Xenoblade Chronicles X Review – Tour Guide to a Strange World

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Xenoblade Chronicles X is a mixed single player and multiplayer RPG developed by Monolith Soft and published by Nintendo. When I picked up the game I had very little knowledge of the series history and style of gameplay, all I knew about the game was that it was massive.

Having beaten the game I can say that the statement is more than accurate, Xenoblade Chronicles X has a sense of enormity that I haven’t seen within a game in a long time. It is clear that the development team put quite a bit of work into it and they should be proud of what they’ve accomplished.

When traveling through the first continent of the game I felt that Xenoblade’s approach to world building was one of its strongest points. The monsters, called indigens, had a unique and inspired design, that ranged from human sized to massive behemoths that towered over the landscape.

Seeing this vast difference in my level starting out and the average indigen that wandered the plains left me feeling helpless and greatly played into the idea that the world you now inhabit is full of extreme danger that could kill you at any moment. I had found myself living in Australia on a planetary scale.

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Getting to mission objectives had me avoiding the sight of many of the nastier indigens or running away as fast as I could if they did manage to find me. Despite the hulking monstrosities roaming about, the missions are well scaled to fit with player level giving me the opportunity to better my understanding of the combat system within the game. Essentially the player character automatically uses basic attacks while the player controls special attacks called Arts.

However, being new to the series I found that the game did not do a good job explaining certain aspects of the combat system. For example, I would often have to look back into the manual just to catch up on what certain status effects did or how to heal.

It wasn’t until I was in the later chapters of the game that I figured out how to revive a fallen teammate. While I am sure this won’t dissuade fans of the series, if you are new to Xenoblade be aware that there is a learning curve that could take a while to get used to.

The game places a strong emphasis on your situation awareness, as your character’s positioning and its target play a considerable role on the flow of battle. In many instances where your character is can have a strong influence on flow of battle by leading to a higher chance of hitting, a stronger overall attack or even useful bonuses from your arts. This situation awareness is compounded by the fact that you can target specific parts of the enemy which can lower the enemies strength, cripple a fast enemy, or even destroy arms, which often significantly improves the odds of survival.

This is also the main method of gaining parts to build equipment and a chance for randomly dropped equipment. A nice feature of the game is that breaking off these parts also causes the indigen’s model to change, adding a dynamic feel to battles.

In one instance what I thought was a long neck on a massive monster was actually an extendable mouth, surprising me with it’s creepy looking face. Small details like this have a way of showing the level of dedication the developers had to building this world.

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Traveling throughout the world Monolith Soft has built has been a visual feast of the eyes. The jungle scape of Noctilum gave me visions of the first time I saw the movie Avatar. With trees that reached the highest points of the map, and mushrooms the size of houses, the attention to imagination and ingenuity gave me a sense of wonder that is sadly absent from most video games.

The weather was also a fantastic factor when I was making my way through this interesting planet. Depending on the location, one could receive volcanic rocks flailing through the sky (as the party receives constant damage), forcing you to find shelter from the bombardment, all the way to deep fogs that can conceal boss level indigens that can tear through a player’s team like it was wet tissue paper.

When I first tried to load the game up I was made aware the game had downloadable content. When I found that the DLC was a data pack that increased the speed of loading in the game I was quite enthusiastic, but seeing that it was 10GB of data for things that should have been on the disc left me with sticker shock.

I ended up having to delete most of the games that I had downloaded on my Wii U just to be able to fit the data pack onto my console. This isn’t a problem with the digital version of the game as it comes included making the total game download well over 20GB, but if you’re not using an external hard drive then I would be cautious of purchasing this game.

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As I was playing through the game I found myself extremely disappointed with the soundtrack. In combat it is important to focus on what your teammates say in order to have any chance at healing, but this can be difficult when your battle theme is also in English and can cover up vital information.

Also, it may just be me being picky, but the main songs off this soundtrack were some of the more annoying themes I’ve heard in recent years. This is mainly due to their uninspired vocals and repetitive nature. That’s not to say the entire soundtrack was bad as there were many great themes that did I enjoy. It was just disappointing to know that the songs that should have been emphasized in game only lasted for one or two scenes and then I would never hear it again.

The main quest is tied behind many different prerequisites to prevent the player from rushing past the game in a hurry without getting a chance to really connect with your other party members. I wouldn’t say this is a bad, in fact I quite enjoyed the fact that you would be sent on quests to develop a greater understanding of the side characters, or certain events happening in the game.

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The problem with this is that many of these side missions required you to have spent a considerable amount of time with the central character of the side mission and if you hadn’t been paying attention, you might become stuck trying to raise the affinity of one character or another that you had been completely ignoring for the entirety of the game.

