Xenoblade - New Monolith RPG for Wii

SixteenBlue wrote:
Put a few more hours into the game and it really does get a lot better. That said, I don't think Clock would have liked it more because all of the same issues still apply, if not are actually worse. The number of side quests is ridiculous. It's to the point where I don't see how it can be considered a positive aspect of the game.

Because some people like that amount of side quests, like myself. It's one of those things, like linearity and challenge, that aren't purely positive or negative, but highly subjective depending on taste.

That being said, I'm not really sure why a number of people were like "wait until you get past certain early events, then it gets awesome." I got past those events and it was more of the exact same. Now, I actually like what Xenoblade is doing so it's not a problem, but I'm fourteen hours and several areas in and nothing earth-shattering has happened yet.

I have a question though: what makes this a JRPG and Dragon Age : Origins not? Is it simply where it's made?

That's the problem with having "JRPG" be a genre. Any RPG made in Japan could be called a JRPG even if it doesn't fit what we traditionally think of as a JRPG, and it's awkward to call something made in the west a JRPG even if it's a turn based old school Final Fantasy homage.

Honestly, with every other game coming out having "RPG" characteristics, what even makes an RPG any more?

LarryC wrote:
If JRPG is a genre and not some type of vague location or race- based designator, then I contend that both DA2 should definitely count. DAO still has a robust character creator system, and a mostly blank protagonist.

That's a good point. I picked out DAO because the combat in Xenoblade is so similar but the rest of Xenoblade's gameplay reminds me of DA2 a whole lot, from maintaining the individual relationships down to the sheer number of "I lost this item" quests.

If JRPG is a genre and not some type of vague location or race-based designator, then I contend that both ME2 and DA2 should definitely count. DAO still has a robust character creator system, and a mostly blank protagonist.

Demyx wrote:
That's the problem with having "JRPG" be a genre. Any RPG made in Japan could be called a JRPG even if it doesn't fit what we traditionally think of as a JRPG, and it's awkward to call something made in the west a JRPG even if it's a turn based old school Final Fantasy homage.

I think it ultimately comes down to the amount of hair-gel used by the protaganist. Also, sword size.

Honestly, with every other game coming out having "RPG" characteristics, what even makes an RPG any more?

What's happening right now is that both Western RPGs and Eastern RPGs are drifting closer to action games and action games are grafting RPG elements onto their systems (both single player for "depth" and multiplayer for "stickiness"). There was a really really good article that talked about traditional RPGs are more "abstract" because you're not in direct control of your character which makes them harder for mainstream audiences to grasp. Action games have a much more direct input which makes them more accessible to players.

EDIT: Here it is. Yay google-fu.

I think it's really hard to define an RPG aside from a lame get out clause of "I know one when I see it". And yes, some people consider The Sims as an RPG/strategy title and Call of Duty multiplayer is as much an RPG as anything else due to the persistent leveling/unlock system.

I feel like I should link an Extra Credits video here discussing this genre topic entirely. I believe it was part of the Western vs. Eastern RPGs series.

As for the "it gets better", well, for me it did. Combat started pretty damn boring, and the first two hours I wasn't really invested at all. But a lot of the fights now are a LOT more interesting with many more elements to them, which makes it more than "I'm sitting here waiting for my guy to attack for me".

Anybody else have

Spoiler:
Melia
as a teammate yet?

Hopefully that's not a big spoiler, but I'm having all kinds of struggle trying to figure out how she's most effective. And is her burst thing only when the center icon is full? I keep having these times where all 3 of her elemental attacks will be X-ed out. Not sure if I even used them all or I need to burst or what.

I didn't really want to start controlling her and learn another character, but the few guides/tips I had seen about her, or topics about the teammate AI, had all mentioned that the AI is terrible at controlling her, and if you want her in the party you have to do it yourself. So I'm trying that, but I don't feel very effective.

Also it didn't help that you get

Spoiler:
Riki
in the party at nearly the same time.
Spoiler:
Hot girl or furry little animal with super annoying voice? Not likely Riki ever gets in my party at this point. His cutscene dialog is bad enough, I don't think I can take the fighting chatter.

