A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Xenoblade Chronicles X is a sci-fi role-playing game (RPG) that sees heroic soldiers fighting to protect a small city of humans struggling to survive on an alien planet. Players engage in combat with alien animals (some of which are clearly nonthreatening and harmless) as well as aggressive sentient life using guns, blades, and robotic suits. Enemies cry out and collapse when defeated, then disappear. Players can customize their avatars, selecting skin color and gender, and have the ability to change the tone of discussions with nonplayer characters by choosing responses that are kind and helpful, mean and disrespectful, or somewhere in between. Expect light sexual themes, slightly revealing clothing, plus a bit of mild and infrequent language. Players can choose to play with groups of others online, but there's no support for voice or text communication.
What's it about?
Aliens destroy planet Earth in the opening moments of XENOBLADE CHRONICLES X, but one lucky city-size ship manages to escape, eventually crash-landing on a rugged planet with dinosaur-size indigenous life. Players take control of a hero found in an ejected life pod by one of the survivors. He (or she -- the protagonist is customizable) is quickly inducted into a special military force charged with carving out a permanent existence on the new planet. That means gradually exploring the massive open world around them, defending the downed ship from wildlife, and eventually going up against sentient aliens who have it out for humanity. The player's character travels with his or her choice of companions while working to complete primary and secondary missions, slowly growing in level while gathering wealth and resources found in the field and from slain enemies or creatures that can be used to purchase and craft better gear and weapons. Eventually players get to take control of giant and powerful mech-like robots called Skells that can be customized, leveled up, and equipped with plenty of weapons.
Is it any good?
This sci-fi RPG is huge, beautiful, and compelling. Its enormous world -- which stretches out not only horizontally but also surprisingly high toward the sky -- is a pleasure to explore, full of secrets and creatures waiting to be discovered. No other game for Wii U delivers such a massive and breathtaking free-to-roam landscape. And the real-time combat is both challenging and sophisticated, forcing players to learn and master various battle arts and take factors such as flanking position and target distance into account. Add an item-rich progression system that motivates players to earn new weapons and armor and you've got a deep, rewarding role-playing game that will keep players engaged for scores of hours.
But it's not free of problems. Exploration and leveling systems are designed to mimic those of a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, which means players will need to repeatedly revisit the same areas to kill more creatures or find specific items. This results in a sometimes slow and grindy pace that won't be to all tastes. Plus, if you're playing specifically for a chance to pilot one of the game's giant robots, be prepared to wait. It can take days or even weeks of regular play before you finally earn one. That said, the Wii U's RPG-starved audience has been craving a game like this for a while, and Xenoblade Chronicles X is a ton of fun despite its flaws.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. This is a huge game into which players can sink scores of hours, so how can you ensure that quick play times don't evolve into marathon sessions?
Talk about science-fiction and fantasy. What differentiates these two related genres? Which category does this game fall into? Can it be both? Do you prefer science-fiction or fantasy?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii U
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: December 4, 2015
- Genre: Role Playing
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Robots, Space and aliens
- ESRB rating: T for Animated Blood, Suggestive Themes, Language, Use of Alcohol, Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.