Xenoblade Chronicles is a role-playing game developed by Monolith Software, the developer behind the Xenosaga trilogy and Baten Kaitos series. A trailer and screenshots were distributed to the press during E3 2009 under the working title Monado: Beginning of the World. The game was released in Japan in 2010, in Europe on August 19, 2011 (with the exception of Italy, where it was released on September 2, 2011), and Australia on September 1, 2011. It included dual audio tracks (English and Japanese) along with subtitles in English, Spanish, German, Italian, and French.
In June 2011, Xenoblade Chronicles became the focal point of disgruntled North American Wii owners that desired for the game's official release in that region. This focus quickly led to the creation of Operation Rainfall, a grassroots internet movement to petition for Nintendo to release Xenoblade Chronicles as well as two other Wii titles, The Last Story and Pandora's Tower, in North America. On December 2, 2011, Nintendo of America officially confirmed an April 2012 release of the game in North America exclusively through Nintendo's website and through the retailer Gamestop. The game was released in North America on April 6, 2012.
Two colossal deities, known as Bionis and Mechonis, stand in an endless sea in a duel where neither has the upper hand. Eventually, Bionis and Mechonis fatally wound one another, effectively ending their battle and leaving their bodies locked into place. After that, life begins to emerge on both colossi in various forms. Most notably, the Homs (standing in for humans). Millennia later, the people of Bionis are still in constant war with the machine-like Mechon of Mechonis who keep attacking all life on Bionis for unknown reasons. The human forces at Sword Valley, located on Mechonis' blade still jutting from Bionis' torso, which acts as a bridge between the two deities, manage to force the Mechon forces into a standstill thanks to the mysterious powers of a superweapon known as the Monado, wielded by the great human warior Dunban.
A year later, Dunban is still recovering from wounds he received after activating the life-draining powers of the Monado to fight off the Mechon. Shulk, a scientist working on uncovering the Monado's secrets, is out collecting and studying Mechon debris that had fallen to his home, Colony 9, from further up the Bionis. Though currently peaceful, the humans assume it's only a matter of time before the Mechon regroup and launch further attacks on the already exhausted human colonies of Bionis. It's up to Shulk, his friends Reyn and Fiora (Dunban's sister) and the collective armed forces of the colonies to prepare themselves for this "inevitable" second clash.
*** includes full-on spoilers, including the end ***
After Shulk and Reyn perform a few peacekeeping errands in and around Colony 9, the settlement is suddenly attacked by swarms of Mechon from the sky. Led by a powerful unit with a face, which the team dub "Metal Face", Shulk is barely able to hold them off with the Monado (the only weapon able to defeat Mechon) before the strike force departs after consuming a considerable number of homs. Fiora is killed by Metal Face after coming to Shulk's rescue in one of the military's mech suits.
Filled with grief and rage, Shulk decides to depart with the Monado and track down Metal Face. He is joined by his best friend Reyn, and they set off to Colony 6 - the closest human colony to Sword Valley and the Mechon beyond. On the Bionis' Knee shortly thereafter, they save a young boy named Juju from a rampaging monster and are introduced to a makeshift refugee camp hidden away in the forested area of the Bionis' Knee. It's here they meet Sharla, a medic and sniper for the Colony 6 militia, who explains that the Colony was completely annihilated by the Mechon just a few days ago. Ruefully, she explains that her fiancée, Gadolt, is among those missing after the attack. After Juju recklessly decides to scout what remains of Colony 6, Sharla joins Shulk and Reyn to catch up with him.
Meanwhile, Shulk has been receiving troubling visions of what is to come from the Monado. With this foresight he is able to save Reyn, Juju and Sharla from a grisly fate, yet tortures himself over not being able to save Fiora. After rescuing Juju, the trio decide to head to Colony 6. There they meet the militia's leader, Otharon, and are resolute in finding out what happened during the attack and where the rest of the militia are. In the mines under Colony 6, where valuable power-providing Ether deposits are procured, the party meets another faced Mechon who calls himself Xord. Aggressively mocking the deaths of the Colony 6 militia, Xord draws the ire of Sharla and Otharon and is eventually defeated, despite the Monado's proven lack of effectiveness against Face Mechon.
Though accosted by Metal Face, which they are still unable to properly harm, the team is saved by the arrival of a now left-handed Dunban and Shulk's mentor Dickson, who are able to chase the Mechon off with special weapons made out of Mechon parts, which are able to hurt them. Shulk receives another vision, this time of a black fortress. Dickson claims such a place exists on the head of the Bionis, so the team head to Satorl Marsh to find a way to the top while Dickson leaves them to check the other colonies. While heading through Makna Forest after the Marsh, they meet Melia, a High Entia mage (the High Entia being a long-lived and enigmatic race most humans have never encountered) and Riki, a "heropon" of the roly-poly Nopon people.