So, question on party affinity: I just picked up

Spoiler:
Dunban, meaning that I have more characters than I can actively play for the first time. From my play yesterday it appears that they gain EXP, SP, and AP all at the same rate whether active or not, so I'm guessing affinity is the only thing not leveled. So what's the best way to go about that? Shulk has the spiky pink face with Reyn (I'm guessing that's 2nd from the top since they can share four abilities), and he and Reyn both have a green smiley face with Sharla. I'm tempted to pull Shulk for Dunban to work on other affinities, but maybe I should max out the ones I have first? Any guidance?

I put a couple more hours into this over the weekend, though I played more Sam & Max than I did of this. I would say that that was telling, but that is me with long games in general lately. Still, Xenoblade is on the edge of not being sure whether I like it yet, but not being ready to abandon it. I was neutral on automatically picking things up, but now it's bugging me that battle loot uses the opposite system and has to be picked up manually. Considering there is way more of it, I feel like there is a better way to handle it.

SixteenBlue wrote:
The number of side quests is ridiculous.

It kind of is. They also seem to suffer from one of aspects I don't like about many RPGs from Japan, in that they don't give you experience, just money. I like that in many western-developed RPGs there are ways to get experience outside of combat. Considering that you get EXP in this game just from finding a new place, it feels kind of jarring. I also haven't found a way to track a specific quest. The quest screen lists "New" and "Current" on separate screens, and the default view mixes completed and incomplete quest together so there isn't even a good way to view all quests that aren't done yet. Both of those factors make me thing the devs are treating all these quests as throwaway.

I'm actually starting to not like the battle system, as it feels like I'm only vaguely in control of my main character and not at all in control of the others. I enjoy action RPG combat sometimes, even with other party members because it feels like all button presses do something, though I actually prefer turn-based system that let me pick everything that happens.

For now the story is hooking me enough to keep playing, but I think it's going to have to hook me pretty soon.

ccesarano wrote:
I feel like I should link an Extra Credits video here discussing this genre topic entirely. I believe it was part of the Western vs. Eastern RPGs series.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

If I remember correctly (I didn't rewatch the videos), their argument basically boils down to the genre names making sense at one point, because traditionally that's what they were, but now there is such variety coming from East and West that they don't anymore, and while the genres still exist as distinct things, they are no longer tied to specific regions. So, the names suck, basically.

I can't disagree that the names suck, but honestly I think even bothering to break down the genre of RPG further is pointless, regardless of the crappy names we currently have available. However, I tend to think genres are useful only as a short hand, but that's a whole different issue.

Minarchist wrote:
So, question on party affinity: I just picked up Dunban meaning that I have more characters than I can actively play for the first time. From my play yesterday it appears that they gain EXP, SP, and AP all at the same rate whether active or not, so I'm guessing affinity is the only thing not leveled. So what's the best way to go about that? Shulk has the spiky pink face with Reyn (I'm guessing that's 2nd from the top since they can share four abilities), and he and Reyn both have a green smiley face with ***. I'm tempted to pull Shulk for Dunban to work on other affinities, but maybe I should max out the ones I have first? Any guidance?

I thought we agreed Dunban wasn't spoilery? He's in the prologue for crying out loud, you play as him before Shulk. Now let's talk mechanics.

I'm going with the "whatever team is most comfortable in battle" thing. And then when I'm in a town or other "quest hub" area, walking around talking to NPCs, I will switch things up. You get +affinity every time one of your teammate jumps into a conversation with an NPC. Of course in battle, you also get +affinity every time you hit B one one of those popups for crits, misses, etc. So maybe if you're just doing sidequests and not the main story, and not any unique enemies, you can mix up the party to something less effective

As far as replacement goes, you'd want to switch Dunban for Reyn. They are both good at holding agro and tanking. Dunban is an Agility (dodge) tank, while Reyn is your standard armor/defense "damage sponge" tank. With Reyn tanking I feel you need

Spoiler:
Sharla
as the third party member, to put out more heals. But with Dunban tanking, Shulk's 1 heal is probably enough to keep him alive since he barely gets hit, so you get to play a little more loose with the 3rd slot.

