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Xenoblade Chronicles X Preview: Making the Best Better

by Alex Culafi - June 12, 2014, 11:51 am PDT
Total comments: 10

As it turns out, the sequel to one of the best games of last generation looks pretty good.

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Xenoblade Chronicles X is the upcoming kind-of-but-not-really sequel to 2012’s (really 2010’s) Xenoblade Chronicles on Wii. Pegged as a spiritual follow-up that tackles similar themes with a new story and cast, X continues Monolith Soft’s wonderful JRPG/MMO hybrid gameplay in high definition on Wii U. The game is now delayed into 2015 and it isn’t playable by the E3 crowd, but Nintendo fortunately graced us with a new trailer and well over a half-hour of gameplay footage.

Surprisingly, outside of its title, the new X trailer tells us a lot less than many of the other trailers this game has received. The story seems to be dealing with another invasion (from outer space this time), and the trailer teases the return of the Nopon race at the very end, which Riki was a part of in the original Xenoblade Chronicles. While the trailer had much less focus, at least we know Xenoblade Chronicles X is now called Xenoblade Chronicles X.

As for those 40 minutes of gameplay or so they showed on Nintendo Treehouse Live, it was the very beginning of the game, so there were no playable mechs to be seen in those opening areas. It’s worth noting that the next two paragraphs are going to be me describing the basic premise and story intro I saw to the demo, so any of you who are sensitive to minor spoilers should skip two paragraphs after this next one for gameplay talk (starting with “As opposed to...”).

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The plot of the game, as I gathered, involves two alien factions fighting a war unrelated to Earth right above Earth’s orbit (seemingly coincidentally). The military prowess of these races far outmatches that of humanity, so as Earth gets destroyed as a matter of circumstance, the humans are trying to escape their dying planet while fending off aliens who don’t really see much of a threat in humanity. Earth blows up, and a city-sized ship representing the United States seems to be the only (or one of the only) surviving packets of humanity. Thanks to an alien attack, the ship makes a crash landing into an alien planet (mostly everyone survives, thankfully).

From here, your protagonist wakes up from stasis and you get to the customization screen. The plot then seems to involve you building society and cities from the remnants of humanity. The person giving the demo was saying how your job would involve finding farmers and people with skills that wouldn’t normally exist within the military (who are the first to wake up and the majority of those building the new society).

As opposed to Shulk in the last game, Xenoblade Chronicles X allows you to customize your character’s appearance and gender. This is a good thing, but I hope there are also preset voices that can make your character just as interesting as Shulk was in the first Xenoblade.

As your character steps into the world, it becomes clear that this game is ostensibly Xenoblade on a grander scale. X looks better (though some textures are rough and there does appear to be a downgrade since the initial reveal trailer), there are still huge over-leveled monsters to fight as soon as five minutes in (one brontosaurus-like dinosaur monster was so big that the main character model was only as big as the dino’s toenail), and the world is sprawling. A phrase commonly used in games of scale that was used in the demo is “if you see it, you can go there.” This exploration is made easier thanks to a lack of fall damage and a very generous jump, meaning that going down or up a cliff should be relatively easy. Perhaps all of this reliance on scale means that the world will be fully connected this time around rather than being separated by the Wii game’s loading screens.

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The combat, meanwhile, also seems like a slightly bigger version of the original Xenoblade. While you have a moveset and abilities displayed on an “Arts Pallet” that you use via a JRPG-style menu selection, the movement is in real time like an action game. So while you are using moves that are impacted by both TP (essentially move power points/mana) and a timed recharge, you are actively positioning yourself around the enemy to dodge using skill and deal the most damage-per-second possible. Additionally, the enemies range from passive to aggressive, with some changing aggression based on the weather.

I don’t think I saw everything that was new in the demo versus what was in the original game, but I saw bullet-based gunplay and a greater focus on long-ranged attacks. One of the interesting features was the dynamic relationship between long and short-ranged battling. If you fight up close with melee weapons, your TP charges faster and you can use more special attacks as a result. If you fight from afar, you fight safer but your TP charges more slowly. This is all happening while fighting along with your partner, who is able to fight alongside you, revive you if they get to you in time (at a cost of TP), and trigger a special move called Soul Voice that can grant bonuses or health if you press the B button at the right time in the middle of battle.

There are still quests and there are still many of the same building blocks we know and love, so barring any multiplayer surprises, the core gameplay of Xenoblade Chronicles X seems to be that of Xenoblade Chronicles on Wii, only bigger and better. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty great to me.

Talkback

Leo13June 12, 2014

Ok it's easy to believe that it'll be bigger than the original Xenoblade Chronicles (it was a Wii game and that system is much more limited than Wii U), but it was still my all time favorite game. I will be buying X, but I won't believe it's better until I have played at least 10 hours. Instead I’m just hoping for something that’s close to as good. (although if it really is better overall I certainly won’t complain)

ejamerJune 12, 2014

I kind of agree with Leo - X doesn't need to be "better".


