What do Xenoblade Chronicles and Saints Row have in common? A gameplay incentive to run around without any clothes on.
After the jump, we’re going streaking!
In most RPGs, as you become more powerful, you weigh your character down with more and better gear. This often involves looking really bulky or overly ornate. You might eventually feel like you’re playing a pile of pauldrons and greaves with a spiky helmet sticking out of the top. There’s a fair bit of this in Xenoblade Chronicles, where the heavy armor sure is heavy, ridiculous, and gaudy. Prepare for some of the most absurd outfits this side of a Lady Gaga concert!
But my favorite ridiculous outfit so far is my main DPS fighter’s current outfit, which consists of a pair of boxer shorts and flip flops. Every single one of his inventory slots, except for the weapon slot, is empty. And this is no accident or naked run for a YouTube video. This is gameplay.
In Xenoblade Chronicles, skills are passive bonuses you unlock as you level up. Each character has three columns of increasingly expensive skills. At any given time, you choose which column the character is working on. The columns are named after an ideal. For instance, Dunban, the guy with the injured arm I mentioned yesterday, has columns for Wisdom, Bravery, and Prudence.
In the Wisdom column are two skills I never figured I’d use. Spiritual Awakening, the first and cheapest Wisdom skill, gives Dunban a 25% aggro bonus if he’s not wearing any armor. In other words, if he’s naked, which is the exact wrong time to draw aggro. And Inner Peace, the most advanced Wisdom skill, gives Dunban a 30% agility bonus if he’s not wearing any armor.
I didn’t quite get how these could be useful. Why would Dunban, a DPS fighter consistently in harm’s way, ever want to take off armor? I can understand wearing lighter armor to avoid the agility penalty. But I’ve been offsetting the agility penalty with gems that give Dunban extra agility. As I considered his armor and all their “agility up” gems, it occurred to me that maybe if he was agile enough, he wouldn’t need any armor. Maybe he could be my naked ninja.
One of the things I love about Xenoblade Chronicles is how differently it plays based on which character I’m using. If I want to get into the fray, I can play a melee fighter like Dunban. If I want to finesse buffing and debuffing, I can play Melia. If the stakes are high and I’m in over my head, I’ll play Sharla, the sniper/medic who stands off to one side and only chips in when needed.
Sharla is also my go-to character when I just want to watch how another character build works. For instance, by playing as Sharla, I noticed that the AI would indeed try to stand in the right place when using abilities that only worked from the side or rear of a target. Good to know. I can equip Riki with various backstab arts and I can trust the AI won’t waste them. I can also see the AI merrily damaging units right after it puts them to sleep, so I don’t bother slotting those abilities for a character the AI will drive.
And this is how I watched Dunban, stripped down to boxer shorts and flip flops, sustain attack after attack during a battle. Like any good RPG, Xenoblade Chronicles gives you real time feedback during combat. Color coded damage numbers, a special effect for special effects, icons for buffs and debuffs, text for bonuses like double attacks. So here’s what I see watching naked Dunban going up against creatures of the same level:
There’s plenty of cheesecake in Xenoblade Chronicles. When you put a heavy chestplate on a male character, it looks like he’s wearing an iron lung. When you put the same heavy chestplate on a female character, it looks like a Sports Illustrated photo shoot. But one of the sexiest things I’ve seen so far was a naked man with the word “miss” appearing repeatedly over his head. I love it when a plan comes together. Spiritual Awakening and Inner Peace, indeed.
Of course, Dunban’s Spiritual Awakening and Inner Peace is available to other characters who make friends with Dunban. Xenoblade’s relationship system lets characters equip each other’s skills.
In other words, we’re going streaking.