Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hello, Xenoblade Chronicles; goodbye, free time

Please note: I wrote the header above shortly after my copy of Xenoblade Chronicles arrived on our doorstep a couple of weeks ago.

At the time, I planned on spending a good portion of the following weekend playing this open-world, Wii-based RPG. The hubs threw a bit of a wrench into the works, though, when he suggested we leave town for an impromptu vacation (to Las Vegas and Tucson).

As I'm sure you can imagine, that last-minute getaway kept me from diving into this Monolith Soft-developed game. This weekend, though? No plans whatsoever. Well, other than playing Xenoblade Chronicles as much as possible, of course.


                       I have no idea where this location exists within Xenoblade Chronicle's 
                                            world, but I can't wait to experience it.

I played it for a few hours last night, by the way, and already I can tell I'm going to like it. The one aspect of Xenoblade Chronicles that I'm not yet sure about is its real-time battle system. It's a bit irksome, for instance, that your character automatically attacks enemies once you've engaged them in combat. Thankfully, the manually-activated special attacks (called "Arts") inject these events with just enough involvement and strategy to keep them from feeling like the game is playing itself.

I'll do my best to post more impressions of this title sometime next week. In the meantime, are any of you currently playing Xenoblade Chronicles? If so, what do you think of it?

See also: Previous Xenoblade Chronicles posts

50 comments:

Zach A said...

i managed to get an hour or two in last week, and my initial impressions are: it has many shiny things to collect, therefore i love it!

once you get far enough to start assigning points into skills the combat starts to pick up. especially the skills with lots of positioning/threat generation. it seems like later on you can mix/match skills in your party, and that should mix things up as well

Jyr said...

The consensus I've gathered on it seems to label it as 'Final Fantasy XII done right', if that any carries weight at all.

It seems fitting that the Wii's swan-song'll consist of top-tier titles that the vast majority of the gaming masses are never going to get within sniffing distance of. I mean, it's long been a console sullied by enough shovelware to stave off any passing, 'core-gamer' interest. Droves of fecal matter hiding a sleuth of top-shelf gaming-brilliance.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Zach: Ah, yes, shiny things. I like collecting them, too! Already I can tell I'm going to have a problem with the quests, by the way -- as in, I'll likely try to take on too many of them :P

As for assigning points to skills and all that: I have to admit that I find that sort of thing a bit overwhelming. Hopefully I'll be able to come to terms with it when it comes to Xenoblade...

Bryan Ochalla said...

Jyr: I've heard the same thing, and I'm hoping all of those folks who made those comparisons are correct in the end.

I have to say, I definitely like the "feel" of the game so far. It just seems so ... expansive. I love it when games have a sense of freedom like this one seems to have.

I don't totally agree with your comment about the Wii being sullied by shovelware, BTW. Personally, I think the system was sullied by gamers, journalists and even developers/publishers who shat all over it before even giving it a chance. Yes, it has its share of shovelware, but that's true of any generation-leading system (just look at systems like the PS2 and GBA).

I've honestly bought more titles for the Wii than I have for any other console in recent memory -- and that includes the PS2. And you know what? I like pretty much every one of them. There are tons of great Wii games for people to buy and play, but apparently they just didn't want to do what was needed to find them...

Jyr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jyr said...

Oh, I love the Wii, wholeheartedy. It's just that Brick&Mortar (especially here in Southeast-Dublin City)retail serves to do it little justice, with the vast majority of titles available being of the disposable variety, like Chegger's Quiz Party et al.

It's funny how the PS2 is as equally addled with shovelware, but since the a lot of it came after the starter-pistol of gen-7, it gets much forgotten and instead remember for its AAA offerings.

On a sidenote, is it unforgivable that I've still not picked Xenoblade, despite it being released here a considerable time before the States?

warp said...

