Xenoblade, known as Xenoblade Chroniclesin Europe and the US, is a Japanese role playing game for the Wii console, developed by Monolith Soft and published and produced by Nintendo. It is the Spiritual Successor to the Xenosaga series of Eastern RPGs for the Playstation 2 (which itself was a Spiritual Successor to the Square Soft RPG Xenogears).In the world of Xenoblade, two continent-sized gods called the Bionis and the Mechonis fought an endless war against one another until only their lifeless corpses remained. Life flourished on the surface of these titans, giving birth to the human-like Homs on Bionis and the machine-like Mechon on Mechonis.Peace would last until the Mechon launched an invasion, attempting to wipe out all life upon Bionis. With the power of a legendary sword known as the Monado, the only thing capable of piercing Mechon armour, the invasion was halted and peace regained for a time. That is, until one year later when the Mechon returned in even greater numbers than before.The story follows Shulk, a young Homs male who becomes the new chosen wielder of the Monado. He chooses to use the power of the blade to seek revenge against those who destroyed his village. Given the developer, things get much more complicated than that.It was released in Japan on June 10th, 2010. After much fighting from the fans, it was released in Europe on August 19th, 2011, and translated to English, French, German, Spanish and Italian. After much fan demand, the game reached American grounds in April of 2012. Unfortunately, due to the game's highly limited run, the game is incredibly hard to find now, making it hard for fans late to the game to own the whole "set" of Wii RPG's, made up of this, The Last Story, and Pandora's Tower.A sequel (of sorts) titled Xenoblade Chronicles X is currently in development.Due to the spoileriffic nature of this game, be warned of unavoidable spoilers.
This game provides examples of:
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Abnormal Ammo: Ether rifles can, alongside normal rounds, fire ether rounds that have unusual effects. Sharla makes use of healing rounds, support rounds, electric rounds, and so on.
Achievement System: The game has a large variety of internal achievements that grant Non-Combat EXP when completed. They're split in 2 categories, Trials and Records, with the former largely relating to the various sidequests and latter being mostly combat based. Only the latter carry over to New Game+, possibly because the former are more tied to the overall story progress and the latter generally have further stretching goals.
Action Commands: Burst affinity. Occasionally in battle the player gets the opportunity to press a button to increase the team's tension and affinity, without major consequences besides a minor tension loss should the player fail. The same mechanic is also used in Dunban's "Blossom Dance" attack, and also to extend chain attacks, and for triggering the visions in the final battle against Zanza.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted with Alvis, whose ascension from a ship AI to Monado made him more of an overlooker instead of going over his head. Granted, Zanza might have a different opinion, as Alvis did turn on him.
Alliance Meter: A very simple one, but still counts. The more Side Quests are completed in each area, the higher the citizens' trust becomes. Higher trust allows trading for better items with the NPCs and unlocks more sidequests, some of which are necessary to unlock 2 extra skill trees for each character.
All There in the Manual: For most, Fiora's restoration from cyborg to Homs seems to come out of left field, but it is detailed in the Japan-only short story, Monad: The Secret Files. Luckily, someone translated it to English, which is posted here.
And Man Grew Proud: The races living on Bionis and Mechonis thrived after the two titans killed each other in battle. Although is later revealed that they did long before they waged battle.
Animation Bump: During the majority of the dialogue cut scenes, the game uses pre-recorded animations and the lip movement is reduced to open-close-mouth. The characters' faces are rather motionless, the camera angles are pretty simple, and the shots are a little static. However, in the more dramatic and spectacular ones, the characters become more expressive, both in face animations and body language, the lip movement is animated accordingly to the spoken lines (at least with the Japanese dub) and the shots become way more dynamic.
Most of the collectables are available via trades, which is great as some areas are unavailable after certain points and a few collectables are hard to get due to randomness. Some enemy drops are also available via trades. Finding out who can trade for them when and where can be a chore, though.
Fast travel and time changing. Easily saves dozens of hours of pointless wandering, and even with them, 100% Completion still takes well in excess of 100 hours. Now if only they'd allow to change the weather too...
Unlike most Eastern RPGs, there are no consumable healing items. Outside of battle, party members recover HP automatically, and during battle, all abilities (including healing) are tied to a cooldown instead of a mana system, so they can be used as long as you're willing to wait for them to recharge. This means the party will almost always be at full strength going into most fights, reducing the need to backtrack to a town to rest and restock on items.
Although the game is loaded with MMO-like quests to fetch items and kill monsters, many of them don't require one to return to the quest-giver to receive the reward, which is instead given immediately upon fulfilling the objectives.
Apocalypse How: A freaking Universal Class 4! Klaus tried to get an experiment that would turn human beings into gods and he ended up destroying the entire universe except himself, Meyneth, and the computer AI's consciousness. After that, they create the universe of the game. Klaus, now known as Zanza, is turned into Bionis, Meyneth into Mechonis, and the computer's AI into the Monado's spirit, which can take the Homs form of Alvis.
Arc Words: "Seize our destiny." It starts as a sort of Catch Phrase for Dunban, but later becomes synonymous with the party's struggle to change the future.
As Lethal as It Needs to Be: The Monado is incapable of cutting sentient beings born from the Bionis, which severely cripples Shulk in a couple of battles. This restriction is no more once the Monado is unshackled.
Makna Forest has some massive dinosaurs in some areas. Ones that will pound you flat if you try to fight them your first time there.
Fortress-class Mechon are gigantic, the smallest of them being the size of a big house. Battles against their generic versions can be just as tough, if not even tougher, than battles against unique monsters of the same level.
Shulk had this twice. First he technically came back after Zanza started using his body as a vessel; and later, after Zanza leaves his body making him die again, he comes back for good.
Back Stab: Several characters have at least one move that deals more damage struck from behind the enemy (for example, Shulk's Back Slash). It is possible to sneak behind enemies and start the fight with these attacks, giving a great advantage, or even a One-Hit Kill.
Badass Adorable: Don't let Riki's adorable Nopon looks and child-like attitude fool you, he's just as capable of a fighter as his "sidekicks". He can stack up some impressive status-effect damage as a Gradual Grinder, and he has the most HP out of all the party.
Badass Bookworm: Shulk, who is a mid-ranking member of Colony 9's Defense Forces engineering division. He already knew how to handle weapons before taking the Monado full-time.
Badass Crew: The playable characters, of course. Even the Nopon party member kicks some serious ass.
Bare Your Midriff: Many characters have outfits that show navel, such as Fiora and Sharla's default outfits.
Battle Couple: Shulk and Fiora; long-time childhood friends with romantic tones that are hell-bent on protecting each other in battle.
Beautiful Dreamer: Twice. First, Shulk watches Fiora sleep when the Machina are about to fix her Mechon body. Later in the game, the roles are exchanged and Fiora is the one who watches over Shulk. Although this time, she's waiting for him to come Back from the Dead. In both cases, all characters have unique dialogue regarding them.
The Beautiful Elite: Rather downplayed. Shulk, Fiora, Sharla, and Melia would be top model material in the real world (especially in a swimsuit). But Dunban, while still physically attractive, is within levels reachable by the average person; and Reyn would be unthinkable in most Japanese fantasy media. The NPCs attractiveness varies a lot throughout the game, too.
Behemoth Battle: The opening cutscene features a titanic clash between the the god-like entities Mechonis and Bionis. They are so big that after said battle their still standing corpses form the entire world in which the normal sized characters live on.
Beware the Nice Ones: You would think Shulk, being a modest engineering student and nice guy, would not harm a fly. Or Fiora, a sweet girl and loving younger sister that takes care of her Handicapped Badass older brother, wouldn't be able to hurt anyone, right? WRONG!
Big Bad: It changes through the story. At first the main conflict is with the murderous Metal Face. Then it changes to the Well-Intentioned Extremist Egil. And finally, the Evil God Zanza shows himself as the real evil menace.