This issue is only intensified by the fact that there isn’t a solid method of gaining affinity with your party outside of completing mission after mission, or hours of grinding where you try to perform the art that your party is requesting of you.

After I beat the game I had found out that there were small little chat sessions you could have with your party members at certain places, but the requirements for them are that they’re not in your team, you know exactly where they are, and your affinity with them is to a certain level. These events would have been useful, but the game neglects to tell the player of them from the get-go.

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I could have forgiven all of these issues if the games characters and motivations had been fleshed out. The player character has no depth at all, and the fact that you have amnesia is never brought up in the game after the small introduction.

I understand that it’s a plot device, allowing the player to experience the same wonder at the world that the character experiences, but it still feels  contrived to me. The side characters feel just as flat as the main character and after the affinity quest where they’re introduced, they really don’t contribute to the main story in any meaningful way.

The only two characters that I actually enjoyed following were the two main characters the game focused on, Lin and Elma. You get to fully experience their grief and joy in a very meaningful way throughout the entirety of the game. It makes me wish that the side characters had received even half the love and attention Lin and Elma received.

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Had the side characters had any influence on dialog within the main missions, or contributed anything of value to the main story outside of just existing, I might have felt this game had a compelling story. Sadly, the only contributions these characters have are their affinity quests and if you bring any of them on a main mission they’ll just stand around doing nothing during a cutscene.

What’s even more frustrating is that the antagonists feel like cardboard cutouts. You never truly understand their motivation for hating humans until the game is over, and even then it feels like a let-down. The small cutaways to the villains after several chapters only left me more confused as it failed to properly explain anything.

If I understood why the villains hated humans earlier, or if the lesser antagonists appeared in side missions where we might learn a little bit more about them, I might have had a stronger emotional reaction to their implied death, but overall it just felt like wasted potential.

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Overall, even with my gripes, Xenoblade Chronicles X isn’t a bad game. I may have had issues with the character development and overall story of this game, but I look forward to a good story whenever I play a game.

To me this game was just the prologue to a very long story where the character and enemies are introduced but their motivations and development happen throughout the course of many games, and I won’t be satisfied with Monolith Soft until this story comes to a conclusion.

I have high hopes for this series and I eagerly look forward to the potential next installment. I think I’ll be playing through the rest of the side missions this game has to offer, and I hope that my time playing it will be filled with the same sort of wonder I began the game with. That being said, the world Monolith Soft built is fantastic and I encourage you to check it out.

Xenoblade Chronicles X was reviewed on Wii U using a retail copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

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The Verdict: 8

The Good:

  • Beautiful world building and fantastic attention to detail
  • Rich combat system that utilizes situational awareness
  • Harsh, unwelcoming environment that makes you feel small
  • Skells were a fantastic addition that really changed things up

The Bad:

  • Relative lack of memorable characters, enemies felt flat as well
  • Soundtrack was repetitive in places, often covers up in game speech
  • Lack of explanation on many key features of combat
  • Weak main story line that absolutely requires side missions for full story
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I am a research student with a history in psychology. I am a fan of tactical rpgs and I love to travel. I hope to one day be a clinical psychologist.

  1. Etherblaze
    February 11, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Neat. Seems like a game you’d get for the world and mechs rather than anything else. I’d love to play it… if it wasn’t censored/had stuff removed. Maybe one day when it hits a bargain bin or drops really low in price.

  2. Dammage
    February 11, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    Oh if only NoA weren’t so damn awful… This game sounds like i’d be a good time. Maybe they’ll do better when the NX comes around

  3. Yamato
    February 11, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    His review is pretty spot on, I am playing currently at 105 hours in and maybe 5 hours of that has been main story. If you are the type who doesn’t like side missions and lots of exploration you won’t get much out of the small amount of main story that there actually is.

  4. Feniks
    February 11, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Yeah I actually feel really bad for Monolith.

    All the people who worked on this game are being anally penetrated without prior consent because of Nintendo.

  5. scemar
    February 11, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    The management of the characters with the story missions, and the mech combat messing the pacing of the game are the two complains I’ve heard the most.
    After the censorship of course.
    Might play this one once the WiiU emulator is up to the task, and surely it’ll look even better on PC.

  6. West
    February 11, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    One day, in the future, I will play the Japanese version of this game on emulator. F**k NOA!

  7. Alien Invader Studio
    Alien Invader Studio
    February 11, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    I got the game and while I still haven’t finished it I strongly recommended it to JRPG fans :)

  8. Alien Invader Studio
    Alien Invader Studio
    February 11, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    Blame SJWs/feminists for making NA so prudish.

