Xenoblade Chronicles X is nearly upon us, and when it finally arrives it will represent the biggest game to hit Wii U this holiday season. Xenoblade Chronicles was a pleasant surprise when it launched on Wii, setting new standards for both western and Japanese RPGs with its compelling battle system, unique approach to earning experience points, and stunning, enormous open world. To say Xenoblade Chronicles X has some lofty expectations as a result would be an understatement. Luckily, developer Monolith Soft seems to be well on its way to equaling the quality of this game’s predecessor, and we’re here to give you the lowdown on everything we know so far. So get ready to dive headfirst into the world of Xenoblade Chronicles X and prepare yourself for the game’s launch on December 4!
Welcome to the New Frontier
It’s 2054 and humanity is in shambles. Two alien races are warring against one another near Earth, forcing the world’s leaders to make the decision to abandon the planet and escape on enormous ships into space. Xenoblade Chronicles X follows the exploits of the lone surviving ship from Earth as it crashes onto the surface of the planet Mira, where humanity attempts to rebuild from its makeshift home dubbed New Los Angeles and fight off the alien pursuers still nipping at their heels. Mira is filled with numerous other alien races to meet and live with, as well as enormous beasts to do battle with. The fate of humanity rests in players’ hands as they find the best way to survive in this exciting new world.
Taking in the Sights
Mira has six distinct locations to explore: the grasslands of Primordia, the forests of Noctilum, the desert of Oblivia, the white trees of Sylvalum, the Continent of Black Steel, Cauldros, and New Los Angeles itself, which is divided into five districts. That is a ton of terrain to cover, and as the design team at Monloith Soft has pointed out, easily exceeds the size of the overworld in Xenoblade Chronicles— which is saying something, because that was not a tiny map to explore by any means! The landscape of each locale isn’t as cut and dry as we’ve listed above, either, as there’s variety within each to take in as the player charts their way across Mira.
Rolling up with the squad in Xenoblade Chronicles X is a lot more integral to survival than it is, say, hitting the club on a Saturday night. Once on Mira, players have to choose which BLADE Division to become a member of. BLADE is a military outfit that serves to support the fragile government that is in place to conduct the affairs of New Los Angeles, as well as protect the remaining people of Earth. Different Divisions support different play styles (a Division might focus on item collecting, for instance, or battling), and can be switched between freely during the campaign. Teammates play an important role in the game, both in terms of fighting and progressing the story, especially as you take on quests.
The War Machines
The massive mechs that have been seen in Xenoblade Chronicles X’s various trailers and promotional art are called Skells. These battle suits boast heavy firepower and the ability to fly, making them critical pieces of gear for those who want to see every inch of Mira. Though the entire planet is open to exploration from the outset, without a Skell in tow it will be impossible to survive certain encounters or reach the most remote areas. The player character can pilot a Skell, but the units can also be purchased for fellow teammates, too, upping everyone’s overall strength and capabilities, as a result. They’re also really freaking cool looking. That counts for something!
Arts were at the heart of Xenoblade Chronicles’ battle system, with a palette of attacks to scroll through in real-time during encounters with enemies. Arts have returned for Xenoblade Chronicles X, but they’ve been tweaked slightly with the addition of skill trees. Depending on what class is assigned to the player character, points can be meted out to maximize their proficiency at close-quarters combat, long-distance projectile weapons, or a mixture of both. The Monado isn’t present in this game, so gone are its secondary suite of attacks and buffs, but in X there is a greater variety of attack types to choose from. Finding the style that suits you is an important element of the game; luckily, it’s possible to bounce between classes, so feel free to experiment.
World Wide Warriors
Xenoblade Chronicles X has a robust array of online features to take advantage of over the game’s hours of content. There are a ton of Story Missions, Affinity Quests, and more besides to take on, each either serving to progress the story, reveal subplots and side narratives, and help to beef up your character’s level. The game can be tackled entirely solo, but choosing to embrace online play will open up a whole host of additional missions and challenges that are otherwise inaccessible. Nothing that will leave players missing out on vital story beats or anything like that, but rather a flurry of extra content to enjoy that will optimize the gameplay experience. Xenoblade Chronicles X is very ambitious with its approach to online, offering both quests, time attack battles, and even tips from other players that will appear on the world map via Miiverse.
Make no mistake; Xenoblade Chronicles X is going to be the number one game to own for Wii U this winter. With spectacular production values, a killer soundtrack, and creative, immersive gameplay to enjoy, be sure to camp out in front of your favorite store this Friday to pickup one of the biggest titles on a Nintendo (or any other!) system this holiday season.