Living in a lake-effect snow area tends to warp one's perception of seasonal changes, so imagine my surprise when I discovered that the December 4th debut of Xeonblade Chronicles X actually counts as an autumn release. Huzzah! It's a particularly exciting localization for two reasons: First, the original Xenoblade Chronicles on the Ninteno Wii almost didn't make it to North America. JRPG fans had to petition Nintendo of America to get it released, and even then it didn't reach US shelves until nearly two years after its initial Japanese launch. Second, the original Xenoblade Chronicles is the best game on the Wii.
Oh yeah. I'm going there. Fight me.
Xenoblade Chronicles expertly retained the turn-based feel of its predecessors in the JRPG genre in a way that also took advantage of the real time spatial maneuvering of contemporary action RPGS. Turns out waiting for attack cooldowns is much more exciting when you're running around trying to get a critical angle on your target beastie. Xenoblade Chronicles offered a huge open world filled with huge wildlife and huge sci-fi battles to engage in. Xenoblade Chronicles X promises to be even huger.
It's 2054, and an alien conflict has wreaked untold destruction on Earth. In a last ditch effort to preserve the human race, nations flee the planet in massive space habitats in search of a new home. Escape proves hazardous though. The alien menace manages to damage the American vessel and downs it on the uncharted planet Mira. The game proper picks up two months after the crash and centers on humanity's struggle to acclimate to their new homeworld, all the while threats from the land and sky alike seek to end their ramshackle occupation.
Xenoblade Chronicles X will feature five continents to explore, each with its own unique ecosystem. From what we've seen so far, these areas can be roughly approximated as plains, jungle, desert, tundra, and volcanic environments, but earthly descriptions don't really do justice to these thoroughly unearthly landscapes.
Mira is treacherous, and much like the first Xenoblade Chronicles, the spiritual successor will have large free-roaming animals that can easily stomp under-leveled players. With the added narrative thread of humanity being strangers in a new land, Xenoblade Chronicles X continues the theme of survival in a harsh environment where we are no longer the most powerful lifeforms around. Screenshots and video previews have shown us glimpses of ruins from Mira's previous inhabitants, but at this point it is unclear how essential ancient civilizations will play in the story. It is also confirmed that humans are not the only intelligent peoples calling Mira home, and some of its present inhabitants are not pleased to have strangers occupying their world. In particular, the Nopon, fierce furry little show-stealers from the first game, will return in Xenoblade Chronicles X, along with the ancient and beastly Telethia.
But these things are mostly par for the course for a Xenoblade Chronicles sequel. TechRaptor has covered the steady drip of information on the game as it's come, but for the most part the project's newest features have been rather enigmatic. What we do know is that Xenoblade Chronicles X will take an unexpected but welcome departure and offer customization options for the player character. All the works are there: gender, hair/eye color, body type, voice, etc. Female players can even fiddle with bust size, which I personally intend to make full and hilarious use of. On the gameplay front, Xenoblade Chronicles X adds huge-ass controllable flying fighting mech robots that transform into tanks and race cars. Honestly if I didn't have a mandatory minimum word count for this article I would have just began and ended with the stuff in this paragraph. Adjustable boobs and giant robots—game of the year confirmed.
In all seriousness though, the addition of the mechs, officially dubbed Skells in the English release, aims to add another dimension to the game's combat. Previews have been rather sparing with the details regarding their operation, but what is clear is that they run on a limited fuel source, are at least partially destructible, and can be summoned on the fly. Players obtain access to use them in battle upon joining a plot-relevant organization called BLADE, which seeks to rescue stranded humans whose life pods have been scattered across Mira. Oh, and some of the mechs have lightsabers. So, yeah.
Topping it all off is the addition of Hiroyuki Sawano as lead composer. Anime fans will recognize his heart-pounding orchestral themes from such recent hits as Attack on Titan and Kill La Kill. The first Xenoblade Chronicles had a positively gorgeous soundtrack lead by Manami Kiyota and with contributions from legendary composers Yasunori Mitsuda and Yoko Shimomura. They're tough shoes to fill, but if anyone's up to the task, it's Sawano, and his flair for creatively implemented electronic riffs will fit well in a sci-fi work.
Basically there's a lot to look forward to and a lot to speculate about in the months leading up to Xenoblade Chronicles X. The first game managed to evoke feelings of both freshness and nostalgia for me as a longtime JRPG fan, and I'm super stoked that we don't have to beg online again for the second dose. I purchased a Wii U for exactly two games: Bayonetta 2 and Xenoblade Chronicles X. Here's to the latter being just as great as the former.
The English-speaking release of Xenoblade Chronicles X is set for December 4th 2015, and the game will be exclusive to the Nintendo Wii U. Stay tuned to TechRaptor for more updates.