January 07, 2016

More details for Xenoblade Chronicles X

My apologies, my throat was on fire and I couldn't stop coughing after work Tuesday, so I didn't get back to my original post.  Spent all of yesterday in bed with no voice.  No voice = no calls taken in a call center.

I am still deeply enamored of this game, having clocked in forty hours of gameplay since last Friday.  Even when I am just playing the game on the Wii-U gamepad, it is a very beautiful game.  I am glad I downloaded the 8gb of data from the E-Shop because there is only a little pop in from loading data.

The story has a few holes in it, but I'm not going to nit-pick it yet until I've finished the game.  At forty hours of play, I'm level 34 and almost have two of the advanced classes mastered, and thanks to some story events, I've found a way to earn class xp at a slightly faster rate.  

Okay, slow down.  There is a lot I want to tell people about the game, but I do think the story is interesting enough that I don't want to spoil it.  I'm also trying to avoid the Superlative Adam Savage syndrome where every new thing is the best thing out there 'bar none'.  So lets step back the energy a bit and discuss the details.  I'll try to compare to other games I own on the Wii-U as I am able.  I am going out of my way to avoid any spoilers, though there is light discussion of the game setting and very early game below the break. So... small spoiler warning?

This is an open world action rpg. As a breakdown, you can go where you want pretty much from the start of the game, and the only 'gating' is how quickly the monsters kill your character.  Fights are fully real time affairs, with positioning and timing of attacks being the key to fighting effectively, with both monsters and your teammates doing a lot of charging, sidestepping, flanking, and more.

As graphics go, I have been continually finding myself pausing to just look around at the world.  Textures are well used and look nice from a distance as well as standing right up next to it.  If I am moving very fast, there are some moments where monster will appear suddenly, or a group of objects will load in just as you reach them.  This happens more in New LA than out in the wilds. There is excellent use of ground clutter as well as flora and fauna.  This is good as this is very much a Lost in Space kind of visit to a completely new planet.

A majority of the game mechanics have been lifted from the original Xenoblade Chronicles Wii/NDS game.  The player has eight ability slots arranged around a central special power slot that changes on context.  The eight 'Art' slots can have any Arts that you have learned from the 16 classes in the game. They have tweaked the arts a bit from the first title, but if you've put any time into that one, you will be right at home here.   

(Brief side note: Yes, I'm going to compare the mechanics to the 'original title' a bit.  I'll try to keep it to a minimum.)

Each Art is tied to a specific type of weapon, and each character has both a ranged and melee weapon in their equipment.  Samurai Gunners use Longswords and Assault Rifles, while Shield Gunners have Gatling Guns and Shields.  As you master each class (get it to level 10) you learn more Arts, and can use them when you switch to other classes, as long as the weapon type matches the Art.  It leads to the ability to really customize your science fiction warrior with the eight abilities you want to use.  

And use them you will.  This is a game of exploring a planet that would like nothing more to jump out from behind a tree and kill you in one hit.  There are three layers of quests that send you out into this world: Story Chapters, Affinity Quests, and quests picked up off of the bounty board.  The first two levels of quest are mutually exclusive.  You cannot start a new Story chapter while you have an Affinity Quest active and vice versa.  The Affinity Quests are side stories about the people of New LA, generally the characters you can recruit to your four man party.  Story Quests advance the story of New LA and the White Whale.  The other quests vary greatly in goals and content, but the one nice thing about almost all the quests is that when you finish them, you get the reward on the spot.  You only have to go back to the quest giver in a few small circumstances, and usually because the quest has multiple steps.

The game is very well voiced, with all of the characters that can be put in your party having lots of lines.  The sad part is, despite picking a voice for your character, it is only used in combat.  In cutscenes you are almost worse than a silent protagonist.  You get a dialog box that lets you pick from two options, if you are consulted for your opinion at all.  The other mandatory characters for that quest do all the necessary talking.  It's great that I could design my character model and customize his play style, but give them a personality.  *waves the Mass Effect series around*   There's only one character I've disliked so far, but they are the comic relief for the game so I'm just letting it be.

Really I need to wrap this up by explaining why I'm drawn to the game.  I like pseudo-mmo action games like this.  Final Fantasy 12, Phantasy Star Online, Skyrim, Oblivion, Fallout 3 all have piqued my interest and found me spending a chunk of time just exploring the game and it's mechanics.  The fact that the game is a science fiction game just adds to my enjoyment.  I like themes like transhumanism, big mechs, aliens, high-tech, etc... but especially big mechs.  This game so far is turning out to be better than I expected, and it looks at the forty hour mark, that it would be worth playing through more than once just to mess around with different class combos.  Compared to the original game where I didn't see much chance for their to be a different game on multiple playthroughs, I am very happy.  If you liked the original, there are only a few story bits that might turn you away here, and I'm not done with the game yet. 

PS: Now that I've seen what they can do here, I can't wait to see the new Legend of Zelda Wii-U game that should be coming later this year.  

Posted by: Tom Tjarks at 05:49 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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