  9. Go D. Usopp
    Go D. Usopp
    February 11, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    I really need to go back to this and play more of the side content

    Also anyone else much prefer ground combat to skells? I liked it so much more I fought the final boss on foot

  10. Guin
    February 11, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    I haven’t touched my game yet, but from the screenshots and overall premise, I feel like they’re trying too hard to appeal to Westaboos. At least the original wasn’t explicitly doing that.

  11. Yamato
    February 11, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    Definitely prefer ground combat to skells, when I use skells it feels dull and pointless because all you have to do is spam G-Buster with high potential + Heals and you can defeat about anything with minimal effort. I haven’t gotten to end game yet but I literally haven’t ran into anything that gives me trouble yet.

  12. Go D. Usopp
    Go D. Usopp
    February 11, 2016 at 11:30 pm

    I actually have trouble fighting in a skell because my party never trigger the soul voices in them for some reason. I configured it all right but it just doesn’t happen. Whereas on ground I get plenty plus I can outdamage my skells by abusing critical skills and hundred shells to do a long chain of 10k damage per hit

  13. bateruchan
    February 11, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    nintendo has always been prudish what are you talking about

  14. Yamato
    February 11, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    I can’t outdamage my skell, but that’s because I grinded for hours to deck out my skell with the best possible gears for my current position in the story. Once I hit lvl 60 though that will probably change because i’ll give my ground gear the same treatment.

  15. Alien Invader Studio
    Alien Invader Studio
    February 12, 2016 at 12:24 am

    First it’s Nintendo of America that’s prudish cause it’s a separate entity from Nintendo. Second the cult of feminism is over 160 years old, predating Nintendo and the cause of the prudishness in America. Third Nintendo got into video games as a toy company and still bares some of that cultural heritage.

  16. sanic
    February 12, 2016 at 12:32 am


    Still a good game but I would have cancelled my order if it didn’t mysteriously become $15

  17. Yamato
    February 12, 2016 at 1:05 am

    Doubt it will drop very far my guess is $30-40 is the lowest you will ever see unless you buy a used “acceptable” copy.

  18. Fear Me I Am Free
    Fear Me I Am Free
    February 12, 2016 at 1:49 am

    I’ll wait for a hack of it because I’m done supporting Nintendo’s awful censorship practices.

  19. Tyrannikos
    February 12, 2016 at 1:54 am

    Only reason I want to buy this are those fantastic mecha designs. That alone is enough to get me to play for a long time.

    Unfortunately, my principles won the battle and I sold my Wii U. I just cannot support NoA.

  20. OSad
    February 12, 2016 at 2:05 am

    I wish they’d make a new Xenosaga entry. I know it’s wishful thinking since they wrapped up the storyline short on 3, but this MMO style of game with grindy sidequests doesn’t really do it for me at all.

    It’s about as likely as it is for them to put a Xenogears sequel but… oh well. I really yearn back to playing those space opera themed turn-based JRPG’s. I don’t want 100 hours of side content, just a good story with some nice characters does the trick for me.

  21. Guin
    February 12, 2016 at 2:59 am

    Wait for SO5 and hope they got their act together this time…oh turn based. Yeah, I got nuthin.

  22. Thanatos2k
    February 12, 2016 at 3:37 am

    About right. It’s better than the first game in a couple ways, and worse in a lot more. The story and characters are a steaming pile, but the exploration is great. And there’s tons of content. I dumped 165 hours into it.

    A solid 8.

  23. Thanatos2k
    February 12, 2016 at 3:37 am

    Come on. Nintendo’s been doing this since the 80s and it has nothing to do with feminism.

  24. Thanatos2k
    February 12, 2016 at 3:38 am

    Yes it was. It was a JRPG grafted onto a single player MMO. This one is that even more so in some ways.

  25. Thanatos2k
    February 12, 2016 at 3:40 am

    Skells are too simple, really. You dump your abilities and then wait minutes for the good ones to recharge unless you get lucky on the cockpit resets. In the mid game I would start combat by spamming all abilities and then getting out of the skell to continue fighting.

  26. Dom The Elegy
    Dom The Elegy
    February 12, 2016 at 5:39 am

    I was so disappointed by the ending that I basically gave up on the post game content immediately. It was a shame because there’s a lot of good in the game but after that ending it all just felt so pointless (and needlessly grindy).

  27. Dom The Elegy
    Dom The Elegy
    February 12, 2016 at 5:41 am

    Keep an eye on CEMU then. For an emulator this new it runs surprisingly well. If I had a stronger processor I could’ve probably played Mario Maker and stuff like that with no issues.

