Xenoblade Chronicles X released in Japan last week, and while the game won’t be released in the West until sometime later this year, we went through what Japanese players had to say about it in Amazon Japan’s reviews section.
At the moment, Xenoblade Chronicles X is sitting at a 3.5 stars rating (out of 5). Now, 3.5 is a good rating, but the real achievement here is that the majority of reviews (over 100) have given the game a 5-star rating. A cursory glance at the reviews section will tell you that a lot of people are thoroughly enjoying themselves.
At the same time, there are also lower ratings, and many of these appear to have come from players with misconceptions about what Xenoblade Chronicles X was supposed to be. A bunch of these players ended up with a game that they weren’t entirely expecting, and they say as much in their reviews, while scoring the game lower because of it.
This phenomenon isn’t exclusive to Japan either. Players from the U.S. and Europe have often wondered just what Xenoblade Chronicles X is supposed to be, and just how similar it is to Xenoblade. Due to this, we’re going to break down some of the Amazon Japan reviews to give you a better idea on what to expect from Xenoblade Chronicles X, so read on if you’d like to educate yourself.
(Additionally, keep in mind that Japanese reviews on Amazon tend to be a little harsher when compared to the West.)
Let’s begin with what one of the most helpful positive reviews had to say.
“This is my impression after having played the game for about six hours,” the reviewer wrote. “Regarding the bad stuff, it’s as many of you have also written—the pacing suffers in the first two chapters. It is certainly annoying to be forced into a tutorial after advancing a little bit. Honestly, it made me want to fall sleep. This also carried into the third chapter. Time-wise, it takes up about two hours. On top of that, it still doesn’t cover everything you’ll need to learn [about the game] at this point. I can’t defend this, and it worries me that some people may quit the game just because of that.”
“However,” the reviewer continues, “once you get to the third chapter, you’ll experience a huge increase in the places you can visit. You’ll be thrown into a gigantic field, like bam, and all without any problems. It’s complete freedom.”
He then goes on to explain the next problem, which is that there are no combat tutorials once Xenoblade Chronicles X throws you out into its vast world. And so, naturally, he died a number of times without knowing what he was doing. However, after looking up combat details on the official website, everything went much smoother. So the lesson to be learnt here is that the combat system is complex and the game may not teach you all that complexity in the most effective way.
The reviewer concludes: “If I had to give it a general score with the average crowd in mind, I might give it a 4-star rating; however, I’ve been completely addicted to the game, so with my personal values in mind, I’ve decided to give the game 5 stars.”
Moving on, the most helpful critical reviewer says that he recently read the Iwata Asks interview about how Xenoblade Chronicles X was originally supposed to have a fixed main character, and how Monolith Soft had to rewrite some of the story to match with the content. He says that the story feels a little watered down, and that it could have something to do with that.
“The online system itself isn’t bad by any means, but considering that it’s a new Xenoblade title, I don’t think it should be an important part of the game’s appeal,” he writes. “The purpose of [the online features] is to help make the vast world not feel so lonely, but I would’ve preferred a more traditional approach, where a charming protagonist goes around making friends and working their way through.”
He concludes by saying that he would have preferred if they had asked fans ahead of time whether they should make it an online game. To summarize his feelings, the reviewer provides his personal comparison: how he feels the game is kind of like ordering a steak that you really liked before, but now they’ve added a side of potatoes, which splits the effort between the two dishes and lowers the overall quality of the steak.
On the one hand, the above reviewer and many others like him hoped that the game would be closer to the first Xenoblade Chronicles, and that it could’ve been a higher quality single-player title if Monolith Soft had focused less on the online aspect. Meanwhile, there are others that expected a full-blown MMORPG-style game, but got what they’d consider an offline MMO, instead. The takeaway here is that RPGs like Xenoblade Chronicles X aren’t common in Japan, and the nature of the game threw a few people off.
“There’s an extremely vast field, enormous amount of information and content, a bunch of equipment and jobs. To put it simply, think of it as an MMORPG that you can play offline,” wrote one reviewer.
“It’s a vast world, but the early stages have high-level monsters that are like gatekeepers, so it isn’t exactly pure freedom. However, there are some parts where you can find openings and break through [the areas guarded by high level monsters] so it can definitely bring out your adventurous spirit. The battle system is like none other, and it’s pretty fun. It’s a good game, without question, and if you’re looking for an exploration-type RPG, it’s a good buy. The slight lack of emphasis on story and characters can be a bit of a concern, but I believe that the exploration and various systems make up for it.”
“It feels exactly like an MMORPG,” another reviewer said about the quests in Xenoblade Chronicles X. “It has basic errands. The maps are huge, and it can be very troublesome to go on gathering quests.”
“There isn’t much to do outside of the main objectives, but I personally don’t mind that. As long as you don’t look at it as your regular RPG, I feel that it’s a very well-made RPG. However, because it has the name Xenoblade on it, I feel that the lower emphasis on story is an issue. I believe that if you like MMOs, and you don’t mind too much as far as stories go, you’ll enjoy the game.”
Monolith Soft themselves have clarified that the overall story in Xenoblade Chronicles X is shorter than that of Xenoblade Chronicles, but that the side quests are meant to have more depth to make up for this. At this point, it’s a question of whether or not you’re willing to take to the increased emphasis on exploration, customization, and online interaction.
Once again, some may feel that an overall 3.5-star rating is on the lower side of the scale, but as previously mentioned, there’s an overwhelming number of 4 or 5-star ratings, and unlike other games with lower ratings, most of these come from misconceptions regarding what the game was supposed to be, rather than actual problems with it. On the whole, Xenoblade Chronicles X has been well-received in Japan, so let’s end this with one of the more positive reviews the game received.
“I’ve played countless open-world games from the West, but I just don’t think they’re for me; however, I’m also not very familiar with our recent [Japanese] RPGs, so I decided to buy the game upon learning that it is a Japanese-style open-world RPG. Following that, I’ve found it to be the proper evolution of Japanese RPG that I’ve been waiting for, with wonderfully made maps, and it’s very fun to explore. I’m so addicted to it. If you’d like to witness the true evolution of RPGs from the Super Famicom to PS2 eras, or if you like open world games but aren’t into Western titles, I definitely recommend this one.”