Thursday, May 10, 2012

Five things I love about Xenoblade Chronicles (thus far)

Now that I've spent some time--not as much as I'd have liked, mind you, but surely more than enough--with Xenoblade Chronicles, I thought I'd share a few thoughts about my experiences with this long-in-coming Wii release thus far.

Sp, in this post, as I'm sure you've already gathered from the headline above, I'll talk about the five things I'm currently loving about this Monolith Soft-developed RPG. Tomorrow's post, on the other hand, will detail five things I'm not loving about the game at the moment.

With that said, here are the things that have me grinning ear to ear like the Cheshire Cat whenever I play Xenoblade Chronicles:

1. Its vast, open world--Of all the things that Xenoblade Chronicles' makers promised to gamers, this is the one that excited me the most before I got my hands on a copy. And now that I've not only accomplished that task but taken the game for a spin, so to speak, as well? I'm even more excited--mainly because there's so much to explore.

2. Being able to jump, instantly, to any place you've visited before--Sure, such a feature isn't the most realistic--especially in a game that doesn't try to explain it away with some made-up, sci-fi mumbo jumbo--but, boy, is it ever appreciated by yours truly. I mean, I love running through Xenoblade Chronicles' fields and ruins as much as the next guy or gal, but sometimes I just want to twitch my nose like Samantha on Bewitched and magically appear at my intended destination, you know? Thank you, folks at Monolith Soft, for making that happen in this game.

3. The seemingly-never-ending number of side quests--You can't take a step in Xenoblade Chronicles without someone asking you to find or fetch something for them. Such "fetch quests" usually involve killing a specific beast, or a specific set of beasts, but not always. (Some simply require you to nab a few of those floating blue orbs that are seemingly everywhere.) I'm guessing that annoys some gamers, but I adore it. It helps, of course, that each completed quest earns you some sort of swag, but I'd probably do a lot of them even if that weren't the case.

4. You died? No biggie!--I've played the original, NES version of Final Fantasy many times over, so I'm well used to the frustrations that often are par for the course in most Japanese RPGs. One of said frustrations that I'm overly used to is the one that involves saving at an inn, wandering away from the inn to explore the nearby wilderness, doing so for an hour or two and then dying and being taken back to the aforementioned inn--without any of the experience points, money or loot I gained along the way in tow. That antiquated convention has been tossed out the window in Xenoblade Chronicles, which simply transports players, as they existed in the seconds before their demise, to the most recently visited landmark.

5. The more-than-likely-in-my-head sexual tension between the game's protagonist, Shulk, and his best bud, Reyn--OK, so this one is a bit of a stretch. And, honestly, I'd much rather imagine that strapping hunk of man, Dunban, in a compromising position with, well, anyone (yes, even Riki), than imagine dorky Shulk and dopey Reyn gettin' it on. Still, I can't help but sense some sort of blossoming "bromance," at least, between these two boyhood chums...

Now that I've said my piece, what do all of you say? What are your favorite aspects of this open-world RPG--assuming you've had a chance to play it?

See also: Previous Xenoblade Chronicles posts


Benji Bright said...

Umm...I greatly appreciate being able to send Reyn running around the world in his skivvies. :D

(Even though I agree that Dunban is the better catch.)


Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah! Well, I haven't gotten to the point where I can do that, Benji! I guess I'll have to update this post after I get there :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

BTW, I should probably add here that I'm also quite enamored with the fact that you can change from day to night at will and that you can save anywhere you please :)

Chalgyr said...

Good to hear there are several things you are enjoying about this game so far. Saving anywhere is a huuuge perk for me. save points just feel woefully outdated now.

Still one of the many titles I plan to nab, but just haven't yet.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Chalgyr: Oh, yes, I'm definitely enjoying the game so far. I have to admit that battles were a bit overwhelming for me at first -- and still are, at times -- but overall I'm really enjoying it. I especially love the expansiveness of it -- the world seems absolutely HUGE! So, I'd say that if you're at all interested in this game, you should pick it up at some point. Very much worth giving a go, IMO.

Milki said...

I started playing again as well, as I said I would.. Sadly I have to replay about 5 hours, since my son did indeed overwrite my latest save file. But I'm halfway through what I've seen already and I'm fully enchanted by the game again, so it's not that much of a biggie. :>

I'd think you've already played through the "prologue" up to the point were Shulk and Reyn leave Colony 9? Otherwise the following could be spoilery, tho I tried to keep it to a minimum:

Shulk and Reyn definitely have a very bromancy thing going on, but that's probably all there'll be. Reyn is pretty flirty with Sharla from the start and after that sad prologue I see no happy romance for Shulk in the future anyway. And if there is, I'd find that disappointing and mean. :<

I'm still hoping that a certain girl will return at a later point in the game, since Xeno games are usually mindfuckery and deceiving. Or I'm just in denial. I hate it when my favourite playable character gets taken away from me. Especially after doing some hardcore grinding early on to level skills and such.. ;_;

And btw, I love how you can just unequip everything and have everyone run around half naked.. Swimming Oil or whatever that clothing is called is hilarious as well.. :>

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hello again, miruki!