Sorry to take a big dump on everyone's love fest for this game, but I've put 5 hrs into the game, and so far I consider it FFXII done wrong. Everything is so clumsy -- from the obtuse battle system to the way you purchase items and equip yourself. The characters and story are incredibly boring as well (although that was FFXII's weak point for me as well). The classic controller helps a lot in that it gives you camera control which is essential in this type of game -- but even that sometimes does not work. And did I mention you can't use healing items during a battle -- seriously WTF?!?!?? I'm not giving up yet, but I'm skeptical that I'll make it thru 100 hrs of this.

Viewtiful_Justin said...

I'm optimistic. I haven't started yet, but I love the idea of collecting a ton and pumping points into a stat tree. That's the kind of thing that makes me happy. Bryan, addressing your fear of allotting points, I have the same sort of feelings about that, but I assume that there's no wrong way to do it, so as long as I build characters with skills I know I'll use, it doesn't matter how they turn out.

But I have yet to start...a friend loaned me all three God of War games, so I thought I'd play them and get them back to him before the year is over...not to mention Just Cause 2 and FF7 are still kicking my ass.

diaglyph said...

Warp is your comment before or after boss 1? With regards to healing. True no healing potions, but you will gain a party member who can heal (in fact once you have all party members, there are 3 different types of healers - and they do a fairly good job healing).

Anyways, just keep at it guys ;) The combat system really isn't that hard. Thinking over it now, I'm surprised I got such a good grasp of it! (as I'm fairly bad with real time combat systems)

At a point in the game, maybe half way through? (can't remember) I had Shulk, Reyn and S (I won't mention her name, she has a gun tho). And I found this trio was pretty awesome to use: I'd bash the creature for a bit to build up combo, combo lights up, then I'd select abilities that would topple the target (there are abilities that add more status effects to toppled creatures) this would at times prolong the combo (just keep press A or whatever button appears on screen to continue the combo) and I was able to whale on the creature :)
(also when you get character M wait for a while to get her abilities, she makes you GOD a bit later on)

With regards to targetting - I will admit I had problems too. I had the issue where I couldn't work out which target was closest to me, and I sometimes found myself targeting a group *behind* the group I was wanting to attack, so I'd have 2 groups attack me (as it would attract the group I didn't intend) - this was my issue (and I think its due to the 3D and the SD graphics, I would say this is where the graphics do make a difference, where its difficult to discern which thing you've targetted in the distance).

I too felt this was like FF12. At least its not auto combat like the Gambit system in FF12 (you could set and forget battles in FF12 - you can't in Xenoblade)!
There's also the concept of "aggro" in the game. So if you start fully attacking with Shulk he attracts the creatures on to him (so use "Shadow Eye" as often as you can! this decreases Shulk's agro making it easier for Reyn to become the punching bag). Later on when you get cute character R, he is basically the ultimate "tank" type party member and he was a godsend near the end as he can steal XP from creatures. My party members were getting anywhere between 5K XP up to 29K XP from his XP steals ;) (but of course, it takes time to level up the characters to unlock these abilities!)

Anyways, keep at it!!! HAVE FUN :D

miruki said...

I was pretty sceptical about Xenoblade at first. I'm not a huge fan of real-time battle systems and I wasn't too sure how much I'd enjoy all the running around due to the large maps. But Xenoblade is very rewarding and you can skip a lot of grinding when doing all quests as they become available and exploring all of the areas, so Xenoblade never came across to me as stressy (unless I accidently engaged in battle with some lvl 70 enemies on the first map, when trying to take a closer look at them. ;>) even if you happen to die it isn't as frustrating as you just spawn at you last check point without any penalties.

