Xenoblade Chronicles X: My first 5 hours exploring planet Mira
Xenoblade Chronicles X was released December 4th. To say I was pumped would be an understatement. I was a huge fan of the Wii original and couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy, so I thought it would be nice to let you all know how I got on during my first outing on planet Mira.
The Big, Bold and Beautiful
The first thing that struck me when I watched the opening cutscene was how magnificently beautiful the game looked -- and that was before I'd even walked into the first environment. It's obvious that Monolith Soft has spent a lot of time detailing every nook and cranny and polishing it all to make a fancy-looking RPG. The story goes that two alien races were at war, and Earth was destroyed in the process. Only a few survivors remained, and they managed to rebuild their lives on planet Mira after crashing there. Civilization as they know it is called "New Los Angeles", and it's split into different districts on the map. Unfortunately, when they were fleeing planet Earth, a lot of their life pods were scattered across planet Mira -- and it's up to us to recover them.
New Los Angeles; otherwise known as Home
The character customization is pretty detailed, too. You can pick two types of hair color, hair style, body size, eye color, face shape, distinguishing features, and so on. The developers really put a lot of effort into making you feel like part of the game from the start.
One thing I did have trouble with was the lack of a tutorial. There are a couple of little pop-up windows that give you information, but it is very brief. If you haven't played Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii, you really would have to read the manual. For example the combat is deeper than 'target with the R button and press A to attack'. But that's all the guidance they give you.
There is quite a lot to take in upon your arrival in planet Mira. You walk out of a stasis pod where you're greeted by Elma -- she is your guide. She tells you that it's best you head for their base camp, New Los Angeles. From here, you are given free rein!
When you step out onto the vast field of Primordia, you are treated to what can only be described as a Jurassic Park type explosion of wonderment. The excitement I felt when seeing the landscape and my new home in the distance was ridiculous. I couldn't wait to get started. There are monsters towering above lakes, gigantic cliff edges, and lush greenery for as far as the eye can see. I spent a lot of time wandering the field and leveling up before heading to New Los Angeles. I'm really glad I did, because it gave me the opportunity to understand the arts, skills, and classes.
The Battle System
This is one of the more interesting aspects of the game, and it is certainly unique. It plays much the same as Xenoblade Chronicles -- you have specific arts that allow you to perform certain actions, and some also have different effects depending on where you hit the enemy. I loved this system in the first game, and it's a welcome return here.
The class system is a worthy addition, too. I'm only at the very start of my adventure and I've only changed once, but each one gives you different arts. You can change between classes as much as you like, with each one leveling up separately. This gives you much more scope in combat depending on your play style.
As I said, I spent a lot of time leveling up my character I discovered that you can choose which monsters you want to battle...sometimes. They each have icons above their heads which depict if they're hostile or not and whether they detect you based on sight or sound.
That red icon above the enemy's head means it will hear you
For new players, the battle system can take a while to get used to. But I did notice that they've added a helpful hint. It now tells you where you are standing in relation to the enemy e.g. at the side, behind them, etc., and whether your attack will be low or high. This helps a lot, because I remember it was sometimes hard to tell when playing Xenoblade Chronicles.
The menu system is split into sub-categories, and I really enjoyed the fact they put an enemy list in there. You can view every monster you encounter, and it tells you details about each -- including how many you've defeated.
New Los Angeles
I reached my home eventually -- and if the initial area wasn't big enough, New Los Angeles was definitely an eye-opener. After meeting with Nagi and a few members of the BLADE team, I was told to visit the Eastern Plains area of Primordia to lay down a data probe. This enabled them to investigate that area and bring back necessary research.
However, I didn't want to do that straightaway, so I thought I would go and investigate New Los Angeles for a while. You're only given access to story-specific areas when you first enter, but now I could see the various other districts.
There are no loading times when walking around your home, which is pretty impressive given the sheer scope of it all. Tou can walk freely from one district to the next, and even outside. It is only when a cutscene triggers that you get a loading bar.
Lin and Elma -- your tour guides
I spoke to over 100 different people during my exploration of New Los Angeles, and that took me a hell of a long time. Even the characters without names speak to you! You still have access to the affinity chart as well, which means you can view all the characters you have spoken to and the relationships between one another.
My Grand Adventure Awaits
After much exploring and general inquisitive meandering, I headed over to my destination point over in the Eastern Plains. I was greeted with a brief cutscene showing a few of the indigenous species that had unfortunately been killed; the culprit of the attack was right behind them -- an immense monster called the Tyrant that drops more valuable items. I was then tasked with eliminating the beast.
I had spent so much time leveling up my character that the Tyrant went down with ease. I was then told that normally a monster of that size would be taken down with a Skell. I haven't mentioned those, as I've not been able to pilot my own yet. But I am super excited for that moment.
All in all I've had a really good experience with Xenoblade Chronicles X.
It's shaping up to be an immense adventure of mammoth proportions, and I can't wait to see what planet Mira has to offer me. It is a huge step forward from the original -- and that wasn't a bad game to begin with. I haven't felt this excited about a game in a long time. And now I can finally play it, it's living up to my expectations in just my first 5 hours!
Who else picked up a copy this weekend? What are your thoughts on the game? Let me know in the comments below!