Xenoblade Chronicles X: a retrospective


To escape reality, I’d go to some far extremes. I have always sought a world better than our own. One in which I could help. One in which my problems weren’t getting out of bed and trying to feel happy, but rather having to help people no matter the costs. One where my problems weren’t the monster in my head, but rather a monster I could fight in front of me.

That’s probably why I always loved roleplaying games—or RPGs for short. That want to be anyone but myself has always been strong in me, and no games were able to bring out that side of me like an RPG could.

Those games made me lose myself to their worlds. I wouldn’t be worried about if I was enough, if I was happy, or if I would ever be someone worth anything; it was just me controlling someone else in a world of complex and lovable characters.

Games like Fire Emblem 7 and Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition made me see their world through their protagonist’s eyes. Their pains and losses were mine because each time they failed, I was controlling them. If I couldn’t win a fight and they lost, it was both of us failing.

Yet the plights of those characters were something that I felt a connection to more than anything in our world. If anything happened to the characters that I spent hours with, I would hurt for them. If those characters were happy, I would be.

I guess my wanting out of this existence was probably dysphoria, but I found myself trapped in our world. I would always be done with the game at some point, and most of the time, I would never go back. But that all changed around four years ago when I first got a Wii U and my first of several beloved games: Xenoblade Chronicles X.

Xenoblade Chronicles X⁠—or XCX⁠—is the second game in the Xenoblade franchise. Developed by Monolith Soft and coming out on April 29, 2015, XCX is an open-world, action RPG in which the player is tasked with surviving with the last colony from Earth on the mysterious planet Mira after Earth’s destruction.

Two intergalactic empires were bound on destroying each other and chose our solar system to do so. One of those species, the Ganglions, followed the colony to Mira and are bent on finishing what they started.

Much of the mystery and suspense of the story comes from the Ganglions and the planet itself. Why do they want to destroy all earthlings? Why can humans survive on this planet and speak with some of the indigenous life? Throughout the story, you will find yourself asking these questions and many more, trying to understand a world that the character equally doesn’t understand as you both try to unravel the mysteries it has to tell.

I got this game for Christmas, and it wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t even know the game existed before I got it. I knew of the Xenoblade franchise because I wanted Xenoblade Chronicles for the 3DS.

Yet my parents’ mistake would turn into a blessing. The game has gone from one which had no presence in my life, to being the most influential game of my life. In short, most RPGs are long and packed to the brim with side content from the main story. According to several websites, it averages 65 to 75 hours to beat.

I’ve played through the game fully five times. That time doesn’t include all the interesting side quests or just exploring and having fun in the world. It would be safe to say that XCX is in the top three of my most played games.

The world Monolith Soft has made is my favorite. From the beautiful scenery to places that are just jaw-droppingly amazing⁠—especially for the Wii U⁠—I love the world fully. From staring at Elvira flying above Talon Rock Summit in front of the two moons to watching Telethia, The Endbringer, guarding the Divine Roost, this game is just so appealing to the eyes.

Yet I only know about those creatures because of my multiple playthroughs. Because of the time I’ve spent immersed in exploring a world so captivating, I was able to explore the world and see the true beauty of it

The game prompts you to explore. Some of the story missions require you to have explored a certain percent of the world, and some side quests require even more exploration, like 85 percent of the world

The game has gone from one which had no presence in my life, to being the most influential game of my life.

Speaking of the side quests, you have the standard fetch quests, defeating enemies, or carrying out one of the largest thefts in the world over the course of the game. 

These side quests don’t stray away from the darker parts of reality. What about a religious character who believes in sacrificing a peaceful species that joins in humanity’s endeavors to appease the “one true god” who turns out to be some Ganglions in disguise?

What about when you have to deal with a water purification plant that is infested with a plague that, when interacting with water, has a parasitic monster burst out of you and one of your choices can directly kill a character?

Of course, the characters are something of their own. Each of them has their own relations in the world—their own stakes, hopes, and fears. Honestly, this game makes their troupe characters believable

There’s Phog, who is unsure of himself while being a bit spacey. He tries his best, but is afraid of confronting his fears, enemies, and his now distant brother. Or there’s Celica, an alien on the run from the Ganglion who is trying her best to fight for humanity to repay the debt of sheltering her and her friend, Rock.

Those two characters, and many more, all have their own full stories that you can explore in the world, making them feel real and having them show depth—not being just another party member.

This makes the world feel truly alive. The people are real, the scenery is the best of any game I’ve seen, but the creatures that inhabit it act realistically. My biggest issue with so many open-world action RPGs, like Skyrim and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, is that their worlds are bland and sparsely covered in life, and anything you encounter wants you dead.

The creatures of XCX are spaced out so that at any time you could find something to fight, but not every creature wants to just fight at random. Some provoke you if they see you, others if you get too close, and some not at all. This gives the world a feeling of curiosity, rather than solely hostility.

Yet the world would be nothing to explore in without the music complimenting it. The music of this game has been ingrained into my head with how much I’ve heard it. Even after hearing it so much, I haven’t tired of it, but I am able to appreciate it more.

The composer, Hiroyuki Sawano, uses musical motifs, always calling back to the main theme of the game. The combination of heavy percussion and bass, electric sounds, and metal sounds creates a feeling distinct from anything else that I’ve heard in any other game.

Due to this unique style, no song feels like another. Every song you hear throughout the game is its own work, and nothing else compares to it.

This game is an underrated masterpiece, and I love it to death. It went from a game I didn’t even know existed, to a game that nobody else knew existed.

This game still brings me joy to this day, and I’m even playing through it another time. As much as I’d recommend this game to everyone around me, good luck playing it. It’s currently one of the only games for the Wii U to not have a sequel or port yet. I don’t see that port coming any time soon either.

If that happens, spend the money on this hidden gem of a game. But if not, I’ll find solace that at least the people who know of this game still love it and play it to this day. So go out there and mock the Wii U—it failed for a reason. It’s just sad this game had to go with it.