Review: Xenoblade Chronicles

PS_Wii_XenobladeChronicles_PEGIMy god that game was long. After something like 116 hours, I’ve finally put Xenoblade Chronicles to bed, and now I can move on with my life.

That description makes it sound like I had an awful time, but that’s far from the truth. I mean, I wouldn’t have bothered playing the game for so long if I wasn’t having fun. But there definitely came a point towards the end when the balanceĀ of “fun” to “unnecessary grinding” tipped too far in the wrong direction. It probably kicked in just at about the time when I was struggling to find an ice cabbage.

First things first though, Xenoblade works mostly because the setting is so wonderfully ludicrous and fun to explore. The game is set on the body of an enormous giant, and scurrying along the creature’s verdant kneecap while watching the eerily glowing eyes of another enormo-giant in the distance is as epic as it sounds. In short, it’s a fun world to explore, and the game is at its best when it gives you side quests that prompt you to seek out the farthest corners of the world and encounter unique monsters. Often these quests will generate other quests, and I spent hours happily padding back and forth, filling in bits of the map and generally having a great time.

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Unfortunately, however, the game overdoes it a bit on the quest front – with over 400 side quests, many of which are meaningless collect-a-thons, exasperation eventually sets in. My breaking point was the moment when I was one step away from the final bit of colony reconstruction, only to realise that the quest to get the parts I needed would involve levelling my characters from from around 80 to 90 – i.e. several hours’ worth of grinding. It seemed a shame to leave the colony unfinished, but my gaming time is at a premium now and I can’t waste it on grinding: so I bit the bullet and faced the final boss.

Speaking of which, the ending of the game is great, and in general the story is a cut above the generic RPG fare, mostly thanks to its setting. My only major quibble is the sheer amount of similar collecting missions – if they’d just trimmed down the number of quests and kept the fairly meaty ones that actually affect the characters or story in some way, the game would have benefited.

Unfortunately, it seems that the sequel, Xenoblade Chronicles X, has gone the other way, with an even bigger world and more quests – and I can’t help but think they won’t be able to top the setting of a world atop two giants.

Less is sometimes more, right?

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4 Comments

  1. I put a similar amount of time into Xenoblade Chronicles but towards the end I did things slightly differently to you. I beat the main game as soon as I was able to, and then returned to the game to level up and take on the big optional beasts lurking the world. There were some grindey moments but I really enjoyed the Giants’ sidequests and felt it was a nice topping to a delicious game. And even after all that I still wanted more šŸ˜› Love this game!

  2. Games like this terrify me if only for the time you have to dedicate upfront to finishing them. Most games I spend multiple dozens of hours with are accidents – Far Cry 4 and Shadow of Mordor early this year ate up pretty much six months of my video game time.

  3. I *just* finished this game myself. Well…the main story anyway (96 hours). Only got in a few sidequests, but am nonetheless wholly satisfied with the way things turned out. As amazing as it was, I do not want to sink that much time into another game any time soon. And I have no plans to revisit this one again. Still loved just about every second of it, but that point of no at the end return was a real killer.

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