To date details around Xenoblade Chronicles X have arrived in snippets, mainly through tweets and interview quotes; up until today Nintendo and developer Monolith Soft have adopted a rather coy approach when releasing information about the game. The last couple of weeks have brought information on the cast, shown that Xenoblade Chronicles X will feature non-linear progression, that there'll be a Pokedex-like monster encyclopedia, and that the world will be five times the size of its spiritual predecessor, Xenoblade Chronicles, but these tidbits of info haven't been enough to satisfy our curiosity with the Japanese release date fast approaching on 29th April.
Fortunately, today Nintendo showcased a 24 minute Japanese presentation which answered a lot of questions; as usual we were eagerly watching and translating to the best of our abilities. As the presentation was dedicated to the planet of Mira and how the player interacts with it, it gave us a better understanding of Xenoblade Chronicles X's scale, as well as more information on some of the eight 'unions' or job professions. Furthermore, we learned a bit more about Dolls — the mechanized suits in the game — unique creatures to hunt, and got to see some gorgeous environments, along with an introduction to some of the native life on the planet Mira.
Warning: Reading further may entice feelings of impatience with Nintendo for not announcing a Western release date yet.
First up was an information dump on the game's base of operations — the city of New Los Angeles (NLA). Apparently the city will feel truly alive with restaurants, shops, chapels and even holidays the citizens of NLA recognize and enjoy. Humans are trying to survive in NLA, and by the amount of pools, parks, and other luxuries shown it's apparent they're doing a good job of it. The city won't just be a place to live, however. It also features factories where the player can upgrade/fix Dolls, buy weapons, and all the standard JRPG fair that comes with massive hub-towns.
Next, the video detailed a couple of the 'unions' or jobs that the player can take part in during the game. One of them, the Pathfinder, was given a lot of detail. In this union, the game requires the player to search out and place probes which reveal information on Frontier NET, a navigation system located on the Wii U's GamePad. The GamePad then displays various icons on the map. One icon signifies that a formidable creature resides in that area, and another hints at treasure to be discovered. The second job went into detail about completing miscellaneous quests for the residents of NLA - kill monsters for this lady, search for a missing item for that man, and the like. This is a union rooted in standard RPG quest structures, and is also useful for information on the planet itself. While completing quests, a "social link" type system will strengthen ties between the citizens of NLA, but it remains to be seen how this will affect gameplay in the long term.
A creature called Tatsu took over the presentation to give us a better look at the planet Mira itself. The quirky critter stressed Mira is massive and made up of many different landmasses. The first landmass looked akin to Gaur Plains from Xenoblade Chronicles, bright, green, and full of abrupt cliffs. The second landmass shown was dubbed a night forest and featured dark skies and bright, luminescent plants. The third was more or less a desert with dusty monster bones littered about, the fourth a creepy island where all the scenery was some shade of white, and the fifth was a 'black metal island,' home to volcanoes and massive, metallic bridges. There appeared to be more locations than just these. Each area looked quite large and Tatsu stressed they had many different landmarks, caves, and secret areas to find; exploration and diversity seem to be a strong theme for Xenoblade Chronicles X.
Fortunately, with a world so large there are multiple ways to get around it. Players can run fast, jump high, and fast travel between landmarks. More importantly, Xenoblade Chronicles X introduces a ball of bright light called a Navigation Ball to help, well, navigate Mira. The ball fluidly flies ahead of the party and helps players find objectives without getting lost. The navigation ball also features a 'hover mode," where it will fly high in the sky and give players a bird's eye view of their surroundings.
Dolls are also used to move around the world and reach the aforementioned secrets and hidden areas too, and it's confirmed they can transform into different vehicles; we saw a car / bike hybrid and a brief glimpse of a boat. However, it was mentioned a license is needed before piloting a Doll, suggesting that the robot suits are off limits for a portion of the game.
Last, the showcase detailed the variety of life that inhabits Mira, from colossal monsters to tiny creatures that — if we translated correctly — really like pizza. As for creatures to hunt down, they come in small and big sizes, and vary greatly in appearance depending on which area of the game they live in. Some creatures of a certain type look like their kin, but in fact are dangerous, boss-like counterparts to be avoided. A variety of intelligent docile creatures inhabit the land as well, including Tatsu's potato-like Nopon race, a blue-haired humanoid that's also an art connoisseur, and the aforementioned floppy eared pizza lovers.
All told, the 24 minute reveal gave us enough to chew on for the moment. Xenoblade Chronicles X looks to be a massive game with a lot of care given to its environments. Maybe this wasn't enough to entirely satisfy our curiosity, but at the end of the broadcast the character Elma — a curt silver-haired woman — implied another showcase will be on the way, and that it will tackle Xenoblade Chronicles X's combat systems.
Let us know what you though of it, while you can watch the whole video again below.
A special thanks to Izumi for helping us translate the presentation!