The Combat Tutorials Being an Afterthought
For a game this big to get to this state of finished is amazing, and a miracle, but there are some points at which the tutorial that ended up in the game just bounced off my very thick skull. I thought my first fight with Elma was going to teach me battle mechanics a little better ("Hey Capsicle, when I say Yellow, use a Yellow ability!"), but it didn't. There's a lot more intricacy to the battle system in X than in XB, and in expanding it to be more complex, it ended up being a lot more hazy. The original's Break-Topple-Daze mechanic seems to be stripped down to just Topple, which has left me very confused. I've ended up in a place where I've just been trying to respond to my party's Soul Voices, which is good for my affinity, but not for my actual battle strategies. With the game being so new (and me not having bought the strategy guide), the lack of community infrastructure has made combat seem like rocket surgery.
When I got to NLA, the first thing I did when I was able to walk around on my own was get lost in the city for two hours when I was supposed to head out of the East Gate. I almost cried because I thought there was something wrong with my game and other people were able to Fast Travel. The problem was that I didn't know Fast Travel wouldn't be unlocked until I completed Chapter 2. I feel like this frustration could have been avoided by giving the player at least one Fast Travel point to start with.
Required Quests Relying on Rare Random Drops
The actual functionality of the quests in XBX isn't too different than they were in the first XB game, but almost every one of the rare/random item drop quests in the original were voluntary. Hitting a wall with Lin's affinity quest cut squarely into the enjoyment and excitement I'd already ramped up after playing the first three chapters. I think I spent two hours tracking down information on how to complete The Repair Job, and had to string things together between GameFAQs, Reddit, and the Xenoblade Wikia. A lot of the pain in this could have been alleviated by making the player fight an encounter specifically designed to drop what was needed, or increase the drop rate from painfully rare to manageable.
Part of the reason I'm having a hard time getting back to FFXIV is because to advance, I need to play through group content to get a chance at high level armor dropping, and that doesn't appeal to me. There's satisfaction in leveling up, and satisfaction in earning your newfound power, but having to pray to Lady Luck at such a low level seems very tedious. I want a world with less need for Luck, or a stat that allows me to put a dent in the random number generator's tyranny, or for Luck and RNG to come into play much later in the game, and not kill my buzz while I'm still fresh-eyed.
Lack of Sound Channels
I don't dislike the music, but it's very intense! Too intense to listen to over the course of 300 hours. I want to turn the background music down enough that I can hear the voice actors. I'm not actually sure if this is a limitation of the hardware or not, but I've taken to muting the game when I know there's no voice acting I want to listen to. I think the game is diminished when I lose the UI sounds and voices, but I also am not as young and full of pep as I used to be. If this is a localization issue, then it's a localization issue, but just about every modern game has this in.
The Uncanny Valley
I didn't want to believe the naysayers when I heard about this at first, but there's something very off about when the character models emote or talk. Looking at Tanaka's designs for the characters, they look fantastic on paper, but an unkindly bit of lighting on a model can give a kawaii little girl some jowels. o_o; There's also something off and not quite lucid about the lip sync. I know it'd be monstrous to re-lip sync a game for localization, so I know it will probably never match, but everyone's mouths just seem to be moving much slower than they should. There's also a very limited amount of expressions available, even for the dev-designed characters. I feel like throwing the entire design away wouldn't be fair, though, especially because it looks as good as it does already. If XBX 2.0 ever happened, improved face animation would definitely be worth looking into, especially because of all the investment in custom player vanity that's been made, and the work already done.
Don't Start Over!
XBX has an incredibly robust and intricate infrastructure. At its core (at least with me at Chapter 5), it seems very stable, and the flaws in X as a whole aren't game-breaking. I feel like Monolith has historically needed to build from the ground up after each loss, but I hope that the cut-losses-and-run scenario is in the past. I'd love to see MMO set in Xenoblade X's setting. I'd play the hell out of it, and I'd play the hell out of it more, IF the above issues were addressed. I'd also love to see some Mass Effect style DLC content out, like a new level with new armor and more customization options available.
What's Going Right!
All of the above aside, this game is really visually gorgeous and challenging. It is truly old school Nintendo-level difficulty. The story, characters and the dialogue are fantastic, and I'm excited to tear further into it. I've had many HOLY CRAP XENO moments, and I hella appreciate being able to pull off my favorite look in the character customizer almost immediately. I love the setting, and I really love playing as a resource entrepreneur on top of all the everything else going on.