Xenoblade Chronicles X
|Xenoblade Chronicles X|
International cover art
Xenoblade Chronicles X, known in Japan as XenobladeX (Japanese: ゼノブレイドクロス Hepburn: Zenobureido Kurosu?, pronounced as "Xenoblade Cross"), is an action role-playing video game developed by Monolith Soft and published by Nintendo for the Wii U home video game console. Part of the Xeno series of video games, it serves as a spiritual successor to Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii. The game centers on the player's customizable player character, and main characters Elma and Lin Lee efforts to survive and coexist with the indigenous creatures on a hostile alien planet while striving to protect humanity. Similar to its predecessor, the game features an open world design that strongly emphasizes exploration. It was released on April 29, 2015 in Japan and in December 2015 internationally.
In a similar fashion to the original Xenoblade Chronicles, the game plays as an open world role-playing video game, with an emphasis on exploration. Traveling can take place on foot, or in large humanoid robots, approximately four times the height of the average playable character, called "Skells" ("Dolls" in the Japanese version), that the player may opt to control. The Skells have the ability to fly, traverse water, and transform into vehicles such as motorcycles or tanks. Aerial battles also take place in the game.
During the game, the player seeks out and recovers the stasis pods that were ejected from the White Whale's hull during its emergency landing, which land in various places across Mira. In order to search for places with stasis pods, the player must expand the "Frontier Navigation" information system by installing data probes at places called "Frontier Nav Spots". By establishing data probes at various points on Mira, the Net obtains information on the related areas and expands its scope.
The game's battle system works similarly to the battle system found in the original game, with some improvements. The "Arts palette" returns from the previous game. Each special attack, or Art, from the palette enters a "cooldown" period when used. This forces the player to wait for it to fully charge, at which point they can either use it again, or let it re-charge twice, at which point its use will deal even more damage, keep its charge, or induce extra effects. Specific targets on an enemy's body, such as body parts or external weapons, can be targeted and destroyed in the midst of battle, denying the enemy use of certain attacks or increasing the chances of certain drops occurring.
The past game's quest log will also return in an improved form. The Wii U GamePad is used as an "information terminal" for data the player gathers about native organisms, a map, a way to warp to previously-visited locations, and for Off-TV Play.
Setting and characters
The setting of Xenoblade Chronicles X takes place on Mira, a distant planet located far away from Earth. It is divided into five continents: Primordia, Noctilum, Oblivia, Sylvalum, and Cauldros. The human settlement known as New Los Angeles is established in the heart of Primordia. NLA serves as the hub of the entire planet, usually containing the majority of the NPCs, sidequests, and other important features. There are several alien races that reside on Mira beside the humans, such as the greedy Nopon race, the technologically-advanced Ma-non people, and the hostile Ganglion.
The avatar is the game's main character, a survivor of the crash who has no recollection of the events prior to his or her arrival on Mira. The player character is shortly joined by Elma, a BLADE colonel who serves as the central protagonist of the main story. After their arrival in New Los Angeles, they meet thirteen-year-old Lin Lee Koo (fifteen in the American version), a girl who is known as a genius Skells mechanic. Somewhere along the way, they rescue a Nopon known as Tatsu. Several BLADE members who join the team during the course of the story include: Doug Barrett, Irina Akulov, Gwin Evans, Lao Huang, and L. The team first confront the Ganglion, the antagonist organization, through Goetia in Noctilum. Later on, a pair of Ganglion executives known as Ryyz and Dagahn attack New Los Angeles. The two proud Wrothian warriors called Prince Ga Jiarg and his servant Ga Buidhe, work under Luxaar who is the main antagonist and the head of the Ganglion organization.
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The game begins in the year 2054, as two alien races engage in battle near Earth, causing significant collateral damage to the planet. With governments warned of Earth's obliteration beforehand, humanity is forced to evacuate in enormous interstellar ark ships, one from every major city on the planet, though only a small handful manage to escape before the planet is destroyed. The story picks up two years later as the American Los Angeles evacuee ship, the White Whale, is found and attacked by the Ghost, one of the alien races responsible for Earth's destruction, causing the ship to crash land upon the planet Mira. From there, the passengers establish a new home in a city named "New Los Angeles", or NLA, after its inspiration.
