I gotta tell you – I haven’t been this excited for a new game in a while. I wrote about Completion Armor a few weeks back, and the primary focus of that article was Xenoblade Chronicles. Upon finally finishing Dark Cloud 2, and noting it only took about a month of dedicated play to bang out 60 friggin’ hours of insanity, I realized that I’d been pidgeonholing myself all these years by limiting myself to shorter games. After all, it’s not the destination that matters, but the journey. I think Muhammad Ali said that. Or Bob Marley.
Pictured below are two new additions to my gaming collection: a copy of Xenoblade Chronicles, and a Shulk amiibo! I knew it was destiny when I walked into GameStop a few weeks ago and found a used Shulk amiibo for $11, so a few weeks of eBaying later and I found myself in possession of the Xenoblade Chronicles fan club starter kit.
Full disclosure – going into this game, I did little to zero research about any of it. From what I understood, the combat is very MMO-ish, minus the multiplayer and the online, and that sounded like exactly something I would be into.
Let me tell you – I was absolutely right in thinking it would be just my style. At least for my two and a half hours playing, it seems to be holding my attention.
While games of this scale, docile animals wandering around to run past or murder on the spot, and turn-based global-cooldown combat is certainly not for everyone, it’s definitely my jam, and for someone who yearns for the nostalgic feeling of jumping back into the realms of World of Warcraft, or much more recently, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, Xenoblade seems to be a perfect fit for me.
One of the things that stood out to me immediately was how the game blasts a few tutorials to you right off the bat, which initially seemed jarring, but it makes a point of telling you that you don’t have to complete all of the side quests. It also mentions that you’ll likely complete them naturally as you progress the game plot.
This was very reassuring, because as anyone who’s spent thousands of hours playing an MMO can attest to, it can be incredibly overwhelming when suddenly you have 35 quests sitting idly by, waiting to be completed. That’s where gaming feels like work to me. Luckily, this doesn’t seem to be the case with XC.
The fact that I don’t need to return to questgivers to complete a quest is huge. I was knocking out sidequests by complete accident as I progressed normally throughout the story, and I didn’t even have to run back at town to turn it in for rewards and XP. Why can’t more games be like this, I do not know.
I had some trouble last night on the first dungeon, and it was then that I learned the punishment for a party wipe is pretty much neglible. You simply respawn at the most recent location. In this case, at the beginning of the dungeon. You don’t lose anything. There is no punishment except for having to burn through some mobs again, which just forces you to level up more!
It’s built-in leveling, essentially. As long as you keep trying, your party will continue to get stronger, because even if you wipe, you don’t lose the XP you’ve gained since. This allows you to progress even when you fail. Again, another great feature that especially caters to more casual play, as it doesn’t punish risk taking. Wanna try to take on the glowing monster 10 levels higher than you? Sure, fuck it, go right ahead.
Overall, I am very happy with my decision to finally dive into this epic game, and it seems that they’ve really worked with the fact that you might want to sit and play this for 5 hours, or on a 25 minute bus ride. Either way, you can put it down and close it whenever, you can save absolutely anywhere, and so far the game doesn’t seem to want to waste your time. I’m not into ratings or recommendations normally, but I’d say for anyone wanting the feel of an MMO without the obligation to quit your job and leave your family, you should definitely check this one out.