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Review

Xenoblade Chronicles X Review

  • First Released Dec 4, 2015
    released
  • 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.

Back To Top
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
8
Great
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 Random_Matt
Random_Matt

Rent it, can't risk buying it new at first, don't think chronicles is amazing. And a lack of story is a bit concerning for me.

Avatar image for snaketus
snaketus

@magicalclick: Indeed. That sure is funny now days how people are complaining about hand holding in games, but when they are not doing that, then it's a flaw. Make your god damn minds! I miss the old days when games let you learn the game at your own and not force an hour long tutorial to your throat when you boot up the game and even before you get into title screen.

Avatar image for harlemstruggle
HarlemStruggle

GameXplain gave a very in-depth spoiler free review which was extremely positive.

I'm getting the guidebook for this one

Avatar image for rarerichz
rarerichz

so he can criticize this games dialogue and not fallout 4s trash dialogue and call of duties that is even worse. reaks of biased.

Avatar image for that_witch321
That_Witch321

GameXplain's review is more in-depth.

Avatar image for Noved23
Noved23

@that_witch321: I have to agree. GameXplain did a great job describing the pros and cons.

Avatar image for Avantyr
Avantyr

@that_witch321: And being a Nintendo fanboy, a lot more positive as well.

I'd take it with a grain of salt.

Avatar image for gannonnatasha
gannonnatasha

@Avantyr: Nintendo make some of the best games, best quality at the very least.

You have to acknowledge that.

Avatar image for Avantyr
Avantyr

@gannonnatasha: Not my point at all, but yes, they can make great games, too bad that in many cases they take a one step forward one step back approach when updating their games, i.e. the newer Mario Party and Mario Kart entries, compared to the Wii versions.
Doesn't help that Nintendo can't be criticized without people going crazy. Just look at the replies in this site. It's full of people who looked for the review that most pandered to their expectations and shit on an 8 because they want it to be a 10...

Avatar image for abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@Avantyr: Need I remind you the shitstorm that was The Last of Us review on here? Don't think this treatment is exclusive to Nintendo, it's pretty much the case with almost all majorly hyped up AAA title (that doesn't greatly disappoint).

Avatar image for abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@Avantyr: Oh yes, because they enjoyed it and tend to prefer Nintendo games, that automatically makes them Nintendo fanboys incapable of giving honest reviews.

Avatar image for Avantyr
Avantyr

@abHS4L88:No, they just have a trend of overrating Nintendo games, and as such anyone thinking their objectivity is above that of this site is mistaken.

Avatar image for abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@Avantyr: Their games are rated on a "feeling scale" and ALWAYS give justification for their rating. Just because you loved a game doesn't mean you're overrating it, especially if you include the flaws as well as point out elements that might not resonate as well to others. And again, just because they enjoy it does NOT make them fanboys. Plus what proof do you have that they're overrating the games?

Avatar image for Avantyr
Avantyr

@abHS4L88: That's the conclusion I've reached after watching their reviews. Often when games were consistently reviewed as "awful", they rated them as something that to me sounds like "okay". But it's a subjective matter anyhow and I don't feel like going through their videos again just to write an essay on it to calm you down.

All I'm saying is consider that they may not be the most objective source when Nintendo is involved; I'm tired of people using their review as a means to question the objectivity of any critical review . People shouldn't only want to see reviews that reinforce their expectations.

I say fanboys because they have a pretty much Nintendo centric channel. It may be that I just feel they go into a game review with an excessively positive perspective, rather than my own cautious approach; it seems like they review a game as if people didn't have to pay for it. Again subjective.

I am "fan" of Nintendo, I just don't share the "fanboy" mentality and their Nintendo can do no wrong rhetoric.

I'm done.

I'm buying the game, just not going into it expecting a 10.

Good day

Avatar image for abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@Avantyr:

They're a Nintendo centric channel because that's what they prefer to play. Knowing that, would you trust them reviewing games like Fall Out 4, The Witcher 3 and Bloodborne? No because those are not the types of games they prefer playing so while they could possibly say that the game is great and blah blah blah, their enjoyment would be lower than what they'd get from a Nintendo title.

I've been following them over years now and many times they've pointed out things wrong with Nintendo's games so yeah, they don't share the "fanboy" mentality either.

