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Xenoblade Chronicles X Review

  • First Released Dec 4, 2015
  • Reviewed Nov 30, 2015
  • WIIU

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Of all the open-world games to come out this year, Xenoblade Chronicles X may be the most formidable. It is a truly enormous game, both in scale and scope, with towering animals and rock formations stretching as far as the eye can see. Even after as many as 60 hours, X continues to provide taller mountains to climb, and stronger opponents to topple, with no end of new challenges in sight.

At the same time, X is a long RPG with a thin story and repetitive, lifeless characters. You hear the same jokes over and over again, and endure drawn-out cutscenes with little to no emotional payoff. Like so many Japanese-made RPGs, X's serious moments are often undermined by the presence of a cute and cuddly sidekick. When you aren't wincing at the sight of Tatsu--the game's stuffed animal of choice--you may instead be reeling from the soundtrack, which is dotted with low-rent tracks that make you reach for the mute button.

These are reasons enough to walk away from most games, but X isn't most games. By offering a steady stream of challenges that take you to fantastic places and put you into fights at the feet of giants, X has no problem enticing you back for more. It's a feat of large-scale game design that would be impressive on any console or computer, let alone on the modestly-powered Wii U, and getting the chance to explore and fight in a world as impressive as this one is worth enduring a few annoyances along the way.

Your journey begins when you wake up in a life pod on Planet Mira. A spaceship that escaped from Earth crash landed here after just avoiding complete destruction in an alien conflict, and the few humans who remain are left to fight for the survival of species. As a member of Blade--the military organization in charge of scouring Mira and defending humanity--your primary goal is to locate the invaluable pod known as the Lifehold. If Blade can secure it, the safety of your colony--New Los Angeles---will be ensured. If it falls into the wrong hands, your time is up.

Healing your characters requires you to react to QTEs, which can be difficult during heated battles.
Healing your characters requires you to react to QTEs, which can be difficult during heated battles.

Apart from the odd name given to your colony, X's story isn't memorable, save for a couple twists. However, the context provides an excellent framework for exploration and combat. You play the part of a soldier on the frontier who treks across Mira, an ancient land whose features suggest a storied and chaotic past and whose inhabitants regularly dwarf your squad of explorers. Massive, electric creatures hover over land and sea, and spiders the size of small houses march across plains. Dinosaurs and mammals with feet taller than your character cast huge shadows over the land, and while I felt intimidated the first time I saw one of these monsters, I dreamt of the day that I would be strong enough to take one on in a fight. With enough time and energy, that dream can become a reality.

While some animals are content to leave you be, others are aggressive and will attack on-sight. You defend yourself and your team of three AI controlled soldiers in real-time combat which, for the most part, is a smooth and exciting experience. Every character has a melee weapon, a ranged weapon, and, depending on their class, a selection of offensive and defensive Arts (read: abilities) at their disposal. You earn new Arts when you level-up, and special class-based skills unlock every time you earn a new rank, so you have a steady stream of new abilities to experiment with as your adventure continues. Once you begin to identify skills that suit your play-style, you can invest a third measure of experience--battle points--to soup up your favorite moves and craft a unique fighting style.

After dozens of hours exploring on foot, the moment you jump into the pilot's seat of a Skell is an awakening.

Instead of casting healing spells or using consumable items to patch up wounded warriors, you rely on a QTE system, which is triggered by a complex series of events in battle. Something as basic as healing, in a game where combat is central to the experience, should be made clear from the start, but you're left to decipher a complex system, known as Soul Voices, where you assign automatic actions to very specific battle conditions. As much as you might want to, you can't totally control the tide of battle, so you pick and choose variables, praying that when the going gets tough, you've assigned a suitable automatic event to save the day. If this sounds confusing, it's because it is. While it's rare that you're left without an opportunity to recover some health, there are times when you wish that you could take matters into your own hands.

X does a poor job of explaining things in general, and you will spend a lot of time with the in-game manual, poring over pages in search of information. X allows you to dive deep into character progression and resource management but, without proper guidance, you will undoubtedly get lost. This may sideline more advanced pursuits in order to continue exploring and fighting--if only because those activities come so naturally.

