We get to grips with the early stages of Monolith's epic open-world RPG.
With Xenoblade Chronicles X finally landing on European soil, by now many of those who've bought the game probably have a few questions. How vast is the world that Monolith Soft. has created? How does the colourful, number-heavy combat system actually work? And just how long does it take before you get to ride the robot on the cover?
It's funny how, even though we named the game as the deepest JRPG experience on console, we're now contemplating a game that leaves you alone when it comes to explaining anything/everything, for example, the battle system. There is so much to do on Xenoblade Chronicles X that we thought you maybe needed a few tips to get a confident start in Myra. In the end, you're tasked with saving humanity and their home on this new planet, and that's no small task.
The first step, although it may sound boring, is to check out the electronic manual included with the game. You can access it by pressing START or through the HOME menu, and there you'll find the basics regarding all of the game's features. It's a handy interactive guide that's always there and it's a big help because it offers up information about the content that this JRPG offers, however you can access it at your own pace.
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Once you fully dive into Primordia, the first great continent, you're free to explore, but when you do you're going to run into some resistance, and you might be overwhelmed by the many variables involved in each subsequent battle. Much of the game's combat system relies on combo attacks, and they happen in different ways. It's one of the deepest combat systems we have ever seen for an action-RPG, so let us guide you step by step.
It is vital to understand three variables: TP, cooldown, and soul voices. In the first case we're referring to the green bar just to the left of each character. These are points that are obtained by attacking - either automatically or with Arts - and they unlock the turbo mode (something you'll not see until nearly twenty hours into the game) or trigger a more powerful attack. TP acts as classic mana - magic points in JRPG games - but they are rechargeable in Xenoblade Chronicles X.
Arts are special attacks, or in other words, attacks that aren't automatically triggered. They are divided into orange (melee), yellow (ranged), purple (weakness), green (support), and blue (aura). You must follow this code of colours to chain attacks. The cooldown of every Art is variable and then you have the option to wait further (there's a green ring that appears over it) to be even more effective. During combat, your comrades activate their own Arts, which in turn activates the soul voices, a kind of dialogue in a colourful speech bubble. There are extra bonuses for chaining Arts with the same colour.
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Synchronizing attacks can make all group members regain TP or obtain shield, and the Soul Challenge is also activated (it's a little QTE where you must press B at the right time). If you overcome the Soul Challenge you will receive TP and team morale will rise. The higher the morale is, the bigger number of Soul Voices resulting in more effectiveness in combat. With these three steps, you can start fighting, but to master it takes a lot of practice.
Next, the map. Xenoblade Chronicles X displays a lot of icons but doesn't explain what they are there for, so again you have to go to the electronic book to understand everything you can do while exploring. Don't forget that your main task in Mira is to expand New Los Angeles (NLA) and its business because, in the end, you need it to buy better equipment. The map is divided into hexagons, with each segment offering different tasks.
The symbols displayed in each segment let you know more about the surroundings of that particular area. If there is a sign of a beast displayed, it means that there is an enemy "magnum" (a creature tougher than normal) out there somewhere - depending on your squad you can get BLADE points taking them down. If there are two stars it means that you will find a mission, and if you see two hands it means that there is someone there to befriend. Strolling through LNA and talking to people gives you leads, new information that you will see displayed on the map with an icon "new".
Excluding the special ones, there are two types of probes: those for research and others for extraction. The first model makes more profit and the second is better for gathering Miranium, an in-game currency needed for expanding your business. Probes are sent out via the minimap on the Gamepad. Before you can send a probe you need to find and unlock the location (hexagon) in the game. On the map you can see places (certain hexagons) where you can place probes. You can connect probes if they are of the same type, and you need at least three probes (hexagons) close to each other in order to get a bonus.
The touch screen is a key tool for scrolling, either out in Mira or inside NLA. City doors are open from the beginning of the adventure, but you can spend the early hours not leaving the administrative district simply because you don't need to. We recommend exploring all of the areas thoroughly, there is much to do and different paths to find.
The final tip for getting started is related to the main missions. Xenoblade Chronicles X asks for certain requirements when accessing each new chapter. Usually, it is something like exploring a certain percentage of land on a particular continent (which is achieved by planting probes) and completing affinity missions with NPCs. Affinity missions are often mandatory if you want to continue with the story (and once started they cannot be abandoned so no new story or affinity quests can be undertaken until the current one is completed). Their locations can be found by looking carefully in each hexagon of LNA.
Getting the maximum enjoyment from the game requires patience. You need it to master the combat system, to move around Mira, to reach areas that seem impossible and get better skills. Yes it takes a huge investment, but it's worth it. Each small step in the game is worth the time and effort, and we hope that these pointers will make you feel at home during the early stages of Xenoblade Chronicles X.