The player is rescued from a lifepod by Elma, a member of BLADE. Elma then gives the player a weapon and they search some more lifepod crash sites before fighting off some wild Grexes, a type of indigen, or monster, to gain access to the city. Upon reaching the city, the player meets Gwin and Irina, two BLADE Interceptors who used to serve under Elma, and witness a speech by the Director General Maurice Chausson. While traveling to BLADE HQ, the player witnesses a Skell crashing, and the player meets Doug, the Skell's test pilot and Lin, a Skell mechanic. Lin transports them to BLADE HQ, and after meeting Secretary of Defense Nagi, Commander Vandham, and learning about BLADE and its divisions (Pathfinder, Interceptor, Reclaimer, and more), Commander Vandham gives the team (Elma, Lin, and the player) a mission to install a FrontierNav probe, which will help them search the area for crashed pieces of the Lifehold, where thousands of humans are kept in stasis. After that, Elma's team is told to investigate the disappearance of a Pathfinder team. While investigating, the team encounters an alien race known as the Prone, who had captured and murdered the Pathfinder team under orders to kill all "human aliens". After killing the Prone, the team discovers a Nopon merchant named Tatsu, who they initially mistake for a potato. Before bringing him back to base, he decides to accompany the team.
Later, after investigating a possible Lifehold unit, the team meets L, a friendly alien with fluent English and a thirst for knowledge. Upon reaching the Lifehold unit, they discover that the alien race had already destroyed the Lifehold unit and possessed Skells of their own. An alien, known as Goetia, introduces herself and her crew as the Ganglion, an alien race that desires human extinction. Upon defeating Goetia and her crew, the army retreats. The team then meets Lao and helps Doug after Lao doesn't show up for a mission. They then assist Irina's team in recovering a Lifehold piece and fighting off the Ganglion, who are also hunting down the Lifehold pieces. They also rescue some aliens described as Man-on. Upon destroying 3 Ganglion Skells, Tatsu is targeted by one of them as a last resort, but the player manages to protect Tatsu from a laser blast. The blast destroys the player's arm, revealing his/her mechanical parts. The team reveals to the player that the "humans" are actually artificial robots known as mimeosomes, who are being controlled by their real bodies in stasis. Finally, they retrieve a mysterious alien Skell the Ganglion were hunting and bring it to New Los Angeles. On their next mission, they manage to find another Lifehold unit in Oblivia. Realizing suspicion that it was too easy to find, the Ganglion led by Goetia traps the party and brings their army, but are defeated and killed.
The Ganglion launch an all out attack on New Los Angeles, but are repelled by BLADE troops. However, the Ganglion deploy their main attack force from the air above NLA. While Elma's team defeats a pair of Ganglion known as Ryyz, a humanoid Ganglion, and Dagahn, a Ganglion described to be "as big as a mech", a pair of warriors known as Ga Jiarg and Buidhe break into the hangar and defeat an entire BLADE team, including several Skells, before helping the Ganglion steal the alien Skell, which Ganglion grandmaster Luxaar refers to as "the Great One's Skell". Later, the team investigates a Lifehold piece discovered by Lao's team, only to find an injured Lao, whose entire team was slaughtered. Pushing on to the coordinates, the team cannot find the Lifehold piece anywhere and are ambushed by Ga Jiarg and Buidhe. However, Elma challenges Ga Jiarg to an honorable duel and wins, reprimanding Ga Jiarg for being commanded by the Ganglion. While Lao's mimeosome is being repaired, Elma tells Commander Vandham and Doug that she suspects that Lao is a traitor. Elma points out that he left the hangar right before the alien Skell was stolen and the coordinates to the Lifehold fragment he gave just happened to be right where the Ganglion set a trap. After helping Gwin train, Mathias finding a cat for an experiment, successfully testing Lin's experimental Skell flight module, and meeting another pair of characters, Elma secretly tells her team that the numbers on BLADE HQ is actually a countdown until the Lifehold's reserve power runs out, the stasis fails, and the mimeosomes all die because their real bodies are dead. Upon planting coordinates with a probe in Sylvalum, they discover that Ryyz and Dagahn are controlling a giant war machine called the Zu Pharg, which was stolen from the Ganglion's Weapon Facility without the approval of Luxaar. Before it heads to NLA to cause serious damage, the party destroys the giant machine, killing Dagahn and Ryyz.