The Arachno/Antol and Caterpile enemies are the major ones. Wisp, Apis, and Fliers being a tad big but not even close to the size of the the Archnids and Caterpiles. Wisp and Fliers also tend to not be violent unlike the spider based enemies.
The giant Fortress-class Mechons are a robotic version, looking like a cross between a praying mantis and some kind of wacky Victorian exercise machine.
Fiora pulls off one of this during the Mechon attack to Colony 9, involving driving a freaking Mini-Mecha and fighiting single-handed against Metal Face, saving Shulk and co at the cost of her life.
When the party is surrounded by Metal Face and several Mechon, Dunban and Dickson show up to lend them a hand. When they are overwhelmed, a Telethia sent by Alvis makes a swift appearance, attacking the Mechon and making them retreat.
The party sans Melia infiltrates the High Entia Tomb just in time to save Melia from an assassin.
Reyn and Sharla get one on the Fallen Arm, showing up just in time to help Shulk defend a still-recovering Fiora from Mechon patrol.
Shulk gets one at the last stand against the Telethia at Colony 6 after coming back from the dead.
Big Good: Lady Meyneth, the benevolent goddess of Mechonis, the one looking for a way to put an end to the source of the conflict between the Bionis and the Mechonis. Interestingly enough, this big good was indirectly assumed to be the enemy at first.
Big "NO!": Shows up a few times, the earliest one being Shulk's reaction at Fiora's death.
BFG: Ether rifles can be BIG. Sharla is no small girl, but she's dwarfed by some of her guns.
BFS: The Monado itself. It starts out almost as tall as Shulk is, and can grow to three times its normal size for special attacks. Dunban also has some BFSs of his own, which he wields one-handed.
Bilingual Bonus: The characters that appear on the Monado's glass pane remain unchanged from the Japanese version - "machine", symbolizing that the blade will take apart Mechon, "person", given by Zanza at Prison Island, and finally "god", at the start of the ending sequence.
When Melia is introduced, she has a contingent of Mook bodyguards to help her track down a monster she's hunting. They all die in the fight, but she manages to beat it off and injure it with one big ether attack.
Likewise, much of Reyn's character development deals with him trying to keep his promise to protect Shulk, even as Shulk grows far more powerful than him.
Body Surf: Zanza and Meyneth may have physical forms, but they still tend to take the bodies of others to show themselves.
The game includes 5 bonus bosses whose levels are above the player's cap of 99. They are Final Marcus at 100, Ancient Daedala at 105, Despotic Arsene at 108, Blizzard Belgazas at 114, and Avalanche Abaasy at 120. The last one is especially nasty because he only spawns in snowstorms, meaning that in addition to being strong enough to rip apart even a maxed out party, nightvision gems are a must to have any expectation of even touching him.
A long sidequest chain leads to a boss battle against Bana, the Nopon kingpin; the only battle outside of the main story under the tune of "Tragic Decision". Thought it's not an overleved battle, it takes quite some effort to reach it, since the quests that lead to it cover almost half of the game and can be Lost Forever.
Unique Monsters are super powered versions of otherwise regular monsters wandering around the world. They are usually, but not always, bigger than their counterparts, and are distinguishable by their fancy name tag and by their unique names. Fights against them can be even tougher than bosses.
Fortress-class Mechon are massive house-sized behemoths of a robot. Even in their non-unique forms they can be even more powerful than Unique Monsters of the same level. And let's not even start with their unique varieties.
Many areas hold otherwise regular monsters that are several levels above the one of the usual monsters. Thankfully, most of them are usually found in some out-of-the-way areas, or don't attack unless provoked.
Brainwashed and Crazy: Gadolt is one of the first Face Mechon to have their memories wiped in order to obey orders. He speaks Egil's words without resistance because of this.
British Accents: In the English language dub, more or less all of the characters speak accents indigenous to England's home counties in the southeast of the country around London. The High Entia largely speak Received Pronunciation, also known as "the Queen's English". In-dub, this helps reinforce the High Entia as stilted and austere in their cold opulence, helping localize the awkward social barrier that Melia initially suffers with Shulk's party and non-High Entia in general.
Dunban and Fiora. It takes a while before the finally manage to join forces in the battlefield though.
Egil and Vanea on Mechonis' side. Though in this case Vanea is much more reluctant, eventually doing what she can to stop him.
Bug War: Several sidequests eventually reveal that one had happened between the Spiders and Giants. The Giants originally won the war and kept the powerful white spiders under control thanks to their Soothesayer. Eventually he died and the Spiders began to grow in power once again with no way to stop them. The Giants then resorted to Giant Sacrifice in order to keep them under control. Which worked until their numbers dwindled to the point that nothing they do could stop them. It's suggested that the Spiders might have caused their extinction. There's also a war between the Chilkin and the Antols on Valak Mountain which keeps both sides in check.
Can't Drop The Hero: Averted. Once the forth party memeber joins, Shulk does not need to be in the active party. Although his Combat Clairvoyance is still available without him on the team, his Monado powers prove to be invaluable assets throughout the game, and having him is necessary in order to fight Mechon, which the rest of the party will have trouble damaging until their equipment gets upgraded later on.
Camera Screw: When using the Wiimote + Nunchuk and in combat, the camera will always face you toward your target. This becomes a big issue when fighting Giant Mooks or trying to speed through narrow spaces. Using the Classic Controller allows you to control the camera manually, but you still have to deal with Camera Screw in small, confined spaces.
Cartography Sidequest: Bonus EXP is obtained for discovering out-of-the-way locations and landmarks in the world.
Cast from Hit Points: Shulk's Battle Soul, Dunban's Final Flicker (both fill some of their talent gauge at the cost of half of their HP), and Melia's Healing Gift (which sacrifices some HP to heal another party member)
Chainmail Bikini: All characters, male and female, have access to equipment that are basically them in their underwear (or swimsuits). They can have some surprisingly high stats.
Chekhov's Lecture: In Agniratha, Vanea explains to the party that the Monado isn't just a sword. It's the light within everyone, the will to survive no matter what. This light manifests itself as the True Monado during the final battle against Zanza.
Chewing the Scenery: Everyone gets their share of impressive movement at some point. The Nopon take the cake though; a lot of them jumping or dancing as they talk to the party.
Chronic Hero Syndrome: Pretty mandatory in a world with such a huge amount of sidequests that can be done pretty much at any time.
Cleavage Window: A lot of the women's armor closes at the neck, making them this.
Climax Boss: Several bosses in the course of the game mark a climax event or revelation; some of them even reveal further Big Bads
Clipped Wing Angel: After Xord is defeated and thrown into the ether river on the Ether Plant, he jumps back into action while the party is on the mine's elevator. This time he's rusted from the direct exposure to the ether, and unlike the first time around, he can be damaged just fine by the Monado.
Collection Sidequest: Filling the collectopedia of each area nets some nice rewards. As well, there are quests that involve collecting a certain number of different elements.
Battle arts have all different colors that represent different kinds of abilities. This makes it easier for the player to set up strategies to use against enemies.
Red arts are all physical, and often have a bonus effect if done a certain way (i.e. from behind)
Purple arts are all ether based, and affect the enemy in some way. (i.e. sleep, burn, chill, etc.).
Blue arts are healing or supportive.
Orange arts are auras, which grant multiple forms of buffs to different characters for a limited time.
Pink arts inflict break on an enemy.
Green arts inflict topple in some way, mainly when an enemy suffers from break.
Yellow arts inflict daze, usually when an enemy is under topple.
Finally, Talent Arts are gray, and work as a wild card during Chain Attacks.
Each different Monado Art illuminates the blade with a different color, but these colors don't correlate with the colors of "equivalent" Battle Arts save for Armour (Orange).
Combat Clairvoyance: What the Monado does in gameplay, often showing lethal attacks aimed at the team several seconds before they actually occur.