Melia is revealed to be the heiress apparent to the High Entia kingdom of Alcamoth, despite being half-human, and after becoming a target of assassination from bigoted High Entia purebloods she is saved by the group. After the Mechon attack Alcamoth, the team discover an opportunity to reach Prison Island: An ominous location the High Entia has banned anyone from visiting, and also the black fortress of Shulk's vision. It is here that the group meets Zanza, a captive of the island and the final living Giant in the world. He is able to unlock the true power of the Monado just as Metal Face attacks once again, apparently killing Zanza and the High Entia Emperor Sorean (and Melia's father) who had gone there to find a way to stop the Mechon. With the powered up Monado, Shulk is able to grievously injure Metal Face, before his attack is stopped by a silver Face Mechon. After damaging the hull, it's revealed that not only do Face Mechon have humanoid pilots, but the silver Face Mechon in particular is piloted by none other than Fiora. She doesn't recognize any of the group, however, and retreats with the injured Metal Face and the other Mechon.
Shulk and Dunban are now more motivated than ever to track down the Mechon and the group departs for Sword Valley, Melia leaving Alcamoth in the care of her half-brother Kallian. Passing through the inhospitable Valak Mountains, the team once again find Dickson and some High Entia soldiers at the foot of Sword Valley, who provide the team with more anti-Mechon weaponry. At Galahad Fortress, the Mechon's stronghold in Sword Valley, the team finally defeat Metal Face (revealed to be Dickson's and Dunban's old war buddy Mumkhar) and meet Egil, the ringleader of the Face Mechon. The Monado is rendered impotent by Egil's secret weapon and the team is roundly defeated by his enormous golden Face Mechon. However, just before Shulk is killed, he is saved by Fiora's silver Face Mechon and they both tumble out of the Fortress to the sea below.
Shulk and Fiora awaken on the disembodied arm of Mechonis, severed long ago during the fight between the Mechonis and the Bionis. After catching up, they explore the Fallen Arm and find the rest of the team. They also discover a village of humanoid Mechon named the Machina, a peaceful tribe of extremely long-lived mechanical lifeforms. Their leader Miqol explains that Egil was once kind and compassionate, but has been utterly consumed by hatred towards the Bionis and its lifeforms since the battle between the two gods aeons ago and is using the remaining resources of Mechonis to stage his war against Bionis. He feels there is little recourse than to kill Egil, who he reveals is also his son, before Egil can put his plans of eliminating all life on Bionis into action. With reservations, and with much of his drive for revenge lost now that Fiora is back, Shulk and the team decide to head into the Mechonis to meet Egil.
After heading through the Mechonis, they reach the Machina capital of Agniratha. Unlike Alcamoth, Agniratha is completely deserted. Here they meet Vanea, Egil's sister and Miqol's daughter, who is also resolute in stopping Egil. Despite their best efforts, the team is thwarted before they can stop Egil, due in part to an exceptionally fast emerald Face Mechon which is revealed to be Gadolt, and Egil merges with the core of Mechonis to control it. After being ejected by the suddenly ambulatory Mechonis, the team find a way back into Agniratha and defeat Egil at the core. However, Shulk refuses to deal the finishing blow, realising how futile vengeance really is. Unfortunately, Shulk is shot and killed by Dickson.
Reeling from the betrayal, Dickson reveals to the team that he has been working for Zanza all along. Zanza emerges from Shulk's body and reveals himself to be the "god" of the Bionis, who has resided in the Monado since time immemorial and was the aggressor in the original Bionis/Mechonis conflict. Shulk was actually a child who died of exposure on Valak Mountain along with the rest of a human research team near where the Monado was ensconced; Zanza merely used the boy as a shell for his own soul when Dickson "rescued" the child and recovered the Monado. Zanza then eliminates the benevolent god of the Mechonis, Meyneth (who, similarly, had been residing inside Fiora's body, though with her knowledge and blessing), takes over the Bionis and then utterly destroys the Mechonis, the team only narrowing escaping thanks to the sacrifice of a suddenly lucid Gadolt. Zanza also activates the High Entia, transforming every pure-blooded High Entia into ravenous monsters named Telethia, which Zanza has used in the past to eradicate the Bionis' lifeforms whenever the Bionis required more energy - each lifeform is imbued with some amount of Ether which is returned to the Bionis upon death. Melia and the other half-bloods are saved from this fate, which is revealed to be the reason why she was selected to rule after Sorean.
