This week I played Assassin’s Creed Origins and Xenoblade Chronicles X.
Last week’s post can be found here.
Assassin’s Creed Origins (PC)
I feel much the same about this game as I did before (last week’s summary was more comprehensive). I feel like a lot of this game boils down to fetch quests and stealth missions. The fetch quests are, like any fetch quest, somewhat tedious, no matter how good the quest writing is. The stealth missions are where the game shines, but there haven’t been as many of them as I would like.
The world is beautiful and fun to explore, but something about the sound design and the randomness of the NPCs takes me out of the game too often; rather than immersing me in the world, the random NPC banter is distracting, because it sounds too random. That’s a nitpick, I know, but the game focuses so hard on building a beautiful, immerse Egypt, and it makes the rough edges stand out more.
On top of that, the Assassin’s Creed games adhere to a bizarrely video gamey design at the cost of realism. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it’s a bit jarring when the bird you control literally has a glowing blue reticle that highlights enemies, displaying their level overhead. For gameplay purposes it makes sense, and it’s not a bad thing, but in the old games at least they explained the more gamey elements as byproducts of the animus, the device the player uses to experience these ancient locales; now they don’t even bother.
Recommendation: I’m slowing down a bit on this one. It’s still a fun game, at times, but it’s slogged down by a bit of tedium.
Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)
With the release of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, XCX has been on my brain. I played it when it first came out, got pretty far, but fell off of it.
I decided to start a new game this time, mostly because this game has a lot of systems that I didn’t remember how to use. In fact, I didn’t fully understand a few of them the first time around. That’s one of my major complaints with this game: it has a lot of interesting systems, including a map system where you can utilize points on the map to gain resources, but it doesn’t do a very good job of explaining what they do or how they interact. My hope is that starting a new game will help me further understand how to play the game well.
It’s going well so far. I really loved this game when it first came out, and now that I understand how to play a JRPG a little more, it’s going much smoother. I think a lot of the difficulty I had the first time around came from being under leveled, which seems obvious but wasn’t to me at the time.
I’m not sure what exactly draws me to this game. The world is large and spectacular and very alien. It’s fun to explore, and the pseudo-mmo, JRPG hybrid combat system is fun. Despite it not being quite “live action” combat, it feels good to figure out how certain moves work in tandem with each other, and the animations and sounds work well to make it feel like you’re really fighting.
The first part of the game is a slog, though. They reiterate the opening cutscene at least three times, explaining what happened in great detail using almost exactly the same phrasing. The game is also held back by a lot of minor but obnoxious design choices and technical issues: when indoors, the camera movement is too slow, the UI font is way too small to read, there is a great deal of texture and model pop-in, etc. The characters talk a lot (I’m writing this while some characters talk in the early cutscenes), and a lot of the writing is bad; the mascot character, Tatsu, is the most annoying fucking thing in any game I have ever played.
All of that isn’t enough to prevent me from enjoying the game, though. It’s a grand, sweeping adventure. Leveling up feels like a real progression, exploring the world is very satisfying, the visual design is stunning (save for the ugly character faces) and the music is great (although not everybody would agree with me on that).
Recommendation: This is a JRPG, so be prepared to grind to progress. If you’re into that kind of game, you’ll find a rewarding combat system, a vast world to explore, and an engaging map economy system. I love this game, for some reason, and I know I’m not alone.
Also available on: Playstation 4 and Xbox One
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