The last time I talked about Xenoblade Chronicles X for the Wii U, I gave it a review and you can read it right here. It wasn’t as great as I was hoping for it to be, but maybe that is partly due to having high expectations since I really enjoyed Xenoblade Chronicles. However, the game wasn’t terrible either. For me, XCX is in the odd middle ground of sorts overall. In this article, I’ll be talking more depth about what worked and didn’t.
There will be some spoilers here for both XCX and XC if you read more, you have been warned.
If I sound like I’m mostly think negative of Xenoblade Chronicles X, then I don’t exactly mean to be. It has a lot going for it, as well as the need for improvement in some areas. However, there’ll always be some issues when it comes to larger games like this one, so no one should expect it to be perfect. I’ve had a good amount of fun playing it, but I’ve also run into frustration at times, especially with difficult (for the wrong reason) boss battles.
XCX is one of the few open-world experiences I’ve had in a long time and it is so cool to have the freedom of going mostly wherever you want (jump out of a Skell as soon as a over-leveled enemies spot you though).
I think the thing Monolith had to address the most is how they ran into the same problem as other role-playing games usually share is that it takes a long time to get going. It has a cool beginning at first when you first start exploring Mira and then get introduced into New L.A., but then things almost go to a crawl shortly after til the story picks up more and you finally get certified to drive a Skell.
I’ll make lists of the good and bad of Xenoblade Chronicles X… starting with the worst.
5. They changed the radio station… and many can’t get into the grove.
What people were expecting for those who have played Xenoblade Chronicles X didn’t happen. Instead of having instrumental music, they decided to go with something completely different – electronic/pop tunes that mostly involve lyrics. Personally, I like some of the songs, but then there are others that just don’t work at all.
Matt Miller, part of the GameInformer crew, wrote a review on Xenoblade Chronicles X saying the soundtrack was “repetitive and schlocky”; from what I’ve read, it sounds like the majority of players agree with that statement. It’s difficult to appeal to everyone I suppose, but there are least a couple of songs that are outright terrible (no offense) and having lyrics playing during some long battles can be dangerous.
I mainly have a problem with how lyrics will sometimes come up during cutscenes; they just distract me when I’m trying to hear what the characters are saying.
But there are some who do like the soundtrack. One of my friends on GI, tstitan, wrote about his opinion in his blog post titled “The Misunderstood Brilliance of XCX’s Soundtrack” where he talks about why he likes it. You can read it by clicking here. He brings up good arguments and then makes a list of what he thinks is the best out of Xenoblade Chronicles X.
4. The graphics took a hit between its initial announcement and its release…
As a Nintendo fan, you can’t really be difficult towards the graphics department most of the time without sounding like a hypocrite. However, what they first teased us with compared to later trailers wasn’t the same. Monolith Soft still delivered a beautiful game that almost broke the Wii U’s limits, but they had to slightly downgrade due to taking up too much system memory if I remember right; I’d love to see what they can do on better consoles, so hopefully the “NX” will be better and more competitive.
I think they did the most they realistically could on the Wii U. As it is now, it takes up a lot of gigabytes (10 or so with the physical copy) to download all the packs/updates involving but I don’t mind since it is such a large game.
Anyways, some people have made comparison videos if you’d like to see what I’m talking about. You can check out Kotaku’s “A Disappointing Xenoblade Chronicles X Comparison” right here.
3. There is a lack of civilization on Mira besides humanity’s New L.A.
I have this third on the list because it really disappointed me how there are a good amount of different alien species, but they’re all on a mostly uninhabited planet. All the wildlife is well-detailed and cool to have, but I wished they had more than mostly natural landmarks. Besides New L.A., there really isn’t any other large establishments. I think they missed some big opportunities here like having different civilizations going at odds with each other in various ways if the aliens had more at stake on Mira.
The main story (I was stuck Chapter 10, so I started a new game) mostly focuses on humanity’s survival with one of the biggest problems being one group of aliens wanting us dead. They think of us as inferior to them in every way (like a form of speciesism). While that does give us an enemy to go after, there just should’ve been more focus on the other issues as well (some brought up during side missions) that they would realistically have. But the plot twist in Chapter 5 was well done and really unexpected… which leads us into my next point.
2. The main narrative could have been better given the premise.
I was really stoked for Xenoblade Chronicles X when they announced the whole premise of being forced to colonize on an unknown planet. You’ve been woken up after two months since we first crash landed on Mira and yet it seems as though they’re mostly set already with everything built and established. It felt like you just arrived only to go on a hunt for the Lifehold, defend the homefront, and go after the new enemy as the three main objectives throughout the whole game. This all works fine enough, but there could’ve been other things add to the mix to the main story.
The side missions do a mostly good job at covering the different problems the people have with various ideas such as feelings of distrust towards the government and hatred towards aliens after what happened to Earth. These optional sidequests are what save this game in a lot of ways. Not all of them were done well, but there were some that felt right. However, I think they were trying to tackle too many things at once during the short episodes.
Also, there really isn’t much distinction between factions in B.L.A.D.E. when it came down to it; I would’ve liked it if there was something more unique to each one like exclusive armor sets for example. There isn’t a great sense of loyalty developed after you first pick one to join. I understand that they wanted to make it so no matter which faction you chose you’d still be able to experience what everyone else is doing, but at the same time having exclusive missions or even mini-games would’ve been neat.