You always remember your first Skell.
You always remember your first Skell.

Story missions set a good pace for exploration and skill development, and the conclusion of each chapter grants you access to a new series of rewarding side quests. It's unfortunate, however, that you can't organically weave your way from one chapter to the next. Each story mission comes with a set of prerequisites, such as surveying a percentage of Mira, or, collecting a certain number of items from the wild. Exploring Mira isn't big ask, because it's just another excuse to dive headlong into its captivating wilderness, but fetch quests aren't as simple as retrieving items from fixed locations; the items you have to collect appear at random, be it from enemies or in the wild. Sometimes you find exactly what you need in a matter of minutes, but on a bad day, it can take hours.

Though progression sometimes slows to a halt because you're required to complete a seemingly unimportant mission, grinding in any form can be made easier by recruiting other players' characters. By visiting a terminal at your base, you can spend in-game currency to hire avatars that people have shared online. While this isn't something you have to do often, hiring a high-level character can make it easy to grind for experience, or to venture into dangerous territory. Even though I couldn't chat with her and strategize, I still loved that I was able to recruit a level 60 character named Samus and watch her tear through a swarm of aliens when I needed it most.

Xenoblade Chronicles X is a feat of large-scale game design that would be impressive on any console or computer, let alone on the modestly-powered Wii U.

Exploration and missions are an important part of being a Blade soldier, but you are also responsible for setting up a network of devices to mine Mira's resources and gather information. Miranium is a key resource that can be invested in weapons and armor manufacturers in order to unlock powerful exotic gear. From your humble beginnings in kneepads and wrist guards, you slowly blossom into a skilled warrior who's decked out in the finest ornate alien equipment, and it’s all because of your efforts as an explorer. X has no shortage of wondrous sights to behold, but it also incentivizes you in other, more beneficial ways.

Just when you start to think that you've exhausted your hunt for new gear, you unlock Skells, which are X's giant bipedal robots. After dozens of hours exploring on foot, the moment you jump into the pilot's seat of a Skell is an awakening. It can transform into a vehicle on-the-fly, allowing you to traverse large swaths of land in a flash. You are considerably more powerful in combat, too, and you finally have a fighting chance against monsters that previously seemed out of your league thanks to your newfound beam saber and missile launchers. You can also trample over smaller enemies without skipping a beat; small being relative, of course, as practically everything in X is bigger than you when on-foot.

Where we're going, we don't need roads.
Where we're going, we don't need roads.

Your first Skell is just the beginning--there are multiple models to buy, each with over a dozen parts to customize and upgrade. Between your party of four and any Skells that you acquire, X gives you a near endless supply of goals to pursue and countless beasts to test your might against. After 65 hours doggedly chasing the next best thing in X, I felt like I had only scratched the surface, with game's the biggest challenges still ahead of me.

Mira and its inhabitants are awe-inspiring, and experiencing everything X has to offer is a monumental and rewarding task. It makes the journey consistently interesting by giving you intricate control over your characters' abilities and gear, and by offering a wealth of new toys to play with as time goes on. You will roll your eyes at characters, and bemoan the unnecessary story padding, but these frustrations are quickly forgotten when you head into the wilderness in search of unexplored territory and unforeseen challenges. X is a grand adventure that satiates your appetite for exploration and combat in ways that few games ever do, but because getting started is half the battle, it’s an experience reserved for dedicated players who have the patience and energy to unearth its greatest treasures.

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The Good
Impressive scale
Breathtaking landscapes
Captivating creature design
Tons of unlockables and quests
Exciting ground- and mech-based combat
Deep character progression and customization
The Bad
Inconsistent soundtrack
Ambiguous systems
Disappointing story
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Peter spent 65 hours in Xenoblade Chronicles X and still longs to uncover all of its secrets, but more importantly, all of its Skells. Nintendo provided a copy of the game for the purpose of this review.
648 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for doonish

Is this review up on YouTube yet? Would love to watch it.