Avatar image for Jdzspace
Jdzspace

already pre-ordered and paid for the collector's edition........can't wait until it gets here. time to dust off the old Wii U. :-)

Avatar image for Raansu
Raansu

Did this dude seriously just say the soundtrack is low rent flops? The soundtrack to this game is friggan amazing. Seriously the dude lost all merit for the rest of the review.

Avatar image for Noved23
Noved23

@Raansu: People seem to like the soundtrack or hate it from what I've been reading. I thought because of the trailers and music directors it would be amazing. Can't wait to see this Friday.

Avatar image for wizdom
wizdom

@Raansu: or he has an opinion that differs from yours....

Avatar image for Gvaz
Gvaz

"the music is low rent flops that made me reach for the mute button" Are you kidding me? How can I take the rest of this review seriously when your opinion is just insulting?

Avatar image for snaketus
snaketus

@Gvaz: Indeed. The soundtrack is awesome.

Avatar image for TheWatcher000
TheWatcher000

@Gvaz: Douchebags reviewing RPG's is never a good idea.

Avatar image for ishsgames
ishsgames

Bought N3DS a couple of months ago. Haven't played on a nintendo system since my DS back in 2010. This holiday, i had the choice of Majora's Mask+Pokemon Y or Bravely Default+Xenoblade Chronicles (ONLINE DEALS). I went with the latter. Really looking forward to my first time experience with Xenoblade :). I know i will love Bravely Default since i enjoyed FF 4...which i think i played on DS..or PC...i forgot lol.

PS: I didn't go with Majora's Mask+Pokemon Y mainly because i played the crap out of Ruby+LBW for the past 3 months lol. Also, i doubt i could find Xeno+Bravely Default for $59 together any other holiday this year and most of next year!

Avatar image for foxhound_fox
foxhound_fox

I have a hard time generating desire to play a game with unlikable characters, ear-offending music and a poor story. Granted, gameplay tends to win out for me in the most part, but for a RPG like this, those other aspects are fairly important as well.

Online
Avatar image for TheWatcher000
TheWatcher000

@foxhound_fox: OR you could check out the game yourself, instead of letting a Douchebag reviewer influence you with his BS Review.

"The soundtrack is low rent flops"

THAT Right there should make you stop reading. The guy doesn't know what he is talking about. There are better, more in depth reviews out there than this guy's mailed in circle jerk of silly. Don't give up on the game because of THAT GUY.

Avatar image for loafofgame
loafofgame

@TheWatcher000: I'd suggest to at least put some effort into explaining why the music is actually good. At this point you're just as much someone who doesn't know what he's talking about...

Skimming through the soundtrack I certainly wouldn't say it's bad quality, but it does seem all over the place. Then again, that seems to be typical of a JRPG soundtrack. For me, it's one of many reasons I don't touch JRPG's. I often give their soundtracks a try, because a lot of people of praise them. This is just my personal taste, of course, but those distorted guitars, dance beats and almost caricatural pop idioms are really not my cup of tea and always feel out of place. That's just me, though.

Avatar image for Noved23
Noved23

@loafofgame: Well the music is from a person who did the music for anime series such as Attack on Titan and another one that slips my mind at the moment. Really good if you're into that stuff. I'll have to wait until I play the game of course but it seems like for it to be that bad would be a stretch for such a high profile game.

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AndreasRufus

@loafofgame: Soundtracks work best as BGM, no matter if it's a movie or a game, cause that's what they are supposed to be. Of course that's just my five cents, but I cannot listen to a lot of them like "music". I do understand what you mean by saying it feels "out of place".

Avatar image for loafofgame
loafofgame

@AndreasRufus: It depends for me. Some soundtracks have well worked out pieces, which can be listened to more actively. But yeah, most soundtracks are meant to be mood enhancers or narrative tools, and as such might not have enough to them to warrant attentive listening when separated from their images. Anyway, the whole 'out of place' issue might be a cultural thing. Not to generalize too much, but I've always had trouble appreciating a lot of Japanese videogame music.

Avatar image for AndreasRufus
AndreasRufus

@loafofgame: It's just fair enough to say that's a presonal thing, rather than saying it's just plain bad. Kudos on that!

Avatar image for abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@foxhound_fox:

So you're going to take GameSpot's word as absolute and not check out with other review sites of said? Sounds like you already made up your mind before this review was even posted.