  28. Stilzkin
    February 12, 2016 at 5:46 am

    Yes, it felt like they were setting up the world and the characters and all that with this game. It absolutely needs a sequel because most things are still unexplained. Has anyone seen the concept art of Mira with the other continents and new city (New Tokyo)?

    Oh and fuck Tatsu, I want Riki back

  29. Carl_Ed
    February 12, 2016 at 5:46 am

    If you get good at either ground or skell combat the story missions end up being dull and pointless.

    There’s such a gulf between how powerful you can get and how powerful you need to be to finish the game that either the games tyrants will be curb stomping you in half a second flat or you’ll be effortlessly one hit killing the story bosses.

    While becoming a god of death has its own charm, I have to say I prefer the more gradual and balanced strength curve in the original Xenoblade.

  30. Carl_Ed
    February 12, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Once you start playing around with the potential stat you’ll find ground combat can be just as damaging as skell combat.

    Skells are more about attacking flying enemies and big opening attack damage to OHKO level 90+ tyrants.

  31. Stilzkin
    February 12, 2016 at 5:50 am

    How? Because NLA?

  32. Carl_Ed
    February 12, 2016 at 5:51 am

    Keep it in mind for when Wii U emulation gets up to speed. There’s some nice mecha porn in there if you’re into that sort of thing.

  33. Carl_Ed
    February 12, 2016 at 5:54 am

    Get 700+ skell potential and go overdrive. Your chances of a cockpit reset are over 50%.

  34. Yamato
    February 12, 2016 at 5:58 am

    Without even touching the potential stat and using ground gear from the shop I can already deal out over 100k damage in a single string of attacks if I pay attention to my positioning atleast. I am waiting until 60 before I really start going for optimization though.

  35. Carl_Ed
    February 12, 2016 at 6:11 am

    100k is barely scratching the surface if you go all out. My rather modest build deals about 1.3 million per Afterburner, and there are people who have really gone off the deep end dealing 5-10 mil per Blossom Dance.

    There is very little need to have that sort of DPS, even if your want to kill the hardest tyrants on foot, but it’s there in the game.

  36. Yamato
    February 12, 2016 at 7:00 am

    That’s ridiculous amounts of damage, I haven’t looked up any builds or anything about the game outside a few collectibles I had trouble finding so I didn’t realize that high of damage was even possible. Gonna be interesting when I get to end game and start getting my builds together sounds fun haha.

  37. Carl_Ed
    February 12, 2016 at 9:54 am

    The main challenge in any build is survivability, considering the nastiest tyrants will happily deal 20+ times your max HP in damage. Dealing damage is easy by comparison (though Potential Up/Boost XXs take their sweet time to make).

    Ghostwalker, Supersheild/Raijin/Astrolibrium, Astral Projection, sleep/topple locking, changing armour on an enemy-by-enemy basis. There are probably other strategies I don’t know about. It’s all about picking how you want to stay alive and building around it.

  38. Alien Invader Studio
    Alien Invader Studio
    February 12, 2016 at 10:47 am

    They have much more as dult stuff in their Japanese versions, they edit their games for NA cause feminism made the NA uber prudish.

  39. Guin
    February 12, 2016 at 11:27 am

    It’s one of those. You wouldn’t expect a Western game to set itself in Japan unless it’s a Ninja or Samurai game.

  40. Guin
    February 12, 2016 at 11:30 am

    I’m not talking about the gameplay. I meant the background setting and cast. Your home base is an American colony. Your comrades are mostly American. A typical Japanese game would not do this unless they’re trying to pander in to gaijins like what they did around 2009 or so.

  41. Montrillian
    February 12, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    Oh I know what we can do. Lets just throw him in a pot and call it a day! That was annoying as fuck and I hated every scene he was in. Pointless character, utterly pointless.

  42. Stilzkin
    February 12, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Hmm I don’t know. Would have been hard to include non-jap characters if it was New Tokyo

  43. Thanatos2k
    February 12, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Sure, but you could also have a 500+ potential Blossom Dance build on the ground and never need a skell.

  44. bateruchan
    February 12, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    1) i’m aware but noj clearly allows them to do it so… ?
    2) ehm uh okay ?? third wave feminism, though, is relatively new and is the cancer you seek to destroy. tho feminists are probably not the reason for blood censorship in the 90s among other prudish 90s changes ???
    3) i’m well aware
    4) did you like your own fucking comment? for real?

