Xenoblade Chronicles X is coming out on December 4th and everyone is pretty excited for this game, and for good reason too. Announced way back at E3 2013 it impressed everyone with its beautiful world, the giant alien inhabitants, the sense of freedom but more importantly TRANSFORMERS GUNDAMNS!!!
So to celebrate its release I thought it'll be fun to take a look back at the games spiritual predecessor Xenoblade Chronicles, which despite what it's name suggest isn't part of a franchise with 9 sequels in it à la Final Fantasy. The game definitely had a rocky journey to the west, along with Pandora's Tower and The Last Story it was one of 3 games that never was intended to be localized at all but thankfully that wasn't the case. The internet banded together to make Operation: Rainfall, a campaign created to persuade Nintendo of America to localise the 3 games and they succeeded!
Before I go on I just want to start by saying I don't really enjoy the JRPG genre that much; I despise random encounters, I hate grinding, I don't find turn-base battles really interesting, the pacing is full of unnecessarily padding and their stories are usually too melodramatic for my taste. I address this because I approached this game with slight bias against it and with a bit of interest but not terribly excited.
This game is probably my favorite JRPG game and in my top 5 games.
You know a game is great when it starts off with 2 huge ass Titans battling to the death, it gets even better when you slowly realize that their carcasses serves as the environments that you'll explore!
One reason I don't really like JRPG's is because they always follow the same standard tropes. It's ironic that a genre that is characterized by its fantastical elements always feels the need to contain the standard environments with a forest, volcano area and ocean as well as the the same old creatures like elf's and dragon; Xenoblade Chronicles doesn't do that. The aesthetics did a great job of creating a world where everything you see bears some resemblance to things on earth but alien enough to make them interesting in their own right. For example Satori Marsh is just like a swamp on Earth but notice how the trees glow light blue which creates a light purple mist across the land, it really adds a familiar and yet foreign atmosphere to it. Despite all the difference in the locals you explore there is still a visible connection between them since their all simply located on parts of the Titans bodies.
This is further strengthened by the sense of freedom the game gives you; there's no invisible walls to inhibit you, everything you see you can go to. You see that mountain? You can climb it. You see that giant sword embedded into the titans side? you can use it as a bridge between the 2 giants. You see that titan hand that got cut off in the introduction? you can go to that since it's now an island! I didn't even mind when the stories pacing is grinding to the halt because I was too busy just climbing to the highest point of each map and jumping off into a lake or more often a concrete surface, Add in a day-night cycle, a dynamic weather and no loading screen as you go across locations and you get one of the best realized worlds in gaming*.
*Except for Mechonis Field, fuck its horrendous brown palette and all the bloody levers you have to pull.
if their is one good thing about NOA taken so goddamn long to localize the game is the fact that they haven't had time to do proper voice acting so instead we got the British voice acting. The game does at times have its own melodrama but when they characters speak like characters from Oliver Twist and the robots speak like cockney pirates it makes the whole experience hilariously memorable. The characters are well characterized not only by the main and side quest but by the way they banter with each other during battles. They'll congratulate each other for well time hits, they taunt enemies and by god the catch phrases....
The gameplay immediately gets brownie points for including a real time battle system; you have to manually move your character, select "arts with cooldowns so basically its like MMORPG. The twist though comes from the fact that protagonists Shulk occasionally sees visions of the future of his team mates dying to a enemies attack and you and your party have to quickly prevent that by either buffing the team or disabling the enemies but you all know that blah blah blah so lets talk about what I like. I like how it does away from a trillion of JRPG functions that simply exist to waste your time; for instance you can save everywhere so you don't have to redo large portions of the game, as you explore the map you find landmarks that act as both fast travel location as well as checkpoints if you die and when you finish side quests you don't have to go all the way back to the quest giver to complete it. I like how you can change clothes you wear and that it's reflected in important cutscenes. It's even funnier when a NPC provides a stupid angsty monologue and your characters are to the sides in their underwear.
The gameplay combines Japanese design with most of the Wests "no bullshit" mechanics, it truly feels like an actual modern JRPG.
And now for the best part of Xenoblade Chronicles.......
Look at him. LOOK AT HIM!!!
"OMG he's so stupid, he's the generic masc-" POW! You here that? That's me punching you in the goddamn face because you're stupid. You think I'm kidding? You think this is a game?!?! No Riki is a boss who will fuck you up and here is why!
1)Are you a married middle aged man who feels like he's not represented properly in the video game medium, then look at this!
You see these guys on the right? That's his wife and kids, that's right he's married with kids. He is a 40 year old man, his wife Oka shows no respect and threatens divorces and his 11 kids are eating him out of this house. The only reason Riki goes with Shulk and his party is support his family and kids, he is your spirit animal!
2)He is the legendary Heropon, the one chosen by the prophecy to be the salvation of the Nopon race. Look at his glorious introduction!
3)His armor ranges from adorable:
To downright horrific:
4) Riki is one of the best members you can have in your team. First off he is a thief that not only steals items from monster he also steals EXP and STATS from enemies! Secondly despite being the smallest member of the party he is the 2nd talkiest character! Thirdly this games debuffs are actually really good and Riki can burn, freeze, poison and paralyze his foes, stacking them all at once. This all makes him able defeat bosses all by himself! He is a total badass who will kill you!
5) He can dance:
That's all the stuff I love about this game, what other stuff about this game do you like or dislike and hope to see in the sequel?