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Xenoblade Chronicles X Is Simply X-traordinary

Since its big reveal back in 2013, Monolith Soft’s sequel to cult gem Xenoblade Chronicles has been on every sensible Wii U owner’s must-play list. If you’ve played the game’s 2010 predecessor on the Wii or its equally grand (and portable!) re-release on the New 3DS, you’ll definitely have a better handle on Xenoblade Chronicles X’s daunting complexity.

But what a beautifully complex game it is. Whatever the Wii U lacks in hardware oomph it makes up for with painstaking art direction. The first time you run past a dino the size of a skyscaper, you’ll soon realize it doesn’t get much prettier than this on any current gen console.

The story is a lengthy one, but all you need to know going in is that you’re part of the last remnants of the human race, which was essentially wiped out when Earth was destroyed by two feuding alien races in the year 2054. After two years of post-Earth space travel, your ship (which actually houses an entire city called New Los Angeles) crash-lands on a mysterious planet named Mira. Now it’s up to you and group of survivors who are part of a new military organization called BLADE to excavate the planet and rebuild humanity by locating the Lifehold Unity before someone else does. Pretty heavy sci-fi stuff, but don’t worry, you’ve got a potato creature sidekick to add levity to the whole end-of-humanity dilemma. Such is the world of Xenoblade Chonicles X, a game unlike anything you’ve played before—which, for the most part, is a very good thing.

After surviving a whole bunch of hours on Mira, here are 18 takeaways to help you endure as well. Unfortunately, after all the time spent on this equally lethal and breathtaking planet, this is only scratching the surface. So don’t be surprised when you get lost or even perish, because that’s just par for the course.

1. Download the four free High Speed Data Packs


No one on this or any planet likes load times, so if you’re going with the physical copy of Xenoblade Chronicles X, make sure you download the Basic Data Pack, the Enemy Data Pack, the Player Data Pack, and the Skell Data Pack. It’ll cut the loading time exponentially and make for a more seamless and immersive experience.

2. Read the manual


Xenoblade Chronicles X comes with a very useful manual and you better learn it, because this is not the type of RPG that holds your hand while you learn new abilities—you’re expected to know the ins and outs from the get go.

3. Create a character


You’re going to be spending a lot of time with the character you’ve created, so choosing everything from the right gender to sound of their voice isn’t something you should blaze through. Consider your many, many options.

4. Pick your Class


Deciding what Class to join will affect the skills you can bring to battle. For instance, the Samurai Gunner Class gives you access to longswords and allows for more damaging attacks, but if you’re more of a defensive player, you’ll want to opt the Shield Trooper Class. You can switch things up at any moment, so don’t sweat it too much.

5. Then pick your Division


Early on in the game, you’ll be tasked to join one of the following BLADE Divisions: Pathfinders, Interceptors, Harriers, Reclaimers, Curators, Prospectors, Outfitters, and Mediators. These are essentially jobs that will change how the game unfolds and how you level up. Again, don’t stress too much, you can change them at will.

6. Be a fearless explorer


In Xenoblade Chronicles X, exploration is mandatory. While Mira and its five continents can be intimidating to explore, getting lost in its magnificent landscapes, sprawling beaches, gloomy jungles, futuristic cities, and myriad other locales isn’t just a joy to experience, it’s essential to your progression.

7. Upgrade your gear


Be on the lookout for weapons and head-to-toe armour to equip, because without them you’re toast—unless you’ve got your Skell license, which won’t be happening anytime soon. Ground gear can also be purchased at your home base, so save up your dough and splurge.

8. Level up your Arts


Keep a tab on your Battle Points, because your arts depend on them. After winning a fight, you’ll get a handful of points you can use to increase the power of your ranged, melee, and healing arts, which are essential to not dying.

9. Hunt till you drop


The best way to gain experience points is to hunt. While grinding can feel like a chore in some games, the real-time combat here is always fast and furious. Just make sure to steer clear of super-powered dinos, robots, and aliens, which don’t only inhabit the farthest stretches of the map.

10. Stick to the path


Just to re-stress, some of the game’s most challenging enemies can be found right next to some of its puniest. During the game’s early missions, don’t stay from the most obvious path.

11. Listen to your Soul Voice


If you aren’t familiar with the healing power of Soul Voices, you’re going to run into a lot of trouble early on. Brush up on your thumb skills, because once that B button prompt shows up on the screen during a fight, you better hit it right on time, or you’re going to lose party members fast. Also be sure to assign the right passive skills before taking on a mountain-sized beast.

12. Patience is a virtue


The first dozen or so hours of the game are a slow burn, but patience and perseverance will pay off. Just keep your head down and stick to the main story missions and you’ll be in for a massive treat in the form of a big, shiny mech suit.

13. Make the most of your probes


Probes are essential for turning your various fast-travel waypoints into profitable research stations, mining tools, and storage units, so use them wisely.

14. Go easy on the side missions


If you need the money, it doesn’t hurt to indulge in a few side missions. Otherwise, just load up a bunch and you’ll randomly complete them en route to whatever else you’re doing, which will likely grant far more XP. However, you will have to complete a number of side quests to progress the story, so be prepared.

15. Skells are a game-changer


Whether you’re journeying a great distance or taking on an 80-foot tarantula, you’re going to need a Skell. Alas, you won’t be piloting one of these bad boys for a long time. But after about 20-plus hours of being taunted by them at your home base, you’ll finally your Skel license and the wait will definitely have been worth it. Flying through Mira and toppling gigantic creatures will make you forget all about your puny, pre-Skell existence. Also, like practically everything in the game, they’re highly customizable.

16. Take the action online


While Xenoblade Chronicles X feels very much like an MMO, it’s mainly a single player experience. Still, there are a variety of things to do in what the game calls BLADE Network, like joining online squads and taking on multiplayer-exclusive missions.

17. Potato people can’t be taken seriously

17 (2)

Sorry, Tatsu. You’re an amusing sidekick, but your dancing is just plain weird.

18. Opt for the special edition


For an extra 55 bucks, true-blue fans of the series should consider splurging on the special edition, which comes packed with a rather stunning 100-page book of concept art—some of which has never been seen. The set also comes packed with a USB drive in the shape of the game’s Lifehold Unity, pre-loaded with 10 music tracks from the game. Finally, you also get a limited edition 5×7 art card of a painting done for the game by illustrator Takashi Kojo.

Cancel your plans for the next 10,000 hours, Xenoblade Chronicles X is out now exclusively on the Wii U.