Xenoblade Chronicles X

Xenoblade Chronicles X from MonolithSoft is an open-world action RPG about humanity escaping the destruction of earth and fighting off their attackers with transforming mechs on an alien planet. It is the spiritual successor to Xenoblade Chronicles.

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Overview

A big world to explore on foot or via mech.
A big world to explore on foot or via mech.

Xenoblade Chronicles X is a RPG from MonolithSoft under executive director Tetsuya Takahashi. The game was revealed in a Nintendo Direct on January 23, 2013 detailing future software for Wii U. Xenoblade Chronicles X released first in Japan on April 29, 2015. A Western release followed on December 4, 2015.

Gameplay

Character Creation

The game features a character creation system that allows the player to create their own custom protagonist. The creation system allows for setting a wide range of variables, including sex, hair style, eye, and skin color, skin adornments such as tattoos, and a variety of voice options.

Skells

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Skells, or Dolls in the Japanese version, are a big part of Xenoblade Chronnicles X. Only licensed members of BLADE are allowed to pilot one of these mechanical combat suits. Skells can also be upgraded to transform into ground vehicles such as bikes or tanks and can even travel across water. Their main form also can be upgraded to fly later in the game. In addition to greatly increasing movement speed and mobility, certain areas can only be reached in a Skell.

Combat

The real-time battle is an advanced version of the system introduced in the Wii title Xenoblade Chronicles. Battles take place in real time, without transition screens but they are menu based and enforce cooldowns on arts.

Arts

The battle system has evolved since Xenoblade Chronicles.
The battle system has evolved since Xenoblade Chronicles.

The battle menu is again based on special skills called arts. These are split into melee and ranged attacks, buff and debuff arts with a most likely character-specific special skill in the center. Players will be able to freely transition between on-foot and Skell combat during battle. The available skills change when entering a Skell and allow for different types of attack and even aerial combat.

Unlike Xenoblade Chronicles, all characters can now instantly switch between melee and long-range weapons--even mid-battle. Attacking builds up Tension Points (TP) that can be used to, for example, revive a fallen character during battle. Melee attacks grant more TP as the risk of getting hit increases in close-up combat situations.

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New to the arts palette is a risk/reward mechanic that directly ties into the cooldown. If the player lets an art cool down twice, it is charging up that art and applying additional enhancements to it when used again, such as extra damage or buffs/debuffs. This charge system is tied to the melee/ranged attack by only charging up arts in the palette that are associated with the current auto-attack type. For example, melee arts only charge up when the player is executing melee auto-attacks

Positioning & Targeting

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New this time is the attack-location indicator that shows where the player is currently aiming/attacking. This system was already present in Xenoblade Chronicles with increased backstab and flanking damage but in this game, there are now clear indicators in the menu showing exact targeting locations as well as a reticle on the enemy's body. This ties into a limb-targeting system which allows characters to chop off, for example, an enemy's tail. Additionally, the HUD informs the player of their elevation relative to the enemy they are targeting. This plays into certain arts that get added effects in certain conditions such as attacking an enemy from higher ground. Mechs cannot target specific body parts which can be crucial for some fights, meaning players are forced to engage with certain enemies directly.

Party Control

Players now have greater control over their party members in Xenoblade Chronicles X. They can pull up a Battle Menu and issue live orders to their party members without pausing action. The standard party size is four characters, unlike the previous game which featured a three-person party system.

Soul Voice & Morale Level

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The other party members might call out to the player for certain actions (Soul Voice) which, if executed successfully, build up the Morale Level meter (called Soul Stage in the Japanese version). The meter is separated into three stages and attaining a new Morale Level is rewarded with extra buffs and other bonuses during battle. The battle conditions for when a Soul Voice prompt from a party member is triggered as well as their success rewards can be fully customized by the player outside of battle.

Health

In this game, characters can only heal themselves. There is no designated healer on the character roster. Instead, health restoration of other party members happens automatically if the player successfully executes a time-sensitive button prompt during battle (Soul Voice).

Classes

In Xenoblade Chronicles X, players can now specialize their characters in various classes. These class specializations yield new arts for the player to mix and match in the arts palette. Players can switch between classes on-the-fly to get access to specific sets of arts. Both arts and classes are leveled up individually with the former requiring the player to spend battle points to level up an art

Time & Weather

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The game also has a day-night cycle like Xenoblade as well as dynamic real-time weather with numerous different possible states, some exclusive to a specific region of the world. Those will again result in the appearance of unique events/monsters being dependent on the right environmental circumstances. New this time is that the weather conditions can also affect battles. For example, a heatwave will increase the cooldown timer, an aurora will impede mech operability due to electromagnetic storms or sandstorms that affect ranged attacks. The player can manipulate the time of day at weather stations placed in the environment, unlike the original Xenoblade where it could be manipulated anywhere from the options menu.