Despite being dead, Shulk finds himself in what looks to be space where he sees a vision of Alvis who convinces him to fight back from the brink and regain control of his body. The Monado's powers were entirely Zanza's, yet it appears Shulk has retained the same fate-defying abilities due to his unique role as Zanza's vessel. He realizes he is the only one capable of stopping Zanza. The team head to the core of the Bionis to finally defeat him once and for all.
Upon Zanza's demise by Shulk's hands whose sheer willpower created a brand new Monado, it is revealed that while Zanza and Meyneth were the gods who created life on Bionis and Mechonis, Alvis is actually the architect of the world itself. Zanza and Meyneth used to be human scientists in our real universe and Zanza's curiosity and arrogance lead to the the destruction of what is supposed to be standing in for our Earth's surrounding universe and the creation of the endless ocean that Mechonis and Bionis existed on. Alvis was the computer A.I. on a space station manned by Zanza, Meyneth and other scientists who were conducting experiments. The cataclysmic big bang somehow caused by the experiment turned Zanza and Meyneth into gods with the power to create life in the new world built by Alvis. Shulk is given the choice to become a god himself but rejects the idea of gods meddling with their creations and instead chooses a world without gods where all lifeforms live in harmony, crafting their future with their own free will.
The entire world in Xenoblade Chronicles is "seamless" since all areas flow naturally and continuously. There are only loading breaks when players travel between major spaces divided by different body parts of the gods, there is no loading between a "town" and a "field" unless they are on different body parts. Xenoblade also includes the option to quick-travel between discovered landmarks. If the main character falls in battle they will be returned to the last landmark they visited and will not suffer any loss of resources or experience.
The battle system in Xenoblade Chronicles is also seamless. Once a battle starts with the enemies roaming on the fields it takes place instantly on the same field in real-time. When the player chooses to initiate combat the three characters on the field will start to attack automatically. During battle players may select special attacks, named arts, for their chosen character to perform. For example, the character Melia uses spells called ether attacks and another character named Sharla uses gun arts. The main character, Shulk, has special access to Monado Arts that unlock as the player progresses through the game, using these arts Shulk can do things such as inflict more damage against Mechons, buff his teammates or guard against strong attacks from powerful monsters. More generally, arts have varying effects including (but not limited to) buffs, debuffs, high damage or status effects, many of these effects also depend on a character's positioning in battle and may effect the amount of aggro a character draws. All three characters in battle rely on arts in battle and have their own unique battle techniques. However, the player can only control one character at any time which can be chosen by designating the character they wish to control Party Leader.
During battle characters' actions also fill up a "Party Gauge" that has three bars. If a character passes out during battle they can be revived at the cost of one bar. When the the Party Gauge fills the player may initiate a Chain Attack, during which the player can directly select an art for each character to perform in sequence, with higher affinity between party members increasing the chance of a button prompt appearing that if successful will allow the Chain Attack to continue after the initial three attacks. Chain attacks prove quite important during battles with powerful enemies or bosses due to the opportunity to deal large strings of damage and status effects. Chain Attacks are also far more likely to inflict the Break and Topple status effects on stronger enemies, which can play a pivotal role in battle. When an enemy is effected with the Break effect they may be Toppled, leaving them vulnerable to attack and unable to fight back for a certain period of time.
Affinity between party members can be raised by spending time together, initiating "Heart-to-Heart" story moments and completing quests. Heart-to-Hearts can be found in specific spots on the map and require certain levels of affinity between characters before they can be initiated, doing so will usually result in further increased affinity between the participants. The player can also increase their affinity with towns and effect the affinity between NPCs through sidequests (of which there are a large amount).
The game has a large variety of weapons and armor, almost all of which have different appearances. Weapons and armor effect various stats such as attack, defence, agility and resistances and can come with unremovable gems or empty slots for gems that provide bonus effects. The player can find gems to equip from loot drops and also gains the ability to craft gems from crystals - which can be mined or also found in loot drops.
Another key feature of the game is the presence of visions of the future that Shulk can experience through the Monado. During battle the player will receive visions of particularly strong battle arts about to be used by the enemy so that they may warn their party members and prepare for these attacks accordingly. These visions of the future also have a prominent role in the story.
Shulk - The main character is an 18-year-old, 171cm tall member of the Homs clan. Shulk works as a scientist for his hometown of Colony 9, investigating the Monado as well as the origin of the aggressive Mechon forces. Though level-headed and cautious, in contrast to his hotheaded best friend Reyn, a tragic series of events and his attunement with the Monado puts him on a journey to find the reason behind the Mechon attacks on the Bionis's inhabitants. He is voiced by Shintaro Asanuma in Japanese and by Adam Howden in English.
