|System: Wii U|
|Dev: Monolith Studios|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
The story of the Xeno series of RPGs is a weird one. It all started with Xenogears, an interesting little cult classic title by Squaresoft that released for the PS1. The game wasn’t originally going to come to America because of its heavy religious undertones, but it made news by finally being released here after a multiple year wait. Unfortunately, the end of Xenogears was rushed and while the creator planned to do an epic multi video game series, Squaresoft was less enthusiastic. Eventually, he went to monolith soft and made Xenosaga, a series of 3 games that are connected with each other, and are loosely connected to Xenogears. Unfortunately they weren’t exactly sequels, as they were made by two different companies and the story had to be changed in order to be legally distinct. That brought us to Xenoblade, a story with very little connection to either Xenosaga or Xenogears. It still featured two massive godlike robots, and had a sci-fi story much in the vein of both other titles, so it became a “spiritual sequel” to both. Now we have Xenoblade Chronicles X, the latest game in the Xenoblade series, which isn’t actually related to Xenoblade! That makes it even more unrelated to the original Xenogears! Who even knows what this franchise is about anymore?!
So the setting of Xenoblade is gone and we join this new story in a closer future, still near Earth. A war is being waged between two alien species, and Earth is caught in the crossfire. The planet is on the edge of destruction and humanity is planning its escape. This is where you come in. You are on board an Ark, a huge ship meant to save Earth’s population. Unfortunately, your ark is shut down onto an alien planet named Mira, and this is where the game begins.
Unlike previous Xeno titles, you actually get to create your character in Xenoblade Chronicles X. You can be a male, female, several different races, different hairstyles, different voices, different skillsets, different clothes and more. You can even augment yourself with cybernetic equipment including robotic limbs and eyes. I plan to play an eight foot tall schoolgirl with a gun sticking out of her forehead… if the game lets me.
There’s no actual blade in Xenoblade Chronicles X. The blade in the original Xenoblade was talking about the Monado, the blade that controlled the world and, at the same time, served as the original title for the game and project. But Blade in this context stands for Beyond the Logos Artificial Destiny Emancipator. What is this I don’t even?
There are some similarities with previous Xeno games. For one, fighting in giant robots has returned. They look a whole lot like the robots from Xenogears, which is pretty cool. Not only that but they fight in space at high speeds, which looks very Zone of the Enders-ish. You’ll also spend a decent amount of time on a space-ship traveling through the stars, a bit like Xenosaga.
However combat on the ground is nearly identical to the first Xenoblade. You can move around the battlefield in real time, dodging and defending against attacks. However, your own abilities are all tagged to cool downs. The big strategy in this game is using the right ability at the right time so that you and your friends survive the combat.
Battle context will actually play a much bigger role in Xenoblade chronicles. You will be able to gain advantages over enemies by using the terrain. You can, for example, climb up cliffs to do damage to enemies from above, or even ambush them. Certain creatures will have multiple areas to attack. So you can prevent it from moving by attacking the legs or prevent it from attacking by attacking the arms. There are also context sensitive QTE’s which will give you party bonuses like healing or buffs. In fact, this is the only way to affect your party as otherwise your attacks and skills only effect yourself.
The enemy sense system from Xenoblade returns as well. Different enemies will have different ways of detecting you. Some will be based on sight, so you should do your best to sneak up behind them and ambush them. Others are based on sound, so if you move quickly they will notice you, but if you creep up to them you can just stab them in the face. Creatures will also have behavior patterns, like pack mentality, and fight or flight responses that can allow you to use other animals in the vicinity against it.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot more to tell about the game. The story is still being kept under wraps and most of what transpires in the game is speculation at best. We will know more about Xenoblade Chronicles X as we head into 2015, the year it is supposed to release for the Wii U.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: July 17, 2014