Anyway I have Shulk and Reyn's affinity maxed in my game already so I'm trying to use other parties for battle. But I really do like Reyn tanking. So sometimes I just say to hell with affinity, and play. Don't forget there's also the gifts you can give to increase party affinity. First tab in the spreadsheet. Not sure how many positive gifts there are per teammate, but I bet you don't have to take them in your party too often if you don't want to for some reason. And with each gift you can choose who the giver is as well as the recipient. So for instance, the gathering quests and conversation joining I mentioned above will only give affinity with your two teammates and the leader, but never between both teammates. So you might need to do some gifting to lift their affinity.

Garden Ninja wrote:

It kind of is. They also seem to suffer from one of aspects I don't like about many RPGs from Japan, in that they don't give you experience, just money.

Uh, but that's not true. Not all sidequests give EXP, but most do.

Actually, I just skimmed through the Colony 9 quest page on the wiki and saw that the generic named quests like "Monster Quest 1" give money but not EXP. It's only the quests you get from named characters that give EXP.

I can't disagree that the names suck, but honestly I think even bothering to break down the genre of RPG further is pointless, regardless of the crappy names we currently have available. However, I tend to think genres are useful only as a short hand, but that's a whole different issue.

Genres are pretty meaningless these days. When applicable, it's probably better to explain games in terms of what mechanics they use.

Garden Ninja wrote:
I also haven't found a way to track a specific quest. The quest screen lists "New" and "Current" on separate screens, and the default view mixes completed and incomplete quest together so there isn't even a good way to view all quests that aren't done yet. Both of those factors make me thing the devs are treating all these quests as throwaway.

Yeah I wish you could set an active quest. Only the current story quest is tracked with the arrow.

"Current" quests only seem to list quests with multiple objectives, like gather 3 of this, 5 of this and 3 of this, all in one quest.

"New" seems to be the best sorting to view all incomplete quests you have.

Stele wrote:
Questions about a party member

The game doesn't explain her abilities very well, which is a shame because she works very differently than the other characters AND is quite powerful when used well.

- First off, you can stack up to three elemental auras at the same time, and you want to choose them based on what buffs you want.

- Second, you can use the aura copy (or whatever it is called) to quickly get multiple stacks of one aura. This is important because...

- Third, even when the center button's meter is NOT full you can click on the center button to discharge the top-most aura on your stack. This is your primary method of attack (or healing, if you want to use her that way).

- And finally, when the meter fills up you can can activate burst mode, which which allows you to use several burst mode only attacks. Also, it does something with the normal discharge attack too? Can't quite recall.

Anyway, what I did with her is to stack up +lightning damage gems in her weapon (and choose her weapon based on how many gems it holds, since you should very rarely actually use her auto-attack anyway) and then use her almost exclusively as a massive ranged damage dealer. The first aura you stack should be one with a buff you always want around, since you probably won't be discharging it as an attack very often. Maybe water if you want a little healing, or wind if you are using the agility based tank character, or fire if you just want your physical attackers to extra damage. The second aura in the stack would almost always be lightning to get the magic damage buff and to provide quick burst damage by discharging twice. Then the third would usually be another lightning (generally via aura copy, so you can replace it quickly after discharging it), although if there are lots of enemies you might stack on a fire or wind for their AOE attacks. Then you just alternate discharging and replacing your top-most aura, or if you want to quickly deal extra damage, discharge twice then build your stack back up, and use your burst mode when it charges (if the extra damage is called for).

I suppose if you wanted to use her as a healer you'd probably change your stacking strategy to something like using earth or wind as a base, then water, then water or whatever to discharge, but I wouldn't recommend it -- healing is much better handled by your friend from Colony 6.

Garden Ninja wrote:
It kind of is. They also seem to suffer from one of aspects I don't like about many RPGs from Japan, in that they don't give you experience, just money. I like that in many western-developed RPGs there are ways to get experience outside of combat. Considering that you get EXP in this game just from finding a new place, it feels kind of jarring.

Most of the side-quests in this game do give you EXP, and the rewards start to get pretty massive not too far in -- but the "base-level" kill X trash mobs quests are usually just money. The story quests, find X quests, and other stuff are much better for EXP. I got a quest still in the knee that was worth 750 EXP, and Shulk and Reyn both got 10% more than that due to sharing one of Shulk's abilities. That's a hell of a lot of fighting.

zeroKFE wrote:
The game doesn't explain her abilities very well, which is a shame because she works very differently than the other characters AND is quite powerful when used well.

