Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Xenoblade Chronicles X review: A whole new world... of Warcraft

Ok, I loved Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii U and 3DS. Long story short on it is that it had a great story, huge world and it engaged me from start to finish. This game, the massive follow up chose to go big or go home... and I kinda wish it did go home a little. Yeah... I'm not singing this game's praises.

Xenoblade Chronicles X(by the way the X is actually a cross, like on the PlayStation controllers) is a bloated game. No seriously it's so full of padding it may as well be a 1:1 scale Snorlax plushie! There is so much you can do in the game and it can get, to put it simply... BORING! That's something you never want to here about any game. I beat the game and I honestly felt like I wasted over 100 hours of my life on stupid side quests and grinding!

So when you boot up the game for the first time the game lets you customise an avatar... yay? Silent Protagonist anyone? One of my first problems is that your character doesn't talk, despite the fact you can choose a voice when creating them. Choosing a voice is just for screeching attack names in combat and it's a waste of voice acting talent, especially for Shulk and Fiora's voice actors from the UK. Seems like a really terrible choice to me, but then again, I prefer my JRPGs with a focus on it's characters and story over the WRPGs choose your own adventure style.Yeah... it's got WRPG style dialogue choices and they pretty much are meaningless too.

"So what about the story?" you may ask. Well this is a sore spot for me. The story really feels like it was put on the back burner during development in favour of building the excessively large, waste of precious gigabytes world of Mira. The characters involved in the story are great don't get me wrong(Lin's my favourite), but the story itself for the most part just isn't very engaging. To make matters worse is all the walls thrown at you to make you earn the privilege of experiencing the story. if you haven't guessed it... mandatory side quests to unlock story! The game really loves to keep you on that hamster wheel all right.

"So there are job classes in the game, right?". Well yes, but they all suck! Classes only really dictate what weapons you're stuck with and your stats. The skills are actually dependant on what weapon types you equip and makes the classes meaningless once you master them. Yeah... once the final classes are mastered, you can equip any weapon and choose the class with the best stats. Just be warned... the grind is high!

As I've already mentioned, the game is full of padding. There are 100's of quests in the game to drive those of us with OCD absolutely crazy. To make matters worse is the affinity grinding needed to access certain missions just to flesh out your team mates personalities... and some of these quests are mandatory to gain permission to continue the story! The basic quests are literally just that, basic MMO quests you've probably experienced in World of Warcraft or any other cookie cutter MMO.

Speaking of World of Warcraft(personally I'd rather not, but many people are familiar with it), if you've played that game... you'll feel at ease here. hell, even if you've played Final Fantasy XII it'll seem familiar. One of the few things the game did right(unlike FFXII) was make MMO combat work in a single player experience... though credit for that actually belongs to it's superior predecessor.

"So what merits does Xenoblade X actually hold?". You'd think the Skells right? Boy did they want us to love them with all the promotional material huh? Well they dropped the ball there too! You don't get Skells until half way through the game and they are little more than a second set of skills and an extra health bar. Sure you can use them to help with exploring Mira, but in essence they are a second skin... and they are outrageously expensive!

The music... oh God the music gives me such mixed feelings! On one hand the music is used well,  but on the other hand the vocals ruin the experience constantly! The song's vocal track has this annoying habit of drowning out the story's voice acting, requiring you to have subtitles on so you don't miss a thing. I honestly wish the game had an instrumental option for the music so it doesn't overshadow the story moments... also the song lyrics are terrible and annoying!

Online features! Every game today as required by law(at least it feels that way) to have some sort of online connectivity. Yes, online features for those of you who don't like to be alone when playing games. Funny thing though, seems no one is really using them. Nobody seems to want to join other people's games and even when they do... connection speed is an issue. The only reasons to play online are to recruit A.I controlled versions of other peoples avatars and to earn those reward tickets to buy enemy drops... online based padding!

"What if you beat the game? Is there a new game plus or any real bonuses?". Well... not really. Elma gets a palette swap and new gear is unlocked...that you need to grind for! If there was a new game plus, I'd shut up... but NOPE! All the end game content exists for, is to keep completionists from throwing the game back at the EB Games for the AU$25 store credit... or AU$48-56 at CEX. You know what? I challenge Jirad the Completionist to complete this without getting bored of the game!

So if you haven't already worked it out... I'm not very nice to this game. While combat is as good as the original Xenoblade, everything else either doesn't live up to the same standards as the original or is rubbish. I wanted to love this game, I really did... but it's overly padded and underwhelming! Sure you can create your own avatar and the world is excessively massive, but without a decently engaging story... it all just feels like wasted potential. I honestly think it's heavy western influence is what knee capped it. The original kept to it's Japanese sensibilities while still being western inspired, but this just wanted to be World of Warcraft crossed with Mass Effect and Skyrim. At least the main characters are interesting right? look I'll admit I had fun with it at first... but it was short lived. If you must have the game, just beat the story mode and shelf it. It's a rabbit hole that isn't worth getting lost in.

Score 6/10

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