Hello readers and welcome to the third edition of Shoot the Rookie‘s new feature, My Favourite Series. Today’s choice is unlikely to surprise many of you. If you’ve read the blog before, followed me on social media or met me in real life then you are probably already aware that my actual, all-time-favourite-series is Xenoblade Chronicles!
The series itself is three and a half games old and I wouldn’t blame you if you were sick of me talking about it by now, but in truth I’ve never written a full article on it. It is difficult to describe why. Somehow I feel writing about it might do it an injustice. It is hard to find words that capture why I love Xenoblade so much, but here I’ll stick to my usual format and hope that that suffices.
So, let’s get down to it. Why is Xenoblade Chronicles one of my favourite video game series of all time?
Be warned, there are *spoilers ahead*.
Games Played from the Series: Xenoblade Chronicles, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 & Torna – The Golden Country
Favourite Game in the Series: Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Favourite Character from the Series: Lora (Torna – The Golden Country)
What do I like about it…?
No one thing can really ‘make’ a series for you, but I think if I had to pick something about Xenoblade that is my main reason for loving it, it would be the characters. Many of them have deep and complex stories and even the characters that seem to be there for light relief (yes Nopons, I mean you) have a lot more to them than meets the eye. One thing I especially like is that the writers do not shy away from making the character’s journeys deeply sad. Look at any of the games and you’ll find a character whose story is ‘make you cry’ sad: Melia, Lao, Jin and Addam *Pix weeps uncontrollably* for example, each experience heartbreaking situations. More than that though are the various ways these characters deal with the pain they have suffered (usually not very well). Of course, the series is not all doom and gloom. It also has characters that you just love for being themselves – Reyn, Electra and Lora being good examples. They are characters I’d love to be friends with because despite having their own problems, they do everything they can to stay upbeat in the face of adversity. It is safe to say I would not love this series so much if there were no laughs alongside the tears.
Being JRPGs the story is fairly integral. The characters of course play an important part in that, but one thing I’ve noticed about Xenoblade is that the writers certainly know how to put together compelling sci-fi stories, utilising everything from alternate universes to mechs, the survival of humanity, people that are actually computers, discussions on what makes you alive and the manipulation of time. And giant eyes. They love a good giant eye.
Within these complex sci-fi webs there are a number of key themes that give the stories a real human touch. From war to religion, racial tension, xenophobia, the plight of refugees and the general struggle for survival, the series deals with some pretty major issues. At it’s core, the ideas of family and friendship are what really gives heart to the series – giving it believable relationships whilst not indulging too much in sentimentality.
The worlds in which these games take place are beautiful, varied and expansive. They each have their own idiosyncrasies and personalities and within each world the areas are distinct and memorable. My favourite world from the series is the planet Mira from X. I don’t know if it was because it was one of the first open world games I played, but the feeling of freedom this world gives you is something else. You start out in the open plains of Primordia. You can practically smell the fresh air and feel a gentle breeze on your skin as you explore its lakes and hills. There you will find the city of New LA with its fancy houses, coffee shops, markets and industry. It also harbours an underlying tension which makes you feel like you are in a real city. It is tempting to just go out exploring straight away, and yes, you can do that, but wander too far into one of the neighbouring areas – the desert-like Oblivia or the lush forests of Noctilum and you will soon get the sensation of being far from home and out of your depth. Pluck up the courage to explore these gorgeous areas though and the feeling of frontiersmanship is really something very special indeed – seldom if ever found in other games I’ve played.
Music and Voice Acting
I really love both the music and the voice acting in this series. Sure, some of the characters do get some stick on the internet, but I have a real soft spot for the voices because they use so many regional dialects and for the most part use actors and actresses who are from the regions in question. They also use these dialects as a useful means of identification, for example in 2 where Welsh accents are used to voice the Gormotti and Scottish ones to voice Mor Ardainians. How this works in the original Japanese I have no idea, but in English it is great!
As for the music, it is simply some of the best video game music out there. The most famous piece from the games is probably the sweeping orchestral number, The Gaur Plains from the original game, however I also really like the soft urban tones from X’s New LA. By the time they got to 2 they were creating music that kicks everything else out the park, with compositions ranging from tear-jerkingly sad piano numbers, to cool soft jazz, stopping by at 70’s cop show theme tune on the way.
Xenoblade Chronicles is everything I’ve ever wanted from gaming. As this feature on the blog aims to show, I like a wide variety of games but none pull me in and spit me out quite like Xenoblade. The burning question is where will the series go next? Personally I would LOVE to see them make a sequel to the underrated Xenoblade Chronicles X, however the most important thing is that they don’t rush it. Monolith must take their time to make something as captivating and beautiful as the previous games.
There is of course no guarantee that another Xenoblade will ever be made, however, I can’t stand to think of that as a possible future, so until the next one is announced I’ll just keep on dreaming of what could be, with my friends from Bionis, Mira & Alrest in my heart.
So what do you think? Are you also a fan of the series? Maybe my reasons for liking it, er, resonate with you and you’d like to share your feelings? If so, why not start the discussion down in the comments section.
Thanks for reading,