Fiora (Fiorung) - Fiora is a childhood friend of Shulk and Reyn. She is another of the Homs race, is aged 18 and stands 160cm tall. Though Fiora mostly works as a nurse and caretaker for her injured war hero brother Dunban, she's a capable hunter and wields a pair of vicious blades in close combat. She and Shulk are something of an item, though neither acknowledges it openly. Voiced by Eri Nakao in Japanese and Carina Reeves in English.
Dunban - The brother of Fiora, this is the man seen in the recent trailer wearing no shirt who is classed as a hero amongst the Homs people since he was the one to use the Monado blade against the Mechon army. This 30-year-old was struck down a year ago by overusing the Monado and is currently in the process of healing. Dunban is an intelligent and thoughtful individual who acts as a calming influence and an older brother figure to Shulk and Reyn (and is literally the older brother of Fiora), though he is prone to bursts of ferocious violence with his trademark katana weapons when driven to anger. He is 180cm tall and voiced by Ryo Horikawa in Japanese. In English, Dunban is voiced by Rufus Jones.
Reyn - A childhood friend of Shulk and Fiora. Shulk's best friend and a member of the Colony 9 defense force. Reyn hard-working, a little bit hot-headed but fiercely loyal to his friends. At 190cm Reyn is large in stature and fills a tank-like role in battle. Reyn is voiced by Jay Taylor in the English localization.
Sharla (Carna) - A medic from Colony 6 who is good with projectile attacks and arts that buff and debuff. The most important thing to Sharla is her family, and she spends the majority of the game either protecting her kid brother Juju or looking for her fiance Gadolt. Voiced by Kellie Bright in English.
Melia - A young girl from the advanced High Entia race who is skilled with ether attacks. Melia's true heritage is unknown to the group when they first discover her unconscious in Makna Forest, but she is actually heir to the High Entia empire and a proficient magic-user. She's also half-human, the daughter of a human woman and the ruling Emperor of the High Entia Sorean, which gives her something of a mixed reputation among the other High Entia. She's devoted to the safety and well-being of her people. Melia is voiced by Jenna Louise Coleman.
Riki - The legendary hero of the Nopon merchant race. Riki is wiser than his furry and cute countenance would suggest, due in part to being a semi-responsible adult in his 40s with a large family to feed, and occasionally serves as a voice of reason. Generally, though, he can be cowardly and quick to recommend escaping anything that looks too strong to deal with. Voiced by Wayne Forester.
Dickson - A war buddy of Dunban's from a long time ago, this middle-aged, 181cm tall chap is someone who cares for and keeps an eye on Shulk as if he was one of his children. Though he only joins the group as an infrequent guest, his combo shotgun-sword is quite powerful and age has done nothing to dull his effectiveness in combat. Dunban is being voiced by Tsuyoshi Koyama in Japanese and Anthony May in English.
Mumkhar (Mumuca) - A 30-year-old traveling warrior who joins Dunban and Dickson in the fight against the Mechon during the game's prologue, whose height is 195cm, and once competed with Dunban for the right to be the person who would use the Monado. Mumkhar is, in truth, far too cowardly to effectively wield the Monado himself, and makes do with his vicious claw weapons and ruthless wits. This character is handled by actor Norio Wakamoto in Japanese and Tim Watson in English.
First revealed in a trailer at E3 2009 as Monado, the game subsequently appeared on Nintendo's Japanese release calendar for 2010. However, on January 29, 2010, Monado was noticed as missing from the calendar. In its place was a game called Xenoblade.
Conflicting documents from Nintendo's Japan and U.S. offices pointed toward the notion that both games were one in the same and that Monado had been given a name change. On the same day, the Japanese website for Xenoblade launched, featuring an image of a sword previously seen in the Monado screenshots and video released during E3 2009, confirming the change.
In an interview with Famitsu, Xeno- series creator Tetsuya Takahashi stated that the title change was to be considered symbolic and to create a common point between the games he's created; however, Xenoblade Chronicles does not share any narrative connection to the Xenosaga series or by extension, Xenogears.
The game's soundtrack is composed by Yoko Shimomura, Manami Kiyota, ACE, and Yasunori Mitsuda. Mitsuda's only contribution was the end vocal theme "Beyond the Sky" written by Tetsuya Takahashi and sang by Sarah Àlainn.