Avatar image for Helios_Sun

is this turn based?

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No, it's real time action with a cool down system.

Avatar image for felipe221995

For a game with 200 hours of content and around 40-50 hours of main story, meaning that around 150 hours are spent with side quests... yet the side quests are mentioned in barely a couple of line in this review, this is certainly disappointing. If you read/view other reviews, you would know that there are 3 types of side quests: basic , normal and affinity. The basic side quests are the only one mentioned in this review, which consist in standard "kill this monster" or "gather these materials". Now the normal side quest are more complex and can complement the main story and in the other hand the affinity quest are made to develop more the characters. Considering they claim the story is thin, my guess is that they didnt bother playing other side quest than the basic ones...

I pretty much made it clear how mediocre was this review (and there more points to discuss but considering they skipped one big element of the game, and of rpgs in general, certainly gives enough proofs), and personally i cant stop wondering if this people are being paid to give such shallow review or they simply are so useless

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat


Where are these "other reviews", really?

Before you criticize any review, you should be citing others that you think are better.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

@xenoes4: I have read Destructoid's review.

I will concede that I have a good first impression of the review, mainly from the statement that the reviewer is not exactly very eager for Chronicles X, and thus little impression of pre-existing bias in favor of the game prior to the review.

However, it does not appear to say anything that GameSpot's review had not. For example, Destructoid's mentioned the battle system, and so did GameSpot's, for example (obviously not in the same words). As another example, GameSpot's review did not go in-depth into the online component of the game, and neither did Destructoid's: both reviewers only did the feature of hiring copies of other players' characters.

Indeed, affinity missions are not even mentioned in Destructoid's review, and I am saying this since you seem to have pounced on the omission of the mention of affinity missions in the GameSpot review. Did you do that for Destructoid's?

If you did not, I suspect that you have some double standards, likely brought about by Destructoid's review being more favorable towards the game.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

@xenoes4: If you "never mentioned anything about the reviews themselves", then why did you list them down in response to my challenge about citing reviews that are "better"? And that challenge is directed at another person, by the way.

I think that you are the fool here. Either you are shifting the goal-post, or you are being absent-minded. Perhaps you are too lazy to read my statements, if you are neither.

Also, I will keep attacking you. I have the impression that you are terribly biased in favor of the game - biased enough to attack any review that won't sing great things about the game.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

@xenoes4: I have watched Gamexplain's video review of the game, and I don't agree that it is better. It has many statements which seem to be the total opposite of many things that GameSpot's reviewer said here.

For one, Gamexplain's reviewer seemed to be very enamored with the story - I doubt that he is a jaded person who has seen many, many stories. Moreover, he likes the story elements of the affinity missions a lot - something that GameSpot's reviewer isn't impressed with and has considered to be story padding.

Furthermore, the reviewer said that the game is very "accessible", whereas GameSpot's reviewer and Destructoid's reviewer both said that poring through the manual is much needed. Now, you can argue that everyone should look at the manual, and I will agree, but I doubt everyone would agree that having to look at the manual and thus breaking away from the game is considered "accessible".

Sure, Derrek has mentioned problems with the game, but he glosses over them, downplays them or just consider that all the good things (and he finds way, way many good things, peculiarly enough) outnumber the bad.

Rather, I have the impression that the reviewer is incredibly infatuated with the game. The bias is there, and I think that you think that Gamexplain's review is better because it resonates with you.

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@felipe221995: I think it's closer to 60 hours of story, the only reviewer I saw that said they beat the game did it in 85, and had a shit ton of side quests and more to do.

Avatar image for kbshadow

Reads like a 7.

Avatar image for Lionheart199020

@kbshadow: Exactly. If the story was disappointing in any other 50+ hour long story-driven RPG, it probably would have gotten more like a 6 or a 5 tbh.

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@Lionheart199020: Not really, Fallout 4's (or 3s) story isn't something I'm rushing to get through, but the game is still worth an 8+, Diablo 3's story is awful, but I still play the game, DA's story wasn't great but other things made up for it. In fact I would have to think very hard to even think of a dozen games where the story was something I took away from the game as one of its strongest points.