Combat Medic: Sharla has a wide arsenal of healing and support arts, while still having some offensive potential with her gun arts (one of which, if set properly, is a One-Hit Kill)
Combination Attack: Called "Chain Attacks" in this game. It allows the three members to perform a special attack each, even if it's currently affected by cooldown, and that attack will be far more likely to inflict its status effect on the enemy unless they are 100% immune to it. The highest the affinity between the members, the more attacks they will be able to execute before the Chain Attack ends, and the more Arts of the same color are performed in a row (with Talent Arts acting as a wild card that allows to change colors in the middle), the higher the damage multiplier.
Control Freak: Zanza wants to keep total control under his creations, knowing full well that if they leave the Bionis he will die.
Cool Old Guy: Dickson and Otharon. The former is a member of Colony 9's military force, and the latter the leader of Colony 6's military force. Both of them show several moments of badassery.
One of the main combat mechanics. Most powerful attacks have long cooldown periods to prevent them from being used more than once per battle and ending combat instantly makes them useable in the next battle, with the Chain Attacks resetting their timers for its duration, allowing the use of all attacks.
Sharla has another form of cooldown. Her abilities overheat her gun, increasing the effectiveness of her offensive attacks and reducing the effectiveness of her healing. Not venting the extra heat before her gun overheats completely, she's forced into an automatic heat venting animation that takes much longer than doing it manually. In either case, Sharla can't move or attack during the animation, which is really bad of if she's got high aggro. The former variety can be reduced by leveling up the said attacks, and the latter variety can be reduced with the right gems and skills.
Alvis finishes a Telethia off in the cutscene where Purge is learnt.
Shulk finishes Zanza with during the start of the final cutscene after the Final Battle.
Covers Always Lie: Or rather, art books. A promotional art book sold with the game depicts the party standing on a lush part of what appears to be Bionis' shoulder, overlooking the heads of the two titans. The problem with this scene? Fiora is still in her Homs body, which she only got back during the epilogue, long after both titans were destroyed.
Cryptic Conversation: Of course, this being part of Monolith's Author Appeal. Alvis would be the worst offender, remaining very ambiguous through the course of the game.
Curbstomp Battle: The final battle turns into this after Shulk gets his True Monado. It's pretty much this in gameplay terms as Zanza remains the same, but now Shulk has the best weapon in the game.
Cutscene Power to the Max: It is not rare to see the characters being agile in cutscenes, but not being able to lift their feet off the ground in battles. The worst offender for this would be Mayneth controlling Fiora right after the Hopeless Boss Fight with a revealed Zanza. The fight has them flying around the area exchanging blows.
Dead All Along: Shulk, who died 14 years ago next to the Monado. Zanza used his body as a vessel. When Zanza leaves Shulk's body, he dies again. He comes back later to kick his ass.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Dying in gameplay just forces a return to the last landmark visited, and any loot dropped by killed monsters is not lost.
The only reason Shulk was alive these last 14 years is because Zanza was using him as his vessel.
Whoever holds a Monado can be taken over by the soul of a god that rests within, like the giant Arglas, who became Zanza's puppet when he grabbed the respective Monado. Although the Demonic part is pretty non-existant on Meyneth's side.
Taken to even greater levels with Alvis, Monado itself, who used to be a computer AI in the previous universe before it was destroyed.
Dialogue Tree: They appear in some sidequests and are a key feature in the Affinity Dialogues. In sidequests, taking different options might do something as small as changing affinity between some NPCs, to completely changing future quests.
Divergent Character Evolution: Inverted with Dunban and Reyn gameplay-wise. They both start out as varieties of aggro-drawing tank, but with plenty of noticeable and meaningful differences. But they later learn arts that are quite similar to each other's. For example:
Dunban starts with Electric Gutbuster and Worldly Slash, which have added effects when used after Gale Slash. Later, Reyn learns Dive Sobat, which has an added effect when used after Bone Upper.
Reyn learns Last Stand, which revives him if he dies while it's active. Much later, Dunban learns Jaws of Death, which does exactly the same thing.
Colony 9 is brought to chaos after the attack by the Mechon. Although it manages to recover pretty fast.
Colony 6 is completely destroyed before Shulk and Reyn arrive. Reconstructing it forms part of a huge sidequest.
Agniratha, the Mechonis capital. A former bustling metropolis attacked by Telethia and the Bionis millennia before the game's events. Now a lifeless Mechon-infested ghost of what it used to be.
Alcamoth, after Zanza transforms all pure blood High Entia into Telethia.
Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Alvis. Through the course of the story, it's impossible to tell which side he's on. At one point he's a mysterious helper, then he's acting shady with a group of shady characters, then he's back again on Shulk's side. It continues to grow from there, and it's not until the very ending that his motivations become clear
The Dragon: Dickson is Zanza's closest disciple, working directly for him and leading events towards Zanza's goals.
Fiorung is called "Fiora" in the European localizations. At the same time, Carna is called "Sharla", which is more difficult to justify, unless it was because of copyright issues or because it sounded too close to "Carnal" for Nintendo's liking.
Kyoshin and Kishin, on the other hand, were more rightly localized as Bionis and Mechonis respectively. Mechonis kept the pun in Kishin, which contains the kanji for "machine", while Bionis is a full departure from Kyoshin, which means "huge god".
Metal Face was originally called "Black Face" (黒いフェイス), which has no meaning beyond sounding cool in Japanese, but for fairly obvious reasons wasn't going to fly in western countries, especially America. "Metal Face" does end up being a bit of a non-sequitor of a name, since all of the Faced Mechon have "metal faces" (when inside their frames, anyway) but it's really just a nickname that Shulk and crew give him since he was the first Faced Mechon they encountered.
Dude, She's Like in a Coma: Implied with Melia in an optional series of interactions with Shulk while he is comatose. She quickly calls herself out for it.
Dynamic Loading: Although it's impressive how much visual data the game is capable of load at once. We only get to see a Loading Screen before a big Cut Scene or when going from one big area to another.
Earn Your Happy Ending: The party goes through a lot in the story; a lot of revelations and tragic events happen across the board. But after all of it, it all manages to end on a high note.
Easy Exp: Finding new areas nets some generous experience; even more so if they are hidden areas.
Elaborate Equals Effective: The armors are bigger and bulkier the heavier they are. Though this doesn't necesarily translate into better armor.
"End of the World" Special: At the end of the game Alvis gives Shulk full control over Monado to create a new universe. He resolves most of the issues of the old one by both avoiding what Zanza and Meyneth did by becoming a god: he allows everyone the freedom to expand to the stars.
Epic Tracking Shot: The Action Prologue ends with a tacking shot that goes from Sword Valley to Eryth Sea, then to Makna Forest, and finally a complete shot of Bionis and Mechonis. The whole scene gives a good idea of the huge scope of the game world.
Fetch Quest: Many quests involve taking or finding items and delivering them to someone. Lots of them don't require one to go find the quest giver later, making them easier.
First Girl Wins: Fiora ends up beating Melia in winning Shulk's affections. No surprise since the whole first half of the game was him avenging her supposed death.
Fanservice: Party members can be stripped down to their underwear. So you have fanservice in spades for both genders. In Dunban's case, he even gets a buff (pun not intended) for wearing no clothes, a skill that can be shared with other characters. Covert Pervert much?
Fantastic Drug: The red pollen orbs the Nopon manufacture. If they are processed correctly, they can have some good potential uses, if not, they are very addictive and dangerous for health. There's a group of Nopon that have been selling these variety illegally to Alcamoth citizens, and a huge sidequest arc involves finding who and where they are and putting a stop to their bussiness.
Fantastic Racism: Some side quests hint that some High Entia consider the Homs and Nopon to be inferior beings; and those tend to not have a high opinion on half-Homs High Entia either, especially the Bionite Order, that pretty much hates anything that isn't a pure High Entia. That said, there are many High Entia both named NPCs and regular NPCs that accept and want to live in harmony with the other races.