An alarm from the hangar is triggered. It is discovered that Lao is indeed the Ganglion spy, stealing classified data and the prototype Prog Ares Skell. He then travels to the Ganglion fortress with the Skell, waiting for the team to approach him so that the Ganglion are given time to strategize how to destroy the Lifehold. His reason for betrayal was because he discovered the truth. Lao's family couldn't get a spot on the White Whale because only the rich and useful were given spots on board while others were left to die. Their real flesh and blood were actually burned, much to the naivety of Lin and Elma knowing about it. Upon defeating Lao in the Prog Ares in battle, Elma is about to shoot, killing Lao if he didn't hand the data back. However, Lin protects Lao, understanding why he did it based on the tragic events. Lao decides to give the data terminal to Lin, realizing his wrongful actions and showing compassion.
Using the data, the BLADE mainframe locates the Lifehold Core, which is the only one equipped with automated defenses and a Trion shield. Every member of BLADE, in a fleet of Skells, engage the Ganglion, while Elma's team heads inside the Core. However, after the Skell attack fleet completely rout the Ganglion's offensive, a desperate Luxaar takes the Great One's Skell, easily breaks through the Trion barrier, and engages Elma's team. After defeating Luxaar, Elma reveals that none of the human bodies are actually kept in stasis, but that the entirety of human memories, as well as human DNA, is kept in the Core, and that it is possible to make human bodies and transfer memories. Doug questions the ethics and understood why Lao went berserk, but the final decision was made through the tough choices within the council and Elma. Luxaar, having survived, attempts to attack the computer systems of the Core, but is stabbed from behind by Lao, who blamed Luxaar for the death of his family in the first place. Both Luxaar and Lao fall into the protoplasmic pool on the floor. This mutates Lao, Luxaar, and the Skell into a giant chimera. Lao, mutated, tells the team to kill him, saying he can't control his body anymore because the mutated body contains a lot of consciousness. In his last moments, Lao tells the team of Luxaar's reasoning: The human DNA is capable of killing the Ganglion. After killing the monster, Elma deactivates her mim and reveals that she is an alien by retrieving her actual alien body. During the ending, it is revealed that Elma had given humanity the tech to build the interstellar ark ships, develop Skells, and warned them about the inevitable destruction of Earth, as regular life continues in New Los Angeles.
The Epilogue shows Elma and a few crew members on a mission, deep inside the Lifehold Core. Much to the shock of everyone, the Lifehold Core's database was already destroyed. Nobody knows how everyone in their mimeosomes are still alive, only to assume that the planet Mira is somehow keeping them alive. On a beach somewhere in the planet, a black mysterious figure finds Lao laying down and opening his eyes, leaving many questions unresolved.
The game was first revealed in January 2013 in a Nintendo Direct video under the tentative name X. The game was further demonstrated in June 2013 at E3 2013, with Nintendo aiming for a 2014 release time frame. The game was shown again at E3 2014, revealing that the game had an official title, Xenoblade Chronicles X, but had its release timeframe delayed into some time in 2015. Despite the similarity in name, and the appearance of a character strongly resembling Shulk in the original 2013 trailer, the game is not a direct sequel to Xenoblade Chronicles, but rather a spiritual sequel. The game largely retains a similar battle system, quest log, and philosophical elements of Xenoblade Chronicles, as well as other story elements such as the presence of the Nopon race of creatures, and even contains similarities to other past games in the Xeno series. While the protagonists of Xenoblade Chronicles do not appear in the game, the game's character creation tool allows for the player to create characters that look similar to them, even allowing for the character to be voiced by Shulk's or Fiora's respective voice actors, Adam Howden and Carina Reeves.
