Xenoblade Chronicles is utterly phenomenal.

Posted by xyzygy (9939 posts) -

Just finished the game about an hour ago. I'm aware this may turn into somewhat of an advertisement... but oh well. Xenoblade deserves it. It took me 80 hours on the dot to complete and I didn't even do all the sidequests. This is one long, expansive game. When a game is this long you'd think it loses focus, but it doesn't - the pacing and the cutscenes are so well timed and spread apart that many times I found myself abandoning exploring the massive maps in favor of finding out what happens next.

If you don't know already the game is coming out in NA this Spring so make sure to check it out! It plays a bit like Final Fantasy 12 but with a unique time feature that lets you see what actions enemies will use in a few seconds, to give you time to enchant yourself or allies with a shield or enhanced evasion, as well as attack, all from a special menu that the main character has from his sword.

One thing that I really love about the game is how much freedom you are given to customizing your characters. One of my party members has such high agility that he doesn't need any armor at all - enemies just miss him. You can feel free from this point to turn him into a tank or a main damage dealer, or have him inflict status ailments. If you don't like that, outfit him with some armor and let him go at it. Another of my characters is outfitted with only support actions (she has plenty of attacking skills as well, I just decided not to level them) so she stays behind the sidelines and doesn't accrue any aggro while the agile tank dodges and I go behind and to the side and attack.

Anyway, this game is among the best of 2011. Funny how my top two games from 2011 are both Wii exclusives!

#1 Posted by xyzygy (9939 posts) -

Just finished the game about an hour ago. I'm aware this may turn into somewhat of an advertisement... but oh well. Xenoblade deserves it. It took me 80 hours on the dot to complete and I didn't even do all the sidequests. This is one long, expansive game. When a game is this long you'd think it loses focus, but it doesn't - the pacing and the cutscenes are so well timed and spread apart that many times I found myself abandoning exploring the massive maps in favor of finding out what happens next.

If you don't know already the game is coming out in NA this Spring so make sure to check it out! It plays a bit like Final Fantasy 12 but with a unique time feature that lets you see what actions enemies will use in a few seconds, to give you time to enchant yourself or allies with a shield or enhanced evasion, as well as attack, all from a special menu that the main character has from his sword.

One thing that I really love about the game is how much freedom you are given to customizing your characters. One of my party members has such high agility that he doesn't need any armor at all - enemies just miss him. You can feel free from this point to turn him into a tank or a main damage dealer, or have him inflict status ailments. If you don't like that, outfit him with some armor and let him go at it. Another of my characters is outfitted with only support actions (she has plenty of attacking skills as well, I just decided not to level them) so she stays behind the sidelines and doesn't accrue any aggro while the agile tank dodges and I go behind and to the side and attack.

Anyway, this game is among the best of 2011. Funny how my top two games from 2011 are both Wii exclusives!

#2 Posted by StarvingGamer (8128 posts) -

Make or break question, is there a fucked up spell cast delay like in FFXII where only one spell can be active on screen at a time making your other characters stand around stupidly and wait even though their cast bar is full and the melee enemies are free to take multiple turns attacking?

Seriously, that horrible design decision is what makes FFXII one of my least liked main series FF games and one of only two that I simply could not put up with long enough to complete.

#3 Posted by Karkarov (3056 posts) -

@StarvingGamer said:

Make or break question, is there a fucked up spell cast delay like in FFXII where only one spell can be active on screen at a time making your other characters stand around stupidly and wait even though their cast bar is full and the melee enemies are free to take multiple turns attacking? Seriously, that horrible design decision is what makes FFXII one of my least liked main series FF games and one of only two that I simply could not put up with long enough to complete.

No, there isn't. But this game is alot about combo's and intelligent attacking. Many many many abilities have synergy with other skills and the key to roflstomping your enemy like a joke is knowing how to do this order right. A good player who knows the system can literally win fights an average dude would have problems with so easily that the enemy may never even get to attack once.

#4 Posted by liquiddragon (229 posts) -

how is the story?

#5 Posted by WarlordPayne (699 posts) -

Well, you just piqued my interest. Diverse character customization and strategic combat are the two things that draw me into an RPG.