Divisions

Shortly after joining up with BLADE, the player chooses between one of eight divisions (Unions in the Japanese version) to join, each with their own specific associated tasks. Players can switch to a different union later on. Japanese union names, if different, are in parentheses.

  • Pathfinder: Data probe installation. Expanding Frontier Network.
  • Interceptor: Offensive union hunting dangerous life forms. Protects research teams and rescues civilians.
  • Harriers (Avalanche): Defensive union, keeping New Los Angeles safe from especially dangerous monsters.
  • Reclaimers (Testament): Recovery and salvage of wreckage from the White Whale and objects lost on the battlefield.
  • Curators (Colepedian): Planet exploration and collecting materials.
  • Prospectors (Land Bank): Harvesting resources and collecting minerals.
  • Outfitters (Arms) - Assisting with R&D of Skells and Skell-related weaponry.
  • Mediators (Companion) - Aiding civilians in generals matters such as mediating quarrels or rescuing stray cats.

Affinity

An evolution of the affinity system from the original Xenoblade Chronicles returns with character skills being unlocked by building up social relationships with NPCs and other characters in the game. Expanding the Frontier Network across the world will expand the options for character interactions.

Frontier Net

While exploring the world, players will be able to install Data Probes connected to the Frontier Net. These will provide valuable data of the immediate surroundings such as type of quests, monsters, minerals and other things. Additionally, different kinds of probes can be installed and configured for certain requirements. For example, a mining probe can be configured to increase the rate of resources gathered from the area which comes at the cost something else. Combat buffs and debuffs can also be configured at one of the Data Probes to, for instance, increase melee damage within the radius of the probe. Players will need to strategically take advantage of these probes during the game. Installing new probes will also affect quest options and dialog of NPCs in New Los Angeles.

New Los Angeles

NLA serves as the player's home base during the game. The city-sized escape pod that decoupled from the White Whale and crash-landed on the surface of Planet Mira is protected by high walls and houses multiple districts that enable survival of the human race on the planet.

  • Industrial Area - this is where the weapons and machines are built.
  • Commercial Area - features shopping districts and other social venues.
  • Residential Area - provides housing for residents, communal buildings such as churches.
  • BLADE Area - this area is the HQ of Blade and includes opportunities to buy and store weapons and equipment.

Restoration of NLA after the crash is still underway and the player can contribute to the efforts throughout the game to see the city evolve.

Online Modes

Xenoblade Chronicles X will feature various online elements. For one, the game features online quests that can be completed cooperatively with up to 4 players. Additionally, there is a passive 32 player online mode that allows for the exchange of information and items. A USB-keyboard for text entry is supported.

Wii U GamePad

The GamePad screen displays the game map with each area being split into hexes. Tapping on them allows for a detailed view of events and access to fast travel to that location. The data comes from the Data Probes the player installs upon expanding the Frontier Network. Players can launch a camera into the air at any time which is controlled by the GamePad's gyro sensor to get a bird's eye view of their surrounding area and get their bearings. The GamePad generally acts as a terminal to access all kinds of information. Off-TV Play and the Wii U Pro Controller are also supported.

Plot

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The story of Xenoblade Chronicles X does not bear a direct connection to the events of Xenoblade Chronicles on Wii, but its themes and elements are said to contain references and callbacks to it as well as Xenogears and the Xenosaga series. The story begins with the space around Earth as the staging ground of a battle between two alien races. As Earth is caught in the middle and humanity is threatened with annihilation, humans escape Earth on colonization ships containing entire cities and fight their way through as their home planet is destroyed. After two years on the run, the human fleet, some of the aliens chase after the ships and manage to shoot at least one of them down (the ark ship hailing from the United States, containing Neo Los Angeles), causing it to crash on an alien planet.

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There, the surviving humans are left to fend for themselves on a completely unknown world named Mira with the warring aliens still coming after them and the local dinosaur-like wildlife proving a major threat as well. The human military forces, banded together under the name B.L.A.D.E. (Beyond the Logos Artficial Destiny Emancipator) go out into the world to recover escape pods with more survivors that crashed far away from the ark ship.

