Xenoblade Chronicles X: A Musicologist’s View

Xenoblade Chronicles X

 

Having acquired the CD soundtrack for Xenoblade Chronicles X before the game was released in December 2015 meant there were high expectations for this game, with the soundtrack being incredible and therefore increased hype for the game itself. The game began with the customisation of the player character, a suspicious start as it made one wonder what role the protagonist would play in the narrative. Unfortunately, beginning suspicions were confirmed as the player character does not speak or have any voice acting, which if you’d played the previous Xenoblade Chronicles game you’d realise was a real shame as the voice acting and character progression was incredible. X falls short of this, the story allows for little character development, the open world aspect is diverse yet surprisingly empty of content and the side quests are long, similar and monotonous.

Fortunately, throughout X the music is fantastic and sets the environment for each area of this open world, ranging from intricate textures and instrumentation to grand string sounding environments. This all goes downhill when the player is introduced to the Skell. Don’t get me wrong, Skells are one of the big story points the player drives towards as it gives the ability to fly and move quickly around this enormous open world. Unfortunately, when the player does get the ability to fly in the Skell, there is one track which plays as soon as the player lifts off of the ground, and then changes quickly back to the other environmental track music when they land. The problem with this is the straight cut between tracks, which at first seems fun different but after the 100th time, it becomes frustrating that the player cannot listen to any of the other area music, or at least have the choice to do so.

Albeit, over 100 hours of this game was played by myself, but the sound design and balancing let it down considerably, which is very disappointing considering the high level of the soundtrack.

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