Xenoblade Chronicles X, which was developed by Monolith Soft and published by Nintendo, is just a couple of days away from its announced release date. And as expected, Nintendo has given the go-ahead for reviewers who were sent early copies to publish their game reviews. Suffice to say, the game reviews are a mix between good, bad and great, which can be pretty confusing for those who are debating whether to get the game or not. In lieu of this, Tech Times compiled these reviews on the game.
While Xenoblade Chronicles X is considered part of the Xeno video games series, the whole plotline is independent of the franchise’s and its “spiritual predecessor,” Xenoblade Chronicles. The upcoming Wii U open-world RPG’s storyline is set in 2054, after Earth gets destroyed by a war between two alien races. As a result, humanity is forced to evacuate the planet using interstellar ships. However, among the ark ships that attempted to depart, only the White Whale, an American ship, managed to get out. A couple of years later, the White Whale was found and attacked by the Ganglion, one of the two alien races that confronted each other near Earth. Subsequently, the lone ark ship was forced to crash land on a planet called Mira after suffering significant damage from the attack.
Several stasis pods containing passengers of the White Whale got ejected as the ship crash landed. As members of BLADE, players are tasked to find the said pods, as well as exploring Mira and protecting the in-ship city of New Los Angeles from threats.
The game’s plot is clear and simple. However, it may have been too simple for its own good.
“X is a long RPG with a thin story and repetitive, lifeless characters,” Peter Brown of Gamespot comments. “You hear the same jokes over and over again, and endure drawn-out cutscenes with little to no emotional payoff.”
Along with the plot and lifeless characters, Brown commented that the game has reeling “low-rent” soundtracks. Taking everything into account, Gamespot gave Xenoblade Chronicles X 8/10.
However, it should be noted that a lot of people do not agree with the soundtrack assessment.
“Then there’s the music,” Ars Technica’s Steven Strom notes. “Equal parts sweeping and fabulously corny, this is probably one of the best game soundtracks of the year.”
The Vast Open World and Visuals
Undoubtedly, this Xenoblade Chronicles X is the one of the best looking Wii U titles to date.
“Xenoblade Chronicles X is a feat of large-scale game design that would be impressive on any console or computer, let alone on the modestly-powered Wii U,” Brown from Gamespot highlights.
But to say that Mira is vast would be an understatement. In fact, it’s gigantic.
“Mira is a gorgeous setting, split into five continents, each with its own distinct flavor. But they all share a few important details: Each zone is gigantic, full of nooks and crannies to explore and designed in a way that feels natural, oblivious to the cliches of the average video game setting,” writes Philip Kollar of Polygon.
But while the game looks spectacular, Kollar went on to state that it’s full of annoyances in the form of “overly complicated and under-explained systems.” Polygon rates it at 7/10.
Eurogamer did not rate the game, but gave a good explanation on why it looks epic and engaging.
“As you start navigating the terrain, you might start to notice some of the subtle but impressive visual touches,”comments John Linneman from Eurogamer. “Animation is a huge step up from the previous game with characters that feel more connected to the world during exploration sequences, though some of the cut-scene animations feel rather stiff in comparison.”
Having a vast world is nice. Having a vast world with lots of little details in it is great. This is exactly what Xenoblade Chronicles X prompts players to do.
“Exploration is the key to anything in Xenoblade Chronicles X,” Donald Theriault of Nintendo World Report advises. “It’s necessary to complete quests, generate a steady source of income because the missions only carry you so far, and depending on what character class you play it’s the fastest way to overcome experience hurdles.”
Theriault loved almost everything about the game. The only real problem he had was with the frustrating checkpoints and enemy placements. Nintendo World Report awarded Xenoblade Chronicles X with a 9.5/10.
Leveling Up and Combat System
“When you’re not hoofing it to your next quest destination and soaking in the breathtaking sights, you’ll spend your time fighting the indigenous wildlife in a fast-paced strategic combat system reminiscent of MMORPGs like World of Warcraft,” David Roberts of GamesRadar explains. “Xenoblade‘s twist is that many of the skills used by various party members will combo with your own – follow up your buddy’s stagger attack with your topple attack and you’ll cripple your opponent for a few precious seconds.”
However, the developer’s intent of prompting the players to explore the vast world and discover things by themselves seems to have backfired.
“Unfortunately, many of Xenoblade‘s quests don’t explicitly tell you where you need to go, leaving you to wander each of Mira’s five ridiculously large continents for hours while you hunt down arbitrary item drops,” Roberts adds.
With the grindy hunt for quest items, along with the game’s lack of explanation for things and the weak plot,GamesRadar gives it a 3.5/5 stars.
Nonetheless, there are those who took the weak plot and the game’s complexity as less of an issue. This surely holds true for The Sixth Axis, which rates the game at 9/10.
“[Xenoblade Chronicles X’s combat system is] set up in such a way that MMO players will be immediately at home, with your action palette laid out at the bottom of the screen, and your character will auto-attack while you select from the range of arts,” The Sixth Axis’ Dominic Leighton notes of the combat system. “Just as in an MMO, the key to success is utilising the correct buffs, debuffs and the effects of your team’s attacks, so that you can then capitalise on them. I found it a pleasure to use, which is a positive given how much combat you’ll be engaged in.”
GamesRadars says the Skell, the in-game mech that players get to ride, is a game-changer. However, according to Jim Sterling of The Jimquisition, it wasn’t after 20 hours of gameplay when he got to ride his first skell. Nonetheless, he claims that all the hours spent and the tedious pilot licensure exam that he had to undergo was well worth it.
“My first time in the Skell was one of the more beautiful moments I’ve ever gotten to enjoy in recent gaming memory,” Sterling describes his Skell experience. “After hours of being beaten up by oversized aliens and high-level nasties, it was downright exhilarating to put the hurt on them in return.”
Note that Skells are not invincible and that they also take damage. Moreover, it won’t be after a “significant amount of time” before players can get their skells to fly.
“Oh yeah, they get to fly,” Sterling adds.
The Jimquisition has Xenoblade Chronicles X at 9/10.
If there’s anything that Xenoblade Chronicles X tells us, it’s that playing it will burn weeks, probably months. If you’re prepared to do that and you like JRPGs, Mechs and exploring a vast world, this is a game for you. If you don’t, there’s always other games.
Below is GameXplain’s recorded 3-hour gameplay on Xenoblade Chronicles X. It provides a more in-depth review of the game than most of the write-ups compiled here.