Xenoblade Monolith

Xenoblade Chronicles X is about to arrive in Japan, bringing an end to a huge development undertaking for Monolith Soft. While Wii U owners in the West need to wait until later in the year, the build up to release in Japan has brought plenty of fascinating details, also boosted by a recent Nintendo of America video showcase.

Ahead of the imminent arrival of the RPG Nintendo has released a new Iwata Asks interview which tackles the game in some detail. It includes snippets such as the fact there are 11,000 recorded voice lines and side quests that feel around 3000 times more substantial; yep, this game is massive.

Taking part were Genki Yokota, Koh Kojima, Kazuho Hyodo, Yuichiro Takeda and Tetsuya Takahashi.

The first excerpt we've picked out has more of the (laughs) that we enjoy from these interviews, in this case in relation to online play:

Yokota: So we decided to focus on creating an online RPG where players will be "loosely connected," and not feel afraid to play. Kojima-san especially put a lot of thought into the "loosely connected" aspect.

Iwata: "Loosely connected" online game?

Yokota: That's right.

Iwata: But...Kojima-san doesn't look like someone that's afraid to connect with strangers! (laughs)

All: (laughs)

Yokota: Actually, Kojima-san is very sensitive.

Kojima: Yes, I'm actually sensitive! (laughs)

More seriously though, we were given examples of how 32 connected players can - optionally - connect with each other, and then kick off four player 'boss' battles:

Yokota: ...And sometimes, there are random missions assigned to the 32 players who are connected, such as "Go defeat 10 bugs!" and "Go gather 10 pieces of fruit!"

Iwata: What should the players who want to focus on their own game do if they receive these missions?

Yokota: They can just ignore them. But even if they don't participate, they can still see the progress of the mission, like the number of bugs defeated.

Iwata: So even if some players decide to ignore the mission, they can see that other players are defeating bugs.

Yokota: Right. And if the mission is completed, a reward goes out to everyone connected.

Takeda: Um...so even the players that didn't participate in the mission get a reward, too?

Yokota: Yes, everyone is rewarded.

Takeda: Well, that's pretty nice. (laughs)

Yokota: If players clear missions like these, sometimes a special mission like a boss battle is activated. This is the only time when up to four players can actually connect and complete a mission together.

Iwata: So this is when players could actually see the people they are connected with for the first time.

Yokota: Right. This is when the avatar you've created is really brought to life.

Iwata: Most RPGs have been designed for people to play alone, but in Xenoblade Chronicles X, RPG fans can connect loosely while they play their own games. So your challenge is letting these players experience what being loosely connected online is like.

Yokota: Yes, that's our challenge. 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.

The mechs in the game (called Dolls in Japan and Skells in the West) were discussed at length, too. It was highlighted that it's tough to pick up your first Skell due to their expense, so you have to earn the luxury. In this section we're told more about the insurance system, and the back-up to try and avoid using up free insurance repairs.

Yokota: So, we created "Skell insurance"! (laughs) Even if your Skell is destroyed, it will be fixed for free up to three times.

Iwata: Wow, that sounds pretty realistic! (laughs)

Kojima: However, the insurance won't be valid after it breaks for the fourth time, so you'll have to pay an expensive fee to get it fixed. I honestly wanted the Skells to be broken for good once they were destroyed. So once it's destroyed, it's gone for good.

Iwata: You wanted players to take care of their Skell as if it was their car in real life?

Kojima: Yes, but the staff voiced their opinion that it's too harsh to make the players buy a new one when it breaks...

Takahashi: From there, the "Skell insurance" idea was created, and there's also an "insurance on insurance" system, too.

Iwata: An "insurance on insurance" system?

Takahashi: This system is that if you push the button at the right time to abort when the Skell's HP becomes zero and is destroyed, the Skell will be fixed without having to use insurance.

Iwata: So that's why it's an "insurance on insurance"! (laughs)

Kojima: Yes. (Makoto) Shimamoto-san14 in our staff is the lead battle designer, and he's a very kind man, unlike me.

Iwata: I see. (laughs)

Kojima: And I strictly told him to just let the Skell break when it was destroyed...but he added the "insurance on insurance" function without my consent.

All: (laughs)

Takeda: I'm not a skilled player, so for me someone like him is worthy of worship! (laughs)

Kojima: Just remember that this feature came solely from his kindness.

Takeda: Sure! (laughs)

The interview ends on a rather touching note, too. The sheer scale of the game is emphasized throughout, and at the close Satoru Iwata offers praise and warm words to the Monolith Soft team.

Xenoblade Iwata

Iwata: Since the game is first coming out in Japan, it will be released in America well after everything about the game has been revealed to the public. That raises the hurdle, but on the flipside, if everyone who plays the game in Japan talks about how much they enjoyed the game world, and how their experiences were different from one another, that would be something great for the western audience to hear. If people outside of Japan hear a lot of positive news about the game, I feel like we can throw an answer to the question of what the future holds for JRPGs. It would be this game, this is the answer to that question, in the form of a video game.

Takahashi: That's right.

Iwata: As of this interview, the game is yet to be released in Japan and we're still trickling out promotional videos, but we already have people overseas talking positively about the title. This is because, as Takahashi-san described earlier, you all put in so much energy that the game virtually became a crystallization of everyone's blood and tears, and people overseas noticed. I think they'll all be excited for the day when they will be able to roam the vast field to their hearts' content and fly a Skell high in the sky to see the world from above.

Takahashi: Right.

Iwata: You've all finally come this far, overcoming many obstacles. I'm sure, like me, that you all can't wait to see the customers' reactions once they start playing.

Takahashi: Yeah, we're really excited.

Iwata: Everyone, thank you for such hard work over a long period of time.

It's certainly worth reading the full article linked below. We're sure looking forward to getting our hands on the localised version of Xenoblade Chronicles X later this year.

[source iwataasks.nintendo.com]