Short answer: because it’s absolutely incredible, and being a part of such a masterpiece in game design and passion will enhance your overall quality of life. Let me clarify one thing first: you shouldn’t buy Xenoblade. You should already fucking have it. Nobody’s perfect, however, and I’m here to help shed a bit of light and improve everyone’s mood. Xenoblade Chronicles has been out in Europe and Australia for a few weeks now; I’ve been playing it since release, and I can confirm it’s the best RPG ever made. Here’s the long answer to why it should be a part of your life…
Walking through the entire overworld in a straight line from point A to B would take over an hour. It’s absolutely fucking massive, and it’s not just amazing how long it is, but how huge the environments are and how dense and populated everything is. Some cliffs tower so high the camera can’t even see the top of them, and the game actually lets you climb up and go there yourself. Some places are so high up you can jump off and spend 30 seconds falling. Of course, you’ll die unless you land in some deep water, but it’s fun so who cares. Perhaps the most amazing part of the world in the game is this: it takes place on a god. This isn’t a normal round planet, it’s an idle giant that has spawned a vast ecosystem on its body and has its own gravitational pull. The sheer act of positioning the camera around you and looking in the distance is enough to evoke feelings of awe. The structure of the land is beyond comparison to anything seen on Earth, it’s a completely unique creation, and the combination of cliffs, plains, forests, caves and swamps is mesmerising. Every new area you reach is a reward; the motivation to explore is the best thing Nintendo has accomplished with this game. Technically, it’s faultless. The draw distance allows you to see the land in its entirety, things like enemies and items wont be visible from a mile away, but you’ll be able to see every landmark, with no jarring popup or graphical glitches. The exploration aspect is even greater than Nintendo’s own The Legend of Zelda games, and that’s not a bad benchmark.
It’s engaging. Your attacks are different depending on what side of the enemy you attack from, and when faced with a tough battle, the depth and options are enormous. Winning is about understanding each characters strengths and using the right moves in the right place in the right combination at the right time. It’s tactical warfare combined with physical positioning with a strong emphasis on teamwork. Moving near someone else on your team lets you encourage them, pick them up if they’re knocked down, or even revive them. There’s also combo attacks and chains that you can pull off if you really know what you’re doing; it’s very satisfying when you pull off a smooth combo and figure out a good set of moves to use after each other. There are a ton of visual cues to follow on the screen too: by looking at your own characters portraits above their stats, you can see how much tension has built based on the expression on their face. I can’t even tell you everything here because I’m still learning new things about the battle system myself, but the important thing is that it’s fun.
I won’t go into specifics and spoil anything, but it’s fucking great just like everything else in the game. A threat of war gives a foreboding atmosphere to the beautiful landscapes. The main characters are all very charismatic, and there’s nobody annoying me constantly which is a nice change in a JRPG. Presentation is top notch, and the cutscenes are incredible, showcasing blistering action scenes with some damn fine camerawork. All the events so far have pulled my emotional strings and really immersed me in the game and made me care about the characters.
There are so many unique characters in this game and there’s always something going on in their lives. Depending on what time of day or night it is, they’ll be in different places doing different things. Every unique NPC in the game has relationships that connect with the affinity chart in the game. Just talking to someone can lead you to a discovery that will link two characters and increase your affinity (bond, trust) with a town, which opens up more quests. Another fun aspect of the game.
There’s a fuckload of them. I’m nowhere near finished with the game, but I’ve done over a hundred; I’ve read somewhere there could be as many as five hundred quests in the game. This isn’t about numbers though, the quests are mostly simple, like killing a certain amount of monsters or finding an item. What I love about them is the sense of adventure, traveling to a small corner of the map just to help someone out feels rewarding, and also leads to unraveling stories and progression of the characters’ lives and habits.
I want to chew it. It’s lush and everywhere, and sticks out of the ground bursting with life.
Incredible soundtrack, every single god damn song in the game is good. It’s catchy and funky when it needs to be, ridiculously epic and downright eerie depending on what’s happening, where you are and whether it’s day or night. The music in Xenoblade enhances every single feeling tied to it, it’s an essential part of the experience. Here’s the music that plays at the title screen when you boot up the game – listen from start to finish and bask in its glory.
Overall, Xenoblade Chronicles is an outstanding piece of work that is not held back by any technical limitations. It’s smart design, but above all it’s passionate and full of life and expression, everything human art is about. This is the first game in a long time I can say pushes videogame experiences to a new level. It’s the best example of a unique living world in a game I’ve ever seen, and immersing myself in the land and the lives of these characters has been a pleasure. If you’re in Europe or Australia, go to the shops right now and buy it. If you’re in America, import it from a European webstore, there’s plenty around, GAME, zavvi, thehut to name a few. I’m going back to my game now, I can’t think of a better way to spend my Sunday off.