The game was directed by Monolith Soft president, co-founder, and Xeno series director Tetsuya Takahashi, with character designs by Kunihiko Tanaka, the artist behind the character concept artwork and design on Xenogears, directed by Koh Kojima, and music by Hiroyuki Sawano. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata stated that the game was developed with the goal of creating a large-scale open world with "seamless exploration", with the development team working on expanding on the knowledge they learned in developing, Xenoblade Chronicles. Takahashi stated that his aim was to create the biggest game world possible for the Wii U; at one point, the developers considered releasing the game on two discs due to its size. In addition to the freedom to explore the game, the player is able to customize the appearance of the main playable character, including gender, shape, height, skin, color, voice, and facial tattoos. The game supports online co-op play for up to four players. In an interview with Famitsu, executive director Tetsuya Takahashi revealed that due to the game's sheer scope and volume, implementing the online functions was a challenge when they originally used “very basic technology” for the functionality, opting it over "cutting edge technology" because, according to Takahashi in the interview, he said, "HD and online were new experiences for us and rushing has no use. It’s a bit similar to boxing: if you stand till the end, you will win. We faced the development with this in mind." Nintendo had to step in and assist with the online support, with Takahashi taking in what he learned from the development process to implement in a potential next project.
In November 2014, Monolith Soft announced that they had entered the final stages of development, morale within the team was high, and they planned to release the game in the first half of 2015 in Japan, and the second half of 2015 in North America and Europe. The development team also revealed that they had decided to create their own website for the game, something they created without Nintendo's permission, but was given approval by the time it launched. The team blogs about the game's development on the website. They revealed that the game would have "online elements", but did not reveal any further details. Takahashi suggested that the game would feature a 'deep' and distinctive sci-fi story compared to its predecessor's 'basic' fantasy story, and stated that he asked Tanaka for his cooperation to bring out the "Xeno-ness" in the game's character designs. On December 4, Takahashi tweeted that after 15 years since the founding of Monolith Soft, he finally felt he had successfully created an RPG in which humans and robots could co-exist, something he stated as being a long held vision of his.
Since its release, Chronicles X received software updates via download: the first was minor adjustments to in-game text, while the second added Spanish and French subtitles.
Takahashi stated that he always believed the setting is important in RPGs so it became the game's first pillar. Takahashi said that the team was unable to connect the Bionis and Mechonis into one field in Xenoblade Chronicles; this resulted in the team wanting to step up for this game by creating a completely open world. Upon starting the project, the team discussed creating an entire planet, but in the end, they developed a field on a realistic scale by creating five continents around 400km². Kojima said that the team put in real effort to creating the setting so that players wouldn't feel disappointed when they put in the effort to go to hard-to-reach locations. Takahashi said that "when the player needs to go from point A to point B to progress the story, for example, however hard we may try to create something really worthwhile to be explored between these two points, it would be meaningless if the player could not realize that something might be there in that part of the world." They believed that adding the pioneering feature between points would naturally encourage players to explore while traveling to their destination. Takahashi suggested implementing hexagon-shaped fields called "Segments" into the maps to make it easier for players to figure out where they were going.
After establishing the game world as the foundation, Monolith Soft focused on creating the base of the story. From there, Takahashi and Kojima had several meetings about the story with the scriptwriters Yuichiro Takeda and Kazuho Hyodo as well as Genki Yokota. According to Takeda, Takahashi had already written a large amount of the plot beforehand and was even suggested as novel-like by Kojima. Takeda mentioned that he carefully picked out the stories that fit with the game's content and scale and turned them into scripts. Since Takeda was the originally the only scriptwriter assigned, he asked Hyodo to assist as the volume was too large for one person to handle. Known for his work on several anime productions, it was Hyodo's first time being fully involved in a video game production. As Hyodo wrote several quest scenarios, he was approved by the staff members to create additional characters. Despite Takeda preferring middle-aged male characters, he thought it would be a good idea to recruit Hyodo for young female characters with important roles. According to Takeda, the scenario including the main story and quests took about a year and a half to write out. Yokota said that they intended to increase the number of quests by 3,000% compared to the quests from Xenoblade Chronicles, but instead, they put 3,000% of their hearts into creating them.