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Does anyone know if the costumes were actually changed for the US release? Any confirmation?

Avatar image for Avantyr

@watcher7: They censored the bikinis for one character and removed the ability to change breast sizes in character creation. Not sure if anything else was removed.

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@xenoes4: I think most people interested in the game know enough about it and are buying it and don't care about reviews.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

@xenoes4: You don't even clearly mention any alternatives. If you think that everyone else would take you seriously, think again.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

@xenoes4: Ah sure, dump the burden of research on others while you make unsupported statements. :\

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

@xenoes4: Well, good riddance to you then. Also, you are indeed biased, and there are too, too many people like you who fanatically defend the games that you like.

Also, you should have your research and cited them to support your statements in the first place. That's why you don't leave the research to others.

Avatar image for djezhel619

@Gelugon_baat: Actually, people should stop being lazy asses and research things themselves. Twice I have seen you attack this other dude. IF you are not interested in this game and are just here to try to make yourself intelligent i'll have to ask you to google for some of your local colleges and universities as they may be able to help that IQ. Unless you want me to do a full on research of that for you and summarize it.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

@djezhel619: I don't and I won't feel shame for attacking this dude. I happen to despise such a person, specifically die-hard fans who scrabble for anything to use to attack criticisms of what they like.

With that said, you had better think twice before making an off-hand remark about tertiary education; that remark can be turned against. With that said, do you yourself have any, *hm*?

Avatar image for djezhel619

@Gelugon_baat: Oh "I Better Think Twice" well sounds like a threat to me. Look guy, girl, kid, it... whatever you are. Theres a thing called having a life and to provide and to provide means to work over 40+ hours weekly. In other words you have way too much time in your hands to be replying on just about everyones comments on here. Do me a favor kid, finish your high schooling, finish your college, while working a full time job and go be successful out in the real world because this here isnt going to do much for you. Peace out little one.

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@xenoes4: You're a joke

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Just for people interested in playing the game, Nintendo has released 10-minute long Xenoblade Chronicles X Survival Guide videos on Youtube, There are about 5 that talk about combat and missions and things like that. I found them very helpful and I feel if the reviewers saw these videos before playing they would have a better understanding of how to play the game and it would not seem so daunting.

A lot of game developers use e-manuals these days. I prefer to read the physical copies but I understand the point. I'm probably one of the few that will read the whole game manual 1st.

Avatar image for theoasis77

Fallout 4 not everything is explained. 40 hours in and I'm still figuring things are. rpg's are like this.

Avatar image for Ripper_TV

Screens were taken from a video?

Avatar image for Geogyf

Only Gamespot cites patience as a negative in a RPG game...

"Deep character progression and customization", "Ambiguous systems" Anyone noticing the disrepancy here?

"X does a poor job of explaining things in general, and you will spend a lot of time with the in-game manual, poring over pages in search of information." The game has an ingame manual? And we complain how boring is to look at it?

But this is one of the few times where i see reviewers giving thumbs up for deep & complex systems & at the same time bashing the said systems for being too complex.

What is the difference between human & Mech combat? How these systems interact with the world? These are the questions that i would like to for the review to delve longer.

Also pages like How Long to Beast list a standard Xenoblade X game (playing ONLY the main story) at 77 hours, 10 hours longer than the previous game Xenoblade Chronicle X. The gamespot reviewer played 65 hours, which possibly means he didnt have the time to play any subquests. The game can take over 200-300 hours to play all the extras (since it is longer than Xenoblade Chronicles), according to its creators.

PS: Take my post with a grain of salt. I dont have a Wii console. I havent played any Xenoblade game. But i like RPGs and this game seems interesting enough to search for its reviews (even though i will probably not buy the console).

But this review hasnt illuminated me at all what the the game's problems were. I got the sense he wasnt objective.

The soundtrack problems are only mentioned in 2 lines (that he wanted to mute them. Why? what are the reasons for muting?) Plus other review problems that i wont mention now, this post is already far too long.