#6 Posted by drac96 (669 posts) -

Hearing you compare it to Final Fantasy XII has made me much more wary of this game.

#7 Posted by pw2566ch (480 posts) -

The one thing i love is huge bosses. Is there any of that?

#8 Posted by Hailinel (24289 posts) -

It's going to be all Xenoblade, all the time once I get my hands on this game come April.

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#9 Posted by selbie (1879 posts) -

I've been holding off on this game for too long.

#10 Posted by StarvingGamer (8128 posts) -
@Karkarov Thanks, sounds exactly like what I want out of a JRPG.
#11 Edited by xyzygy (9939 posts) -

@pw2566ch: Not only are there huge bosses, there are tons and tons of huge regular enemies. Even when you start the game out, in some of the first areas you encounter you will come across level 80-100 enemies - I finished the game at level 79, and there is a new game + mode which lets you go back and strengthen your "Affinity" (basically, how many skills you can link with other characters - think Lost Odyssey and the skill linking system, if you've played it) and also challenge these stronger monsters.

@StarvingGamer: Like Karkarov said, you can have all three of your characters casting spells at the same time, as long as the cooldown for that spell is achieved. For others out there who are curious about the battle system here's a little summary. Each skill can have up to three characteristics:

Colour: A skill's color indicates how chains are built. If, while in a "Chain Link" (A mode that occurs when youre party gauge is full), your party members attack with skills all of the same color you will get damage bonuses. Usually, Red is the more populated color but you can chain any set of similar colors together. Using a different color will end the color chain and grant you regular damage.

Effect: Skills have effects which will be obvious. "Shutdown" is a skill which puts enemies to sleep, etc. However, there is a set of status effects which can be linked to create other effects. They are, in the order they must be inflicted, Break -> Topple -> Daze. Break skills have a pink color, Topple is green and Daze is Yellow.

Conditional Effects: To my knowledge, every skill has a c-effect. Some are harder to attain than others. In fact I can't remember what they're technically called so I'm just calling them "c-effects". These MOSTLY have to do with the direction your opponent is facing. Sometimes a requirement of "Use Skill Y after Skill X" and so forth. This is one thing that makes aggro crucial - it's impossible to get a flank- or back-attack c-effect when you are the opponents target, so get your tank to gather aggro and hit him from the side or back for the c-effect. All c-effects when inflicted contribute a small amount to the Party Gauge as mentioned above, which can be used for reviving allies or, when full, initiating a Chain Link (Which is where the whole "colours" thing will come into play). Most skills do have c-effects which can only be attained under certain conditions. The main character Shulk has a move called Slit Edge which requires him to attack the enemy side on for a Physical Defense Down. If he hits them head first, it's just simply a small damage dealer. These attacks are crucial for building the Party Gauge so movement on the field is important.

An example of a skill which mixed all three is Shulk's Air Slash. It's pink, therefore signifies a Break effect, and if hit on the side the enemy suffers Slow. Slit Edge is an example of a red skill with no main effect, but with a c-effect.

@drac96: To be honest, I've only played the first 5 hours of FFXII. The only real similarity I found is in the very active battle system involving auto-attacking and it really stuck out to me. I vastly prefer Xenoblade's combat system, based from the first 5-6 hours of XII.

@liquiddragon: The story is excellent and so far fetched from what JRPGs are like today. It has a somewhat philosophical meaning and is heavily involved with Sci-Fi. After completing the game, the closest thing I can think of to compare it to is Nier - they both contain very avant-garde, psychological, sci-fi means of conveying their stories. Keep in mind the gameplay is nothing like Nier so if you didn't like Nier you'd have no reason not to like Xenoblade. I am thoroughly impressed and I honestly think it's one of the best stories in RPGs that I've played. I actually think I might like it more than Mass Effect 1's story. The characters with the exception of one are all excellent, especially Dunban, Alvis and Dickson. Really well done characters.

#12 Posted by JackSukeru (5909 posts) -

I've played around 50 hours of it, I'm only at the jungle part because I'm a completionist that finishes every single side mission, but I've enjoyed myself so far. Like most Rpg's though I sorta just stopped playing it at some point and haven't gone back, I still want to see how the story turns out so I guess I'll have to get back in it at some point.

