How Xciting - 32-player questing in Xenoblade Chronicles X

While PlayStation, Xbox and PC owners have been revelling in transformative RPGs over the last few years, Nintendo’s Wii U has had to settle for the offcuts, with naught but a Mass Effect 3 hand-me-down and a two-year-old rejig of the Monster Hunter formula. All that is about to change, however, as Xenoblade Chronicles X gets set to stake a claim. The devs have lifted the sheets and given us a peak at some proper gameplay, showcasing its vast open world and morphing mecha robot-cars. Meanwhile, a sneaky bit of digging elsewhere has revealed an almost Dark Souls-like approach to multiplayer…

Seemingly, Chronicles X will support direct online play for up to four, enabling you to join forces to tackle in-game quests together. But perhaps equally intriguing is that up to 32 players can collaborate online in order to share information unearthed across the world map.

Said map is planet Mira, a whole new area which the future denizens of Earth have crash-landed on. Unknown and uncharted, Mira is a vast landscape, full of rolling hills, fiery lakes and moonlit beaches ripe for exploring. Just how you go about this seems refreshingly open.

As you trot around, the map is displayed on the GamePad screen and split into segments. Each of these is a blank slot of adventuring potential until you reveal its contents. To do this you have to traverse the world to unlock Frontier Net spots, which fill your grid with info. There could be monsters needing a good seeing to, or treasures ripe for pilfering, among plenty other tasks.

Back in your home city of New Los Angeles you’ll find a huge number of NPCs waiting to be nattered with, providing a sense of local flavour. Complete enough quests for certain citizens and you can strengthen your bonds with them, and they’ll then introduce you to their pals for even more missions to undertake. Early shots show an interlocking spider diagram of NPC relationships in-game, implying an intriguing tracking system is in place.

It seems that your main concern while exploring, however, will be with rescuing cryogenically frozen humans who have been flung into the far reaches of the planet when your ship first crashed. Doing this will raise your rep with BLADE (the suitably acronym-ed Beyond the Logos Artificial Emancipator), a faction based out of NLA who hand out quests as well as Doll licenses.

Dolls? These giant machines will become essential for getting about, considering the size of the landscapes, but you’ll need to earn the right to pilot them through completing BLADE quests. Manage to suit up inside one and you’ll be able to flit between ground-based vehicle modes and sky-tearing mecha faster than you can say “Roll out!” Which is about as fast as we’ll be picking up a copy of this come launch, likely late in 2015.