Xenogears is one of my favorite games ever. Crazy religious conspiracy theories, mecha, reincarnation… what more could anyone want? So I was pretty excited about Xenoblade Chronicles X. I probably shouldn’t have been, seeing as how I had played Xenoblade Chronicles before.
Both games have barely anything in common with Xenogears. The gameplay is essentially an offline MMO— you have a limited number of abilities, they all have cooldown times, you trigger them at the right moment.
I spent 100 hours on this game.
It was not time well spent. You have to spend a ton of time grinding. And the combat system isn’t much fun. To make things worse, most of the quests are in the form of “Gather X Items / Kill N Monsters”.
There are so many details to take care of and you will waste a lot of time on them. You need to equip gear for all of the 15+ characters, and there are a crapton of choices. Each piece of gear has a ton of augments that you can attach as well. And there are a bunch of classes you can switch between, each class has different arts you can choose between. Plus you can configure the “soul voices” and passive abilities (forget what they’re called). And, since there are so many characters you want to switch between them frequently so you can build up their hearts and unlock their missions, and you need to reconfigure each of these things each time your party changed. To make things worse I didn’t understand what half the abilities and equipment even did in the first place.
Oh yeah, and you managed to figure all that out? Now do the same thing with your team’s giant robots. Oh, and maintain your mining network. Oh yeah, and you can also craft your own items. And upgrade items. (I think you have to do multiplayer to do this… at least I never figured out how. The multiplayer sucked, I got disconnected all the time and you have to restart the game to reconnect.)
I appreciate a game with complexity, but this was just exhausting. In addition, all your gear becomes obsolete every ten levels. Oh, and you can’t afford the gear regardless. I don’t know what I was doing wrong but I was flat broke for most of the game. I could only afford a single giant robot at the most powerful level, even after I had beaten the game. I’m pretty sure I didn’t do enough grinding. Towards the end of the game I just wanted to beat the boss and get it over with as quickly as possible, I just didn’t care anymore.
Another problem is I just didn’t care much about the characters. You yourself are a blank slate. And the other characters are more or less interchangeable parts. Each character has 3 or 4 missions. But aside from that, they don’t have much of a role in the story, excepting Elma and Lin.
The story is not that interesting either. You’re stranded on a planet, there are bad aliens trying to kill you. It doesn’t have much of a resolution, and compared to Xenogears, it’s just totally dull. There is a twist but not a very interesting one. Honestly I thought the first Xenoblade Chronicles had a better story (and I was disappointed with that one too). It was so bad it got to the point where the main thing I looked forward to in each new chapter was seeing a loli threaten to eat potatoes. I’m not even joking.
The one thing I haven’t mentioned, which actually was quite impressive, was the world itself. It’s fucking huge. And even more impressive, it’s all connected seamlessly. You can just fly around the entire world without encountering a loading screen. That said, if you want to teleport? (Which I assure you, you do.) Loooong loading time. But the world is amazing. Each corner has something different. It was partially frustrating though, since in the first half of the game, I spent a fair amount of effort exploring the world and figuring out how to get to new places. But then you learn how to fly and getting anywhere becomes trivial… Still, the scale and detail of the world are impressive.
One other big annoyance. The music. The music itself is fine, I guess. But listening to it for 100 hours? Totally obnoxious. And there is no option to turn off the music. Usually when I play a game I’ll turn off the music and listen to my own music. But in this game I couldn’t do that. Had to turn everything off, including the voices and sound effects.
TL; DR — Go play Xenogears.