The protagonist, a character created by the player, is one such refugee whose escape pod landed off course. About two months after the ship crash landed on the planet, the player is found and awakened from cryo-stasis by a scout named Elma, and begins their journey in this new and dangerous alien world. The initial main goal is to find more life pods housing survivors from the White Whale.

Characters

Elma

Elma (left) and the player character (right)
Elma (left) and the player character (right)

Elma is the team leader of BLADE, a private military company. Her calm and composed nature along with her keen sense of judgment and valuable insights have earned her respect from other BLADE members. Back on Earth, she served as the head of the Skell Squad of the United Earth Government where she oversaw Skell training for special ops units.

Lin Lee Koo

A 13-year old engineering prodigy who developed the Skell-type mechs. Lin acts as a mechanic for BLADE. Her young age allows her to act cheerful around others and cause her to not discriminate against anyone.

Tatsu

A nopon that the player encounters on Mira. He joins the party after certain events take place. At first glance, Tatsu might come across as innocent and naive but occasionally his tone can veer off into patronizing or arrogant territory.

Irina Akulov

Back on Earth, Irina served as a senior officer under Elma in the United Earth Government's Special Vehicle Operations Corps (also referred to as 'Skell Squad'). As part of BLADE, Irina still has great respect and admiration for Elma. She has a very direct and tomboyish attitude and is deeply committed to protecting the people on planet Mira.

Jack Vandham

Jack Vandham (Van Damme in the Japanese version), who bears a strong resemblance to Vangarre (who was also named Van Damme in the Japanese original) from Xenoblade, is the commanding officer of BLADE. Previously, he served as the chief engineer on the emergency emigration ship "The White Whale." He is lacking in manners and tends to come off as rude and arrogant towards others. Vandham considers his sharp tongue his only flaw.

Kentaro Nagi

Formerly the Captain of the White Whale and now the Military Chief of the New Los Angeles government.

Gwin Evans

On Earth, Guin was a subordinate of Elma and Irina in the Skell Squad.

Maurice Chausson

On Earth, Maurice Chausson was part of the United States Department of Defense until he was promoted to Presidential Aide. After the mass exodus form Earth, he felt it was his natural right to assume the position of Chief Administrator of the New Los Angeles government, representing the human race on Planet Mira.

L

L'cirufe, or better known as L, is part of a species native to Mira. Often referring to himself as "We", his species is never stated. As an inventor he sells his crafts to the Nopon in exchange for food. L is very curious of humans and offers his services to the humans.

Lao

The leader of The Pathfinders, Lao is a capable fighter and leader. He is a close friend of Doug, a combat buddy since his days with the US Army, and Lin Lee Koo, who has a past similar to his. Quiet and reserved, he comes off cold to others but has shown to be very caring of his companions.

Doug Barrett

An excellent soldier who is part of the Harriers. He is a skilled pilot even though he is first introduced by crashing his Skell. Doug served under Elma's Skell Squad on Earth before coming to Mira. He is an old combat buddy of Lao's and has a good friendship with Lin Lee Koo, who often makes fun of him when he makes mistakes.

Murderess

Also known as Sharon Effinger, she is a member of the Curators. She has an antagonistic relationship with Irina and with the Protagonist. Often joking about betraying the protagonist and actually betraying the protagonist at one point, she is more an anarchist than an enemy.

Collection Mode

Just like in Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, the game features a 3D character model viewer.

Other Notes

In an interview translated by Siliconera, MonolithSoft stated they aim to make a game that gets players together and will be addicting, flashy and challenging. They expressed a desire to show that Japan can still keep up with western developers and they'd like to be as revered as Bethesda Softworks is for their titles.

The logo initially featured a red "X" reminiscent of the original Xeno title, Xenogears. At the end of the debut teaser, there is a close up shot of a character who looks almost exactly like a slightly older version of Shulk, the protagonist of the original Xenoblade Chronicles. It has not been confirmed if this character is in fact Shulk or a relation of his in any way.

The E3 2014 trailer closed with a Nopon clumsily falling out of a box. That Nopon is named Tatsu, who was a character in the original Xenoblade (known as Satata in the English versions). However, the character from Xenoblade had a slightly different color and was also significantly older than the Tatsu from the trailer. It is yet another loose connection to the original Xenoblade that has yet to be explained.

According to Famitsu, the size of the game world will be at least five times the size of Xenoblade, which was 400 square kilometers, making the size of Xenoblade X's world at least 2000 square kilometers. This is larger than the worlds of Skyrim (37 square kilometers), Grand Theft Auto V (250 square kilometers) and Final Fantasy XV (up to 600 square kilometers).

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