OPINION: Xenoblade Chronicles X Was a Journey We All Took Together

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

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The following is the opinion of the writer and does not represent Operation Rainfall as a whole. Players shown in any screenshots were asked for permission.

Xenoblade Chronicles X - Offical Artwork 3Without Xenoblade Chronicles, Operation Rainfall might not exist. Though it was one of three games in the campaign, the title came across as an instant classic that Wii owners needed to own. After we finally worked hard and received Xenoblade Chronicles in the West, its future looked bright.

Enter Xenoblade Chronicles X, the much anticipated sequel. Before it was even released, people were skeptical based on the character models (I have yet to see Kunihiko Tanaka’s art style translated well into 3D), and the fact that it was not a direct sequel to the original Xenoblade. A return to Bionis and Mechonis was passed over in favor of the expansive and just as beautiful planet Mira. The mix of fantasy and sci-fi shifted completely to the latter. But with such a high pedigree already, any expectations would be hard to live up to.

Xenoblade Chronicles X | Viewing Sylvalum

Xenoblade Chronicles X arrived to the U.S. and Europe a year ago this past Sunday, December 4th. Reviews were mostly positive, but fans of the budding franchise remained divided. Even I was a tad irritated by the party management and the hoops you had to go through in order to make progress through the story. However, I still put over 200 hours into Xenoblade Chronicles X, more than double my playtime of the original. Why did I spend so much time with a game that, on paper, sounds inferior to its predecessor? The game builds a world that feels organic while populating it with a likeable cast of characters. The return to a sci-fi setting and references to older Xeno titles appealed to older fans of creator Tetsuya Takahashi’s work. But more than that, Xenoblade Chronicles X was a personal journey that everyone undertook together.

Remember when you got your driver’s license? Even if you’ve only gotten your permit, the journey to get one was an arduous one. The summer before I started high school, I worked hard at getting through driver’s ed (with mixed results, but I passed). In Xenoblade Chronicles X you also have to go through an arduous series of tests, eventually landing you your first Skell, a giant robot. And, just like with getting a driver’s license, it takes a long time (it took me 57 hours). Some may hate Monolithsoft’s decision to postpone getting a Skell until 30 plus hours into the game, but I found it to be such a personal milestone to achieve. The same feelings reoccur once you actually buy a new Skell (they aren’t cheap!) and gain the ability to fly. Seeing other people post when they got their first Skell was such a nice and nostalgic feeling you don’t often see in video games.

Xenoblade Chronicles X | The exciting moment when I finally built an Ares 90.

Speaking of others, the online component was an aspect I wasn’t looking forward to, but it turned into something I fully embraced. Many of the missions you can play online with your friends are limited, and are set to a limited time based on which squad you join. But when you actually do get a mission together, it was always fun roaming around your friends’ barracks and posing for ridiculous photos. Furthermore, blasting parts off of a Global Nemesis, a special online boss fight that appears from time to time, earns you tickets that can be redeemed for a majority of the items you find during the main quest. Have some really cool armor you want to craft but don’t want to wait for rare item drops? Work with your friends to hopefully reach your goal a bit quicker.

Though you couldn’t explore Mira together, X added the next best thing; recruiting your friends as AI controlled party members. Though it’s only for a limited time (even shorter if your friend is a high level), you get to go wherever you want and complete missions with them like any other party member. Whatever experience they get from battles goes straight back to their owners too. Furthermore, complete strangers could recruit your character and earn experience points for you as well. Though it would have been cool to explore Mira together, having your friends there as you roam the planet and fulfill missions is still a really warm feeling.

Xenoblade Chronicles X | My friends and I, pulling off our best Christian rock band album cover.

I’ve been a fan of Tetsuya Takahashi’s Xeno games for a long time. I’ve been a member of various Xenosaga forums where I made many friends. These days, the forums are nearly dead. What Xenoblade Chronicles X does is bring back that social aspect, and allowed me to rekindle old friendships. We rooted for each other as we earned our Skell license, helped each other get material for a piece of armor we really wanted, or gave each other advice on maximizing our miranium mining output. Overall, Xenoblade Chronicles X tells the same story for everybody, but it’s a journey we all take together. Happy one year anniversary!

Here are just a few fond memories I’ve made from Xenoblade Chronicles X. Have any good stories or experiences from the game? Feel free to share!

Xenoblade Chronicles X | Questing with friendsXenoblade Chronicles X | Flying through the skyXenoblade Chronicles X | Ramsus begging KOS-MOS for help?Xenoblade Chronicles X | Almost looks straight from a cutsceneXenoblade Chronicles X | A rainbow in CauldrosXenoblade Chronicles X | A woman, her mech, and the moon.Xenoblade Chronicles X | If you want to keep your image of the Milesaur, don't chop off its neck. There's a creepy surprise waiting beneath...

About Tyler Trosper

Tyler Trosper graduated Ball State University with a major in Creative Writing and a minor in Professional Writing. Originally joining Operation Rainfall as an anime news writer, he also writes gaming news and dabbles in reviews. His one true love in life is Xenosaga, and he prays daily for a fourth game.

  • MonsterGogo

    I recently re-started playing this to try and get past the legendary materials grindwall postgame, and after getting the Ares it’s not that bad, but it does feel like the entire game becomes “Get oneshot by everything, or grind materials for months to oneshot everything yourself” at that point. I hope the rumored Switch port will either lessen the grind or at least somehow carry over the save file.

    • Panpopo

      I think a switch port is a really good idea. If anything, people that don’t own a wii u could try the game for the first time.

