@r_hjort Hmm. This is kind of sad to hear. I've been operating on the assumption that there must be some big open area coming soon with a bunch of quests and secrets to find, because every Xenoblade game has areas like that! If it's basically just this for the whole game well, that wouldn't be a bad game, but it'd be sort of surprising to me that this game reviewed so well. Wasn't the openness a big appeal of the previous games for most people?!
Not that it's bad but at the moment I'm kind of not sure what would make the reviewers jack the scores up so much higher than the last 2 games? I really just assumed it went all out on all of the best things about Xenoblade, and that I hadn't run into all of that yet because I'm just still in the "early areas" before it blows out with all of the complex design and sidequests and such. It's actually kind of rare for a game in a series to score so much higher than the last few games, it usually means it really nailed a lot of what people like about the series. Like say, Metroid Dread.
@Zero The environments do get more interesting, and the earlier ones open up more as the story progresses and as you gain new abilities, revealing more nooks, crannies and secrets, so it's not at all bad (and some may actually prefer that structure), but I definitely liked exploring in the previous games more. If you want huge, open environments you'll definitely get those, so I think you'll be happy if you just give it more time. I think my main issue is that they're not presented in a way that helps bring the game world alive, so far.
A place like, say, Mor Ardain, had the specific environment it had due to specific circumstances, the flora and fauna had adapted to those circumstances, as had the people living there. You'd be given access to all of that cool world building stuff as you explored new areas, or talked to people, both in Mor Ardain and in other places connected to Mor Ardain. Everything felt connected and alive.
In X3 (so far), there are places with very specific looks and layouts, and the reasons for them being the way they are can be more or less apparent to the player, especially if you've played the previous games (and all of that is awesome, and has lots of potential), but that's where the world building ends. There aren't any people living in the areas long-term, so there's no area specific culture to speak of, no history to be told to you. It's more like Xenoblade Chronicles X in that regard.
Granted, these things may change, and the game may start capitalizing on the lore potential in a big way soon, rendering all my complaints more or less moot, but right now I'm a bit disappointed.
EDIT: Man, I sure sound like I'm hating on this game a lot. Sorry if I'm bringing the mood down. When I say I'm disappointed, it's more a matter of the game feeling like a strong 8 than a solid 9 or a 10 to me, so it's not like I'm having a big problem with the game as such. I like it a lot. Like I said before, it's keeping me from a game like Elden Ring, so any disappointment is just relative to the previous games, that I love so much.
@r_hjort Not that it's bad but at the moment I'm kind of not sure what would make the reviewers jack the scores up so much higher than the last 2 games? I really just assumed it went all out on all of the best things about Xenoblade, and that I hadn't run into all of that yet because I'm just still in the "early areas" before it blows out with all of the complex design and sidequests and such. It's actually kind of rare for a game in a series to score so much higher than the last few games, it usually means it really nailed a lot of what people like about the series. Like say, Metroid Dread.
Aren't reviewers on deadlines to push out a review so they try to get through games as quickly as possible? Reviewers may not have time for exploration and all that side stuff, so perhaps they didn't do much of that in previous games and like this one better if it's more straight-forward and easier to complete for review? No idea really, just musing.
Ah yeah, I see. Not sure if that will bother me much, we'll see. I like the worldbuilding and lore and such but the actual area designs are what interest me the most.
And I may have spoken a bit too soon above, the area I'm in opened up a lot soon after! I got to a point that is literally called a "crossroads" with 3 ways to go and was like you know what? I'm not going to go the way of the main quest. And then someone immediately said something like "shouldn't we be going to blah blah blah", BUT THIS TIME IT STILL LET ME GO THE OTHER WAY, THANK GOD. Found some cool stuff, including a cave with a few little puzzles and some tough fights. I'm guessing it would have pushed me this way eventually (maybe soon, I seemed to be about the right level for it) since the cave seems to be part of a much bigger ongoing thing, but it was nice to be able to just go and find it myself.
A cave with puzzles?! Now I gotta go look for that! I've been a sucker for good cave spelunking since Tephra Cave.
I will say, the region I'm currently exploring is one of the coolest in the series. Not top 5, but like, top 10 or something. It's in the top half anyway. The environment is great on a conceptual level, the music is moody and the exploration is fun as heck. Got carried away looking for stuff, climbed on top of a thing and got spotted by a bunch of enemies 20+ levels above mine, promptly got my ass kicked. Love it. Now I'm gonna go back and do it again.
You didn't find any of the door puzzles where you move the circles around to unlock the doors? I only found the one cave but you run into an npc and they talk like there are a bunch of them set up throughout the world. They way they talked this is the first one, and I'm about 12-14? hours in. It does make me wonder what would happen if you found a different one first. Like do you NEED to find this one first or can you do them in any order? No clue.
