When one invests in a Nintendo platform, one guarantees themselves a return on investment in the form of quality software. In 2015 alone, the Nintendo Wii U has provided fans with several high-quality releases, of which include Splatoon, Super Mario Maker, and Yoshi’s Woolly World. As the year comes to its conclusion, Nintendo will give Wii U owners an end of the year bonus with the release of Xenoblade Chronicles X. Not only is the title one of the Wii U’s best, it is also one of the best games of 2015. If you loved Xenoblade Chronicles for Wii or Nintendo 3DS, you will soon find yourself a new love in the form of Xenoblade Chronicles X on Wii U.
Xenoblade Chronicles X takes place in the year 2054 AD, when an alien race attacks the Earth and exterminates humankind. In a last effort to save humanity from extinction, escape ships known as Arks are deployed, but only one ship survives the journey through space – the White Whale. The White Whale crash lands on the planet of Mira, a planet that is suitable for human habitation and the survivors’ new home. Unlike Xenoblade Chronicles, which had a lead character with Shulk, X puts the player in the role of a silent protagonist who is awakened from stasis several months after the White Whale crashes on Mira.
The game opens with the player selecting a male or female avatar to act as their playable character, a quick tutorial explaining the basics of battle and controls. You are then free to play and explore in any manner you see fit. The game is all about freedom and allowing you to make the game an exclusive experience for you. No two players will play Xenoblade Chronicles X the same way. Once players arrive in New LA – the game’s main hub and base location, you will join the organization BLADE, in which you will learn more about Mira and the enigmatic alien race that destroyed the Earth.
What makes Xenoblade Chronicles X such an attractive game is the freedom of exploration. The size of Mira and its varied environments – there are five major map sections, all of which can be accessed from the start, allow for endless exploration. Each area is loaded with secrets and valuable unlockables for you to discover. It is easy to become distracted by the lure of finding a new item or object, so you will spend a lot of your free time exploring and satisfying your curiosity. Furthermore, you will find additional enjoyment as you just look at the environment and its wildlife. The game offers some breathtaking sights that will have you stop what you are doing and relish in.
On the topic of visuals, Xenoblade Chronicles X is a jaw dropping. Whether it is the lush and lively environments, or the towering creatures that inhabit Mira, you will be amazed at the graphics being displayed on your TV screen. Due to the massive size of the game, you will notice graphic pop-in as you near New LA, but the scale and scope of the game combined with its impressive draw-distance will have you in awe. This game is one of the most visually impressive games available for Wii U. Absolutely a gorgeous game.
Let’s move back to the matter of exploration and the feel of freedom the game delivers. To assist in your journey is the Wii U GamePad, which houses a detailed world map and a fast-travel prompt to expedite your voyages. This allows you to better know the area in which your target resides, and limits the probability of getting lost to a near impossibility. As you adventure onward and get increasingly further away from New LA, you will be grateful that the game allows you to save anywhere at any time.
To be blunt, the GamePad is the optimal way of playing Xenoblade Chronicles X. Having a detailed world map available at all times and easy access to the fast-travel button make the playing experience far more enjoyable. Furthermore, the game can be played via Off-TV Play. We found Off-TV Play works best during times you know the location of your objective and won’t need to rely on the map all that much. The game does support the Wii U Pro Controller, but we feel that the GamePad is the best control option.
Those familiar with Xenoblade Chronicles will have a good understanding of the battle system found in X. With standard attacks performed automatically, the player will manage which skills and abilities to use in battle. Switching between melee and ranged attacks on the fly allow the player to inflict a steady flow of damage. However, one must approach battle with a sense of strategy as each ability and skills has a cooldown period, so you have to be smart about using such skills during combat. Many of the enemies found in the game have weak points – like their limbs that can be targeted to limit their abilities.
A small piece of advise: Certain creatures are more aggressive than others. These enemies will have an icon above them indicating that they are vigilant and poised to attack if you come too close. If you don’t want to battle these foes, simply stay away.
In truth, forming a good understanding of the battle system won’t take players all that long, but mastering it will require some dedication. Upgrading skills and abilities, equipping your characters with the best gear available to suit their class, and such necessitate a fair amount of attention. There is an option to have the game automatically assigned the best available gear to your party and character if you feel that aspect of the game is too overwhelming.
Skells –aka mechs, are one of the game’s high-points, but they require a lengthy time investment to acquire. After around 20 hours or so, you will be given the chance to pilot and use Skells. It may seem like a long time to unlock one of the game’s primary tools, but once you are given full access to the Skell, you will feel like you have been rewarded for all your effort. Skells can be customized and upgraded just like your avatar character. In many ways, the Skell will become an extension of your character, and you will spend a lot of time upgrades and tuning its abilities to be their very best.
Xenoblade Chronicles X is a highly enjoyable game. The exploration, scale, and freedom the game delivers is unmatched by anything on the Wii U. It’s one of the Wii U’s best games and may be the Wii U’s best game for 2015. RPG fans will love what the game has to offer.
- Freedom to Explore
- Skells & Strong Gameplay
- GamePad Use & Battle System
- May be too overwhelming for some players
- Minor graphic pop-in
(Editor’s Note: A copy of the game was provided by Nintendo for review purposes.)