Fast-Forward Mechanic: An option in the menu allows the player to skip to any time in-game. This greatly helps to find the non-player characters that show up at specific times for the loads and loads of sidequests.
Fighting Clown: Riki may be a Ridiculously Cute Critter with a cheerful attitude and attacks with silly names to go along with the Nopon theme, but he's just as capable of a fighter as his Hom Hom partners, having the highest HP, a steal ability, the best healing ability besides Sharla's, and several enemy debuffs at his disposal.
Since Shulk can see the future, he occasionally gets glimpses of lots of distant future events. Lots of them only start to make sense once the event happens.
Near the beginning of the game, after Fiora dies, Shulk remarks how he feels part of him is telling him to be rational, while another part of him is crying out for revenge. Even Reyn remarks on how that doesn't sound like something Shulk would say at all...
Right after killing Fiora, Metal Face shares a meaningful glance with Dunban, cluing the player in to Metal Face's identity as Mumkhar. Also of note is Metal Faces main weapon aside from that cannon on his back, his claws. Mumkhar also used claws as his main weapon. Subtle, yet easily noticed once you meet other unique faced Mechon and see that their weapon is based on what they used while they were still Homs.
After defeating Xord, he gives the first hints about his past as a Homs. The information is vague enough so the player doesn't know what this will lead into. Speaking to a certain NPC after his defeat will give much less vague information regarding this.
When Melia enters the High Entia Tomb, the "spirit" within speaks to her about Homs integration into the bloodline, and something about escaping a curse. Turns out that half-Homs High Entia are the only ones immune to regression into Telethia.
When Zanza offers to release the Monado's true power, he says that, if he were allowed to release its power, "Only a god could stand in your way". Turns out, a god is exactly who intends to stand in Shulk's way.
Then about 2/3 of the way through the game, we get a dream sequence which sets up a big holy shit moment.
The fact that Shulk isn't very interested in food is the first clue that he's really a reanimated corpse.
Dickson's Wham Line early on ( "Can't say I feel good decieving these kids like this.") is a surprisingly subtle one. For one it's your first clue that Dickson isn't as trustworthy as he seems. But further, the fact that he calls everyone in your party "kids", even Dunban, clues you in that he's older than he looks. Much older.
Grey and Gray Morality: Shulk is a Nice Guy and well meaning, but openly preaches genocide against all mechon, even those that weren't involved with Fiora's death. On the flip side, their leader is a brutal, ruthless dictator, but turns out to have been doing everything he's done in a (misguided) attempt to defeat the real villain.
Black and White Morality: Zanza's appearance changes it to this. He's a heartless, selfish bastard that cares about nothing but himself and kills everything on Bionis, and his Disciples, apart from Alvis, reasons for having anything to do with him are entirely selfish. Doesn't get much more black and white than that.
Fur Bikini: The jungle-themed armors look like this when worn by the women.
Gainaxing: Done by Sharla and Vanea have some noticeable... bounce to them. It's very evident during cutscenes.
Visions of the future play a key role in both story and gameplay, and new Monado Arts are often introduced in cutscenes (e.g. Purge, Speed), not to be forgotten 5 minutes later.
When Melia first joins Shulk and company, they don't realize she's a High Entia because her headwings are covered by her hat. To keep up the ploy, her headdress can't be removed or replaced until after the High Entia Tomb, long after her real heritage becomes known.
It's established earlier that The Monado can't hurt "the sentient beings of Bionis." Naturally this doesn't come into play when fighting random monsters, but later you end up fighting a some High Entia assassins, and if Shulk is in battle the Monado will only do Scratch Damage to them.
It is implied in the story that Riki is lazy and weak, and can barely scratch enemies, with the implication that he is only the Heropon as a punishment for being in heavy debt. In actual gameplay, Riki is just as capable as his partners, and he can even solo bosses.
A side effect of having your characters' current equipment shown in cutscenes is that some dialogue regarding particular weapons (such as Dunban's anti-mechon sword) becomes nonsensical when that weapon isn't the one they're currently equipped with. This reaches its peak in the New Game+: Dunban treats whatever sword he was equipped with in the last playthrough as the Monado, while Shulk talks about wanting to learn about the Monado when he has the Monado III. And then you reach the cutscene where Dunban drops the Monado and Shulk picks it up, and suddenly Dunban is carrying the Monado III so that Shulk can pick it up later and have it again to fight with it.
Gameplay Automation: Auto-attack is the only form of normal attacking. Everything else requires input from the player.
Genre-Busting: The game has the look and feel of an eastern RPG, with a storyline to go with it. However, it contains several gameplay elements from western RP Gs, with an overworld structured more like The Elder Scrolls than anything else, a combat system inspired by World of Warcraft, and a sidequest system with a quest log system. The UK voice acting even has more in common with Dragon Age than the voices usually used for eastern RPGs.
Giant Mook: There are numerous monsters that are scaled-up versions of smaller ones. Most are Uniques, but there are a few actual mooks like the house-sized baboons in Satorl Marsh. The mantis-like Fortress Mechons all qualify, the smallest, mass-production ones being about two stories tall with a massive boss-class in the factory level that's at least four.
Grimy Water: Mostly comes in poison swamp variety, but there's also some at the bottom of both Bionis and Mechonis in the form of ether-saturated water. These come into play in the Fallen arm, to keep the player from wandering off into the ocean.
A God Am I: Zanza was already a Physical God, but when he gets control of Meyneth's Monado, his arrogance reaches entirely new levels.
Gods Need Prayer Badly: Variation. Zanza and Meyneth would wither and die if their creations, which are made from their life forces, leave their bodies and expand to the stars.
God Was My Copilot: Alvis turns out to be the manifestation of Monado, in other words reality.
Goggles Do Nothing: Sharla wears a pair hanging of her neck in her default costume. However, she never puts them on nor does anything with them, for that matter. This is the same for some headgears of other characters.
Going Cosmic: As the story advances the scope of the conflict increases more and more until gods get involved. It's pretty much part of Monolith Soft's Author Appeal.
Gotta Catch 'Em All: One recurring sidequest is to find one unit of every collectible item from every region. Some items are much rarer than others.
Many sidequests have later consequences that aren't immidiately obvious. Giving one seemingly inconsequential item to an NPC early on could lead a whole branch of later quests being Lost Forever. Also, the game clearly points out to you which quests are timed, but never tells you how long you have until they expire. A timed quest could mean anything from that NPC moving to a different location later to an entire area being destroyed.
It's minor, but knowing which NPC trades what requires either massive trial and error or a guide. Even worse, some items aren't offered up for trade until you reach a certain affinity with the area, and certain NPCs who move locations offer completley different items afterwards. Not to mention many of the High Entia you can trade with become Lost Forever after a certain event. Good luck completing the "Other" section of the Collectopaedia without a guide, whose items can only be obtained by trading with specific people.
Good luck unlocking each party member's two extra skill trees without a guide, or even knowing that they have more than the default 3 skill trees in the first place. Unlocking each tree often requires the completion of several prerequisite quests, some of which may require that you first gain high affinity in the quest area. Even if you've done the prerequisites, the quest which unlocks the extra skill tree can only be initiated if a specific character is the lead member in your party; thankfully that last part is implied by the quest givers.
Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Played straight for all but one character. The guys use swords (or clubs in Riki's case), Sharla uses her rifle, and Melia is a Squishy Wizard. Fiora is the exception, using her knives at close range.
Half-Human Hybrid: Several of Alcamoth's inhabitants are half Homs, including Melia. This becomes crucial as only full High Entia are vulnerable to Zanza's Telethia regression.
Handicapped Badass: As a result of using Monado, Dunban has lost the use of his right arm. It doesn't stop him from kicking ass with a katana or BFS.
Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: There are around half a dozen of these throughout the game, specially during the first third. They're normally against a Faced Mechon. The party has to survive their attacks until they use that one art that may not actually kill the party but ends the battle and advances the plot.