Avatar image for BoxOfPocky
BoxOfPocky

@foxhound_fox: With you on that one. For a RPG character and story is equally, if not, more important than the gameplay. But seriously though, just looking at the video alone, the humanoids look freaking lifeless. What am I gonna get attached to if I can't to the character(s) I am suppose to be using for the journey? Maybe I'll just mooch off my friend or wait til it is on sale. lol

Avatar image for Noved23
Noved23

@BoxOfPocky: I don't know how people ever played rpg's on the PS1, PS2, PS3, 3DS, etc. with those graphics. -_- I understand the story part but he said it's predictable. I like surprises and twists just as much as the next person but predictable doesn't mean it's bad. Movies you expect the hero to win. It's predictable but I wouldn't call a hero movie bad because of it. Surprises are a plus thoug.

Avatar image for BoxOfPocky
BoxOfPocky

@Noved23: I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but the Ps1, Ps2, and 3DS were the awesome for RPGs. With less hardware to work with, the best way for those old RPGs to get you enthralled in the game was to have an amazing story and characters whereas nowadays they assume eye candy and flashy combats define a good game. Most of the old RPGs didn't have voice acting, so you decide what the characters would sound like. That, too, was also part of its appeal. It was like reading a book, where you narrate and decide the actors. Nowadays, people just expect the games to have voice acting and not even consider how awful some of them are. As an example, I enjoyed the first Xenoblade, but some of the voice acting was just atrocious. But in the end, you play what makes you happy really.

Avatar image for Noved23
Noved23

@BoxOfPocky: Sorry, I was trying to be sarcastic with what I said about the playstation consoles and 3ds. Should've put (sarcasm), lol. My first rpg was Final Fantasy 7 on the playstation. Then I played a lot on the GBA as well.

Avatar image for BoxOfPocky
BoxOfPocky

@Noved23: Lol. My bad. The translation was lost in text. Good for you sir. I approve.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@foxhound_fox: agreed. especially when you consider the director/creator's other work which is known for fantastic characters and deep, complex storylines (xenogears and xenosaga series).

Avatar image for that_witch321
That_Witch321

@Xristophoros: Man, you Sony fanboys will troll anything Nintendo.

Avatar image for juboner
juboner

I think everyone is taking his negatives out of context. Reviewers all complain about the typical jrpg story, jokes, etc. It might not have the grand story the Wii game had but that would be tough too beat for most games. People who like jrpg's in general will probably not see the story as a problem. Like someone said before you have to flesh out the affinity system to get further character development.

Watch the review again, he was basically nitpicking at the negatives since the game as a whole is excellent.

Avatar image for strangerzzzzz
Strangerzzzzz

@juboner: Someone comment in the review roundup that the ending is like a prologue to a sequel? So basically you played a cliche story, just to get a sequel bait. Also I dislike that your character is a SIDE character which is similar to the White Knight Chronicle series. It story is way weaker than it processor not sure why people who played the previous would not see it as a problem in general?

Avatar image for AndreasRufus
AndreasRufus

@strangerzzzzz: according to a lot of import-players your character is included in the story quite clever.

as for the ending: xenoblade chronicles - the first one - ending was like a new beginning as well. same can be said about a lot of games. I don't see a problem here. than again: I haven't played this yet.

Avatar image for juboner
juboner

@strangerzzzzz: We have not played it, so I dont care what others say so much. I will enjoy the game no matter the ending, it matters if you enjoyed what you did up to the ending.

Avatar image for strangerzzzzz
Strangerzzzzz

@juboner: No and I have saw the ending already. Game been out quite a month ago. if the ending of a game is stupid and pointless, at the end of the game it would be like I did everything for nothing. Look at FFXIII - 2. I rather have a satisfying conclusion instead of a sequel bait ending.

Avatar image for juboner
juboner

@strangerzzzzz: I hope you already made your mind up, that you where not going to play the game before you watched the ending. Why care about the ending if you have already seen it, bad or good? As long as the game is fun and interesting I dont care much about the ending really. I dont like getting close to the endings of good games bc you know its all about to be over.

Avatar image for strangerzzzzz
Strangerzzzzz

@xenoes4: Wrong again. It about Elma, she basically the MC of the game. Also I rather role play a hero fulfilling a destiny instead of role playing a bystander that even if your character don't exist, the story of the game can still be played out and finished without you even in the party in the first place.

Xenoblade Chronicles X More Info

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  • First Released Dec 4, 2015
    released
    • 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.
    8.7
    Average Rating79 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Xenoblade Chronicles X
    Developed by:
    Monolith Soft
    Published by:
    Nintendo
    Genre(s):
    Action, Role-Playing
    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.
    Teen
    Animated Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence