Xenoblade Chronicles X was originally going to have a fixed main character, but this facet of the game was changed halfway through development, developers at Monolith Soft and Nintendo reveal in an Iwata Asks interview.
“In the middle of development, we decided to make [the game] compatible with online play, so we had a ‘mass construction’ to change the main character into an avatar and rewrite some of the story to match with the content,” says Nintendo’s Genki Yokota.
Yokota and the other staff participating in the interview say that they believed playing in a large, open-world environment would start to feel lonely, which is part of the reason they wanted players to be able to connect with others over the Internet. That having been said, they also wanted to give players the choice of whether or not they would actively communicate with others while connected to them, which is how the Squad system that maintains a passive connection among 32 players was formed.
“It’s unpleasant to meet mean players online, but on the other hand, there are times it feels too troublesome to communicate with players with good intentions, too,” says Xenoblade Chronicles X director Koh Kojima. “But even if you play alone to avoid the trouble, it can still feel very lonely.”
Kojima then adds that it was his own past experiences that prompted him allow players to connect more loosely with one another and trade items, even if they intended to play the game by themselves. He states: “From personal experience, before I went into the game industry, I suddenly felt lonely playing videogames by myself at home while the family was out. It made me think, ‘Should I really be playing video games right now?’ However, when my family was in the living room next to the room I was in, feeling their presence in another room made me feel at ease. I wanted to somehow recreate that feeling of relief in the online experience.”
As previously reported, Xenoblade Chronicles X matches you up with 32 other players if your Wii U is connected to the Internet. While connected to this 32-man squad, you can share information and trade items with the other players. Additionally, missions will occasionally pop up for Squad members to complete (go defeat 10 of X enemy, go gather 10 of Y item, and so on), and once they’re completed the entire squad will receive the associated rewards. Beyond gathering missions, the game will also generate special missions like multiplayer boss battles, which up to four players will be able to take on together, which is the more traditional multiplayer aspect of the game.
“Connecting loosely with other players isn’t troublesome, but feeling the presence of other players online won’t make you lonely. So I hope players won’t be afraid to try this feature out,” Yokota says.
Xenoblade Chronicles X will be released in Japan tomorrow. A Western release is planned for later in 2015.