Heroic Sacrifice: Lots of people give their lives to save others. Fiora (at least apparently), Gadolt, Lady Meyneth, Egil, Kallian...
Heroic RROD: Dunban after using the Monado. It costed him a good deal of his health, almost killing him the second time around, and it left his right arm out of commission (not that he needs it though...).
Hold Your Hippogriffs: Some characters use "Bionis" as a subtitute for "god" or "world". Reyn in particular makes good use of it.
"What on Bionis is going' on?".
Hopeless Boss Fight: Quite a few of them, in the form of a fight against a foe that's either overleveled or very hard to damage. These battles end after a certain amount of time passes, enough damage is caused, or, in some cases, the party is completely wiped out. Between them there are the first encounters with Metal Face and Xord, the first two encounters with Yaldabaoth, and the first one against Zanza.
Hope Spot: Despite Shulk's anger over what the Egil's mechon did to Fiora and many others, and Egil's equally potent anger over what Zanza (and by association, Shulk) did to the Machina, for a moment it really does look like the two might be able to set aside their differences after the battle in the Mechonis Core. And then Dickson shoots Shulk in the back.
HP to One: While the lead character can die from falling damage, it will only ever reduce the other party members to a minimum of 1HP, even if they fell further than the leader.
Humongous Mecha: Comes with the territory, considering it's part of the Xenoseries. Specifically, the entire game takes place on two titans (one of which is a giant mecha) that are at least the size of large continents. Can't get much more humongous than that. However, unlike the other two games in the series, Fiora is the only party member who actually gets to pilot a mechon, and then only in cutscenes before she rejoins the party. After that, she fights on-foot like everyone else for the rest of the game.
Hybrid Power: Half-Homs High Entia, despite their usually smaller head wings and lack of Pointy Ears, are just as long-lived and capable of manipulating ether as their pure-blooded cousins. What really sets them apart is that they are cured of the genetic "curse" that can eventually turn pure High Entia into mindless Telethia.
Iconic Item: The Monado, which is featured prominently in promotional material. Because, let's be honest, there's nothing quite as iconic as blending the Laser Blade and BFS tropes.
I Just Want to Be Special: The reason Mumkhar hates Dunban so much is that he was chosen as the wielder of the Monado over him.
Mumkhar is impaled by a piece of the fortress blown away by one of his attacks before falling from Sword Valley.
Zanza is impaled clean in the head by a True Monado wielding Shulk.
I'm a Humanitarian: Mechon in general appear to be eating people during the initial attack on Colony 9, and Xord plays this up later on. It's later discovered this isn't actually the case. The Mechon are actually harvesting Homs to create new Face Mechon.
Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Does anyone have a theory of why a bunny-sized monster leaves behind a glowing golden chest twice its size when it's killed?
Infinity+1 Sword: The Monado III. By far the highest damage in the game (this thing will have a higher auto attack with no gems than many late game weapons will with three), and with 75 percent critical hit rate, and three gems slots. Only available in the Final Battle and in New Game+, though.
Injured Vulnerability: There is a chain of these. Several attacks inflict Break on its target, which does nothing except opening them for a Topple attack, which causes its target to become defenseless and open to attack for a while. In turn, Daze can be inflicted on a toppled enemy, further weakening them. Finally, Sharla'sHeadshot art has a small chance of One Hit Killing a dazed target (which highly increases if triggered during a chain attack).
The Bionis' Interior has a collectable page, yet no collectibles when going through it. Looking at the map of the area also reveals several ether crystal deposits extremely out of reach.
The Achievements page also lists numerous achievements involving Fiora long before it's even remotely possible to get any of them.
The weapon store in Frontier Village sells weapons for Riki before he joins the party. Likewise, it's also possible to get weapons for him as a rare drop from the monsters in Makna Forest.
Looking at the party slots after Riki and Melia join reveals that there's still room for another character.
Any quest that will automatically fail if not completed before reaching a story event is marked with a clock to indicate such. You know that something is going to happen to Alcamoth when every single quest that you get in the city is marked this way.
In the Back: Dickson shoots Shulk in the back after the latter refuses to kill Egil.
Irrelevant Importance: You can't drop nor sell Gadolt's rifle, even though it doesn't take long before you get far more powerful weapons for Sharla. The same holds true for Melia's Imperial and Empress Staffs.
Irrelevant Sidequest: You can spend more time solving the problems of every single person on Bionis than, you know... saving the world.
Jump Scare: Many Unique Monsters who attack on sight can and will ambush the party while fighting smaller enemies or just walking around. In particular, a Giant Spider called the Clifftop Bayern takes a little while to climb over a cliff before attacking, which may lead to the player not knowing they're being attacked from behind until the mini-boss theme kicks in. Can you say Oh Crap?
The Monado is a blade that is deadly against the mechanical invaders. Much later, it's revealed that it's pretty much xenophobic.
If you go for the literal translation of Xenoblade as "strange blade," then the Monado still qualifies, being vastly more advanced than anything the peoples of Bionis ever produced on their own. Even the Machina can only make a pale imitation of it.
The True Monado obtained at the end of the game qualifies even more as a "strange blade" than the original. Even Zanza is shocked when Shulk pulls it seemingly out of nowhere.
Joke Weapon: The Monapon, obtained after defeating The Nopon Kingpin (a level 78 enemy, mind you), only has a damage range of 1-1. Its only good quality is having a 30% critical rate.
Xord enjoys overacting. His heavy British accent helps a lot with this.
Laser Blade: The Monado itself. Dunban can also get some of these courtesy of the Machina.
Last Chance Hit Point: The "Unbeatable" gems give their wearer a up to a 50% chance to turn any lethal attacks into this, with the catch that it can work even if the wearer is already at 1 HP, and the Monado visions will inform in case that happens. All Guest Star Party Members wear a special version that gives them 100% protection, effectively making them invincible.
Layered Metropolis: Alcamoth and the Frontier Village. The former is an advanced muti-level city that floats above the Eryth Sea, which is located atop the Bionis' head. However, the Frontier Village is a whopping 9 level monstrosity inside a hollow tree, connected by stairs and rope bridges. Both are so big that it's possible to fall fatally from them.
Lazy Backup: Switching party members is only possible outside the battles.
Leitmotif: Some of them. A variation of the Main Theme is used as Shulk and Fiora's love theme once; and Riki has his own upbeat theme, which also has an slower and more emotional reprise for the moment he shows his Hidden Depths.
Lethal Joke Weapon: The other weapon besides the Monapon obtained from the level 78 Nopon Kingpin looks like an oversized half-eaten fish. It's also one of Riki's best weapons.
Likable Villain: Egil. At first he's shown as completely ruthless, but later is revealed that he shares a similar, and even more tragic, story as Shulk. Shulk comes to understand his pain, and tries to pull him out of the slippery slope he threw himself into.
Most character's Talent Arts work this way. They are charged by striking auto attacks, and once charged they allow the use of an unique ability of the character, such as Shulk's Monado Arts and Riki's "Yoink!"
Melia enters a state of Element Burst after several uses of elemental attacks. In this state, she gets access to two powerful arts (Burst End and Mind Blast), and her next elemental attacks do double damage.
A few characters have abilities that only become available when their tension reaches high levels, such as Riki's Happy Happy.
Limited Animation: There are two kinds of cutscenes: "Dialogue" scenes that use a set of generic animations, and fully animated "action" scenes. The former has a limited number of character animations.
Long Song, Short Scene: The themenote (or at least, the first one) for Bionis' Interior also fits somewhat. The area it plays in is rather small and has no enemies, so it's entirely possible for the player to rush through it on the way to Makna Forest without hearing the whole thing. There's a Dark Reprise of that theme which plays when the party revisits the area after finishing the Mechonis Core.
Losing the Team Spirit: A minor version can happen in gameplay when the party is getting wiped out. The team starts to lose their morale, and the battle music changes to a quite somber tune until the team manages to get back on their feet.
