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Mardi, 06 Septembre 2011 22:43

Getting Lost in Xenoblade's Vast, Forbidden World

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Getting Lost in Xenoblade's Vast, Forbidden World

Xenoblade Chronicles’ world is one that begs to be explored. If only Nintendo of America would let you.

I imported the role-playing game, released for Wii on August 19 in Europe but not North America. Its world is built on the frozen bodies of two giant robots. One of them, Bionis, is home to humans while the other, Mechonis, is inhabited by a race of sentient evil robots. The Mechons have been warring with the otherwise peaceful humans for years.

It’s a unique setting, one that leaves plenty of room for interesting twists and turns in the plot. Suffice it to say that not everything is as it seems at first glance. The setting is also used as a backdrop for some incredibly large and gorgeous areas.

My favorite thing about Xenoblade Chronicles is its size and scale. My jaw dropped when I reached the second area, a huge field called Gaur Plains. Giant rolling hills and long fields of grass were everywhere. Mountain cliffs stretched upwards for what seemed like infinity. It took me about 45 minutes to get from one end to the other. Other areas are even more vast.

But none of that space is wasted. Hidden nooks and crannies are everywhere, and the game heavily encourages you to explore. Stumble across a new landmark and you’re greeted by a triumphant “ding” and a large bonus of experience points. It’s highly addictive. You want those dings. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll randomly wander all over the place in search of that next ding and the feeling of success that comes with it.

Even without the rewards, it’s fun just to wander around Xenoblade because of the variety in the environments. You can head off in any random direction and you’re sure to find something interesting. You could be walking through an ordinary swamp during the day, only for it to turn into a wonderland full of sparkling blue trees and rainbow-colored fog at night. Or you might make your way to the end of a maze-like cavern and find yourself standing on the head of a waterfall, staring at a panoramic view of the crashing waves and glistening ocean.

There are also plenty of optional sidequests, which you can get from most townspeople. These range from collecting materials to killing huge one-of-a-kind monsters. There are tons of them, though, to the point where each new area will bombard you with about 20 or so quests right off the bat, with more to come after you complete those.

It’s enough to turn what is already a long game into one that will keep you busy for weeks. And since most of the quests give pretty generous rewards, you’ll probably want to complete most of them.

When you satisfy the requirements for a quest, the game will often automatically mark it as complete without you having to trek all the way back to the person who originally gave it to you. This makes questing addictive and easy. It’s not uncommon to go out into the wilderness with a full quest log and return with an empty one.

Plus, the game has a feature that lets you instantly travel anywhere you’ve previously been, allowing you to hand in the few remaining quests without trekking back and forth.

Games like World of Warcraft will have you traversing the same path dozens of times, whether it’s to hand in quests or just getting from point A to point B. Xenoblade does away with all that and puts the focus squarely on the joy of exploration and the thrill of discovery — a thrill you may never get to experience.


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