- First off, you can stack up to three elemental auras at the same time, and you want to choose them based on what buffs you want.

- Second, you can use the aura copy (or whatever it is called) to quickly get multiple stacks of one aura. This is important because...

- Third, even when the center button's meter is NOT full you can click on the center button to discharge the top-most aura on your stack. This is your primary method of attack (or healing, if you want to use her that way).

- And finally, when the meter fills up you can can activate burst mode, which which allows you to use several burst mode only attacks. Also, it does something with the normal discharge attack too? Can't quite recall.

Thanks. I thought that discharge worked even when it wasn't full. But I couldn't figure out which element I was discharging... whichever one was "on top" I guess.

And I wasn't sure about the limit of 3 either. I think she starts with water, fire, and elec, and I have another one (wind?) now, as well as copy, but I hadn't used them.

I also think I got rid of the burst mode attack I had once I got her direct heal. It seemed stupid to have attacks sitting on my bar that I couldn't use for so much of a battle. Feels like she needs a "burst mode" toggle like Shulk has with the Monado bar... a 2nd set of just those few burst attacks. Oh well. I'll keep trying as I try to build some affinity with her and the rest of the party and maybe she will click now.

I kept expecting an "advanced combat tutorial" like I got with the other teammates, but haven't seen it so far if there is one.

And I wasn't sure about the limit of 3 either. I think she starts with water, fire, and elec, and I have another one (wind?) now, as well as copy, but I hadn't used them.

Eventually you will have fire, wind, water, lightning, and earth aura abilities available. You can have as many as you want on your bar, but your can only have three activated at once. (I think if you activate another when you have 3 stacked it will overwrite the top of your stack? Not certain about that though.)

I also think I got rid of the burst mode attack I had once I got her direct heal. It seemed stupid to have attacks sitting on my bar that I couldn't use for so much of a battle. Feels like she needs a "burst mode" toggle like Shulk has with the Monado bar... a 2nd set of just those few burst attacks. Oh well. I'll keep trying as I try to build some affinity with her and the rest of the party and maybe she will click now.

You are absolutely right -- the burst mode should have toggled to a second bar. That said, the two burst mode only abilities were powerful enough that I did decide to keep them on the bar. My bar eventually looked like this:

water | wind | fire | lightning | (center button) | copy | burst attack 1 | burst attack 2 | sleep

I didn't ever really care to use the earth aura (which is a defense boost when active, and I can't even remember what its discharge was), and her melee attacks seemed REALLY pointless.

I kept expecting an "advanced combat tutorial" like I got with the other teammates, but haven't seen it so far if there is one.

I think there is something the describes it if you open up the tutorials and look yourself, but I don't think the game forces you to read it. And even with that, ultimately I still had to puzzle things out a bit via trial and error.

Demyx wrote:
Garden Ninja wrote:

It kind of is. They also seem to suffer from one of aspects I don't like about many RPGs from Japan, in that they don't give you experience, just money.

Uh, but that's not true. Not all sidequests give EXP, but most do.

Actually, I just skimmed through the Colony 9 quest page on the wiki and saw that the generic named quests like "Monster Quest 1" give money but not EXP. It's only the quests you get from named characters that give EXP.

Minarchist wrote:
Most of the side-quests in this game do give you EXP, and the rewards start to get pretty massive not too far in -- but the "base-level" kill X trash mobs quests are usually just money.

I actually assumed that at least some side quest gave EXP since there is an EXP line on the sidequest completion screen. I must have brainfarted that that existed when I wrote my post an hour ago. In any case, since I had started watching for that line when I complete a side quest, I swear every single one gave zero EXP. Which makes sense now, since I had been travelling towards Colony 6, so the "Kill X Trashmobs" are probably the only quest I was actually completing. If named NPC give EXP-able quests, I'll probably just stick with those, considering they will probably be more interesting anyway.

Stele wrote:
"Current" quests only seem to list quests with multiple objectives, like gather 3 of this, 5 of this and 3 of this, all in one quest.

"New" seems to be the best sorting to view all incomplete quests you have.

Ok, that's good to know. I didn't play around with it long enough to figure that out. Initially, I had assumed that New was just recently picked up stuff, and current was everything incomplete, but when I was playing around with it (probably 3 hours into the game), I noticed that choosing Current meant nothing showed up at all. The choices could have had better names.