On a side note, I was hoping that they would do something more than what they did with Colony 6 in Xenoblade Chronicles. At least it would’ve been so cool if you actually had a home to call your own to live in instead of just staying in the barracks because they want you at work 24/7. Think about it: Collecting stuff and buying furniture to decorate the inside and out with, having a small farm to sell food to others, and so on… just saying. Actually “settling into Mira” yourself could’ve been an interesting break from all the action.
1. Most of the characters don’t feel right.
What is probably more troubling for the main story is how the characters are not as likable in Xenoblade Chronicles X as Shulk and the others were in Xenoblade Chronicles. People can accept an average storyline to follow as long as they really care for the cast. If you can get others feel sorry for the characters you create or better yet have them relate and put themselves in their shoes, then consider that a large success.
From what I’ve learned in my classes, the major three parts to writing any dramatic script are plot, dialogue, and characters… you can guess which one is the most important that drives the other two. If you start with the characters first, and then the rest will follow easier. Writing realistic or natural lines for what they say relies on who they are and having good plot depends on what the characters care about and what they’re trying to achieve.
I don’t think it’s necessarily bad script writing or subpar Affinity missions that is to blame, but maybe it’s mainly because there are too many playable characters to choose from. You try to unlock all of them and get to know your favorites, but you honestly can’t because most of the time you need to have Elma and Lynlee in your party.
Besides from that, there are certain distractions that take away opportunities for all of them to interact and say things to each other like the horrible food Tatsu jokes that occur often.
And now let’s go through what went right in Xenoblade Chronicles X:
5. The references to Xenoblade Chronicles were fun to catch and didn’t go overboard.
For those of you who’ve played Xenoblade Chronicles, the small nods here and there were a nice touch. Xenoblade Chronicles X was released about five years after the initial outing of Xenoblade Chronicles, so to recognize their previous work and fanbase was a thoughtful thing to do.
The most noticeable ones are Lynlee’s hair accessories – the Monado. You can imagine how many people were trying to speculate on what the story could be about from the trailers prior to its release.
4. Most of the alien designs are great.
The creatures you have to fight against or meet for diplomacy are mostly designed well. The attention to detail is wonderful in how you can see the ripples of the skin or the ruffled fur, for example. There are small creatures you can fight on foot and giant beasts that require a Skell to reach to make the world as lively as possible. No matter where you look, there is always something to see.
Plus, there are many cute animals as well such as this one:
3. The flexible class/weapon system is good.
It is interesting you can change up your playstyle any way you like it to be for your avatar by working up the different classes to utilize the various weapons and skills out there. Unfortunately, you can’t do the same for the other characters in your party, but I suppose that may have been too much to keep track of. Each of weapons are unique enough from each other to make a difference in battle.
I think there are too many status effects in Xenoblade Chronicles X. It’s hard to memorize all of the buffs and debuffs that either you or the enemy can inflict when there are over 20 of them. Some are obvious to understand at first glance, but others can be confusing unless you look them up.
I guess the only thing I truly hated was the Soul Voices. There was a similar mechanic in Xenoblade Chronicles, but in that game it made sense. It shouldn’t have replaced any sort of medic class by any means. Plus, it is just too complicated to use – there’s no other way to say it.
2. The Skells are crazy!
You don’t feel so small on Mira once you get yourself your very own Skell! Don’t worry though – there are still many areas to explore once you start driving and flying around on every continent. It’s probably one of the best moments of the game when you finally get your license and get into your first Skell that they give you. You can travel so much faster and feel like a boss.
The best thing about them is how they transform from land to air so quickly it’s like your very own Transformer with the exception that it doesn’t talk back at you. The vehicle and mech designs are so cool. There are never any problems when you switch back and forth between the two forms.
The worst part is the Skell insurance… as if we want video games to match real life in every way, am I right? Anyways, it quickly becomes a pain to deal with once you use up the three free passes and then you have to pay expensive fees to get them back. This will become more apparent when attempting to save the Skells your computer companions are using because they will fight to the very end unless you command them fast enough to jump out before it’s too late; they aren’t usually fast enough – why can’t they just go skydiving since there is no fall damage? I rest my case.
1. The world is beautiful!
I know I already criticized Mira on how there is a lack of settlements from small towns to grand cities like there was in Xenoblade Chronicles that were truly amazing and memorable. But they nailed the nature of each of the biomes.
I’ve read that people had complaints about how there wasn’t much variance in the terrain and how they went with the “typical” things like having a desert or a winter wonderland. Well, I don’t think that is quite fair to say considering how other game franchises like Mario can get away with using similar backgrounds or landscapes from previous titles.
Mira may not be as unique as being on the Bionis and Mechonis, but it establishes itself in other ways. I think Noctilum is the best example in how there are all these strange plants that glow in the dark with so many different fluorescent colors alongside the twisting tree branches that act as bridges. Noctilum is definitely my favorite place in the game.
And on that note, I think I’ll end there. I’m sorry I took so long to finish this blog post since I did the review, I just wanted to go all out on this since I do enjoy Xenoblade Chronicles X. I hope it was fun to read and please feel free to comment and have a nice day!