A CD version of the album was released on June 23, 2010 in Japan and contains 4 discs.
|Track #||Japanese Title||English Title||Length|
|6.||親しき人への想い||Thoughts to a Friend||4:29|
|9.||敵との対峙||Confrontation with the Enemy||3:50|
|20.||回想／オルゴール||Reminiscence / Music Box||3:27|
|21.||伝説の勇者リキ||Riki the Legendary Hero||3:02|
|Track #||Japanese Title||English Title||Length|
|4.||シュルクとフィオルン||Shulk and Fiorung||3:13|
|9.||決戦前夜||The Night Before the Decisive Battle||3:39|
|10.||想いは内に...||While I Think...||3:23|
|11.||怒り、心の闇||Anger, Darkness of the Heart||3:53|
|12.||巨神の目覚め||The Awakening of the Giant||3:54|
|13.||精神世界||The Spiritual World||2:44|
|15.||神を絶ちし剣||The God-Slaying Sword||4:47|
|18.||それぞれの未来へ||To One's Own Future||4:15|
|19.||Beyond The Sky||Beyond The Sky||4:30|
|Track #||Japanese Title||English Title||Length|
|2.||故郷／夜||Hometown / Night||3:24|
|4.||コロニー9／夜||Colony 9 / Night||3:29|
|8.||ガウル平原／夜||Gaur Plains / Night||3:19|
|9.||脱出艇キャンプ||Escape Boat Camping||3:02|
|10.||コロニー6〜中央採掘場〜||Colony 6 ~Central Mine~||2:35|
|11.||行く手を阻む者||One Who Gets In Our Way||3:20|
|12.||燐光の地ザトール||Sator, Phosphorescent Land||2:35|
|13.||燐光の地ザトール／夜||Sator, Phosphorescent Land / Night||3:21|
|15.||コロニー6〜静寂〜||Colony 6 ~Silence~||2:36|
|17.||マクナ原生林／夜||Macuna Woods / Night||3:37|
|19.||サイハテ村／夜||Saihate Village / Night||3:23|
|21.||エルト海／夜||Eruyt Sea / Night||3:11|
|22.||皇都アカモート||Achamoth, Imperial City||2:53|
|23.||皇都アカモート／夜||Achamoth, Imperial City / Night||2:58|
|24.||祖霊の眠る地||Where The Ancestors Sleep||3:05|
|25.||コロニー6〜再興〜||Colony 6 ~Restoration~||2:24|
|Track #||Japanese Title||English Title||Length|
|2.||敵の猛追||Hectic Pursuit of the Enemy||2:33|
|4.||ヴァラク雪山||Snowy Mt. Valac||3:57|
|5.||ヴァラク雪山／夜||Snowy Mt. Valac / Night||3:11|
|6.||大剣の渓谷||The Great Sword's Canyon||2:22|
|7.||大剣の渓谷／夜||The Great Sword's Canyon / Night||2:48|
|9.||名を冠する者たち||Those Who Bear Their Name||2:23|
|11.||堕ちた地で...／夜||Into Deadlands... / Night||3:28|
|12.||コロニー6〜希望〜||Colony 6 ~Hope~||2:28|
|14.||機神界フィールド||Field of the Machinae||3:49|
|16.||帝都アグニラータ||Agni Ratha, Imperial Capital||3:56|
|17.||帝都アグニラータ／夜||Agni Ratha, Imperial Capital / Night||2:56|
|20.||巨神胎内／骸||Inside the Giant / Carcass||3:18|
|21.||巨神胎内／鼓動||Inside the Giant / Pulse||2:51|
|22.||最後の戦いへ||To The Last Battle||3:39|
|23.||記憶の果て...||The End of Memories...||2:55|
|24.||ザンザの世界で||Into the World of Xanthe||2:36|
|25.||コロニー6〜未来〜||Colony 6 ~Future~||2:11|
There was also a "Special Soundtrack" that, in Japan and Australia, was included with pre-orders of the game on disc and in Europe, was made available for free download via Club Nintendo to everyone who purchased and registered their copy of the game before September 30th, 2011. This edition contained a selection of 12 songs from the full soundtrack.
|1.||Main Theme||Yoko Shimomura||3:40|
|2.||Colony 9||Yoko Shimomura||4:56|
|3.||Time To Fight!||Yoko Shimomura||4:28|
|4.||Gaur Plain||ACE+ aka Tomori Kudo, CHiCO, Kenji Hiramatsu||7:56|
|6.||Forest Of The Nopon||Manami Kiyota||4:06|
|7.||You Will Know Our Names||ACE+||4:21|
|9.||Engage The Enemy||ACE+||3:47|
|10.||Bionis' Awakening||Manami Kiyota||3:54|
|11.||Once We Part Ways||ACE+||3:25|
|12.||Ending Theme - Beyond The Sky||Yasunori Mitsuda, Tetsuya Takahashi, Sarah Lim||4:27|