In the middle of development, the team partially re-hauled the story to implement an online mode. This caused them to do a "mass construction" to change the main character into an avatar and rewrite bits of the story to match with the content. The decision to add the online functionality was because the team felt that playing in such a large open-world environment would cause the players to feel lonely. They focused on making the online mode "loosely connected" so that players can feel the presence of others. However, due to the RPG elements of the game, they also consciously made it for players to focus on playing alone without any disruption.
Takeda said it was a challenge to adjust the story from a pre-defined protagonist to avatars as the main character. He stated that it drastically changed the flow of the story. The team felt the game should continue the tradition of having characters talk during battle as it made the original game stand out. Compared to 3,000 battle lines from the original, the amount of battle dialogues increased to 11,000 lines for this game. Prior to this project, Takeda had never seen a professional voice actor to lose their voice during a recording.
According to Takahashi, the second pillar for this game was including robots. He said that it was a challenge to have human characters and robots coexist and function in this world. They designed these robots known as "Skells" as a vehicle to freely roam the large environments. The creators purposely made "Skells" expensive as they wanted the players to experience a feeling similar to buying a new car in real life. They also designed an insurance for every time the "Skell" gets destroyed in battle.
Monolith Soft put a lot of meaning into the "X" in the title of the game. Yokoto believes that it represents a lot of different aspects of the game. Yokota explained that it is a symbol for an unknown factor. It also symbolizes alien life of the unknown and exploring an unknown planet. In the Japanese version, the "X" is referred as "Cross" as in a place that can serve as a crossroad where people can come across one another unexpectedly. The Skells and humans being able to fight together is also symbolized by the "X."
|Xenoblade X Original Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by Hiroyuki Sawano|
|Released||20 May 2015|
|Genre||Video game soundtrack|
|Length||Disc 1: 1:16:14
Disc 2: 1:17:42
Disc 3: 1:16:22
Disc 4: 32:26
Xenoblade Chronicles X was composed by Hiroyuki Sawano, who is known for his work on Attack on Titan, Guilty Crown, and Kill la Kill. Takahashi had been a long-time fan of Sawano, so he personally insisted on having Sawano compose for this game. Upon their initial meeting, Takahashi showed a concept video of the game to Sawano, which later became the source of inspiration and motivation for his music production. After producing the recording demos, Sawano started working on the scores for orchestra and band. For the orchestral score, he made the broader parts of it on his computer, then added the playing styles and other smaller details by hand to complete the total score. At the end of this, he went to a musical copyist and had them create the scores for each individual instrumental part. He stated that it is important work for him to produce the musical score so that he is able to perform his final sound checks. Sawano composed the music based on the musical selections and resources provided to him. After composing the music, he recorded in the studio with large orchestras and bands. He started by composing and recording the theme song and several other main pieces of music, then produced the rest of the music (over 90 tracks) over three different periods. Since Takahashi had listened to his music before, Sawano was given free rein to produce music using his own style as he had done in previous projects. During their discussions, they thought it would be fun to include some vocal tracks, so Sawano arranged a group of vocalists to join the recording process.
The game's soundtrack has seen very positive reviews; the main theme, "Theme X," was awarded the "Outstanding Achievement" award from Video game music site VGMO.  The same site also awarded Hiroyuki Sawano with the "Outstanding Artist - Newcomer award". 
David Whitaker, who is credited as the rapper of the battle theme called Black Tar as well as Melancholia, claimed that he wrote the song in about two hours and recorded it.