In the end, this review has confused me even more (and i didnt want to buy the game in the first place!)

I feel sorry for the people who will base their purchases from this review (even though the game got a high score, it didnt really explain the game)

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@Geogyf: So, you like RPGs. Have you played a lot of them? Do you have a 3DS? Have you played Bravely Default, or other similar style JRPGs? You're bashing the review due to their "contradictions"; yet you really don't know what you're up against. There is an article on here for Pre-Review Impressions (The Lobby). Watch that and maybe you'll understand their "contradictions" a bit more. JRPGs can tend to be overly complex just for the sake of being so. Their game systems can definitely be overwhelming to some (possibly many) people. And it's what turns many people off of them.

There's nothing worse than playing a game and wondering why they feel the need to make things so incredibly convoluted and complex; if for no other reason than "because they can". I LOVE getting lost in complex gaming systems...AS LONG AS THEY MAKE SENSE! But, you look at some games and there's no continuity to them at all.

Don't judge the reviewer here until you've played the game for yourself. My guess is you'll find the reviewer is probably right once you experience it for yourself. I am definitely looking forward to the game, but I'm honestly a bit concerned about having to learn all the game systems. I've read more than just this review stating the NECESSITY of the in-game manual and reading it. I just hope there is a coherence to all of it. My understanding is there are FIVE (or more) different leveling systems in the game!! WHAT?!? Why would you need that many??

Avatar image for sakaixx

@Geogyf: 60 hours is more than enough to review a game and done everything, wait, what ? it's not ? lol it's just a jrpg after all. all those 200 hours were just repetitive quests (kill monster, fetch quest, side boss battles) and world explorations anyway.

Avatar image for jespoke

The entire review sounds like the Reviewer never played the Affinity missions that I've heard such praise for elsewhere.

I think this review just doesn't match me. Things i care a lot about are not mentoined a lot, and things i don't care much about is more in focus.

This is why you read multiple reviews, different people prefer different things in games, and it is your job to find the review that was written by/for someone like yourself

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

@jespoke: And here is an example of the malaise of the gaming scene: game consumers looking for reviews that tell them what they want to hear.

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@Gelugon_baat: You are right. That is a dangerous attitude. Let me rethink it.

What it should really be is "Find a review that presents the information that is relevant to you." One where you can zone through the things you don't care about ("Massive beautiful world", "100 hours of gameplay", repetitive gameplay[Turn-based] for me), and get the info you are particularly interested in knowing about (Interesting puzzles, characters and decisions, repetitive gameplay[Action])

I'm not getting this game, but it is after judging whether the affinity missions and complex systems would outweigh my usual gripes with the genre.

Avatar image for Avantyr

God damned pointless censorship...

Avatar image for AndreasRufus

@Avantyr: Yeah... Arguing about the size of boobs is pointless indeed.

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If it wasn't an issue then why censor it.
It's an awful precedent nonetheless.

Nintendo censorship:

Avatar image for AndreasRufus

@Avantyr: it's not just nintendo - a lot of these things happen if a game get's localized in the US

Avatar image for sakaixx

Good review. I feared that this game is gonna bomb on the reviews since the import reviews aren't that great. hope people support this title !

Avatar image for snaketus

@sakaixx: It would be easier to support this game if it wasn't censored by Nintendo in the west. I'm going to buy it anyway though.

Avatar image for AndreasRufus

@snaketus: I know what you are aiming at, but not everyone needs a female avatar with planet-sized boobs...

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@AndreasRufus: oh they do ....

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@gannonnatasha: seems that way...

Xenoblade Chronicles X More Info

  • First Released Dec 4, 2015
    • Wii U
    Xenoblade Chronicles X is the next massive sci-fi role-playing game from Monolith Soft, the creators of Baten Kaitos and Xenoblade Chronicles.
    Average Rating79 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Xenoblade Chronicles X
    Developed by:
    Monolith Soft
    Published by:
    Role-Playing, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Animated Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence