[Early Thoughts] Xenoblade Chronicles X
Xenoblade Chronicles X has you starting off about as high octane as possible. Watching the remnants of the voyager space station stroll on by an alien ship. Apparently seeing our nude bodies drove them into a blind rage because they promptly came to Earth, started battling with another random alien group, and in the crossfire blew up the entire planet. You might think “Bro, holy shit, are you spoiling the game?” But these are the events that transpire within the first minute or two of the game. It makes sense given that giant dinosaurs aren’t something you normally see on modern Earth, but they were all over the promotional videos.
The game takes place sometime after this when your ship by the name of the White Whale crash lands on an alien planet. Thank goodness it’s habitable! Almost immediately the game face bangs you with the raddest visuals you can imagine. The aliens are cool, the environments are cool, the atmosphere as a whole just begs to be explored. The controls are similar to Xenoblade on the DS and lend themselves well to being a mix of action and thoughtfulness. You basically have 8 skills and the occasional reaction (QTE style) event that can help turn the tides of the battle to your side. I don’t normally like QTEs (I hate them, generally) but they are done excellently in this and the DS game.
The DS game and this, as far as I can tell, have 0 relation. So don’t feel like you need to play this one or that one first to understand the other. I’ll likely be playing them side by side. What else? The character creation is simple but still nice, however your character ends up an amnesiac mute. But only in story parts, he chatters up a storm in combat. A peculiar choice, I probably would have just gone with two premade heroes (hero and a heroin, if you will) that people can choose that actually talk during the game. Something about staring dead eyed into my conversation partner that just unsettles me.
Speaking of audio! This game has 20 or so options for the camera. You might think, holy shit, this game must let you edit so much! You’d be wrong. You can’t edit a single volume control. Not one, there are no sliders at all to be found anywhere. The music is almost entirely high octane, it never breaths and rarely matches up with what you are experiencing in the game itself. Worse still during a lot of the conversations it is louder than the people speaking so I can’t make out anything they are saying. Sure, there are subtitles, but they are poorly done and I can barely read them in certain scenes.
It’s confounding me because the rest of the game looks to be excellent. Everything is top of the line quality that has been clearly QAd to hell and back. So how did this slip through? Did literally everyone play this game muted? Did anyone check the VA work? Was music put in just before release? I can’t figure it out. I’ll talk more about the systems as the days go along but it looks like this game has a ton of things to do. Exploration, flag planting (basically), collection, killing, rep grinds [I like these so yay], and more. It’s also got badass mechs, so, you know, I can find little about this game to be upset about. But I’ll be damned if bad audio doesn’t just bring the whole thing down for me. I might end up playing it muted with podcasts running and that’s a damn shame, because the VA work that I >can< hear is just dandy. So far, I really like it. We'll see if I can get over the audio or if the mute button will reign supreme.