The only "problem" I've had is that I've been constantly overleveled from doing all the side quest in every area.

#13 Posted by ZenaxPure (2569 posts) -
@xyzygy: Eh the first 5 hours of 12 doesn't really give you a great example for everything else since it's a slow starter. I have heard people comparing the two so I was going to ask exactly what was similar but I guess you wouldn't know in-depth then :x. It does sound like my favorite parts of character customization from 12 are present here though, for example to your agility character there was a dagger in FF12 that increased the wielders evasion so much most attacks in the game would simply miss which let you fill in their other gear slots with magic-focused armor but could still tank which was great. There were tons of little things like that in the game, I loved it. I am hoping this is similar.
 
Either way I am pretty excited for the game, can't wait until it comes out here in the states.
#14 Posted by dekkadekkadekka (732 posts) -

@xyzygy: Can we agree on the English voice acting being god awful? I had to turn that right off when I first started playing. The British voices just didn't fit and sounded very wrong to me, despite being British myself.

On a somewhat similar topic The Last Story has the same issue with bad English voices, but there's no Japanese voice audio to switch to. A damn shame.

#15 Posted by liquiddragon (229 posts) -

I might have to bite the bullet and deal with gamestop....

Good to hear there is japanese voice!!

#16 Posted by Hailinel (24289 posts) -

@liquiddragon said:

I might have to bite the bullet and deal with gamestop....

Good to hear there is japanese voice!!

If you don't want to support Gamestop, you can also buy the game directly from Nintendo through their website.

Online
#17 Posted by liquiddragon (229 posts) -

@Hailinel: O, nice. Thanks for the heads up!

#18 Edited by WatanabeKazuma (989 posts) -

@dekkadekkadekka said:

@xyzygy: Can we agree on the English voice acting being god awful? I had to turn that right off when I first started playing. The British voices just didn't fit and sounded very wrong to me, despite being British myself.

I feel exactly the same, but it's more to do with that particular dialect not feeling as though its suitable for the setting. I left it on for about the first hour or so, but I didn't like the voices, particularly the protagonists.

#19 Posted by yoshisaur (2700 posts) -

It looks absolutely fantastic but sadly I do not see myself buying a Wii just to play it. Hopefully the Wii U can play it and maybe I can enjoy it later in time :)

#20 Posted by ckeats (489 posts) -

I just started it a few days ago, haven't played much (Maybe 3 or 4 hours give or take). Can't say it's really hooking me yet, but people are saying it's a slow starter so I'll keep pushing on.

There are a fuckload of side quests. The list is never ending.

#21 Posted by Hailinel (24289 posts) -

@ccampb89 said:

It looks absolutely fantastic but sadly I do not see myself buying a Wii just to play it. Hopefully the Wii U can play it and maybe I can enjoy it later in time :)

Nintendo has already stated that the Wii U will be backwards compatible with Wii titles.

Online
#22 Posted by Brendan (7734 posts) -

Wait, did you say it plays kind of like Final Fantasy XII? I can't afford to just buy a Wii for this game now, man. Why did you tell me this!?!

#23 Posted by Claude (16255 posts) -

This game looks interesting. I'm sure I will check it out at some point. I don't think I've ever played a real JRPG. The Thousand Year Door is probably the closest I've came. I've never touched a Final Fantasy game, so this should be a hoot.

#24 Posted by Ducksworth (660 posts) -

Just placed a pre-order!

Despite all the hate Final Fantasy XII got I think it is my favorite and if Xenoblade is really all that much better then it must be one heck of a game. It comes during exam season though so I won't be playing until late April, hopefully that'll just make the game more satisfying to play. This might be expecting a bit much, how is the game in terms of anime stereotypes or awkward dialogue? Personally I don't mind it all that much but some games take it to a level where I feel embarrassed to be playing it.