Oh, I'm sorry you had to replay about five hours of the game. That's quite a lot! At least you were enchanted by those five hours, right? :)

Anyway, yes, I've finished the prologue. I'm just about to Colony 6, I believe, so I haven't yet met this Sharla "chick" who is supposedly going to steal Reyn's heart away from Shulk.

I agree with you RE: that certain girl, BTW :(

You know what? I didn't know until just a little while ago that you could run around half-naked! That would have been added to this list for sure, had I know that. Hmmm, maybe I'll re-write it later tonight :P

diaglyph said...

Glad you're enjoying it :)
You should also mention that you can pretty much save your game ANYWHERE in the world, except for moving platforms ;)
But the points you listed are great points in the game, and I laughed at the last one! LOL
It certainly seems like it at times tho, like Frodo and Sam in Lord of the Rings.

So where are you up to in the game?
I don't think I'll ever forget the first time I walked into the Gaur Plains hahaha I love the little intro sequence they do in the game when you enter a new area. But with Gaur Plains, the way the music swells with the intro - goosebumps :) (the only other game that gives me goosebumps is FF Tactics A2, when Luso gets sucked into the book and gets transported into Ivalice in the intro).

How are you managing the combat and controls?

diaglyph said...

Forgot to add: you should've received the divers type gear by now I think?
Its the transparent armour.

diaglyph said...

Just looked it up: one of the side quests in Gaur Plain will give you the Diver Top ;)
But don't worry, you'll pick up more of them along the way. The other is called "Swimmer's Oil" or something like that.
I actually found that armour to be quite effective and found the guys were wearing for much longer (didn't find upgrades until later).

Bryan Ochalla said...

igor: I *did* mention that you can save anywhere. I didn't mention it in the post, though, since it's not one of the top five things I'm loving right now. It's probably the sixth thing, though :)

As for where I am in the game: Uh, I just got Sharla and I'm going to save her brother.

Really love the area around this segment. Is that Gaur Plains? If so, it gives me a kind of Jurassic Park feel, what with the dino-like monsters wandering around, eating the grass. I killed one a while ago just to see if I could. Is it weird that I felt bad about that? I usually only like to attack things that attack me first , or chase me. Or things that look nasty.

RE: how I'm managing controls/combat: OK, so far. I absolutely sucked at first, before I understood breaking and toppling and combo attacks and more. I still *kind of* suck at those things, but I'm getting better. I really hate it when more than one enemy is involved in a battle, by the way -- it's easy to get confused and not know who you're attacking, etc.

I don't yet have any diver gear, or at least I don't think I do, but I do have swimmer's oil. I'm not sure if I've used it yet or not, though...

Bryan Ochalla said...

Question for you, Igor -- or anyone else reading this comment thread: Is it OK if I sell some of the crap I've picked up along the way (you know, by killing baddies and grabbing those blue, floaty orbs), or do I want to keep them for some reason?

I constantly find myself with too little $$$ and thus don't often buy new armor, etc. Waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh :(

diaglyph said...

Yep Gaur PLains/Bionis Leg with the giant animals. I think its one of the largest areas in the game too!
The dive gear is quest reward, you have to help some girl rescue someone or something. Anyways, you'll get it ;)
Sharla is a fairly decent healer too, so things should be a little easier in combat.
When in combat don't forget you can set the target "focus" so everyone will attack the target you want (if I remember correctly, while using the nunchuk+wiimote combo, press Z then dpad left/right to cycle thru targets and press A make the target the focus).

I kept a lot of crap I picked up along the way thinking I'll need it, but not really. I think keep the items that you get premonition flashes with (obviously) but sell the some "expensive" crap and get rid of most of the "cheap" crap in the inventory.
And yea I had same issue with money, but really, I didn't buy much armour, I spent most money on the upgrade manuals for skills.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Thanks, Igor! I'll look for that dive gear tomorrow when I play the game some more. (I'll be spending a lot more time with it tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday -- yay!)

Thanks for telling me about "focus," too -- although I have to say, at the moment I think it may be too much for me to worry about another thing during combat.

That's actually one of my few complaints about this game, BTW: There's almost too much going on. In general I feel overwhelmed by all of the little details that keep flying toward me -- all of the things to keep track of during battles, items picked up from fallen enemies, items received after picking up blue orbs, side quests, heart-to-heart moments, buying/selling armor/weapons, etc. Yikes!

Hopefully it'll all make sense eventually :P

diaglyph said...

It's Reyn Time!

Yea I think I felt like that at first too. But really you don't need to keep track of that yourself. The game has a quest log that shows your progress on collections. There's also the collectopedia that you can complete and get bonus items.
I think at some point I just focused on gear items and gems, to get the most out of the characters. As well as skill progression (don't forget about sharing the skills between characters).
I know that I can get easily overwhelmed by too much detail in a game, but Xenoblade is not one of them - trust me hehe (it may just seem like it as its all new).
Though I will admit I didn't bother with affinity that much (linked with heart-to-heart moments). I just couldn't be bothered LOL

warp said...

