Community Spotlight: Xenoblade Chronicles

There was a time when a North American release Xenoblade Chronicles seemed like a lost cause.  Despite universal acclaim and the fact that the game had already been localized for its European and Australian releases, Nintendo of America was insisting as recently as ten months ago that there were no plans to bring Monolith Soft’s epic RPG stateside.

Thankfully that was changed through the efforts of Operation Rainfall, a coordinated and vocal coalition of gamers whose social media campaign successfully convinced Nintendo that yes, discerning Wii gamers do exist, and they would very much like to play some top-tier games.  Xenoblade Chronicles was the primary focus of their initial efforts, and a few months later, Nintendo finally confirmed an American release date set for April 6th.

I don’t know how many members of our community might have lent their own efforts to Operation Rainfall, but since I haven’t had time to check the game out for myself, I thought it might be helpful to peek in at what members of our community have been saying about their time with the long-awaited RPG so far.

A user named Gratch got the ball rolling with a good sized write-up the day after release:

I put in just over 7 hours yesterday.  The combat really is fantastic, and I keep picking up little nuances the more I play.  The closest comparison would be FF XII, but Xenoblade feels much more visceral and “hands on”.  Haven’t used anyone other than Shulk at this point, but I really like the way the characters actually feel like they’re working together rather than doing random actions on a script.  The story is quite good, but I’ve spent most of my time simply running around exploring the world, collecting stuff, etc.  While the lo-res graphics are off-putting, the overall art direction is truly fantastic.  Very impressed with the music and VO work as well.

Mostly, I’m just so amazed at how player-friendly this game is.  Feel free to save anywhere.  Dying simply kicks you back to the last waypoint you visited, so you’re free to explore and try new things.  Adjust time on the fly in order to go up against daytime or nighttime monsters.  Complete “collect X” or “kill X” quests immediately when they’re done in the field instead of requiring a trek back to the quest-giver.  Use the “lure” command to kite 1-2 enemies, rather than playing the annoying “slowly creep up into aggro range” game.  Basically, this game does all the little things right which makes for a remarkably enjoyable experience.

Two days later, Hotfreak summed up his experiences over the holiday weekend:

This game is awesome.  My party is level 22 right now and I’m still getting introduced to new game systems — some major, some minor.  The combat is deep, engaging and sometimes frenetic; and I could see replaying it just to get used to using other characters as “main”.  At this point in my playthrough, I am most reminded of final fantasy XII, but there are so many differences, I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why, except that combat occurs on the exploration map in both games.

They put a lot of care into telling the story, too.  I’m consistently blown away by the thoroughness and intelligibility of the cut scenes and other story segments.  This is not something I’m used to in Japanese story-based games.

As Gratch implied, if you are a completionist, the sheer quantity of quests, and the way they keep popping up when you think you’ve finished an area, could easily drive you crazy.  I agree with everything else Gratch says about player-friendliness.  This the most playable JRPG I’ve ever played, by far.

Both players lamented the lack of a high-definition signal in a world where ultra-crisp big screen LCDs emphasize every graphical blemish and hazy texture.  Scraper and Dante Rising are lucky enough to have some choice in the matter, and they both remarked on their choice to play Xenoblade Chronicles on their smaller televisions.

Finally, The Grue took a break from its usual pastime of consuming adventurers in the dark to comment on the side quests and optional collection quests around the early areas:

I just love it when I complete the full collection page for an area.  Finished up Colony 9 and the Cave last night and you get a reward, not only for each line that you fill, but for filling the whole thing.  I spent some time finishing off all the side quests I had last night in Colony 9 and the Cave and tonight will move on with the story.  There are probably even more side quests in those areas (in fact, I even got some last night while trying to close things out and closed out even the new ones).

About the only one I couldn’t do was for some named monster who I killed before I got the quest and he hasn’t respawned yet.  I looked it up and people said to go at a certain time to get him to spawn, but I did and he still didn’t, so I will move on and come back later.  Love, love, love this game.

Sounds like Xenoblade Chronicles is a bona fide hit around the GamingTrend community!  These are just snippets in time captured over the last five days of course, so check in on the discussion thread to get the full picture and let people know your own thoughts on the game!

Xenoblade Chronicles is available now exclusively through GameStop and the official Nintendo online store for $49.99.

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