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Goodbye Xenoblade Chronicles X


So, I finally finished Xenoblade Chronicles X today. And by "Finished", I mean completed the main story. And by "main story," I mean getting the end credits to roll. That is no small feat, as you have to go through four boss-esque battles and like an hours' worth of cutscenes to get there. But, get there I did, 104 hours later. I don't think I even covered 50% of the world map either. And there's still countless side missions to do, but also fully-voiced "Affinity" missions as well. 

There's a ton of content in this game, is what I'm saying.

But, I feel that this is a game that overstays its welcome by a huge degree. It's a shame too, as the game provided me with easily over 80 hours of enjoyable content. I just got sick of it by the end.

What's good about it? Well, the biggest thing is the world. It's huge. It's beautiful. It's a joy to explore. I have no idea how they managed to get such a lovely world on the WiiU hardware (Black magic?) but they did. The game is generally gorgeous to look at, with tons of varied scenery, hills to climb, cliffs to explore, caves to find, and plenty of areas roped off to tempt you to return. I don't think I've ever played an open-world game with such a vast land of beauty to explore. A lot of games have a big open world that they do nothing with, but Xenoblade goes out of its way to ensure that everything about the world is interesting to see and explore.

This is good, because the character models are pretty ugly. They look alright in stills, but they don't move very much in animation and there's very little facial animation at all. It makes everyone look off, something that only gets worse the more you play and emotions start to run higher. Hearing a character cry but their face remain stoic was something I thought we got rid of in the PS2 era, you know?

Also, the music. It's not to everyone's taste, but it's sure as hell to mine. As a fan of the Persona series, I have a great love of music with cheesy-as-hell lyrics, rap, and sick guitar riffs. Xenoblade has that in spades. But it also has some pretty lovely tunes as well, with and without vocals. Noctilum's Day Theme is my favorite, but I didn't come across a single song that made me groan and want to turn it off. This is good, because the game is so long, the songs repeat. A lot.

See, the big problem with Xenoblade is that, once the joy of exploration wears off, the magic does as well and you're left with a game that isn't super fun to play. The Battle System is fairly automatic--I've been told it's like MMOs with auto-attacks and cooldowns, but I haven't played one so I don't know. But it's hard to stragetize when you only control one person and the AI is competent but not brilliant. It can also be hard to tell when you're being hit or not, since the battles rely primarily on numbers and such. My character swings his sword at an enemy flying ten feet over his head, the sword doesn't even come close, but numbers come up indicating a successful strike. It keeps the combat from having real impact and weight. It just kind of feels like you do skills when they are charged and wait for the numbers to come up. I have no idea how you would beat enemies stronger than you, since there doesn't seem to be any real strategy.

When you're exploring and in awe of the world, this is fine. When you've seen everything, this is an issue.

Same goes for the side-missions. They are almost all fetch quests of some sort. Go here, kill X enemies, collect X things, talk to X person. They repeat this style ad nauseum, with very little variation from the idea. When you're exploring the world, they don't seem bad since every single one takes you somewhere new. But when a mission requires 10 of magic item #1120 and you've only collected 2, it can be a real drag to complete. Story missions don't vary much from this either, though they tend to take longer because of cutscenes.

Speaking of cutscenes, the game's story is kind of terrible. It makes enough sense, yes, and it avoids a lot of anime tropes, but it's just not very interesting. There's not much to your tale of survival, outside of following leads that go nowhere or rescuing someone. It doesn't really get any more interesting than that, either. The characters tend to be all one note, and fairly poorly written. Main girl Elma has exactly 0 personality, and is only known as the commander of some people. Lin likes to threaten to eat Tatsu, but that never gets funny. L is my favorite, because he refers to himself as "We" and doesn't understand human culture. But, he doesn't have any kind of arc or story.

Plus, as I said, there is so much STUFF to do in this game. If you want a game filled to the brim with STUFF, this will give you literal hours and hours of entertainment. But, it got old real fast. 

That's not to say I don't recommend it. I had 80 hours of pretty much pure joy, exploring new terrain, fighting scary monsters. When my giant robot got the ability to fly, I was in awe by the sheer size and scale of this game. That is a feat, one that cannot be understated. If you found joy on first going into Hyrule Field and wondering what was out there, this game will take that feeling and multiply it thousandfold. 

There's just little else here that's really exciting. 

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About Derek Pietrasone of us since 12:33 PM on 05.03.2014

Derek spends his days trying to keep up with Sonic the Hedgehog, his evenings attempting to jump as high as Mario, and his nights by sneaking into the Ninja Turtles' secret lair in the hopes of getting some special ninja training from Master Splinter.

Among other things.

Born and raised in boring ol' Massachusetts, Derek has felt the call of fantasy from a young age. Proudly declaring that "Reality is boring!" he strives to find new and interesting fantastic worlds with an unmatched drive. He hopes that his works will one day inspire others to explore the fantastical. He welcomes anyone on board for the ride.