@Zero I've played for 40-something hours and I have no clue what you're talking about. Which is fantastic! That's a good sign for the game, I think. I think I might know the area you're talking about, so I'm gonna go look.
EDIT: Nope. That wasn't it. But now I'm in Xenoblade exploration mode, which is my favourite way to be.
I certainly think the game does get even better as it goes on. My only concern really at this point is that I read somewhere that if you do too much side stuff you just end up WAY overleveled for everything else. Some of the recent stuff I've been doing has been too easy. Like, my characters are basically all at full health the entire fights easy. I guess I could bump it up to hard if I feel like it, I'm playing on normal right now. But sometimes "hard" in an RPG just means the enemies become sponges and take longer to beat without actually being any harder to win the fights.
@Zero Yeah, at this point the game does feel as if it's just getting easier, which sucks a bit. Last couple of major plot related boss fights felt like they were scripted to be easily won so that the game could throw a more difficult second phase at you, but then bosses just keeled over. It's one of the things that keep this game from being up there with the first two, to me. Breaking and toppling and all that jazz doesn't feel all that important anymore, and I don't think I've ever encountered an enemy with spike damage so far. Is that even a thing anymore?
I mean, sure, there are always named monsters roaming around looking for trouble, but fighting one of those doesn't have the same draw to it as before.
Might check out the hardest difficulty setting, but like yourself I'm not gonna be interested if it's just a matter of upping enemy stats rather than demanding new strats altogether.
BTW did you find the puzzle cave? I took a screenshot of its general location. The entrance is somewhere around the ether channel I marked (don't remember the EXACT location). You can see a bit of the final room of the cave on the map there too, but oddly enough the actual tunnels don't show up on the map, they show up on their own map.
@Zero I had managed to avoid that exact area up until now, so thanks for the mappage! I had taken note of the other cave opening before, but had forgotten about it and never discovered the entrance. This kind of brings me back to the pre-internet schoolyard discussions, where you'd tell people of new places or hidden items you'd discovered in Zelda or Final Fantasy or whatever.
Anyway, pretty neat place! Well, the puzzles, anyway. I'm definitely gonna try to hunt down more of them now. But between looking for those and wanting to do all the new sidequests I've unlocked, I fear I'm gonna be way, way too overlevelled for the main quests. They should have kept the ability to level down from the second game. Never used it there, but it would have been cool now.
This game does get better and better. Especially the side stuff! I like how they (mostly) broke off the collectathon quests into their own thing within the collectopedia, so when you get a legit side quest it will generally have some meat to it. A lot of the side stuff seems to revolve around either liberating colonies or gaining heroes, and both of those are substantial quests with their own bosses and such and have substantial rewards.
At this point I'd definitely put this game up near 1. I get the reviews now. It's a very well designed game. EXCEPT FOR.
The overleveling! I didn't even explore every possible nook and cranny but I went to the next area for the main quest and was about 8 levels higher than the highest enemies in the area. (And that's including the fact that I just stopped doing the campfire leveling up, so I would have been 10 or 11 or so.) At that level most enemies won't even aggro you, and obviously I'm not going to get much out of fighting enemies so much lower than me. So it was a lot of just running around, cutscenes, doing some mandatory fights (including mini-bosses) that were way too easy, etc. Not the high point of my experience.
With that said, by the time I got to the main boss of that area I was only 3 levels ahead of them. And... they were fricking hard! Died twice and barely got through my third time (literally got my second chain attack powered up while all of my characters were on the edge of death and just JAMMED that button to start it, was able to finish the boss off with it.) So I mean, if I had been at the right level for the basic enemies in the area, I would probably have had to level up a lot just to get past that boss. Just an oddly balanced area, where you can be so OP against everyone leading up to the boss and then the boss just utterly destroys you. And now I'm in the next area and about 4 levels above all of the enemies there and it feels super easy again. Feels like the obvious solution to balancing this stuff better would have been to make the regular enemies a little bit higher leveled than they are. Ah well.
Kind of not sure how to adjust my play to deal with this other than not leveling up at campfires, but that only does so much. I could stick to the main quest more but like, it's Xenoblade! The exploring / side quests are the main appeal! And I'd want to do the side stuff later anyway, and would just be too OP for that stuff at that point. So maybe I just own it, and don't worry too much about being overleveled for the main quest? I dunno. It's not the worst thing ever but for a game that I'm loving so much otherwise, it feels like it drags the experience down a bit. I don't want to get to the point where every time I do main quest stuff I'm like ug, time to rush through all of this as fast as possible.
And APPARENTLY you can manually lower your level in new game plus, so people are hoping if they complain enough that will get patched into the main qame, which I guess would fix things a bit, but that would feel like a very artificial way to balance things.
I still haven't tried switching to hard mode, but I'm not sure that would make for a better experience if enemies just become sponges. And that could just lead to a situation where in order to progress much in the side stuff I'd have to level up EVEN MORE, so it might not solve anything.