Xenoblade feels a lot like a single player MORPG to me, I'd have really liked for it to support online co-op - I'd have played the game to death with my bestie if that would've been possible. 8)

So far I'm 30 hours into the game and haven't even seen 10% of the story. 8) I spent so much time exploring and doing quests that at some points I completely lost track of the story. And I haven't been playing the game for a couple of weeks now, since I've got so much stuff on my plate already... but now that the game is out in the US and everybody is talking about it, I totally want to continue playing. :>

I really enjoyed the game a lot, especially the British dub is very charming. I prefer it a lot over the Japanese dub, but I'm glad they went for dual audio tracks. (Did they do that for the US version as well?) I really love the varying dialogues you get in and after battles and I love the heart sequences. 8)

After having some troubles with the battle system at first, I got quite comfortable with it over time. I can't play well with Shulk, so I tried out the other characters and it's nice to see how different the play style is depending on what character you control... I settled with playing as Sharla after she joined and am quite pleased with that, as I'm more comfy with long ranged classes (and she's a hot babe with guns), I only switch to Shulk whenever lots of Mechon are around. ;>

Ah yes, I should definitely continue playing that game soon! I just hope Xenoblade isn't one of the games where my son saved over my most recent save game (or accidently deleted it). orz

diaglyph said...

@miruki - wait until you get Melia - she can make you god like!
There's a "cheat" (you could almost call it), that's only possible with Melia as a way to quickly level if you find yourself stuck with a boss.
Also its suggested to switch around characters, to improve the affinity between characters (this also unlocks little cutscenes at various points in the world that you can view - you will see a floating icon of 2 hands).

Bryan Ochalla said...

Jyr: Oh, I didn't really mean to imply that you don't love the Wii, etc. And you're right -- in some places, especially, the cheap, crap games for the system so outnumbered the good ones that they may have given many the impression that those games (the crappy ones) are the only thing the Wii has to offer. It's too bad, really, because it didn't need to be that way. Also, Nintendo really didn't do enough to keep such a situation from happening, IMO.

As for whether or not it's unforgivable that you've haven't yet picked up Xenoblade: Only if you tend to like such games :)

Not sure you'll see this, but if you do: What are your thoughts on The Last Story and Pandora's Tower? I'm only not sure about them myself. Out of these three games (the ones I just mentioned and Xenoblade), this is the only one that appealed to me, to tell you the truth.

Bryan Ochalla said...

warp: Hey, you're welcome to your opinion here. It doesn't bother me one bit if you don't like the game. I dislike many games that other people seem to like.

As for me, I'm liking it so far, but I'm only a few hours in. We'll see how I feel about it after I put in a good 10-20 hours...

Bryan Ochalla said...

Justin: Did I know that you got this game? I thought you were on the fence about it for some reason. Anyway, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it -- when you finally get around to it. I can't believe the list of games you're playing at the moment!

Oh, and I hope you're right about the allotting point to skills, etc. I haven't really even thought of that yet, and it's usually something that drives me crazy in a game :|

Bryan Ochalla said...

Thanks for the info, diaglyph! I only understood a bit of what you said, but I have a feeling I'll understand more of it after I've played for a while longer :) Anyway, you don't need to worry about me giving up on this game anytime soon. I really like it so far, and I don't often give up on games I like.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, miruki! Ah, I'm glad to hear you're enjoying this game, too -- or that you enjoyed it at one point :) I haven't tried to complete too many quests yet, but I can tell already that I'm going to become obsessed with them shortly. I guess I'll have to try not to become too obsessed about them, though, and I would like to finish the game at some point.

I also like the British dub, by the way. The voicework isn't perfect at all times, but it's good enough, and it certainly helps me feel connected to the characters and story. The NA version doesn't include the Japanese dub, by the way. No idea why NOA always seems to be against such things. Oh, well, I like the British dub anyway, so no worries for me.

Jyr said...

I've played very little of all three, sadly. I tend to stick to the bargain bin when it comes to Wii games, as it's generally where you'll find the best games, long since ditched from the premium shelf. Of which, the three mentioned are far off joining.

