Hello dear readers and thanks for checking out my new post here on Shoot the Rookie. Today is another instalment of my occasional series where I take an in-depth look at a game I’ve recently completed. Today’s game is the Xenoblade Chronicles spin-off, Future Connected, so let’s jump right in to see if I’ve been really feeling it.
If you read my posts regularly you will know that I am obsessed with Xenoblade Chronicles. The definitive edition of the original game is my favourite game of all time, and I just can’t get enough of the characters and worlds created in all the games in the series.
The game I’m looking at today, Future Connected, is a short, direct sequel to the original game and takes place shortly after the events of that game. More than that though, it potentially fills in some gaps between the first game and the newly released Xenoblade Chronicles 3. I haven’t yet played enough of 3 to comment on exactly how/if the games are linked, but I’m super excited to get into it!
For now though, let’s take a look at Future Connected. Please be aware there are light spoilers for both Xenoblade Chronicles and Future Connected below.
Setting and Feel
The setting for Future Connected is both familiar and unfamiliar. Set in the same world as Xenoblade Chronicles, it features places you have already been (assuming you played it first, which you must), but the world was changed and moved around so much in the conclusion of that game that the locations are still new to explore. As you might expect, there is a lot to explore and discover, even in this ‘mini’ version of Xenoblade, and there are some beautiful sights to find if you like the exploration elements of the series. The music too is up to the usual Xenoblade standard, with some very cool jazzy numbers written specifically for Future Connected.
The feel of the game could be summed up as uneasy or tense, but with Xenoblade’s usual charm and humour thrown in to lighten it up. Despite your accomplishments in the original game, it was enlightening to see how everything in the aftermath was far from perfect. Not everything is running smoothly in this new world and there is a new evil rearing its head which is causing both fear and friction.
Again, the gameplay elements are quite standard in terms of the Xenoblade series, with real-time arts based battles still the central element of the battle system, and exploration being critical to progressing the story. There are the usual Level 68 enemies that you meet before you could possibly hope to defeat them and there are a good number of side quests of varying difficulty and fun.
Speaking of side quests though, this game has its own special mega side quest which is my new favourite thing in the whole of Xenoblade. Yes folks, I’m talking about the Ponspectors, a group of twelve Nopon who you must first find and then convince to join your party. I know they are not popular with everyone, but I love them so much that I am considering getting their slogan tattooed on me. Yes some of their individual quests are a bit annoying and yes levelling up to be able to do the final part of the quest meant I was absurdly overpowered for the final boss, but they are a charming and fun addition to the game nonetheless.
Characters and Story
The game features four main characters and a plethora of side characters of varying significance. Shulk and Melia will be familiar to anyone who has played the first game, and return here in similar form. Unlike the first game however, Melia is the central character of this story and it is fascinating to see the beginnings of her shift to being a real leader for her people. The additional two characters, Nene and Kino are wonderful inclusions who add a lot to the feel and tone of the game. I have to admit I was kind of expecting the Nopon element to be a bit nothing, but the brother and sister duo are full of personality and wild ambitions and their conversations with Shulk and Melia add perspective from both sides.
A special mention here also for the role of Tyrea in the game. Although an npc, she is a wonderful and compelling character who adds a delicious amount of snark to the game.
In some ways the game is a little light on story. It doesn’t offer much concrete explanation for the main boss. However, for me one of Xenoblade’s strengths is its examination of society and conflict amongst different peoples, and Future Connected has this down. The tension we see between different races and groups of people is both interesting and dark, and seeing Melia and the others carefully manage the situation is fascinating.
Whilst not as compelling as either the original game or the short story follow-up to Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Future Connected is a very welcome and enjoyable addition to the Xenoblade universe and the inclusion of Nene and Kino provided something a little different. It could perhaps have had a few more mentions of the other Xenoblade characters (although Riki in particular is mentioned often), and gone deeper with the story, but if you enjoyed the first Xenoblade Chronicles then you should definitely give Future Connected a go, and if you haven’t played the first Xenoblade yet then what the hell are you doing here? Get to it!
So there we have it – my thoughts on Future Connected! But what did you make of the game? Did you think it was a worthy addition to the Xenoblade series? Let me know all your thoughts below (although please avoid discussing Xenoblade Chronicles 3!) and join me next time for more video game and anime chatter!
Thanks for reading,
I measure. Find treasure. Ponspector til I die!