While many feel that games like Rise of the Tomb Raider were slighted last year as far as ‘Game of the Year’ goes, Xenoblade Chronicles X didn’t even have a chance at these awards. Being released on December 4, it missed many of the cutoff dates to be considered ‘Game of the Year.’ With this ‘Game of the Year’ business beside the point, Xenoblade Chronicles X was one of the best games to grace a console over the past year, at the very least. That begs the question, why was it so overlooked? Because it was a Japanese RPG? There were many Western RPGs nominated at The Game Awards, and two announced for ‘Game of the Year’ in The Witcher 3 and Fallout 4. Both were lauded because of their open-world environments, yet are easily dwarfed by Xenoblade Chronicles X. Why the disparity in coverage?

Xenoblade Chronicles X has a game world which is more than double the size of The Witcher 3Fallout 4, and Skyrim combined; it’s humongous! While bigger does not always mean better, it is quite a feat to accomplish this on the underpowered Wii U system. Not to mention that, but the game contains at least 250 hours of gameplay, which is astonishing. It looks incredible, especially on the Wii U, and it has a perfect balance between both story and gameplay which is very rare for a Xeno game. While the story segments tell an intriguing narrative, it is really the sidequests and the affinity quests that shine.

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While The Witcher 3 and Fallout 4 are wonderful games, yet they fail to innovate the same way that Xenoblade X does. X redefines the JRPG genre (and I hate splitting RPGs into ‘western’ and ‘Japanese’) by making it less linear, more character-driven, and less story-driven. The story in Xenoblade Chronicles X is fantastic, but it is not the prime focus of the game, especially if you delve into all the different quests that the game has to offer. The quests offer both character development and subtle hints with regards to the story and there is no way to get the complete Xenoblade Chronicles X experience without them.

So with all the depth and innovation Xenoblade Chronicles X brings to the table, not just to the JRPG genre but the RPG genre as a whole, why wasn’t it recognized as one of the top games of 2015? Is it because of poor marketing? An anti-Nintendo bias? A late release date? Xenoblade was already a niche title, but it was Nintendo’s 2015 holiday title. You would think that there would be more hype around it, but instead it was Super Mario Maker (albeit, let’s admit, it’s Mario) that was lauded and nominated for a number of awards, including ‘Game of the Year’ according to The Game Awards. Xenoblade was the best RPG of 2015 and spending over 150 hours with it, I can attest that it is unlike any other RPG I have ever played. It does borrow aspects of the original Xenoblade Chronicles’ combat system, but the game itself is so well balanced that I can’t really phrase it any better than I did in my review.

“Xenoblade Chronicles X is one of those games that comes around maybe once every decade or so. Its enormous scope, compelling story and characters, sheer amount of customization, incredible music, beautiful graphics and environments, and — I have to highlight — giant flying mechs make for a once in a lifetime experience”

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Xenoblade Chronicles X is the only open-world RPG that I know of that actually uses flying mechs to explore the landscape of the world (called Skells in the game)! It is one of the best games of 2015 because of its storytelling, characters and supporting cast, combat, gear customization, and the sheer amount of content in the game. This isn’t a review so I won’t go over everything, but there is so much packed into this game and it deserves a lot more credit than it is currently receiving and received in 2015. Whether or not it was bias or because of its release date being so late, I honestly have no idea. But the game is superb and deserves a lot more credit than it has been given. It has a metacritic score of about 84, which is below the original Xenoblade Chronicles’ score of 92, but it blows that game out of the water. Whereas Xenoblade was very much a narrative-driven game and dragged at times with extremely long cutscenes, Xenoblade Chronicles X cuts to the chase. It has epic boss battles, much shorter cutscenes, and is a lot less linear than its predecessor.

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Xenoblade Chronicles X may not carry a big name like The Witcher and Fallout, but it is a fantastic game and deserves to be right up there with those two games as being worthy for ‘Game of the Year’. It is definitely the best game I have played this year, and as I stated, is one of those games that only comes along once every decade or so. Fans of The Witcher 3 and Fallout 4 can relax, as those are great games and should be rejoiced as such. It’s just that Xenoblade Chronicles X should be a part of the conversation.

  • NeXus

    PREACH.
    I work for a gaming store and it breaks my heart that almost no one even knows what Xenoblade Chronicles X is.–Yet i’ll sell about 30 SW Battlefronts/Black Ops/Fallouts/etc..

