The Game Awards 2016 is swiftly approaching. Gamers far and wide are buzzing about which games they think deserve to win each category – and of course there’s the lot that only wants to see game trailers and bloopers. As the Boss Lair crew and I have been thinking up our predictions, it suddenly hit me – my personal game of the year, Xenoblade Chronicles X, was nominated for a thing! It barely missed the Game Awards 2015 qualifier last year due to it’s December release date, but that’s alright. It’s here now going toe-to-toe with the others in the Best RPG category. Xenoblade Chronicles X was heavily slept on, even for JRPG standards, and being on the console with the lowest install base this generation certainty didn’t help. Here’s a brief excerpt I wrote about the title in late 2015.
Xenoblade Chronicles X was announced in January 2013 and grabbed even the most skeptical of gamers by the collar. On December 4th, this baby was finally released for the western market – and what a glorious day it was. Without a doubt, Xenoblade Chronicles X is living up the expectations many had for the title. The open world scale and design, enemy diversity, and the overall feeling you get of being on an unfamiliar planet after Earth’s destruction by alien forces really comes together and brings you in. As a person that does not play RPGs nor games as large as Xenoblade, I was overwhelmed in the beginning. When I became accustomed to the grandiosity of planet Mira and the battle system, I felt myself falling in love with this game. As a person that doesn’t have the time I wish I did, planet Mira is now my home after a stressful day at work. I want to live here forever and forge the path for human survival. Xenoblade Chronicles X is a standout hit for me and will likely go down in history as one of my favorites.
Xenoblade Chronicles X is poised against stiff competition this year among the likes of Dark Souls 3, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Blood and Wine (an expansion), and World of Warcraft: Legion (another expansion). While I can’t help but scratch my head at 2 out of 4 of it’s competitors being expansions of their base game, the games they’re associated with are giants and should not be underestimated. That being said, I think Xenoblade Chronicles X easily stands strong on it’s own two feet. Here are a few reasons why I think its nomination is rightfully deserved.
For what this game does on the Wii U, it’s a technical marvel.
- Xenoblade Chronicles X features a huge open world that’s larger than Fallout 4, The Witch 3, and Skyrim combined.
- The game has beautiful set pieces and world design.
- Xenoblade’s world design is just as vertical and it is horizontal. There are literally no invisible walls. If you can see it, you can access it.
The gameplay mechanics and action are intuitive and clever.
- Divisions like mediators, reclaimers, curators, etc. are all designed to give you and your group specific tasks to make Mira livable for human life.
- Gameplay is a mixture of turned based and action. Art and skill combinations are used versus direct button mashing combat. Specific combos initiate overdrive mode, effectively cutting your battle time in half.
- Music tracks relate to different battle situations, overdrive mode, give ambiance to different continents, regions, etc.
- Rank, BLADE rank, battle points, credits, miranium all add to the meta game. Main, side, and affinity (heart-to-heart) missions all tie in together and strengthen ties to other characters and NPCs. Find out more about your fellows and the planet as you go.
- Differences between ground combat/traversal versus skell/flight modes are night and day. Depending on your altitude or whether or not you’re in your skell change the gameplay style dramatically. The game feels different whether you’re on ground, in air, on foot, or in your mech.
- Squad tasks, squad missions, and global nemesis battles add to the end game. Xenoblade Chronicles X is a game within a game within a game.
The plot and character development are dangerously immersive.
- The plot of the game seems like a typical JRPG story at first glance, but the liveliness of the world and characters are incredibly well done. Planet Mira itself even feels like it’s own character.
- The NPCs are arguably just as, if not more, engrossing than your party members.
- Living the life of a BLADE is pretty lit (BLADE is an acronym for “Builders of the Legacy After the Destruction of Earth”). The game makes you believe that what you’re doing to make Mira more sustainable has high stakes and high reward.
- Aside from humans, you, other xeno races have also been called to this planet somehow. They are all also trying to find out their purpose there and bring their captivating tales with them.
If I’m to be completely honest with you, Xenoblade Chronicles X is easily at the top of my favorite games list and even sits high, close, to my favorites like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on Wii. This game came out of no where and rocked my world (no pun intended). Seriously, it’s a sleeper. To see this game up there in the nomination pool is good enough for me. It definitely deserves the win, based on my feelings above, but I’m satisfied seeing it sit next to the best of them.
What do you think about Xenoblade Chronicles X’s nomination for Best RPG? Did your favorite RPG make the list? Let us know below!