Moving from Xenoblade Chronicles 1 to Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a fairly natural progression. The mechanics are similar, the world is similar, the overall feel of the game is similar, if a bit more childish due to the protagonists being younger. It’s clear that the developers tried to keep much of the same DNA between the first and the second game, in order to leverage what made the original such a hit.
But in between these two games there was another installment released, exclusively for the WiiU: Xenoblade Chronicles X, and it is as different from the other two as its nomenclature implies. Hell, it’s different than almost any other JRPG out there in so many ways.
Xenoblade Chronicles X is a story of community, of exploration, and of kinship in a way that the other two games never could dream of. Where Xenoblade 1 and 2 focused on adventure of a small group of people setting their differences aside and banding together to save the world, Xenoblade X is about the human collective attempting to create a new home for themselves. It is no longer about one big threat to the world, but rather it’s about things like setting up supply lines, ensuring food supply, finding resources for repairs, all for the sake of survival of the community. It’s about a myriad of small threats and problems that, left unchecked, could propagate through the community and create bigger problems.
The story revolves around a new colony of humanity on the planet Mira; a hostile alien world filled with enormous indigenous creatures (referred to collectively as “indigens”) and huge, beautiful environments. You play as a member of the problem-solving military group BLADE, whos job is to ensure the survival of the colony. Obviously, this is a very broad description, so BLADE is subdivided into a 8 different categories, each focused on a particular type of problem. The Pathfinders are explorers, adept at surveying and charting new territory, while the Interceptors are fighters, dedicated to protecting the other teams and subjugating indigens that threaten the colony.
But make no mistake, this story is not about you. This is often more about your companions, or the collective, than about you. Your player character is rarely the focus of interactions, or even the one in charge. It’s way more common that one of your companions take the center stage, showing off their skills, strengths, weaknesses and competence. Rarely does the world, or even your surroundings, revolve around you, choosing instead to give those roles to one of your (often female, which is a really nice change of pace) companions.
It truly is a unique game, and I am really saddened to see that it has fallen to obscurity on the WiiU. I hope that it does one day get re-released on the Switch, but even if it doesn’t, I urge you to seek this game out. It’s worth making an effort to play.