#25 Edited by xyzygy (9939 posts) -

@Ducksworth: Anime stereotypes are few and far between. The only character which fills a JRPG role is this little weird creature called a Nopon. He is the typical "weird creature/comic relief/innocent soul" character but thankfully he's not essential to the party as I NEVER used him (literally, he was never in my combat party) and he has minimal input when the story gets tense. You won't feel anywhere near embarrassed by playing it, trust me I know that feeling. There are plenty of stupid anime like JRPGs where I felt embarrassed. Also, the art style of the game tends to lend itself to the more mature tone it holds. The set designs are very gritty and abstract. To be honest I felt like I was playing a game from a Western developer for the majority of the game. Monolith Soft have my respect.

But no, there aren't any stupid girls making weird noises in skimpy outfits, or whiny kids. Shulk is young, but he doesn't whine at all. He's a pretty likeable main character. There is one character named Sharla who can wear skimpy outfits if you give her light armor, but her personality and looks are far from anime.

@dekkadekkadekka: I loved the voice acting TO DEATH. I loved the dialect (It sounds like Coronation Street, haha) and it was the first game I've ever played with such a dialect being so prominent. I live in Canada so hearing these voices was such a breath of fresh air from the over-used voice actors that you usually find in English JRPGs. Loved it.

#26 Posted by DeF (4851 posts) -

I'm confused as to why people don't like the British voices. I think it's totally fine and holds its own against pretty much all of the competition.

The only part I haven't liked so far is when you arrive at the Nopon village and they start talking ... in text bubbles it's fine but spoken? eh...

35 hours in and loving it, though! this game is huge, beautiful (visually and in the music department!), has tons of shit for you to do, cuts out on a lot of the clumsy stuff from other games (instantaneous fast travel system, almost no load times, quests usually get "completed" without forcing you to return to the quest giver, easily customizable characters, comprehensive help database...).

It's a shame so few people are going to care because it's a Wii game AND a JRPG ...

#27 Posted by ZenaxPure (2569 posts) -
@xyzygy: Oh hey xyzygy, how are the boss fights? I am a huge fan of RPG boss fights so I'm curious if most of them are just boring enemies with giant HP pools or if they actually require a lot of coordination and tactics. As minor as it may seem good boss battles are actually a huge factor in me enjoying a RPG or not.
#28 Posted by amlabella (323 posts) -

Good to hear and thanks for the impressions. I definitely plan on getting it in April...my Wii looks so lonely over there in the corner.

#29 Edited by xyzygy (9939 posts) -

@Zenaxzd: The boss battles are hard. At the start of the game I was really overleveled because I was doing every single side quest, so they were a little easier (maybe they're meant to be easier at the start) but after a certain point of not being so adament about doing every single quest, the bosses became very difficult. They required many tries and a lot of very precise timing and strategy, as well as swapping characters in favor of the enemy's stats. For instance, some enemies have really high agility so you're gonna either have to use a certain high-agility character instead of your tank in order to actually hit him.. There are a few that stuck out as being a very challenging, and very satisfying.

My advice I'm going to give you is to not do all the sidequests. I just happened to do the ones I ran across for the latter 85% of the game, because in the first 15% I was trying to initiate very obscure quests by meeting all these weird requirements. This resulted in the game feeling a little easier because I was closer to the enemies' level. Again, not saying don't do any, but don't go to extreme lengths to get quests to show up or begin unless you want an easier experience.

Oh, and the boss fights are almost always with huge Mechs so they're awesome.

#30 Posted by Enigmatical (132 posts) -

@DeF: I'm right there with you with the voice acting. Love the British voice acting a lot and I would just add that it sounds very "authentic"... it's not just a bunch of American youths doing their best British accent. Also, spot on with that Nippon Village thing. In text bubbles, I let the Moogle voice in my head do that talking, but when you actually hear it... yeah, it's a little strange.

The game is fantastic, though. The sense of scale in the environments is staggering, the battles are exciting and fresh, and the story, while following some typical JRPG tropes, exists in such a wild atmosphere (atop two gigantic mechs) that it fits really well.

#31 Posted by IAmNotBatman (628 posts) -

@RockmanBionics said:

I've played around 50 hours of it, I'm only at the jungle part because I'm a completionist that finishes every single side mission, but I've enjoyed myself so far. Like most Rpg's though I sorta just stopped playing it at some point and haven't gone back, I still want to see how the story turns out so I guess I'll have to get back in it at some point.