From my little experience, Pandora's Tower seems to be generating the most buzz over here. I actually saw a gaggle of gamers pass up Mass Effect 3 in favour of it in HMV recently, if that's of any consequence. Made my heart swell a little, out of little else than seeing my little white rectangle getting the love it's so long desired.

What attracted you to Xenoblade above Last Story & Pandora's Tower?
I wasn't the greatest fan of FF XII, so Xenoblade's supposed appeal was lost on me, completely.

diaglyph said...

Just a quick point on alloting skill points. There are 2 areas: actual skills you use in combat and then the skill "trees".
Combat skills - you get points from all the combat you do, and spend them on skills to make them stronger. This part is fairly easy, but initially I would say focus on damage, healing and agro mitigation (if possible).
THe Skill Trees - you select a tree to get its bonus abilities, and it gradually goes down as you do combat. You can then "share" talent tree abilities amongst the party spending "coins" (e.g. allowing a caster to wear heavier armour).
I would say early on in the game, its not as important. Just make sure you're aware of the trees etc Once you reach Gaur Plains I think that's when you can start mucking about with it all.
I do also suggest reading up on teh abilities - but be careful not to accidentally see spoilers! I was lucky and I missed a large spoiler in my FAQ trawling hehe so just be aware of that.

diaglyph said...

For me: The Last Story is great - way more linear than Xenoblade and much smaller (I'd say its a third the size of Xenoblade), but still enjoyable game (characters and story are pretty good!)
Pandora's Tower - I'm not so interested. Its not a true RPG. It's an action game with lite RPG elements. It reminds me of a Castlevania game (the chain thing). But I have heard good things of it and that it plays well. I'm just not into pure action games that much.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Jyr: That's interesting that Pandora's Tower is generating the most buzz where you are. Where is that, BTW -- Australia or the UK or somewhere else altogether?

As for why Xenoblade appeals to me more than the other two games with which it's often associated: I'm a sucker for open-world games, open-world RPGs especially.

Also, I've always been a sucker for RPGS, period -- although I have to say I prefer good ol' turn-based RPGs to the "new fangled" real-time ones that everyone seems to like today.

All that said, there's something about Pandora's Story that attracts me, too. Not sure I'll get it if it actually comes out over here, but I'm certainly thinking about it.

I'd possibly import it, but I'm already considering importing Layton 2 for DS and the upcoming Project Zero 2 for Wii, and that's all I can handle at the moment :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Thanks for the additional help, diaglyph! I'll keep all that in mind as I play further into the game :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

diaglyph: I'm glad to hear that The Last Story is good, too. I'm still not all that interested in it, though. I'm just not interested in more action-oriented RPGs, if you get my drift. That said, maybe I shouldn't ignore it if it's getting so much praise?

Of course, I have to remember that I have to be able to afford Project Zero 2 (Wii), Mario Tennis Open (3DS), New SMB 2 (3DS), Animal Crossing (3DS) and Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS) should be released here, not to mention the Wii U (gah!), so maybe I should continue to ignore The Last Story in favor of those future purchases :)

diaglyph said...

nah dont ignore Last Story LOL
BUT don't play Last Story straight after Xenoblade LOL I did that and I failed miserably as the combat works completely different in Last Story.
I would suggest keeping an eye out on special prices/discounts - also be aware, Last Story will have a limited print run in the States.
I'm looking forward to Fire Emblem :) Hope it comes out soon! (its great to hear its doing well in japan!)
But who knows, Last Story could be a downloadable for Wii U ;p

Jyr said...

I'm in Ireland,(mostly, thought that tends to fluctuate)

In regard to Project Zero 2, have you played the original? Is there that grand a difference between the Wii-releases(bum-dum-chish)and their last-gen counterparts?

Oh, on the subject of which, best caption ever, first in the comment-box:

http://gonintendo.com/?mode=viewstory&id=176361

Bryan Ochalla said...

I don't know, diaglyph. Right now The Last Story is going to be ignored in favor of the games I mentioned earlier. I only have so much money to spend on games, you know!

