in a full open-world design that is heavily centered on exploration of the environment. The basic premise of the story is pretty simple; the Earth gets caught between two warring alien races and humanity evacuates to the stars. Through some unfortunate incidents, humanity gets stranded on an alien planet and has to survive.
One thing that has really hit me hard about this game is how big and in depth it is. On foot, most of the land-masses you visit will take you at least a half hour of walking to traverse from one side to another, and that not taking into account the doubling back or sideways travel that you will need to do to avoid certain monsters. Take into account the mountains you can climb and the caves and valleys you can visit, and it just keeps getting bigger. On the other hand, the majority of characters and races you come across are all fully formed, with intriguing backstories and hours of side missions to keep you running back and forth across this beautiful landscape. And it is beautiful. For an alien planet, with graphics on a WiiU, I cannot think of anything else that is as eye catching as this. Full Day/Night cycles with differing weather patterns will leave you wandering this alien landscape and more often than not just stopping to take in the sights.
Like all JRPG’s, the combat and character progression paths are outstanding. Each class uses different weapons that you cannot use with any other class (until you master it), with each weapon using different skills and so on and so on. Having never really played a dedicated JRPG like this, the one thing that I didn’t really like was how limited the tutorials and information was on all of this. I’m 80 hours in, and still don’t fully grasp the combat and crafting systems. Add in the skells, which have different weapons and combat again, and it all becomes a bit of a mind-fuck.
While we are talking about them, I think the Skells are a bit of a double bladed sword. On the one hand, you are running around in a giant, transformable mecha with rockets launchers and beam sabers and rail guns, beating down the violent monsters and aliens of your new world. And that is a lot of fun. But it takes a long time to get access to these – almost 60 hours for me so far and I still don’t have the flight module. Apparently that’s about another 20 hours away. And once I got it, I started to think that the fights would get a lot easier. If anything, they got harder.
Once you are in this giant machine of ultimate destruction, you really start to think you are unstoppable. That this particular beast you couldn’t beat on foot has no hope in hell of beating you this time. I found I really threw caution to the wind and started fights when I really should have avoided them. I lost a few skells this way, and It will cost you once you do. Insurance for these things is important, because without it, you’re looking at a very hefty sum to get one back on its feet.and then there is the problem with the view once your in your Skell. It really needs to be zoomed back just a bit more. The skell ends up taking up most of the screen when its in the walker mode, and it can be very difficult to see where you are going and what you are fighting.
In the long run, with as much fun as I have had with this game so far, I’m not really sure if it is something I will pick back up again in any great hurry once I finish it. I mean, I have sunk 80 hours into this game so far. And some of those 80 hours have been grueling, grinding, horrible hours. I’m not quite sure if that’s something I want to do again straight away.
With that said, this game is amazing, and I think it really showcases how great the WiiU could have been.
And who doesn’t love beating up aliens in mechas anyways?
The Good: The good: gorgeous game with great gameplay, in-depth characters and plenty of chances to customize how you play
The Bad: The bad: late-game missions can be repetitive, story can meander and be boring
The Final Word: Xenoblade chronicles x is a great game that showcases how great the Wii U really is. Sadly, it came too late to really make a difference.