|System: Wii U|
|Dev: Monolith Soft|
|Release: December 4, 2015|
|Players: 1+ Multiplayer|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080i||Animated Blood, Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence|
Unlike the story, combat is just as complex and interesting as you'd expect from an epic RPG like this one. It happens in real-time, with automatic auto-attacks and special abilities with cooldown timers. You'll need to learn how to string together abilities in order to topple your foes, temporarily incapacitating them and getting the chance to inflict massive damage. You'll also have to learn to work with your AI-controlled allies, who can be a bit stupid until you learn how to effectively command them and respond to their "soul voice" call-outs in order to boot their power and heal them. Again, the game doesn't give very good instructions for all of this, but once it clicks, it's quite satisfying. You'll have plenty of time to become proficient and to customize your character's class, abilities, and Skell along the way.
Along with a lack of proper combat instruction, Chronicles' developers made a few more baffling choices that can get in the way of gameplay enjoyment. Once you take a major quest, you can't drop it or take on any other major quests in its stead – so if you realize you need to level up a bit, you're stuck taking fetch quests instead of the more interesting story-related ones. Changing up your party members is a bit of a pain, requiring you to walk to the spot where they hang out every single time you want to put a new character in your party. Certain important bits of information, especially related to where to find creatures and items you've found before, have been inexplicably left out of the in-game encyclopedia, forcing you to resort to online FAQs if you forget where something is or can't find a crucial collectible. All of this would be far more annoying, however, if the base game wasn't so darn good.
Xenoblade Chronicles X is the ultimate game about exploring and conquering a hostile alien planet. Its design hitches, though occasionally annoying, simply cannot take away from the triumph that is the planet Mira and its fantastic creatures. There are literally hundreds of hours of potential gameplay here, but even if you don't tackle everything, getting to know Mira is exciting, full of breathtaking surprises, and downright fun. If you find the patience to get over its learning curve, Xenoblade Chronicles X will reward that patience with a wealth of memorable experiences.
Date: December 10, 2015