The only "problem" I've had is that I've been constantly overleveled from doing all the side quest in every area.

I remember feeling the same way, but there is a certain point where even after doing all those quests, monsters are difficult to beat even though you're a fair few levels above them. So what I'm trying to say is you're on the right track for getting what you want from the game.

#32 Posted by DeF (4851 posts) -

@Enigmatical said:

@DeF: I'm right there with you with the voice acting. Love the British voice acting a lot and I would just add that it sounds very "authentic"... it's not just a bunch of American youths doing their best British accent. Also, spot on with that Nippon Village thing. In text bubbles, I let the Moogle voice in my head do that talking, but when you actually hear it... yeah, it's a little strange.

The game is fantastic, though. The sense of scale in the environments is staggering, the battles are exciting and fresh, and the story, while following some typical JRPG tropes, exists in such a wild atmosphere (atop two gigantic mechs) that it fits really well.

Even after almost 40 hours, I still go around a corner, see a HUGE level 80+ enemy and go WHOA SHIT!!! even though by now I am fully aware they don't attack me unless I attack them (I am basically an insect to them). That red background under the name with that big number just scares the shit out of me ...every damn time. First time it happened was the big "red beard" thing on the Bionis Leg and just when I thought I was in the clear, trying to find the refugee camp, I almost ran into that level 30 turtle that was chillin' under that rock-bridge ...

It's also nice that even after passing through the various locations (open field, caves, dreamy-swamp) I still was amazed when I entered the jungle and saw that freaking waterfall! jaw dropping!

#33 Posted by obcdexter (592 posts) -

I clocked in at around 140 hours on my first playthrough - trying to do most everything there is to do, though.

And while I rank this game second only to Portal 2 on my GOTY of 2011 list, I do have to say that the last quarter didn't feel all that good. Huge open areas had been a catch all throughout the game, exploration was fun and all, but at a certain point this aspect kinda became a drag and some of the monster-filled, labyrinth-like structures of the late game just felt uninspired and quite a chore to get through. Also, the ending did kinda disappoint. I wished for a better, more thorough explanation.

#34 Posted by mracoon (4967 posts) -

Saying it plays like FFXII is the best possible way to sell a JRPG to me. Unfortunately my brother took the Wii when he moved out so I have nothing to play it on. A game like this is best suited for holidays anyway.

Moderator
#35 Posted by AJ47 (25 posts) -

I can't believe people don't like the Heropon, he's awesome.

#36 Posted by JackSukeru (5909 posts) -

@IAmNotBatman: There's already been a few instances where I've had problems with "blue" monsters so I won't doubt that. That...lizard king, I think it was, n the swamp handed my ass back to me a couple of times before I could beat him.

I really should get back to it at some point, I love the sense of scale you get and there are a bunch of really nice, slick design decisions that make it less frustrating to die and to get around the map. Also I love how the "see the future" thing is intergrated into the combat.

#37 Posted by xyzygy (9939 posts) -

@AJ47 said:

I can't believe people don't like the Heropon, he's awesome.

I think he's cute, but he does kind of bring a sense of typical JRPG stupidity with him. I'm just glad he has no say in the tense scenes.

@obcdexter: I thought the ending was perfect, it spoke to me on so many levels and you're hard pressed to find another RPG with such existentialist, philosophical and tragic themes. The only one that comes to mind is the ending to Nier. What didn't you understand?

#38 Posted by Enigmatical (132 posts) -

@DeF: Yeah, dude, I stumble upon one of those huge monsters and see that their level is like 80+ against mine, and I'm like, "One day... I'll come back and slaughter all of you." I really like that, even in the beginning areas, you'll find little outcroppings of land or little islands and it'll be swarming with a bunch of really high level monsters. Or you'll run through an area during the day and have no issues, but at night, the big monsters will come out.

And I also got a kick out of, when you go to attack a monster that is much more powerful than you, that the party members exclaim, "Right...? Are you sure?" or "I don't know about this...," thought that was pretty funny.

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