Is it worth paying Mira a visit?
As far as I can tell, there’s no story connection between Chronicles and X, but it does have some familiar enemies from the first game. The only way I can compare it is with the Final Fantasy series, each game is set in its own world but always has things like Chocobos in them, such as it is with the Xenoblade series.
The story takes place on a world called Mira after Earth is destroyed after getting caught between 2 alien races in war. Earth was evacuated by a number of ships, but most were destroyed escaping orbit, but one major one and a few small ones manage to get away before being shot down the alien forces 2 years later, landing on Mira and establishing the city of New LA.
Mira is a beautiful, yet hostile world full of indigenous creatures that can be friendly or hostile. You don’t play as a memorable character like Shulk, but instead you design your own character and choose it’s gender. Your character is mute, but you can pick dialogue choices during certain cutscenes, essentially you are rescued from your stasis pod and brought to the city of New LA before joining the BLADE task force and begin to rescue other humans still in their pods, protecting New LA from threats and exploring the charming, yet deadly world that is Mira.
The Wii U Gamepad is used as a terminal that can be used as a map, fast-travel, information about native organisms and Off-TV Play if you want. The game handles like an open-world RPG with a huge emphasis on exploration, you can travel on foot or in massive robots called Skells, which can fly, traverse water or become tanks and motorbikes. Combat will feel familiar to those who played the original, you select your moves through icons on screen…which then begin to cooldown before a second use, or you can wait even longer and do more damage/restore health/tighten defence and so on.
There is a nice level of online play here that is unexpected. X feels like an MMO at times as you can team up with other players, trade loot and take on some of the bigger challenges. You can still play solo if you wish, but it’s nice to get a helping hand once in a while. Mira has 5 continents, so there’s a massive world to traverse and sometimes is better with friends than solo, but of course the great thing is that it’s all optional.
As an JRPG, X does more than enough to satisfy, it has all the components you would expect and yet feels fresh on the RPG scene. I can’t quite put my finger on what specifically makes it stand out, all I know is that I cannot get enough of it. The visuals are simply amazing and shows that the Wii U still has some strength left in it, Mira and it’s inhabitants are breathtaking and the combat is fluid, while the framerate rarely drops. Voice-acting is a mixed bag as is with most JRPG’s, but good for the most part, while the soundtrack is superb.
Xenoblade Chronicles X is not a sequel, but a spiritual successor to the Wii’s (and now 3DS’) best JRPG. It steps everything up to another level with a beautiful world, captivating story, great combat and co-op play. JRPG’s don’t get much better than this.