I'm 31 hours in and just had the mighty Heropon Riki enter my party. Deliciously looking forward to testing his nasty abilities on enemies.
See, the thing about Xenoblade is that it's technically linear, with environments being more or less a straight line from one place to the next, but there's a whole lot of space to the game so that doesn't make you feel like you're really going down hallways, essentially. Plus, regions host a number of higher level beasts that make you shake your fist in defiance and say "Someday I'll actually beat you" as you weave in and out of their line of sight. But the amount of unique quests is really great, like the swamp's Pon-assist "story" and rescue mission, and the number of random challenges and (really not that bad) item collections. The quests are really why I'm 31 hours in without hitting a point in the story that's too frustrating or difficult to beat- but I'm also just about gaining a level an hour, which makes me eagerly anticipate hitting the fifty-hour/level mark. I'm just enjoying exploring, battling, party swapping, and the like. However, it's a bit overwhelming when I now have six characters on my team- poor Reyn hasn't seen action since Dunban showed up, and I'm hesitant to let go of Sharla and Shulk since I'm so used to their play-styles. But Melia, Riki, and Dunban are tempting me.