Demyx wrote:
Genres are pretty meaningless these days. When applicable, it's probably better to explain games in terms of what mechanics they use.

That's basically how I feel as well. Genres-lines are carved into the landscape willy-nilly and in sometime completely arbitrary ways (FPS and 3PS are different genres why?), and then labeled with meaningless names like "Action" or "Adventure". Perhaps it made sense when games were simple and only had one mechanic really. Add to that the fact the term genre in means something different in each medium (e.g. genre of music vs genre of book), and that games include aspects of other media. The only reason we know which aspect we are talking about is because "Gameplay Genre" overshadows everything else, but that isn't the only interesting thing about games.

A few more hours tonight... over 40 now... finally took a story break after

Spoiler:
Prison Island
and holy moly that was some big story reveal.
Spoiler:
Kinda what I expected after that other stuff I mentioned before with Xord... but still, very cool reveal. And I'm still being vague in case you accidentally click on this spoiler because that was seriously a huge story moment. ;)

Anyway so I took a break and went back to Colony 6 to start Reconstruction. Actually went back to Colony 9 to fire up some Rank 3/4 gems (got some mega heat now with Shulk/Reyn affinity maxed), and then to Bionis Leg to clear up any timed quests that I had to before starting Reconstruction. After starting Reconstruction it looks like this could be a whole other game in itself. Not sure how far I'll get with it, but I can't really see myself playing the whole game again for a while, so I guess I should try to do as much as I can on this first run. I just don't want to risk burning out on sidequests.

My last several hours tonight were mostly following the main quest though from

Spoiler:
Eryth Sea to Alcamoth to High Entia Tomb and back to Alcamoth and to Prison Island
, so this seems like a good time for a break. Whew.

Fantastic game. Still can't believe how big it is.

Fantastic game. Still can't believe how big it is.

Spoiler:
You aren't even close to done. :P

Wow. Yeah I heard that

Spoiler:
Prison Island first visit
was something like 45-50% of the story, just near halfway.

Anyway I went back to Colony 9 some more last night, to gather stuff for Colony 6, and got distracted doing more Colony 9 stuff... affinity is now up to 3 stars, and I got my first rare trade item, filling out something on the Other page of the Collectopedia.

Also got Colony 6 all reconstructed to rank 1, and 2-star affinity there, and now finally have the mobile furnace! Not that I need anymore gems right now, but it's cool to know I can use stuff as I get it instead of saving up for a big trip back to Colony 9.

Now to start tracking down those NPCs that were "looking for a new start" and relocate them to Colony 6.

Guess I'll get back to the story in a few hours... hahaha...

Played another hour or so last night and picked up

Spoiler:
Sharla in the refugee camp

I'm not sure I'm using her right. She seems like she is meant to handle ranged buffs / debuffs and healing mostly, but her Talent Art gauge never seems to fill, so I'm often overheating, and she draws a ton of agro which seems weird. I've been controlling her directly since I thought someone above said that the AI wasn't great at playing her, though I just reread the thread and that was referring to different character, so I may go back to Shulk as my main.

I was kind of lukewarm on the game before, but having a third party member, and doing a couple of actually interesting quests (instead of the X trashmob, or Y tchochke quests) is making me more excited about the game.

Yeah control Shulk and just let her heal/buff/debuff you.

She has a fantastic power that is just an damage shield for 8 seconds or so. Plus a single heal every 30 seconds, a huge single heal every 90 seconds, a group heal every 60? seconds, and a debuff cure spell, and so on.

Not to mention a sleep, a crit vs flying units, another break attack to help in combos... and later a daze attack as well. I actually end up having to leave some of her heal/cure arts off the bar to find a balace of attack/support. So many good arts!

zeroKFE wrote:
Fantastic game. Still can't believe how big it is.

You aren't even close to done.

Jeez you were not kidding.

Explored 4 more new zones this weekend:

Spoiler:
Valak Mountain, Sword Valley, Galahad Fortress, and Fallen Arm.

Believe I finally have my complete party of characters now as well... which took some pretty amazing story twists through those last few areas.