An achievement involves performing a single attack for 777 damage.
In GameFAQs and other websites, you will occasionally see "7th" or "Seven" as a character (such as 7th's armor). This is because the seventh character is Fiora, and she's been very lucky over the course of the game.
The High Entia Naroth. Not only is he called one on the affinity chart but he also expresses a desire to experiment on Riki if he is in the party before you accept one of his quests. Especially after he finds out that Riki has a wife and kids.
Klaus was hell-bent on taking to action the experiment to turn humans into gods, even after Meyneth's desperate warnings.
Manual Leader, AI Party: Only the party's leader is directly controlled most of the time. The only exception to this are during chain attack or after warning a party member of a future event, which allow the player to use one of their moves.
Mechanical Lifeform: The Mechonis and the Machina that used to live on it. The Machina are mechanical living creatures from Mechonis as the Homs are organic living creatures from Bionis..
The Medic: Sharla, as she is the only character who specializes in healing arts. Otharon even calls her medic occasionally.
Mercy Kill: A rather common objective of the endgame quests given to you by the High Entia refugees. Their pure blooded friends and family who devolved into Telethia act on fragments of their memories as instinct, mindlessly roaming the places they frequented prior to their transformations, and as such, you're asked to put them down.
Mickey Mousing: Several scenes that have "Engage the Enemy" playing in the background have their most intense moment sync up with the moment the song builds up in intensity.
Mighty Glacier: Reyn; a slow and strong tank that hits like a truck and can take hits like one.
Monster Closet: There are a few very straight cases of this trope in the High Entia Tomb. Justified, as not only is the place supposed to be full of traps, but the "monsters" that jump you are ancient machines built to guard the place. And there's a twist too, exactly one of them is more than just a closet: it's an actual secret passage that leads to a hidden area.
Monsters Everywhere: Every area in the game holds monsters or some kind of enemy at some point.
Ms. Fanservice: Every character can be put in their underwear. When it comes to the ladies, Sharla stands out with her... bounciness.
Mythology Gag: Magic is called "Ether" in this game. You have three guesses for what magic was called in Xenogears and Xenosaga. The first two don't count.
New Game+: Saving after beating the game allows to start a new game while keeping any equipped gear, up to 30 pieces of other weapons/armor, 60 items, and all gems, crystals, collectibles, levels, and party affinity. Quests, maps, and location affinity are reset. You also get to keep the Infinity+1 Sword as well.
Name From Another Species: The High Entia Ma'crish has a reluctant Nopon companion that she named Nopo'rikh, a big departure from the usual Nopon names.
Averted in every possible way. Even in the New Game+ Shulk will show the Monado III, even in the scenes where its power should be way bigger than it actually is.
There is one notable not-quite-exception: When Shulk has a vision about future events, and later flashes back to that vision as the moment approaches. In the vision-flashbacks, he wears whatever he had on when he first had that vision, rather that what he is more likely about to actually be wearing (i.e.: his current gear) when it comes to pass.
No Endor Holocaust: When the Bionis begins moving, EVERYONE on it should have died from the earthquakes and floods from the falling Eryth Sea alone; once you return to it, however, everything is fine beyond the High Entia turning into dinosaurs and largely no one cares about their goddamn continent suddenly springing to life and swinging swords. Total annihilation only occurs if "Bionis Slash X" is allowed to succeed.
While there are a bunch of generic non-named ones, another huge group of the non-plot important NPCs are named. Those form part of the global affinity chart, and tend to play huge roles in sidequests and sidequest arcs.
Non-Combat EXP: The game awards the player EXP for simply exploring the world map, by discovering landmarks and hidden areas. It also awards EXP for successfully completing sidequests and completing key points (called "Chapters") in the game's story. Being that it's easily over 80 hours in length (up to 100, or more, including sidequests) it's not hard to see why that is.
Non-Mammal Mammaries: Female Machina have breasts, which can be justified by the fact that their creator used to be human.
Non-Standard Game Over: If Egil is not stopped from using "Bionis Slash X", he kills the Bionis, ending the fight with it.
No Sell: The Mechon are highly resistant to normal attacks and need to be toppled before they can be damaged, except for the Monado, which damages them like normal enemies. Then you fight the first Faced Mechon who can no sell the Monado and needs to be defeated the hard way.
No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: Defied in every possible way imaginable, after Eastern RPGs started moving towards this. Even the most linear areas have several sidepaths that can be explored, which usually hold secret areas, unique enemies, or sometimes even rare treasures.
Not Growing Up Sucks: A Machina sidequest has the party helping with fixing a child whose growing algorithms have been malfunctioning for a thousand years. It's left him mentally and physically as a kid when he's in the equivalent of a Machina's twenties.
NPC Scheduling: Every named NPC has a different schedule, and all non-named NPCs have at least a selected time of the day when they're active. And to top it off the game has tons of NPCs, and many of them either give a quest, or are involved in one somehow. Needless to say, this makes keeping track of where that one NPC is going to be when rather hard. Thankfully, one can turn the in-game clock to whatever time they want whenever they want, so if you're in a hurry to meet an NPC with an odd schedule, it's easy.
Number of the Beast: An achievement is given by performing a single attack doing this 666 points of damage.
Mumkhar. The guy is a complete Gonk with a Guttural Growl who runs away from battle to save his own skin within the first two minutes of play time. Dunban may be Genre Blind, but the player needs only to look at his Japanese voice actor to get a clue that he's a bad egg. The only surprise is in how bad he turns out to be.
Even if you couldn't tell that Lorithia was bad news from her red and black, stripper/dominatrix outfit, she has maybe 30 seconds of screen time before she starts telling the player about her plans to have Melia killed. Like Mumkhar, she's later revealed to be even worse than she seems.
One-Handed Zweihänder: Shulk and Dunban wield the Monado with one hand pretty often. Dunban knocks it up a notch with his late choice of weapons, some of which include axes, polearms and zanmato, which he wields with his left hand.
One-Hit Kill... Or Something: Sharla has the Headshot art, which has the chance of doing this on dazed enemies (a chance that highly increases if she pulls it off during a chain attack).
Our Elves Are Better: Ultimately subverted. High Entia live longer than Homs, can use ether freely but it turns out they're just the temporary form Zanza gave Telethia on a whim, and whenever he or his Disciples choose, they turn into Telethia, unless they are half-Homs.
Party of Representatives: The final party consists of a group of Homs, a Nopon, a High Entia, and a Homs-turned-Mechon, which indirectly represents the Machina.
Peninsula of Power Leveling: Thanks to Challenge Monsters, it's particularly encouraging to come back at any point in the game and train against what were once Demonic Spiders. Just don't expect them to be easy even if you're on the same level.
Perplexing Plurals: Almost every major race in the game uses the same word for its name's singular or plural form: the singular for Homs is still Homs, while the plurals for the other races are still Nopon, Mechon, High Entia, and Machina. Only Giants are the exception, for whom the singular is "Giant."
Plotline Death: When Metal Face kills Fiora, the rest of the characters are completely paralyzed, so no one can go to "revive" her. And when Shulk regains his mobility, Fiora's body has been taken by the Mechon. And of course, there's the whole thing about Fiora coming Back from the Dead.
Plot Triggering Death: The protagonists start their journey to destroy the Mechon to avenge Fiora's death. As time pases, stuff becomes more complicated than that.
Point Build System: Art Points are awarded during battle. These are used to improving the character's special attacks.
Point of No Return: Minor ones where certain areas become inaccessible, usually after boss battles, which you aren't warned of. The game does warn you before the ultimate one though.
Power Walk: Shulk and Fiora get one hell of a Power Walk during the battle against Disciple Dickson.