    With that said, Japanese games honestly just don’t get seen at GoTY awards period. Unless it’s an extensively popular series (see: Mario) or was made primarily for western audiences/had a large western push (See: Bloodborne) Japanese games hardly get seen. It’s one of the reasons why every Bethesda game ever will get critical acclaim no matter how little it is innovative or how buggy it is–because the competition for RPGs is skewed. Heavily. In the West.

  • heavenshitman1

    I own that game and agree it deserves far more attention. Even the metacritic scores prove its worth against the alternate RPGs etc..
    Though this article may be praising all XCXs aspects slightly too much.

  • Willians Santos

    I totally agree Mr. Lewis. I really cannot understand why such a fantastic game is being so underrated/neglected. Even the point you mentioned. People were shouting their heck about this game world map and yet it does not stand a chance against planet Mira, but not many talk about. I think the reason is a bit because all the bias you mentioned but specially not only because it is a NIntendo game, but because it is a Wii U exclusive. Unfortunatelly the Wii U got quite a bad image for a good share of the media, and although some NIntendo games can to some degree go against this anti-Wii u idea, Xenoblade X is still a growing name, and currently not powerfull enough so surpass the bias (although it should be). Like you said, in the hands of dedicated players who focus on the sidequests and mastering systems, this game presents itself as one of the best ever made.

    But I don’t think it is a lost cause. Even the witcher, who appeals more to the west, had to pass through 2 games, in order to get popularity enough to be reconized as 3 is being now. X may not had achieve the same metacritic as XC (due to people going to the game with the wrong approach), but it already make more impact/ got attention than XC did. It sold more proportionally and had more people talking about, being positive (the majority) or negative. This gradually brings franchise awareness. So hopefully we will see a next entry in the series (and even more hopefully a sequel) in a console without the negative image of the wii u (maybe the NX), that will got its deserved recognition. Until there what we can do is spread the word, let they know of this masterpiece and how to approach it.

  • Clock Out

    It is a shame that such a great game is going to be sidelined by history. Maybe if Elma or Lin with Tatsu join the Smash Bros. roster people might give the game a look see.

    • iamserious

      I would love to see Elma join the Smash universe!

      • Morgan

        Elma=KOS-MOS. They should hook up in Project X-Zone 3 like 7 and KOS MOS.

  • biggestsmall

    No
    It sucked ass and your review sucked too

  • Kaihaku

    XCX wasn’t without it’s failings… But as a title it was so ambitious, so vast, that I found those to be easily forgiven.

  • Maskedpainter

    XCX was the game I day dreamed about when I was a child playing my n64, dreamcast and playstation. I would always be drifting off into this unknown world where everything was reachable, unique and actually overwhelming.

    XCX is the game that made this 31 year old turn back into a 15 year old kid again. It is going to go down as one of the most under appreciated titles on any console. Which If we known Nintendo could very well mean a “upgraded” edition on a future console.

  • Jeorsh

    See, that’s the problem with coming up with a GOTY for just “RPG”. Ever since Bethesda really started their trend Western and Japanese RPGs have created a very clear line between each other. I’ve played both Fallout and Xenoblade but walked away with entirely different experiences – they don’t deserve to be lumped together with each other as though they give off the same experience.

  • iamserious

    I just finished main story line and boy did this game pull me into the story after about chapter 6 or so. On top of that with all the side quests and affinity missions this game pulled me in even more! I was a bit sad after the main story ending but it definitely leaves no doubt for a follow up sequel. I have spent over 220 hours on the main mission and side missions/affinity missions and all the customizations and I am still not tired of the game! Definitely give this game at least a 9 out of 10. I have not played the first game so if anyone has played both and can reccomend it I will give it a try as its on the eshop (although I also have to play Pandora’s Tower and Zelda Twilight Princess). Very good article OP and I still think this game should be considered for GotY for 2016 if possible.

  • John Henry

    The best RPG I have ever played in my gaming life , I have played them all , Fallout cannot even hold a candle to XBX it was rather boring for me I watch alot of witcher 3 on twitch looks amazing I still tip my hat towards XBX . I have 1000’s of hours in hundreds of games , for the last 438 hours i’ve been living in XBX and still not 100% yet @ 87% . My xbox one I’ve went through 3 already they keep dieing right after warranty is up. this wii u has been punished since release day never a hiccup . We have even had a few errors on the ps4 nothing major but a few have popped up . I believe the wii u is the strongest machine with the highest quality on the market as well as being the only True console on the market . This game is amazing .