Alright, I managed to get my levels back to about where they should be by holding off on some side stuff and focusing on main quest stuff for awhile. It helps that the main quest stuff gets a bit linear at the point I'm at, so there wasn't a lot to explore and I wasn't adding a ton of new sidequests to my list or anything. I even got to a boss that was... gasp... the same level as my characters!
Then I went exploring a bit in a recent area and found another puzzle cave that had a pretty tough enemy in it. Then I went exploring in an even older area I thought I had mostly explored already and opened up a HUGE new chunk of stuff that happened to be right at the level I was at. This game is so meaty! And then I did a few of the sidequests I had been putting off as well. So now I'm a bit overleveled again, lol. But not by too much. I actually don't mind being a few levels ahead in the main quest stuff, you can still get a few tough fights with the more powerful enemies, and some of the bosses almost require being a little overleveled. I just don't want to get too far ahead again, at that point where you're not even catching aggro. My plan is to just keep a rough idea of what the level for the main quest stuff I'm at is and come back to it whenever I'm getting too far above it.
And holding off on using that bonus xp at campfires is huge. I have about 8 levels saved up at this point. Not going to use any of it moving forward unless I hit a wall though.
So, with all of that said, I played like 7 hours straight last night, until 5 in the morning. This has to be the longest single game session I've had in years. This game is so good. Yeah it starts linear but when it opens up, it really opens up, exploring really pays off, sidequests are fun. Battle system is still overly convoluted but it's probably the best it has ever been. Story is interesting. I actually think this game might be better than the first, and that's one of my favorite RPGs ever. Definitely above X and 2 for me right now. We'll see how I feel at the end but for now...
Also, very minor spoilers, but at this point I almost feel like Taion is a more developed character than Noah. They're giving him a lot of depth and backstory!
Yep, just loving it. So many areas I'm underleveled at the time but head back to later and it's like a whole freaking optional side world you can get lost in for awhile. I will say that the third area is a bit linear in the sense that there aren't even too many places you can break away from the main path right away (the only significant side paths I found required much higher levels than I was at) but it's just such a great game and then when it does break open again, it tends to break open big. Like I was going from "wow it got a bit linear for awhile" to "wow how do I have 10 sidequests I haven't done yet?!" And I didn't even get to any of them last night because I spent most of it exploring a big area in one of the early worlds that I was finally at the right level for.
...except that deep within that area there is ANOTHER area you have to be even a higher level to get to, so I still had to leave some of it unexplored!
Honestly I feel like this game captures something the original Legend of Zelda did for me back in the days and Breath of the Wild did recently but few other games have. That sense that there is this big world to explore and a lot of it is optional so you can just roam around and find stuff that you may very well have missed out on completely if you didn't explore. Makes the exploration feel special.
Hadn't played this since I posted last time, because real life's been getting in the way, but coming back to the game, these are my current impressions:
Being an adult with finite time and seemingly infinite responsibilities sucks.
This game is bloody amazing and I love it. Not as much as the others in the series, but still more than just about anything else. Went exploring and ended up at the Distant Fingertip. What a trip. Figuratively and literally. Remembering what discovering that place felt like in X1, and seeing what it looks like now, with all the surrounding areas, made for some strange nostalgia infused melancholy. Also, the soundtrack really is growing on me. It was always fantastic, but it keeps getting better.
Someone on the writing team seems to share some of my core, er, political ideas. Noticed a fair amount of that in Xenoblade 2 too, but mostly just chalked it up to the way Nia was written. Here it seems more baked into the moral of the story at times. It's not quite Tales of Vesperia levels of outright anarchist advocacy, but there's still a lot of questioning of various hierarchical systems, allegories for wage slavery and nationalism and how they are bad going on up in here. No wonder I'm starting to feel like home.
I agree that Taion is a better character than Noah. Noah is surprisingly flat for a Xenoblade series main protagonist, I think, but even so they're doing a good job of fleshing out Taion. I still think Taion is an insufferably smug smartass, but that's another story.
Had almost forgotten how brilliant this battle theme is, but then I got into a Moebius fight straight off the bat when I started playing earlier today, and holy crap. One the absolute best battle tracks of all time. Gotta be.
EDIT: OMG! There are GULKINS in addition to Tirkins?!!! Okay, this game is gonna have dial things back a bit, because this is too good. Also, riding the boat is so much fun. Thought it was gonna feel pointless, but it's pretty great.
@TheOldManFromZelda You can zoom it out. I think it's clicking the right stick? Or rather, not zooming out, but it makes it bigger so you can see more? Something like that. It's pretty essential, the default size is too small to see anything.
Wow, that chapter 5 to chapter 6 transition sure doesn't pull any punches, does it? Lots of rough stuff in there, in the best way possible. Can't get over how well directed this game is. The photography and the editing, if you can call it that. Absolute master class shit.