Poor Communication Kills: Defied during a cutscene in the Ether Mine. Once it's clear that Shulk can see the future using the Monado, Reyn convinces him to let the rest of the party know whenever he sees a vision, so that if Shulk can't change that future in time, someone else can. Case in point, when Shulk fails to stop Otharon's fall into the ether river while fighting Xord, Reyn steps in to finish the job with a Diving Save.
Puzzle Boss: The Lorithia/Kallian hybrid Telethia barely receives any damage until its flunkies are beat. And the latter are numbered, as killing one makes the next more vulnerable.
The Power of Friendship: In the gameplay itself. Not only you can the party members' attacks be combined For Massive Damage, but their skills can be linked with one another when the affinity between them grows.
Gadolt remembers his past as Homs thanks in part to talking to Sharla.
Kallian is able to mentally speak with his sister after they defeat Lorithea. Something that was believed to be impossible as a Telethias transformation erases almost everything of the individual. Other High Entia turned Telethia also keep something of their self that keeps them from harming or protecting certain individuals they knew/loved from other Telethia.
The High Entia race as a whole. They have a lifespan quite longer than Homs. For example, there's a father who is playing hide and seek with his two children. The father looks like a middle-aged man but is really 208 years old while his two kids who look like they are somewhere around ten are actually 36 and 56.
Taken even further with the Machina, who're all at least 1000 years old, and ultimately taken Up to Eleven with the Nopon Sage and Machina Neonik, whose ages are listed as 9999 and 9892. Some of the characters are implied to be even older than that, although you don't get them on your Affinity Chart.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Fiora (Red) and Shulk (Blue). Fiora is a Plucky Girl that regardless of her kindness has a strong attitude. Shulk is a kind boy that tends to think before acting and plays things slower. It's Colour Coded in a cutscene just to drive the point home.
The Affinity System, which allows the party to become closer to various NPCs in order to open up new story options and sidequests.
There is also one for party members. The closer party members are, the more skills they can share with each other, the more turns they have when crafting gems and higher the chance for extra Combination Attack turns, up to 15 compared to the default 3.
Romance Sidequest: Shulk and Fiora's relationship makes much more sense when their affinity conversations are unlocked.
Rousing Speech: A few battles that are divided in two halves have an empowering speech between confrontations. There are the first confrontation of the party against a Telethia, and right before the 2nd fight with Disciple Dickson.
Save Scumming: Unless you want to fight multiple hard-to-(re)spawn enemies to get some of the rarer top-tier Art Manuals and equipment, you're probably going to make use of the facts that the game doesn't determine treasure chest contents until you actually open them and that you can save and load the game anywhere outside of combat.
Scenery Porn: The game thrives on this, offering utterly massive fields of exploration, and rewarding the player for finding new scenic vistas to explore. In fact, the lands are so expansive that Xenoblade is one of the hardest Wii games to emulate on a PC alonside The Last Story. Some of the best vistas in the game come from the Gaur Plain,Satorl Marsh at night, and Makna Forest with its huge waterfall ranges. Taking it further, try to climb up to the Distant Fingertip secret area of the Fallen Arm. We'll wait while you collect your jaw from the floor.
Schizo Tech: The world is shown to have technology that is equivalent to or exceeding our own, such as buggies, airplanes, Humongous Mecha, and gigantic mine-strippers. But there are no highways for people to drive on, and swords and melee weapons are still used prominently.
Science Fantasy: The lands of Bionis and Mechonis make a serious mix of fantasy and science fiction elements. The very intro starts with an ancient battle between titans that then transitions to a battle between Human Aliens and Mechanical Monsters. The Monado itself is an ancient legendary sword that also happens to be a Laser Blade. The High Entia are an old race that are both capable of ether manipulation and very technologically advanced. Et cetera.
Screw Destiny: Not only one of the main themes of the story, but one of the main gameplay mechanics as well. In battle, Shulk will get visions of lethal enemy attacks ahead of time, giving him a few precious seconds to kill the enemy, stop the attack, or defend against it, shattering that future.
When she is inside of the face unit, Fiora's head resembles the visor that KOS-MOS from Xenosaga sometimes wears.
The scene when the High Entia are turned into Telethia for merging again with Zanza is almost identical to the scene in Xenogears when almost the whole human kind is turned into Wels and go back to Deus.
Sidequest Sidestory: Many sidequests tie into one another, and their consequences are shown in the affinity chart. Furthermore, some overaching sidequests arcs progress alongside the main plot, and the connection between each of the individual quests involved becomes more obvious as they are completed.
Sliding Scale of Linearity vs. Openness: The game follows a mostly linear narrative, but the game practically gives free reign on what to do and where to go. The general largeness of the environments and the huge amount of sidequests certainly help.
Small Girl, Big Gun: Sharla may not be a small girl, per se, but her guns are pretty damn huge.
The Smart Guy: Surprisingly, all main characters have traits of this to different degrees (Even Reyn and Riki have their moments). However, Dunban would be the closest one to play the role straight, followed by Shulk. And he only falls behind due to his lack of experience.
Soft Water: Not only is the gradual falling damage from falling too high which can and will kill you negated by landing in deep water, you also get an ingame achievement for doing so for the first time.
Played straight and averted at the same time. When Fiora gets killed, she keeps whatever she had equipped for New Game+ while any gems equipped are automatically removed from her equipment. Since her early equipment is quickly outclassed and her weapons can't be equipped by anybody else, it's not a big issue.
Melia is a partial example, in that she does permanently join the party at some point (and thus you can eventually recover anything you gave her), but there are a few stretches during Makna Forest and Alcamoth where her equipment is not available from the party screen, which can make it annoying when following a quest or two without her.
Spiritual Successor: To Xenosaga, and to a greater extent, Xenogears. Xenogears and Xenoblade both take place in Schizo Tech worlds where space was once explored, and of course one (out of two) gods are evil. The two also share more expies and other story elements.
Standard Status Effects: Unlike the usual form, your party will use them to make battles easier; in some battles, it's required that you know how to chain status effects.
Story Arc: The game can pretty much be split into five arcs: the Xord arc, the Prison Island arc, the Mumkhar arc, the Egil arc, and the Zanza arc.
Story to Gameplay Ratio: Director Takahashi Tetsuya has described the game has being on the exact opposite side of the scale as Xenogears and Xenosaga, calling the pursuit of excessive story-to-gameplay ratio "a dead end." Although in the end, the game still has its share of long cutscenes, the longest having a combined total of ten minutes where the average length is less than three minutes. The ratio is balanced by increasing dramatically the amount of exploration and Western-RPG-like sidequests.
Subtitles Are Superfluous: Battle dialogues don't have subtitles, so people who don't speak either Japanese (most people) or English (a lot of people outside the US and the UK) will be left out during those.
Suicidal Overconfidence: Averted. Even the most vicious predators will stop attacking once the leader's strength surpasses theirs by five or six levels. Unique monsters however will attack no matter how powerful the party is.
Sword of Plot Advancement: The Monado. It's the legendary sword said to have been wielded by the Bionis in the battle against Mechonis, and it's a big part of the plot, its presence being involved in several events.
Sword over Head: Shulk does this to Egil after his boss battle, hesitating to kill him even as Zanza is screaming in his head and telling him to do it. In the end, Shulk refuses to take Egil's life and sits down to have a chat with him. Dickson takes this chance to shoot Shulk In the Back.
Symbiotic Possession: Between Fiora and Meyneth, getting to the point that both are essential for the other's survival.
Take Up My Sword: Non lethal example. Shulk gets the Monado when Dunban can't wield it any longer. Later, Shulk even tries to give it back to Dunban, but he refuses, saying that Shulk wields it better than he ever could.
Take Your Time: Specially jarring in moments like when the characters are getting inside the Mechonis while the Bionis alliance try to fend off the Mechon army in Sword Valley. Even in those moments it's perfectly fine to go back to Colony 9 and keep doing sidequests.
For the tutorial, the players takes control of some characters whose levels are in their twenties before the main game gives the obligatory level one characters.
