The Irresistible Beauty Of Xenoblade Chronicles X

The Irresistible Beauty Of Xenoblade Chronicles X

The huge new Wii U JRPG Xenoblade Chronicles X seems like it wants about 80 hours of my life. I’ve given it 18 so far, and I’m going to give it some more.

I’m not really a JRPG guy, mind you. I love the Fire Emblems, but don’t really care about many Final Fantasys. I’ll take a Mario & Luigi over a Super Mario RPG (scandal!). But I did spend 65 happy hours on Suikoden V and think maybe it’s time for me to give a new one a go.

The best thing about Xenoblade Chronicles X is the scenery. Look at this game…

But did you see that pop-in at the end? That’s one of the worst things about the game. The Wii U can barely keep up. A jog through the streets of its hub city New Los Angeles is a tour of video game pop-in:

It’s not just that. The text in the game is so tiny and the Wii U’s GamePad screen is so low-resolution, that playing the game on the Nintendo console’s controller display is possible only for those who don’t like to read.

The Irresistible Beauty Of Xenoblade Chronicles X

Hell, Nintendo has issued 11GB worth of downloadable data packs to speed up the game’s loading because, I guess, the system can’t pull data off the disc fast enough.

I also barely care about the game’s characters and am not getting a whole lot out of the story yet. Good concept — humanity flees aliens fighting over Earth, crash lands on the planet Mira, lives in a bubble city while scavenging the wilderness — but the characters and plot events haven’t grabbed me yet.

Wait, this has been a lot of negativity for a game that I just said I’m happy to stick with. Why in the world am I playing this?

Here’s why. I’ll be running over ridge in the game and find a guy like this:

Better still, I’ll find something even bigger (and then learn to pick on creatures a little closer to my size):

There’s also the music, which is sometimes goofy, is usually really great:

And can I knock a game for being so silly that they throw in a version of LA on an alien planet?

The Irresistible Beauty Of Xenoblade Chronicles X

What I’m getting from this game is a huge, beautiful world to explore and a pretty good combat system.

The battle system might look insane…

The Irresistible Beauty Of Xenoblade Chronicles X

…but it works pretty well.

Your main character auto-attacks and you jockey through your special Art skills and trigger the right colour-coded ones any time your allies ask for help. Do it right, and it kicks in extra bonuses. Once you get it under your fingers, battles achieve a satisfying rhythm. Your party members shout encouragement. You buff one another, become more mighty, and crush some giant beasts. I like it.

Xenoblade Chronicles X can be overwhelming. It sits somewhere between being a JRPG and being an MMO, with heaps of inventory items, reams of fetch quests, some passive multiplayer progression and even the occasional global event that I’m just not powerful enough to join:

The Irresistible Beauty Of Xenoblade Chronicles X

I do find myself, though, slowly climbing this mountain, slowly getting my bearings, and liking so much of the breathtaking things I see. I might still lose interest before I hit that 80 hour mark; I might decide life is too short.

But I also might soon get a mech for my lead character and decide this game is even cooler than I thought. I might eventually not hate the cutesy companion character Tatsu, who runs around with my party. I might have fulfilling meetings with dozens more of this game’s constellation of characters.

And my character might eventually become powerful enough to take down that brontosaurus-looking alien and call it a day.

The Irresistible Beauty Of Xenoblade Chronicles X

I usually turn to Nintendo-published games for polished excellence. Xenoblade Chronicles X ain’t polished. It is, however, a sight to behold and, rarity of rarities, a JRPG that might yet get me well and truly hooked. If you’ve got a Wii U, I’d say you should consider it.

For another take, read the Xenoblade Chronicles X review by our friends over at Kotaku UK.


  • I was so pleasantly surprised at the loading times! It’s almost instant when compared to other similar games, which really helps with the pick up n play approachability.

    Also, the music, the token annoying character, and the character art style make infinitely more sense when you treat the game as the anime it so wants to be.

    I haven’t seem a single technical bug in this game either, the only grievance I have is with the music drowning out the voice acting in cutscenes. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s an unusual and obvious bit of sloppiness. If they patch that it’s pretty much golden.