Initial reception of Xenoblade Chronicles X was largely positive. Following the trailer shown at E3 2013, Official Nintendo Magazine offered strong praise for its visuals and open world. In April 2014, Eurogamer featured Xenoblade Chronicles X in an article about their "Most Anticipated" games, stating that even non-Japanese role-playing game fans could find something to enjoy due to its "[mixing of] action, strategy and narrative into a delicious, idiosyncratic concoction with broad appeal." In January 2015, GameTrailers ranked Xenoblade Chronicles X as its ninth-most anticipated game of 2015, looking forward to piloting the mech through the skies and exploring the game's "massive" world. Prior to the game's English release, the game received positive press for having a larger game world than other open world games, such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and Fallout 4, the latter two being released on the more powerful PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles.
Sales and critical reaction
Japanese gaming publication Dengeki gave the game a positive review, referring to it as a masterpiece; they praised the gameplay, detailed world, story direction, and music, and said it has a "very high degree of perfection". Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu gave Xenoblade Chronicles X a score of 34/40, with scores of 9, 9, 8 and 8 from the four reviewers; they praised the gameplay, plot, large open world, and sense of freedom, but two of the reviewers criticized it for having an abundance of cutscenes.
Upon its Western release, Xenoblade Chronicles X earned an aggregated review score of 84/100 at Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable" reception. Nintendo Life praised the game's battle system, deep upgrade pathways, vast world size, and graphics, but criticized the occasional difficulty spike and fetch quest. IGN scored it 8.2/10, stating that, "Out in the wilderness, Xenoblade Chronicles X presents seemingly endless reasons to fight and wander the planet.", and that "Xenoblade Chronicles X is a massive RPG with enough surface area, sub quests, and customization to keep you busy". However, the game was criticized by IGN with a narrative that "makes important moments feel bland, with low production value that robs emotional scenes of any dramatic weight". Nintendo World Report scored it 9.5/10, stating that it is "required playing for anyone with the slightest inclination toward RPGs, and if you need to buy the system then do it" as it is "an essential part of the Wii U library." Hobby Consolas scored it 93%, stating that if "you value a long experience in which great satisfactions come little by little, you should consider getting a Wii U for this game."
Destructoid scored it 9/10, stating that it "feels like an MMO world I've been living in for several weeks now" though the "more grimdark theme isn't quite as charming as the original Xenoblade, but everything else makes up for it." GameSpot stated that, of "all the open-world games to come out this year, Xenoblade Chronicles X may be the most formidable" as a "truly enormous game, both in scale and scope," praising the landscapes, creature design, unlockables and quests, combat, and character progression and customization, but criticizing the inconsistent soundtrack, ambiguous systems, and disappointing story. Metro scored it 8/10, stating that it is the "best Japanese role-player of the generation and arguably the best open world environment of the year" and "deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as The Witcher 3 and Fallout 4" but criticized "a disappointing story and some arcane systems." Jim Sterling scored it 9/10, stating that, despite moments that "make me cringe," when "I consider the layered mass that is Xenoblade Chronicles X, all I can think of" is "how damn arresting it is." Eurogamer said it is "Japanese RPG-making at its most ambitious and determined." iDigitalTimes scored it 4/5 stars, referring to it as the "Best Wii U Game Of 2015" and a "candidate for game of the year". Time scored it 5 out of 5 and referred to it as the "best role-playing game of 2015 hands down".
The game was the third best-selling game during its release week in Japan, selling around 85,000 copies. During its second week and third week, it sold over 11,000 and 2,000 copies respectively. In addition to its physical copies, the game garnered nearly 23,000 digital copies during May 2015. It was the most downloaded title in Japan for the month of May, largely surpassing other titles such as Minecraft, Bravely Second: End Layer, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. As of June 2015, 110,000 physical copies had been sold. By the end of the year, a total of 114,665 were sold in Japan.
Upon its release in the United Kingdom, the game managed to secure 28th place in the charts. Despite its modest position, the game's launch sales was 73% higher than its predecessor, Xenoblade Chronicles. After two weeks, the game sold over 40,000 physical copies in France. In the United States, the game sold over 200,000 physical copies during the month of December, nearly doubling the then-lifetime sales in Japan.
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