I’ve been wanting to play Xenoblade Chronicles for a long time. XC is a Japanese game that localized in Europe first since NOE has been localizing more games than NOA. I modified my Wii to play import games, thinking that would be my only way to actually get to play, but my importing plan fell through. Luckily, only a few months later the Stateside release was announced and released last Friday. You can pick up XC from Gamestop (exclusive, which sucks) now!
Xenoblade Chronicles has a really interesting game world. The world, instead of on a traditional planet, is on a vast ocean. On the ocean are two gigantic mechanical beings with people inhabiting them. From the perspective of the people, they know they’re on these beings but it looks like a normal planet to them. It’s like Halo; you think you’re on a planet but you’re not. The humans (Homs) live on the Bionis, and the machine enemies (Mechons) come from, I think, the other giant entity. From what I can tell, I think the enemies cross over from the other giant entity to fight.
The story starts out where the Mechons were thought destroyed, but then resurface and attack a village. The only thing that can harm the Mechons is the Monado Sword, which was originally in the hands of another character that was injured a year previous. The main character, Shulk, finds that he has the ability to use the Monado Sword and has special abilities that the previous wielder did not have, such as seeing the future. Now Shulk and his friend are leaving the colony to find the Mechons and get revenge for the death of their friend.
The world feels very large and open. XC feels a lot like a MMO. There are NPC’s with side quests that give rewards and experience. The quests can be to kill certain monsters or find things and bring them back. You don’t have to do any of these side quests if you want to focus only on the main quest. When fighting monsters, some will BAF (bring a friend, aka they are social). Like EQ2 had, there are collectibles to find on the ground (glowies) that you can put in a collection book to earn rewards. Lots of to do. The best way I can describe the feel of the world is an offline MMO.
Some very cool features of the game world are the day night cycle and monsters appearing at only certain times of day. You can form connections with towns people and really get into the world beyond what you would normally expect in a JRPG.
One of the main reasons I think XC feels like an MMO is the combat. You engage the enemy, lock on, and auto-attack then activate abilities. One of my characters (Reyn) is a tank and has the ability to generate threat so that the others are not attacked. I should mention that you have multiple characters you can control (swap in the menu) but can only control one at a time. Shulk has several positional abilities to backstab or sunder armor from the side, and a heal ability. When you use abilities they have a reuse timer, but no global cool-down. You can also combine abilities between party members; Shulk can daze the enemy and Reyn then knocks them down. Chain attacks can be entered into when you fill the meter. Lots of ability synergy.
Your character progresses through what I’d call ‘lines of progression’. Not necessarily talent trees, but similar in concept. They mostly add passives. One tree makes Shulk’s ability to heal better or when you encourage your allies they gain health, and another tree increases back positionals, etc. You progress in them by ‘tagging’ the tree and when you gain SP you level up that line of progression. You can also level up and learn new abilities automatically.
Since Europe localized the game first, I think they brought over the English European localization. Everyone has a British accent, which I find interesting since it makes everyone sound cool. The graphics aren’t the best since this is a Wii game. XC is still a nicer looking Wii game, but I’m partial to the way Skyward Sword looks. An important fact to include is that this game does not use the Wii’s motion controls, or at least I don’t use them. The default is the nunchuk and Wiimote, but I use my classic controller pro (the better classic controller) and the game handles very well.
From everything I have seen so far, Xenoblade is definitely worth buying. The game is a good length, the gameplay and story are engaging, the combat is fun, the controls are responsive, and the graphics are decent.