Xenoblade is one of my all-time favorite games, so if X just comes close to matching that I'd be happy to drop another 100+ hours exploring and enjoying the in-game world(s).  Skipping the 40 minutes of gameplay video because I'm already sold on the game and would prefer to enjoy it firsthand (even if that means waiting for another year).

Leo13June 12, 2014

Ejamer- that's funny I also skipped the 40 min video for the same reason and I'm the kind of guy that normally doesn't care about spoilers, but in this article when he wrote mild spoilers I skipped the 2 paragraphs cause I want to fully enjoy it when it's here.

Triforce HermitJune 12, 2014

Sounds amazing. Hope it gives you freedom in relationship choosing for the plot. The Shulk x Fiora atmosphere in Xenoblade was really painful to go through for me. It made the affinity system with party members felt useless outside the Heart-to-Hearts.

This sounds like people complaining about spoilers when E3 previews of the original Assassin's Creed talked about Desmond being in a simulation. The developer wouldn't be showing it to press if they didn't want consumers to know these things up front. It's not even like when PGC leaked the SSB Melee character roster back in the day -- that was info Nintendo wanted to be kept secret, at the time. And posting it was still the right thing to do for our site!


Anyway, I enjoyed the preview. Alex picked up some things I didn't even notice, although we watched the same trailer and demo (I was standing in the front row for that entire Treehouse stage demo). One note though, I think Soul Voice is the same QTE feature used in the first Xenoblade. Sometimes your allies would encourage you to fight harder or come back from near-death, and playing that mini-Ouendan/EBA game would activate the bonus. They might be tweaking what it does, but that's not really a new mechanic for X.

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

This sounds like people complaining about spoilers when E3 previews of the original Assassin's Creed talked about Desmond being in a simulation. The developer wouldn't be showing it to press if they didn't want consumers to know these things up front. It's not even like when PGC leaked the SSB Melee character roster back in the day -- that was info Nintendo wanted to be kept secret, at the time. And posting it was still the right thing to do for our site!


Anyway, I enjoyed the preview. Alex picked up some things I didn't even notice, although we watched the same trailer and demo (I was standing in the front row for that entire Treehouse stage demo). One note though, I think Soul Voice is the same QTE feature used in the first Xenoblade. Sometimes your allies would encourage you to fight harder or come back from near-death, and playing that mini-Ouendan/EBA game would activate the bonus. They might be tweaking what it does, but that's not really a new mechanic for X.

Thank you for reading, but I do believe that sensitivity to spoilers is perfectly okay -- especially in the face of a company like Nintendo who is remarkably insensitive to them. There's a formal discussion worth having one day, but Nintendo's campaigns have always revealed way too much while being completely ignorant of fans who want any kind of surprise. Remember 3D World? Companies do this regardless of whether the people want it; they do it because it will make the game look more interesting. Once the money is out of your hands and replaced with the game, they don't care about what's left to discover. Knowing this, I try to be sensitive on Nintendo's behalf when I can.

ejamerJune 15, 2014

No intent to complain, and (at least for me) it's not really about "spoilers" for the storyline per se.


It's more that I just don't care about what the video shows.  I'm already completely sold on the game, so why not wait and experience everything myself instead of having the first half hour (or whatever) shown to me in advance by the Treehouse videos? Seeing the introduction now and then having to play through that same material later doesn't make sense to me.

StratosJune 15, 2014

I agree that I dislike seeing the opening cinematic in trailer form. I know it can be a perfect fit, but something feels lost when you first boot up your new game and you have already seen the opening cinematic.


Movies almost never do this so I think devs and pubs could go through the effort of releasing unique trailers.

ejamerJune 16, 2014

This line of thought reminds me of my favorite demos on 3DS, where players can transfer their progress directly into the main game instead of replaying/repeating those sections (Etrian Odyssey or Denpa Men). It makes the demo rewarding without taking anything away from the main game. Obviously that's much harder to do with video.


Of course, I'm also "that guy" who doesn't get why anyone would want to watch a Let's Play video when you could either (a) play a game yourself, or (b)watch something that was actually written and designed to be watched instead of actively played. Seems like a waste of my time - although I know that many people feel differently.

StratosJune 16, 2014

It baffles me as well, ejamer. I would only watch a Let's Play if it was from an internet personality who could make it funny enough (not found one yet) or if I wanted to use it as a visual player's guide for a tough spot (not needed that yet either).


But different strokes for different folks I suppose. I'll just play something I do own.

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WiiU

Game Profile

Xenoblade Chronicles X Box Art

Genre RPG
Developer Monolith Software Inc.
Players1
Online1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Xenoblade Chronicles X
Release Dec 04, 2015
PublisherNintendo
RatingTeen
jpn: Xenoblade X
Release Apr 29, 2015
PublisherNintendo
Rating15+
eu: Xenoblade Chronicles X
Release Dec 04, 2015
PublisherNintendo
Rating12+
aus: Xenoblade Chronicles X
Release Dec 05, 2015
PublisherNintendo
RatingMature
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