Xenoblade Chronicles X, Monolith Soft’s sequel to the critically acclaimed Wii game Xenoblade Chronicles, hits shelves Friday. It’s quite possibly the most epic RPG to land on the struggling Wii U, and while it won’t change the fate of Nintendo’s console, it does mark one of the system’s most important releases.
Xenoblade Chronicles X starts with your protagonist and a whole mess of other poor unfortunates having crash-landed on the planet Mira. Earth is gone thanks to a passing intergalactic war that destroyed your home world as mere collateral damage. Thankfully, a few human cities managed to depart the atmosphere in search of new, habitable worlds.
Battles in Xenoblade Chronicles X play out in real time, in the sense that you can move your character around at will. While you can use any ability you have selected for whatever class you have selected, it’s often a better idea to just let the game choose for you. Party members will call out for melee strikes, ranged support, or healing abilities based on how you program them. Say you want Elma to call for a group-wide buff when she drops below 50 percent health. If you respond to her cries appropriately, you’ll both be healed at no charge. So begins the game of combat volleyball, with you and your allies spiking abuse, palliatives, and cooldowns over the head of an increasingly harried target. It’s a bit by-the-numbers if you allow it to be. But the timing, as well as the question of when to listen and when to disregard your talkative teammates, keeps you engaged.
That description barely scratches the surface of Xenoblade’s ludicrous strategic depth, which extends well outside of the fighting itself. There are passive skills, new armor to earn by reaping a reputation with manufacturers, subclasses, specific spells that combo well with one another, loyalty to build with allies, and so much more. You can try to ignore some of it, but it’s in your best interest to tune your fighting cadre as tightly as possible.
As you’ve probably noticed by now, Xenoblade Chronicles X is massive. Every area is insanely huge and detailed, and it all fits together seamlessly — you can go from one end of the world to the other with no loading. So perhaps it’s an obvious point, but the Wii U is capable of some incredibly impressive stuff. That is not exclusive to the Wii U, obviously; surely other modern consoles could handle this game as well. But it’s worth mentioning, because nothing about Xenoblade Chronicles X feels like it has been cut down. The scale and detail is exceptional, and the Wii U is fully capable of delivering on a vision of immense grandeur and detail.
The addition that most specifically affects RPGs, though, is the one that almost all Wii U games include: off-TV play. Yet in this case, it massively improves a very genre specific feature: grinding. Thanks to off-TV play, grinding for experience or money can be made much more enjoyable for those who aren’t huge on grinding. That is because you no longer have to focus exclusively on what is often a fairly mindless exercise.
The impending release of Xenoblade Chronicles X is an exciting one, as it is one of the only JRPGs to grace the system. But the fact that it is one of such a small number is a pity, because with this game, the Wii U has proven itself a huge asset to the genre. The game releases December 4th. Will you be picking up the game?
Source News: Ars Technica