    The world is gorgeous and has an amazing verticality and freedom (no invisible walls), the ecosystem is pretty believable by rpg standards, and the combat has tonnes of depth and a nice flow. Despite the staggering depth of things to do, it’s also the most accessible jrpg I’ve played in ever.

    I’ll catch y’all in the squad missions, asscaves!

    • You mean after downloading the data packs? I pop the disc on my Wii U and started downloading the data packs for 1-2 hour. Been too busy playing yo kai watch

      • I downloaded them in anticipation, but then my collector’s edition didn’t ship on time, so I got the digital version.

        I could compare it now, but I’ve heard that the disc with data pack is almost as quick, and there’s not much in it when the longest load takes 10 seconds or so.

        • hm is the digital one really that fast? It’s tempting me to sell my physical just to pick up the digital copy.

          • How slow has it loaded for you? I cam compare the speeds tonight, but I can’t imagine the disc loading being significantly slower than digital.

          • Didn’t really check the load speed. Well at least it is not as frustrating as when Wii U when it just launched. The initial firmware took 1 minute to go into options lol

    • Seconded, it’s trying so badly to be an anime that it gets a pass from me. I’m calling out ludicriously named attacks and the game trusted me with not only a beam cannon, but a beam saber… I’ll let it off lightly. The music is perfectly sound designed for wonder (Noctilum’s background music is gorgeous) and good for pumping you up for a fight (Tyrant music is basically shorthand for ‘And now the main character does something amazing’)

      As for the pop in… I find it to be a necessary sin, it’s only really noticeable due to the game being staggeringly massive in scale and the majority of the biomes being wide and open to explore. The fact that something this handsome runs on the Wii U is frankly staggering. While the load times prior to the patch were probably fairly terrible… The game is entirely seamless beyond the barracks, that’s amazing for a console most people have written off as being underpowered and pointless.

      And while I have absolutely no idea how half of the game works… I don’t care, I haven’t had this much fun with a game for the whole of 2015. Any game that dedicates an entire playstyle and reward system to simply exploring and another to grinding for the coolest gear possible perks my interest… Adding transforming mechs on top of that is just overkill.

  • The game is amazing. My game of the year easily and I loved Witcher 3 and Fallout 4 but this blows them away imo.

      • You shouldn’t have trouble tho. Unless you are trying to hold it 5 feet away from you which defeat the whole purpose of playing on the gamepad to begin with.

  • Wow. So much salt in that review. The reviewer seems more concerned with being cool and bashing the Wii u. Then giving an objective and fair review.

    • This is not even a review lol. It is Stephen being Stephen, “reviewing” games from genre that he don’t like just giving his opinion on everything that is perfectly fine for what it is.

      Goes like
      “I don’t like JRPG”, let’s review a JRPG, THE BLASPHEMY OF THE POP IN.

      Let’s look at the beautiful world, BLOODY POP IN.

      Look at the cool city, BLOODY POP IN.

      I tried to the game on the gamepad, TEXT TOO SMALL.

      Let’s do some battle, BATTLE IS FANTASTIC

      Final review, game is not polished because of the reasons above. What do you mean gameplay and story, I was just looking at the graphics? Did I mention the BLOODY POP IN?

      • Looks good, for the wii u.

        Then a space whale flies in front of your view of one of the five moons, backlit by a meteor shower which elicits a status effect to be used in the combat system…

    • What? It’s not a review and you also seem to be ignorant of writing convention, confused as to how you felt the need to comment despite having very little content knowledge. He’s talking about what he liked and disliked, not giving a 4/10 because of some sort of moral objection.

  • This article is terribly written it jumps from point to point with no flow and is very jarring.
    I recommend everyone check out digital foundry’s evaluation of xenoblade x.

    Especially the point of pop in, how it was a sacrifice to be made for the stable framerate and how it is alot less noticable or obtrusive when outside of the city, where you spend most of your time.

    • The pop in can still be fairly hilarious outside, most noticeably with the human outposts which appear at arm’s length.

      But they clearly prioritised the natural elements, and it does work well, and the framerate is very solid. They made the best compromise.

  • This looks fantastic… how have I never heard of this?
    The huge new Wii U JRPG…

    Ohhh. Because they haven’t put it on a proper gamin platform yet. Gotcha.

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