As for Fire Emblem: It *better* be released here! I'm going to have an absolute fit if it's not :(

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, I don't think I knew that before! (That you were from Ireland.) Cool :)

As for Project Zero 2: I haven't played the original. I haven't even played the original (PS2) version of the first Project Zero/Fatal Frame. I've always wanted to, though, and I really like the "new" graphics in the Wii version, so that's why I'm planning to get it.

Too bad they didn't decide to remake the first Fatal Frame/Project Zero before part 2. Oh, well.

Oh, and one last thing: Thanks for pointing out the Caption. Too true, sadly :(

diaglyph said...

I'm looking forward to Project Zero (tho I think that's a stupid name, Fatal Frame sounds better). And apparently the 3DS game (Spirit Photo 3DS) is coming out around the same time and the Wii game's manual will have a special AR feature for the 3DS game. I believe they are coming mid june?
I've played 1 & 3 on the PS2 (but not 2) - very freaky games! Great atmosphere! I've read that they've tweaked the graphics and added some new stuff into this Wii port. I'm certainly looking forward to these 2 games :)

Lumi said...

You will have to tell me how it is. I am so bitter towards JRPs now because of the repeated story telling and playing/grinding in each game that pops up.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Igor: I agree that Project Zero isn't as good of a name as Fatal Frame. I'll play the game regardless of what it's called, though.

As for this Wii version: As far as I'm aware, the graphics have been completely overhauled. Basically, they look like the graphics in Fatal Frame IV -- so, pretty good if you ask me.

I forgot that you guys don't have the 3DS game yet. It just came out in the US. Sadly, I've heard not-so-good things about it, and at this point I'm not planning to get it :(

Bryan Ochalla said...

Lumi: I'll certainly keep you in the loop. I have a feeling this game features the kind of grinding you despise, but I obviously can't say that for sure yet. I'm not the best person to ask about grinding, though, as I actually like grinding quite a bit :)

diaglyph said...

Brian you know my thoughts on grinding, but I have to say I didn't mind it too much in Xenoblade! At the point in the game that I needed to do some, it surprisingly didn't take too much for me to get to the right level (I felt) for me to continue.
I think most people are still trying to get to grips with combat, but once you understand the system, its a lot of fun, especially when you take down some of the giants in the game :)

diaglyph said...

ack sorry for my typo Bryan! -_-

Bryan Ochalla said...

That's good to hear, Igor (that when you have to grind in Xenoblade, you generally don't have to grind too much).

As long as I like a game, I really don't mind grinding, so I guess it'll all come down to whether I like Xenoblade or not (and I think I will).

As for the typo: No worries! That kind of thing never bothers me :)

warp said...

Hey diaglyph, thanks again for getting me thru the 1st boss. Yes my comments came after -- just letting out some frustration after all that work. I did grind a little (up to lvl 9) and upgrade all my armor like we discussed. During the fight I just kept hitting the combo icon as much as possible. Even then I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, but somehow my characters got thru the fight. And it was very close! I'm assuming that the reason the combo is essential for this fight is because there's two guys and they keep reviving each other, and the combo hits both at once. But it's hard to even tell what's happening on-screen so I'm not sure. These battles are just pure chaos to me.

diaglyph said...

Bryan: haha good to hear. Though I know it can bother me with how people say my name (with "eye" instead of "ee") hehe

Warp: don't feel too bad! I know I started off crap hehe and I died a fair bit and got frustrated with certain battles etc (I was very glad that there's no penalty from dieing, and map travel and saving anywhere in the world is a huge boon).
It took me a while to master the combat, but once I did master it, combat was much easier. It then became more about tactics - which person to use, which abilities etc so just keep at it :) don't worry! you'll master it! If I can, anyone can ;)

Retr0gamer said...