Brian, I think you may be the only person who thinks all the sidequests are a good thing. I feel like I'm constantly getting bombarded with them, and all the ones I've seen are just generic fetch quests -- like something out of an MMO. I'm somewhat of a completist in RPGs, so it bothers me that I feel like I have to do all of these.

Otherwise I agree with you on the save system, and the warping being quite helpful.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Igor: I'm actually not having a hard time with keeping track of quests. It's keeping track of the rest of it that's been a problem for me :P Arts, skills, gems, affinity ... ack! I'll just try to be patient and hope it all makes sense later on.

diaglyph said...

Ahh I see :)
Well all that can be tracked in the interface thankfully :)

Unlike The Last Story - which has no quest log :( so I didn't do very many quests.

Bryan Ochalla said...

warp: The reason I'm not having a hard time keeping track of quests is that I really don't pay attention to most of them. I mean, sometimes I see that a person wants me to kill two of a certain kind of lizard or something and I'll go out and do that, but when someone asks me to find them five of a certain herb or something like that I pretty much just assume I'll come across those things eventually and so forget about it.

Also, I have to admit I haven't been going out of my way to find new quests. As I'm running around, if I see someone with an exclamation point over their head I'll saunter over to them and pick up the quest, but other than that I'm not running around specifically looking for them, you know?

Bryan Ochalla said...

Igor: I'm not sure the interface/quest log is going to help me here. I think I'm just going to have to hunker down at some point and force myself to learn about and understand, say, the skill trees, etc.

diaglyph said...

I'll try help with any questions :) you can also look up skill guides etc but beware! I found the other week a major spoiler regarding a character so be careful with guides maybe stick to the text based faqs and avoid the wikis

Bryan Ochalla said...

Will do, Igor! I'm going to ignore the skill trees for now, though, since I'm still kind of feeling my way through the game at this point.

diaglyph said...

I think it might be safe not to worry about the skill trees until you get to Satorl.

Pauli Kohberger said...

I've been watching my fiancé play this game and one of my favorite things is how genuine the friendship between Shulk and Reyn is. Every time Shulk makes an awful pun like "right as Reyn" and Reyn is like "YOU CRACK ME UP, LITTLE BUDDY," it makes me all warm inside. In many ways. They should totally fool around in the wilderness. I should play the game properly so I can write exactly that kind of fanfic.

diaglyph said...

@Pauli - hahahahahaha!!!

And yes, the character interactions in this game are great! The nicknames (like the one Rikki comes up for Dunban, very cute!!), the way they tease each (especially after a battle) and how they fit in the story has been written really well!

Bryan Ochalla said...

OK, then, I'll ignore the skill trees for now, Igor. Thanks!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Pauli! I agree with you about the friendship between Shulk and Reyn -- it's handled very nicely in this game, I think. I also agree that you should play the game so you can write some fanfic that involves these two guys fooling around in the wilderness. And in one of them, maybe Dunban comes across them and joins in? ;)

diaglyph said...

I was just thinking - just take a quick look from time to time, to see if any tree has reached its maximum level (that is, reached the bottom) if it has, just switch it to another, though I don't think you'll max out any tree while in Gaur Plains (BUT you might if you do all the quests in the area).

Bryan Ochalla said...

Igor: Yep. I agree with that, too. The writing is surprisingly good in this game. Some of the voice work is a bit stilted, but not much of it, and even then it's not annoying or anything.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, that makes sense, Igor. I'll do that the next time I play the game (sometime today -- yippee!).

diaglyph said...

I found myself switching between english and japanese for the voices - just to hear how the characters sounded (apparently there are some well known voice actors in the japanese voice track, like the first Face's voice). I was thinking if I return to Xenoblade to play the game+ I'll set it to japanese all the way through :)
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the english voices.
I hadn't realised how tired I am of US voices and it was refreshing to hear an all English cast.

Viewtiful_Justin said...

It all sounds wonderful! I still haven't started. BUT! I just started God of War III, so...I'm close to being able to start another game! Maybe by the end of next week? Maybe?

Bryan Ochalla said...

Igor: Ah, you must have a copy of the EU version, right? I'm pretty sure we only get the English voices in the NA version. That's OK with me, though, as I likely wouldn't use the Japanese track anyway. I also quite like the English voices, by the way :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Justin: I can't wait to hear what you think of it. It's not without flaws, of course, but I think you'll like it all the same.

Tom Badguy said...

I have heard mad hype for this game. Looks pretty interesting.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Tom! It's definitely interesting. Actually, it's more than interesting, IMO. It's great! If you have a Wii and you like RPGs, I'd highly recommend it.

diaglyph said...

Igor: Ah, you must have a copy of the EU version, right? I'm pretty sure we only get the English voices in the NA version. That's OK with me, though, as I likely wouldn't use the Japanese track anyway. I also quite like the English voices, by the way :)

So you don't get a language option when you go into the Options screen? It should be the very first setting on that screen. You can flick between languages at any time.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Huh. Honestly, I haven't looked at the options screen since I started the game a few weeks ago. I'll check it again in a bit -- maybe I'm wrong!