When was the last time you found yourself genuinely and truly lost in a game? You had the maps available,perhaps even some overheard arrow, pointing you in the right direction. Despite these features, you had no idea where you were or what you were doing wrong. For me, Xenoblade Chronicles X is the only game that has ever stumped me in such a way and, rather than being frustrated, I appreciated the experience.
The first time I ended up lost in Xenoblade Chronicles X was when I was on a Chapter 3 mission. Prone had been discovered on the planet, and I was tasked with finding a missing party of Blades in their camp. I could see the building I was supposed to infiltrate. It was high atop a cliff face. I couldn’t seem to find a way up there. I backtracked. I ambled around. I felt like an idiot. Especially after I discovered, about a half an hour later, that all I needed to do was follow a path up a hill, cross a bridge, and I was there.
I didn’t regret the excursion. It meant I was able to fight more monsters, level up a bit, switch to a new class and generally familiarize myself with Xenoblade Chronicles X. But that in itself seemed noticeable. I had taken longer to complete this early mission because the game wasn’t holding my hand and did offer a variety of other things to see and do along the way. It was encouraging me to take my time and made getting discombobulated feel worthwhile, rather than frustrating.
Once I found myself strong enough to explore the Noctilum, I decided to explore and set up a waypoint before I headed back to New Los Angeles to grab H.B. and undertake his recruitment quest. The map in Xenoblade Chronicles X is vague and grid-based if you don’t have a specific point of interest to set as a target for the Follow Ball guidance system. You’ll know a data probe point is someone nearby, but won’t know exactly where.
I could see the point in the map. I should be able to plant a probe in this area of the grid. The Noctilum is a rainforest, though. This can make it difficult to see the telltale column of light that would reveal a potential probing place. To find it at this early stage, I had to be resourceful. I was honestly, genuinely lost, and I had to rely techniques that would work in the real world to find my spot. My party had to reach higher ground, because it’d be easier to find the beam from a better vantage point. I had to cover ground systematically, starting on the outskirts of this region and moving in circles toward the center. I found the place to probe, and it was more satisfying when I did because of the work I put into the effort.
Perhaps it’s easier to accept and allow yourself to get lost because Xenoblade Chronicles X makes it so easy to be found. Mira is a gigantic world. There will be times when you’ll embark on gathering and monster slaying quests, finding yourself in unknown regions as you try to raise your level and rank high enough to advance the story. It’s easy to get turned around. Especially if you’re taking the time to collect items, stop by research points or fight unrelated beasts along the way. There’s no penalty if you choose to be a free spirit. Bring out the Follow Ball for a quick hint. In dire situations, fast travel back to New Los Angeles or a more peaceful place.
It’s a welcoming prospect, one most open world titles don’t offer. In Bethesda games, there’s an ever present bar on the bottom of the screen alerting a player to landmarks or towns. Grand Theft Auto offers a GPS and clear map of city streets. With Xenoblade Chronicles X, people truly are in an untamed wilderness, with plenty of hills, mountains and land masses that could be scaled with sheer force of will or mechanized Skells.
There’s always something out there to see. A new world always awaits. Whether you want to always know exactly where you are or aimlessly wander like some space cowboy, Xenoblade Chronicles X is prepared to accommodate your needs.