Later in the early game Dunban rejoins with Shulk and Reyn wielding the Monado during the attack on Colony 9, and he is likely to be a much higher level than both of them. However, this is only for a few minutes before Shulk picks up the Monado and starts wielding it himself, though Dunban still sticks with the party a little while after that.
Third-Person Person: The Nopon, including Riki, zig-zag it. They sometimes speak like this, while other times they use "me" instead of "I".
¡Three Amigos!: Shulk, Reyn and Fiora. Longtime childhood friends. It doesn't get to last though, thanks to Fiora's death.
Time-Limit Boss: Once Egil's Mechon HP is reduced enough, he starts charging up for Bionis Slash X, which does infinite damage to its unfortunate recipient, and needs to be prevented by destroying all targets around him in 2 minutes.
Dunban was a badass in his own right, but when he rejoins the party after the events in the Ether Mine he takes further levels in badass by wielding an Anti-Mechon Blade with only one arm, and also by taking a level in common sense. His time out allowed him to learn to take a wiser approach instead of jumping into battle blindly.
Fiora REALLY kicks some major ass in that Mechon body!
Fiora has a subtle edge of this. She's kind and caring, but sometimes Shulk's less-than-stellar moments get her a little mad.
Sharla with Reyn gets an edge of this too. She's a caring Team Mom, but Reyn's Book Dumb moments and occasional insensitivity bring her Deadpan Snarker side to light.
Twenty Bear Asses: A big ammount of the game's quests fall into collecting a certain number of certain object. However, as stated above, doing a lot of them unlocks more story-rich questlines, which help with town affinity.
Tykebomb: The entire race of High Entia, which at Zanza's whim can regress into the mindless Telethia. Those with Homs blood are immune to the regresion though.
Unexpected Gameplay Change: The appearance of the sliding segments in Valak Mountain causes many a player to stop and question what they were doing.
Unexplained Recovery: The Colonel of the Colony 9 Defense Force, nicknamed "Squarestache", is apparently crushed to death by a Mechon flinging a vehicle during the attack on Colony 9 at the start of the game. It's easy to assume he had been killed, but talking to an NPC later in the story reveals that he somehow survived the crush (Maybe he yelled at the vehicle to squat its way off his spine); and later he shows up during the Alliance's assault on Sword Valley, perfectly healthy and back to being comic relief.
Unrobotic Reveal: Hinted at by Xord during his last battle with the party, and played straight when Face Nemesis blocks Shulk's killing blow meant for Metal Face. The Face Mechon are, in fact, mechs piloted by Homs — specifically, Homs given mechanical bodies by Egil.
Totally inverted! Status effects are immensley useful when used by the player, in fact they're part of what makes Riki the effective Fighting Clown he really is. Not only do they work on just about everything, even bosses, but there are at least four separate damage-over-time effects (Bleed, Poison, Blaze and Chill), and they all stack with eachother. Riki is caplable to taking major advantage of this, stacking all four on enemies quickly and re-applying them when they wear of ad-infinum, to the point where he's considered one of the best boss killers in the game. The other main status effects, Break/Topple/Daze, render enemies not immune (and only flying monsters generally are) completley immobile and vulnerable to damage, and at higher levels the party can spam these to make sure they never have a chance to get up.
On the other hand, the same status effects are only mild annoyances when used by enemies: damage-over-time effects are easily out-healed, and active party members can snap eachother out of Sleep, Topple of Daze. Moreover Sharla's status-curing ability actually has the additional effect of making the target immune to further debuffing for a short while, (and she can hit your whole party with it later) making them all the more useless.
Unwitting Pawn: Egil and Shulk play right into Zanza's hands for the majority of the game.
Vicious Cycle: Every time the Bionis races grow advanced enough to travel into space and leave him to die, Zanza enacts the apocalypse to reset everything. The entire game follows everyone's attempts to stop him from doing this again.
Video Game Stealing: Riki's "Yoink!" lets him steal something from the enemy. With one quick move, not only can he steal any droppable item from the enemy, something that can already let him get some bizarre things, but he can also steal stats from them, such as their strength or agility. And with the help of skills, he can upgrade the power to make it possible to even take experience points away from the enemy.
Villainous Breakdown: Zanza starts losing it after Shulk and co. kick his ass twice and he still cannot see their future, while they can. It's displayed nicely in the final battle, the first time they manage to have a vision in his presence.
Zanza: No! How can you still have visions?!
Visible Silence: Sometimes. And it's funny, since the "silence" is actually a sigh or a hum.
Virtual Paper Doll: Any changes to armor and weapons are visible even in cutscenes, and the game even remembers what you were wearing at the time during flashbacks.
Walking Shirtless Scene: It's possible to make every male character walk around without a shirt constantly. In fact, Dunban can get a huge status buff from doing so.
Walking Spoiler: Half the cast, to different degrees. But two characters deserve special mention.
The first one is Zanza. Initially revealed as some sort of Big Good, he turns out to be an absolute Evil God and the true Big Bad. It's no wonder most of who he is is a spoiler.
The second one is Fiora, who takes the cake, the shop and the whole freaking baking industry! It's almost impossible to talk about the game's plot beyond the first two hours without mentioning the (FIRST!) Wham Episode involving them.
Subverted. Shulk is horrified once he discovers that Faced Mechon have Homs inside them, and when he discovers later that there is actual life on Mechonis in the form of the Machina. This makes him forget about his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Mechonis, as he would be taking sentient life. Later, the Telethia are played for all the horror they deserve.
Played straight with some of the species of monster. They use tools, have goals and have a certain level of intelligence implied. Kill as many as you want, no one ever questions the morality. Not even the Monado itself cares, as it can't hurt sentient Bionis life, yet cuts through these creatures just fine.
A little later, when all the pure-blooded High Entia are transformed into Telethia.
They even keep something under the sleeve for the ending. We find out that the current universe was created after Zanza DESTROYED the previous universe, and that previous universe was OUR universe, as in the "real" world.
Denying a sidequest for whatever reason has both the quest giver reacting negatively, and possibly even other party members calling the leader out, complete with a reduction of the affinity between them.
The rest of the party will have something to say when trying to face a red-named (6+ levels higher) monster in battle.
Reyn: Are you NUTS?
Sharla: Are you trying to get us killed!?
Shulk: Do you really think this is a good idea?
Kallian is given a berating directed at all of the High Entia for them not lifting a finger to help the Homs in the war against the Mechon. He admits to their mistake, as they had mistakenly assumed it was not their fight.
Who Wants to Live Forever?: The focus of a sidequest, where an elderly Machina is about to die: you can either go get her some Machina Energy from the wreckages near Colony 9 to allow her to live another 20 years or so, or go hunt for some rare revitalizing eggs which instead cause her to outlive everyone in Colony 6 and be left all alone. Strange that the lazy option has better end result even if it makes sense in context.
Wide Open Sandbox: One of the game's main selling points is the positively vast overworld, and the game pretty much gives you free reign to stray from the main quest to do plenty of other sidequests. Thankfully, the game allows for teleportation to important locations around the overworld, meaning it's possible to stray off the path to complete a sidequest or two and teleport back to the main path.
Mumkhar wields a pair of the them in the battle of Sword Valley.
Metal Face has a gigantic pair of claws for arms.
World of Buxom: Every adult female is stacked, save arguably Melia and Fiora.
World Shapes: The entire universe is composed by an endless ocean and two titans where its inhabitants live. It is returned to its natural form of spiral-shaped galaxies full of stars and round planets in the ending, although the head and a bit of one shoulder of one of the two titans is still sticking out of Earth's ocean.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: All Homs characters have pretty realistic hair colors. The main exceptions being Colonel "Squaretache" with his pink hair, and Alvis with his Mystical White Hair that more closely resembles that of the High Entia.
Zip Mode: The fast travel mechanic, which turns what would be an otherwise tedious walk from one end of the world to the other into a breeze.