Glad to see you are enjoying Xenoblade. I'm about 60 hours in and my friend who has finished it tells me I'm only halfway through! For me it's by far the best RPG released since Persona 4. I hated FFXII so was apprehensive about the game but the battle system is far ore engaging than FFXII which put me to sleep. The story also really picks up later on.

If you are worried about grinding my advice is to explore and do the quests that give exp as a reward. You get the most exp from quests and discovering landmarks and cna level in a matter of minutes. It's a game were levelling 1 or 2 levels can make a massive difference. So far I've just been exploring and levelling naturally and not having any trouble, you end up completing a lot of quests from just wandering around.

diaglyph said...

Retrogamer just reminded me of something: exploration XP!! You can get XP just from discovering areas :) So try to open up as much of an area as you can. That little bit of bonus XP can help ;)

Bryan Ochalla said...

diaglyph and warp: How nice that you were able to help each other out! Or, I guess I should say diaglyph (Igor) was able to help out warp. Regardless, I think it's great! I have a feeling I'll have to come back to these comments as I get further into the game, as I'm not very far yet. My "Weekend of Xenoblade" was cut off at the knees a bit thanks to playing and watching too much tennis yesterday and then having to deal with a migraine hangover today. I'm going to play it a bit each day this week, though, I promise!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Retr0gamer, and for sharing some advice, too! I don't mind grinding at all, but it's still nice to know that you can gain XP through quests and even through exploring.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Igor: Thanks for that piece of advice. I guess the devs really want you to explore this game's world, eh? Very nice, if you ask me :)

diaglyph said...

Just a hint: when you get a certain chibi creature join the party, build his skills on Yoink that steals XP - in later stages this char was stealing anywhere between 5K XP to 29K XP which helped me heaps in leveling up.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Will do, Igor. Thanks for the pointer!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Igor -- not sure you're still checking this thread, but I finally made it to what I think is the first boss (Metal Face). Sadly, I had to check out a video on YouTube on how to beat him -- after being savaged by him twice in a row. The good thing is that the video helped me better understand the combo system as well as breaking and toppling. Yay!

Chalgyr Vokel said...

This is a game I still need to pick up and play. I love my RPG games and this one looks awesome - just haven't had the time, yet.

Also - long overdue but putting some links up from my blog to yours. :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

I look forward to hearing what you think of it, Chalgyr! I'm really liking it so far, although I do have a few issues with it. Still, I'd recommend it overall, as the good points definitely outweigh the bad ones for me, at the moment.

Thanks for the links to my blog, BTW. Hopefully I have links to yours? I'll check on that now...

dste said...

You have to pick up The Last Story.

I'm near the end of it now and I really don't want it to stop, really going to miss the characters.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Don't tell me that, dste! I have too many games on my "To Buy" list already :( I'm just not sure the gameplay is going to appeal to me. Hell, Xenoblade's gameplay doesn't appeal to me as much as it would if battles were turn-based. Anyway, I guess we'll see...

dste said...

Do it, do it. ;-)

Once I've finished it I think I'm going to move straight onto Pandora's Tower.

diaglyph said...

hehe don't worry! I looked stuff up when I was playing too!!
I found certain bosses quite difficult. But that combo topple break stuff is important for the bosses.
It also took me a while to fully understand the premonition system (actually, if you were to ask me which counters which premonition I don't think I could tell you, I just selected whichever I thought was helpful LOL I have a terrible memory on things like that)

Now you'll be approaching the Gaur Plains :) get ready to bop to the music :p hehehe (and new party member soon too!)

Bryan Ochalla said...

dste: Oh, sure, rub it in my face that you have access to Pandora's Tower and I don't :P Actually, I'm glad you do, since that means you can try it out and let me know if it's actually worth spending money on.

Igor: This is one game I *know* will be sending me to GameFAQs, YouTube, etc., for help. There's just too much going on for my brain to deal with, I think :)

I'll be publishing a couple of posts related to Xenoblade next week, BTW, so be on the lookout for them!