Since just finished the game felt I should give the game a proper review. It feels like timing is right to do so. Xenoblade is an Action RPG featuring huge locations. The story revolves around Shulk who is a homs who can wield the Monado. Monado is the only weapon that can destroy mechons easily. A tragic event occurs which sets him off on a quest to destroy a faced mechon and end an on going war between homs who live on the giant Bionis and mechon who live on the giant Mechonis. The two said giants battled each other in far past. He journeys up the Bionis encountering new allies for his quest. He also has ridiculous amount of side quests he can complete.
The worst aspect of this games comes in the form of side quest markers. Save ones for NPCs and one off items there are no indications for anything else. Even with markers for NPCs finding them can still be a huge pain. Specially in later locations which feature much bigger towns and NPC is only given a vague description. There are few things making finding NPCs easier. All named NPCs appear on relationship chart. Even if it doesn’t give the closest Landmark you can travel to you at least know time they will definitely be available. With monsters and random misc items you collect your not going t be so lucky. Some monsters I was never able to find.
Mechonis is a huge let-down considering the amount of stuff on Bionis. It feels empty at times even though it’s crammed with enemies. There is little sense of night and day there as well. It feels like one huge dungeon with little in-between. It is very draining to playthrough this part. I can imagine many will quit before reaching the top. Really should have added few more bits to Mechonis that weren’t dungeon like.
The world is beautiful the character models aren’t the greatest. There aren’t many gameplay moments you will on purpose zoom into a character. It only becomes a problem during cut scenes. Even then only some suffer from it. The beautiful world definitely takes your mind off it though. Some of the locations are very impressive. The time of day can effect the locations as well. Lighting and weather changes throughout the day.
The game has a New Game+ carries over a decent amount of stuff. Only complaints are side quests fully reset and Landmarks are lost. I can understand why as some locations aren’t available till after an event later in the game but it does make it a bit tiresome. While I understand that some of the side quests had multiple endings it would have been nice to have those side quests up to that point.
Some of the side quests serve no purpose at all meanwhile others become short mini stories as game progresses. The huge number of side quests is great but at same time off putting. Specially if your like me and want to help out where possible. I feel somewhat obliged to take on all the side quests even if some I might never complete. Thankfully can view the quest information whenever although some are timed. Have to do them before a certain event.
The overall story itself is mostly your typical JRPG affair. A young hero’s home is destroyed and he goes off on a quest of vengeance to end a war. Certain aspects are unique to the story and it can be heart breaking at times as well as really funny. Although some parts feel pushed in at times as opposed to having a natural progression of events. Overall it’s an enjoyable if not slightly typical storyline.
Battle system is fun. Each character can assign artes as well as a bonus one. With Shulk this is a whole set of new artes connected to Monado. You also get visions which show a potentially devastating attack and a timer appears to stop or lessen the damage of the attack. Mostly this is done using Monado but other ways to alter the future. During the battle you get a bar on top. Once filled you can perform a unison attack. Basically go from one character to next performing a chosen arte. The best aspect of this is being able to set your own team. This means if you don’t like Shulk you can play as another character and even not have him in the party. It’s pretty fun to here what certain party members say to each other during the battle.
When it comes to character affinity in most games this has limited effects. In this game it unlocks heart to heart events which reveal more about the characters. Which I always like. It also allows for character to skill link with another. This allows them to learn a skill another characters has learnt. For example one of the later characters can’t equip heavy armour however can use skill link so they can equip it. It makes it more interesting because can set certain skills to boost a character or alter it so they affectively carry out a role they might not be suited to otherwise.
No matter what level you are at there will be monsters somewhere in the world that can challenge you. I find in some RPGs this isn’t the case. You have a gap where certain level of characters can’t level up effectively because monsters are far too difficult or far too easy. A little hunting around the world will find you a monster that is just right level to take on. If can’t find any there is always side quests to do or potentially should be moving on with the story.
One of the best things about this game is how big locations are. You can find plenty of hidden spots to gaze at scenery. I definitely know of some really nice chill out spots just to watch the day and night cycle. It’s amazing how big some locations are but don’t feel empty. If anything really crammed with stuff. One place mentioned before is a let down the rest is great.
If you want a game which has huge locations to explore and love doing side quests this is game for you. If your after a more traditional JRPG The Last Story would be a much better choice. That said both are great games in their own rights.