    • madmofo145

      I’m really hoping that a port fixes a couple things. Material collection, how powerless you are outside of Skells late game, the loss of progression that creates, a way to quickly add party members (and maybe some level scaling for them), etc. While some things are very hard to fix, it always bugged me that some smaller changes would dramatically increase the games quality of life.

    • Tyler Trosper

      Quickly adding party members was my number one desire for that game. It’s the future, why can’t I call/text to ask someone to join my party? That’d be great.

    • madmofo145

      Yeah, that seems like the oddest one as you could easily change in Chronicles, and in just about any modern JRPG. Why they went with such a cumbersome picture is beyond me.

    • Wiseman-hunter

      what do you mean by “how powerless you are outside of Skells late game”. Dude, your characters are waaaaay more stronger thans skells if you understand the game. Ground build are able to do insane damage, the ground overdrive is several times more OP than the skells one.

  • Jonathan Falu

    I remember getting this on my birthday as it released the same day. I wanted the collector’s edition but sadly, all were sold out. Also wanted to play with my friends but they either didnt have it or didnt wanna play.

    Fortunately I was content spending tons of hours just having fun with the game. While the main story was okay at best, the side quests were incredible and had me hooked on the game throughout 2016. Still gotta finish some stuff but once I clean my to do list, I shall return to get the Ares 90 and many more stuff.

    Also I made a Kos Mos lookalike too, though went with a scouter.

  • Klagmar

    I had a similar feeling of exploration and discovery, though without any friends to go on the journey with (finding gamers with like tastes as an adult is next to impossible). It didn’t have the same emotionally impactful story and landscapes as the original Xenoblade, but it made up for it with a truly epic world to explore and a very realized adventure. I spent about 130 hours surveying Mira to completion and couldn’t be happier with that time spent.

  • Sam

    In my opinion this was such a disappointing follow up to one of the best games ever made.

    • Luiz S. S. Baglie

      My exact feelings. In my opinion, aside from the Skells and the ability to jump, I cannot think of one single thing this game did better than the original. EVERYTHING fell short at one point or another.

      The OST doesn’t provides beautiful atmospheres as the one from XC, although this was a pretty high bar to overcome. The story is complete sh*t, with many INTENTIONAL plot holes that contribute nothing to it. The level difference at which enemies stop chasing at you was raised, as well as the distance they chase you, causing lots of pain in the *ss and running around trying to lose pursuit of annoying enemies. There too many stats and their effects are not immediately apparent nor at some point explained (heat based weapons, amongst all other types, cause the most damage on fire enemies, how!?). I could go on…

      And the most incredible is, while I was playing it, it was not that bad. I started to gripe with everything after I stopped playing and reflected on why the original XC was my favorite RPG ever. Truly sad, as I bought the Wii U solely for this game.

    • Wiseman-hunter

      I dont think you know what plot hole means. Plot hole are things wrong or inconsistance in the plot, this is different than having things missing. There are intetional things missing in X but properly foreshadowed, there is no plot hole. The story in X is in the whole backage not just “main” story, in fact this name, the “story” missions is there just to highlight the mandatory ones. That is how open worlds work, most stuff is optional, they force you more or less the minimum amount only. If you played X as you Played XC you played it wrong. Also, X plot and universe allow way more philosophical themes to play in,and that is why it is, when analyzed in a whole, superior. X introduces us to a whole new universe that can spam much ages much like Xenogears and saga. Xenoblade wii is just a smart adaptation of the cliches/tropes of shounem.

      Having the player to study how the system of the game work is the original premise of RPG’s, that is how table RPG’s are played. ALL stats in X are extremelly important, in fact, Potential, which is a stat neglected by non dedicated players is one of the most important ones. That is why X post game can hold players way more than XC, X battles can go in a level of depth nowhere to be find in XC.

    • Luiz S. S. Baglie

      By plot holes, I’m referring to things that don’t make sense or are never really explained, and needed to be, like how characters can communicate with aliens (a point the recognized inside the game at least twice, but never elaborated upon) or who/what is the force opposing the main enemies in the introduction, when Earth is destroyed (could be the humans, but AFAIR it was not). The ending also opens important questions that are immediately forgotten (unless they are treated in somewhere post-game). I agree 100% with you in that XC’s story is a bunch of tropes (actually, in terms of story, I think it’s the weakest one of the 3 original OPRainfall games), but I don’t think XCX did it any better, though that may be that my tastes for anime/JRPG narratives may have changed.

      About the stats, I believe I disagree with you. In a game as complex as XCX, I think more guidance should have been given to the player about its systems (I also remember the developers saying that they were aiming to make it as complex as possible). No one likes hand-holding, but players less used to strategy or game statistics, like me, may and do feel overwhelmed by 6 types of defenses (aside from DEF and RANGED DEF stats), along with other esoteric stat names like POT, which few (if any) other games make use of, and the bazillion other sub-systems present in the game. I’m not complaining about the systems, per se, just about how their explanation was handled.

      In the end, though, like most things, it’s all about the “vibes”. People tend to enjoy more things which have “vibes” more closely related to what they like. I didn’t enjoy XCX as much as I wanted because I failed find in it the same “vibes” that made XC so magical to me.

    • Sam

      I was so excited for XBCX after playing XBC. I had never liked RPGS before, but the first one sucked me in like no game before. X didn’t. It felt rigid and incomplete. I didn’t care about the characters and the game felt very… weird. I put in over 50 hours, but finally gave up when I realized I wasn’t having fun.

  • MusouTensei

    Biggest disappointment of 2015 for me, never finished it.

  • JGuill

    Xenoblade X has its flaws, but I enjoyed it overall. The original Xenoblade is a near perfect game for me, so this being “Not as good” still puts it above many other video games out there.