If I’ve done my job correctly as a Xenoblade Evangelist and the proprietor of xenoblade.quartertothree.com, you should be sitting down to play Xenoblade Chronicles sometime soon. If so, I’m a bit envious. You can only discover how cool this game is for the first time once. Enjoy.
To help you enjoy it more, following are a few tips. Spoiler free, of course.
After the jump, the thing I wish I’d known when I started playing
* As you play, your inventory will fill up with all sorts of baubles that might seem useless. Au contraire! Don’t sell collectibles or materials. Collectibles are used to complete collections, so you might think you only need one of any given item. Materials might seem like what passes for vendor trash in other games. However, many of these items will be needed for quests that you won’t get until, literally, dozens of hours later. These won’t always be indicated by a premonition or an exclamation mark in the inventory screen. So, just to be safe, only sell collectibles and materials when it’s absolutely necessary.
* Collectibles can be given as gifts from any character to any other character. I have no idea how this works, and like as not, I upset the recipient. So Sharla didn’t want a tuft of matted mud squirrel fur? Who knew. But these can be an element of the relationship system, which is another reason to never sell them.
* Money is trivially easy to get. There are a couple of mid-game and late-game money sinks, but you will probably never need money. If you ever do, feel free to sell any crafting materials that aren’t part of the highest tier you’ve discovered. Also, feel free to sell excess gems. It’ll make slotting the gems you do use less of a hassle.
* Heart-to-hearts are map locations that reveal cutscenes to improve the relationships between characters. You will constantly find heart-to-hearts that aren’t open to you yet, but the prerequisites aren’t always indicated. Are you missing something? Are you playing wrong? Should you scour the area for a hidden switch? Why can’t you use this thing yet? Not to worry. Heart-to-hearts are one of the many ways Xenoblade Chronicles keeps locations relevant throughout the game. If you go to the list of heart-to-hearts, which looks like a mostly unhelpful checklist, you’ll note that any heart-to-hearts your characters are eligible for are darker colored. Periodically check this list and you’ll never miss a heart-to-heart.
* Some quests are labeled with a stopwatch. The tutorial screen — you are reading the tutorial screens as they pop up, aren’t you? — indicates you should do these as quickly as possible, because there will be a point in the story when you can’t do them anymore. Don’t fret! That moment won’t be along until near the end of the game. Feel free to push forward at whatever pace you like. Contrary to the tutorial, the stopwatch quests aren’t going away anytime soon.
* You can freely spend and unspend affinity coins to slot skills from other characters. Unlike the arts points and skill points you invest to develop a character, the affinity skills can be re-specced at will. Affinity coins are always fully refunded when you remove a skill. Go crazy! Try whatever builds you like!
* Without spoiling anything, let me recommend that you push through the story missions until you resolve the storyline for Sharla’s brother, Juju. You’ll know that moment when you see it. At this point, Xenoblade Chronicles widens in such a way that you’re now seeing the breadth of what this game offers. Once this happens, you can just drink everything in at your own pace.
* Finding NPCs can be a hassle since almost everyone in the world moves around according a schedule. If you go to that NPC’s icon on the affinity screen, you can find out the hours he’s active. As for the location of the character, check the quest screen, which usually lists the waypoint closest to the character during his active hours. But note that the quest screen will only show you the location of the quest giver, and not necessarily the character you need to find to do the quest. It can be confusing. Fortunately, Xenoblade Chronicles has been out long enough in Japan and Europe that most of the characters, locations, and creatures Google well. You’ll have no problem finding someone on the internet who had trouble finding the same thing you’re having trouble finding.