And now on

Spoiler:
Fallen Arm
I find that there is...
Spoiler:
a whole city of Mechonis citizens. Something like us, but mechanical, born from Mechon? Holy crap! They don't seem to be on the same side as the faced Mechon or Egil or whoever... so much to figure out still how this is going to wrap up. :?

Taking another break while I have a full party and going back to work on town affinity will probably be the next couple days. Colony 6 Reconstruction seems tougher and tougher... no idea where to get a lot of these materials. Hopefully I can find places to trade for them on the spreadsheet.

Well, you are finally catching up to where I left the game, but (if you are anything like me) there is still far more remaining than you think there is.

Hell, even at the place where I left off, I'm sure there is more left than I think there is.

Colony 6 Reconstruction seems tougher and tougher... no idea where to get a lot of these materials. Hopefully I can find places to trade for them on the spreadsheet.

Yeah, you are definitely past the point where the volume of side questing started to weigh me down. My suggestion would be to either start skipping stuff, or to start relying more heavily on the spreadsheet, because the game is relentless seemingly all the way to the end about constantly loading up your quest log with stuff to distract you.

After seeing how much time Stele sunk into this game, I'm convinced I'll never finish it at this rate...not that I'm complaining

Wander around exploring the world feels calming, almost zen-like, at least until at lvl 75 monster comes out of nowhere and cracks some skulls.

Oh yeah... I'm over 60 hours now... and at 2-4* affinity with each area... slowly working on sidequests. Stumbled on one of my characters' 4th skill trees by accident tonight. Think based on some reports I'm around 65-75% of the story?

Don't think there's much hope for me finishing under 100 hours. I just know that I'm not going to replay this for a long time, if ever, so I want to try to get 5* affinities and see all the heart-to-hearts, and so on... close to a "complete game" run, and that's going to take a while. Whew.

zeroKFE wrote:
Well, you are finally catching up to where I left the game, but (if you are anything like me) there is still far more remaining than you think there is.

Hell, even at the place where I left off, I'm sure there is more left than I think there is.

Colony 6 Reconstruction seems tougher and tougher... no idea where to get a lot of these materials. Hopefully I can find places to trade for them on the spreadsheet.

Yeah, you are definitely past the point where the volume of side questing started to weigh me down. My suggestion would be to either start skipping stuff, or to start relying more heavily on the spreadsheet, because the game is relentless seemingly all the way to the end about constantly loading up your quest log with stuff to distract you.

Is it worse than Skyrim in this regard? You're scaring me away from taking the shrink wrap off this one.

Well no you don't have to do side quests. The main story always has a clear arrow or text pointing to the next area and objective. You do probably need to do a few sides to keep your level up even with the story bosses. Honestly there's usually some enemies between you and the objective that there are quests for killing or gathering items from in the nearest town, so if you take a minute to grab those you can gain some bonus xp without getting sidetracked.

I'd imagine you could speed-run through this thing in 40-ish hours without any real "grinding"... maybe.

If you make an effort to just grab every side quest (which is easy and fast because the people are marked with exclamation points and you can just skip the actual text) and then just do a normal amount of fighting mobs and picking up random items that you'll probably accidentally complete enough side quests to keep up with the story.

SixteenBlue wrote:
If you make an effort to just grab every side quest (which is easy and fast because the people are marked with exclamation points and you can just skip the actual text) and then just do a normal amount of fighting mobs and picking up random items that you'll probably accidentally complete enough side quests to keep up with the story.

I really wish the game pre-tracked trash mob kills for those types of quests. It's odd when the game tells you to go kill 10 mobs "to make things safer" when you've killed 50 or more of them when you first arrive in the location.

I'm finding I really like how this game handles sidequests. I've been pushing ahead with the story and then taking a break to do some sidequests when I feel like just grinding and exploring to do something different for a bit. Because a number of the quests give a chunk of XP it's a really easy way to clear through the quest log in a speedy manner. Of course having the Wikia open to find the locations for some of the NPCs and special monsters helps a bit.

shoptroll wrote:

I really wish the game pre-tracked trash mob kills for those types of quests. It's odd when the game tells you to go kill 10 mobs "to make things safer" when you've killed 50 or more of them when you first arrive in the location.

What I really wish is if the mobs you need to kill for a quest had an indicator of some sort. I don't like opening my quest log to see if this particular Antol or Bunniv is the one I need to appease some tiny jellybean creature.