  45. bateruchan
    February 12, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    no our point is is noa has been prudish since the 90s… you know, before third-wave feminism gave a damn about vidya.

    blood censorship is the prominent example

  46. bateruchan
    February 12, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    but tokyo has a huge concentration of gaijin…

  47. Alien Invader Studio
    Alien Invader Studio
    February 12, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    Noj still has to make money and doesn’t want to upset NA customers. Feminism was always toxic, do some bloody research into the topic.

  48. bateruchan
    February 12, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    let me guess, you come from /pol/ to inform me how women voting is the cancer of society and giving women basic human rights is the failure men allowed back in the 20s?

    because i’m sorry i don’t subscribe to your crackpot theory that feminism “was always toxic”.

  49. Alien Invader Studio
    Alien Invader Studio
    February 12, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    You really have no idea what you are talking about. First I said nothing about women voting. Second the suffragettes were actually very violent and racist. Third feminism started July 19 1848, well before even men got universal suffrage. Fouth I’ve never been to /pol/. Fifth stating the reality that the femenist religion is and always was toxic is not a crackpot theory it is reality. Sixth voting is not a basic human right for anyone it’s a privilege granted by the state which many men have to sacrifice their lives and freedom just for a chance at getting that women never did. Do some actual research in to the topic before trying to lecture others on the topic. You are exhibiting the dunning-kruger effect.

  50. bateruchan
    February 12, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    all i see here is buzzwords and bullshit.

    i’m also sick as shit and don’t feel like deciphering through that bullshit.

    you spew a bunch of shit with zero examples so why should i take your shit serious when it reads like a typical /pol/ post? no sources, no evidence, just buzzwords and ~clever~ insults. i never planned on lecturing anyone (too sick to lecture anyway) but clearly you planned on it… with zero examples, zero sources and a fuckload of buzzwords and baseless assertions, tho.

  51. Alien Invader Studio
    Alien Invader Studio
    February 12, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Your ignorance is disgusting. Go do a little research into the topic and and for Lucifer’s sake quit drinking the poison kool-aid. Lastly do try to lecturee on a subject I clearly know far more about than you.

  52. bateruchan
    February 12, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    jfc i said i’m not trying to lecture
    also, i cannot stand reactionary fucks like you who shout “DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH” after using 50 fucking buzzwords in one post. you know what it reminds me of? SJW fucks who shout “educate yourself!!1111!!!one” to dissenters. “ur so ignorant n dum go edumacate urself” is now the rhetoric of both sides.

    if you’re not going to provide sources and links to bolster your point, then shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down. i asked and you just slapped around some ad hominem bullshit (again) with another random blathering of buzzwords (again). so until you can actually prove your fucking point i’m going to continue to roll my eyes and say “buzzwords and bullshit, moving on”

  53. Alien Invader Studio
    Alien Invader Studio
    February 12, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    I can’t stand ignorant twats like you who can’t do a quick online search into a subject and demand I do the work for them cause they are drunk on poison kool-aid.

  54. bateruchan
    February 13, 2016 at 12:42 am

    yeah, i can’t stand stupid fucks like you who want to shout from the rooftops all these assertions while not knowing debate 101.

    that is, the first rule of a debate being that if you assert a positive, the onus is on you to prove it. not on me to prove it for you and not on me to prove a negative.

    sorry, not fucking sorry.
    “educate yourself” is the type of shit i expect from a 12 year old tumblrina. grow up.

  55. Alien Invader Studio
    Alien Invader Studio
    February 13, 2016 at 1:07 am

    When you spout utter nonsense and claim to know about a subject you are completely ignorant on you do not deserve the courtesy of me doing the research for you. Only brainwashed betas believe the feminist lies and think they had anything to do with women getting the vote a mere twenty years after men.

  56. bateruchan
    February 13, 2016 at 1:41 am

    look at that! still no fucking sources!

    there’s a reason i’m sitting here calling you a stupid fuck.

  57. Alien Invader Studio
    Alien Invader Studio
    February 13, 2016 at 2:00 am

    If you weren’t a little beta bitch you could find the information yourself. Know one had to provide me sources, I looked up the info myself.

  58. bateruchan
    February 13, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    ah, yeah, i’m sure. and i’m sure your confirmation bias fed what sources were output too ))))

  59. Alien Invader Studio
    Alien Invader Studio
    February 13, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    You betas are so pathetic. You think supporting misandry will get you laid but the female selection algorithm doesn’t work that way.

  60. Fandangle
    February 13, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    “but seeing that it was 10GB of data for things that should have been on the disc left me with sticker shock.”

    The DLC is on disc. It’s just that loading it FROM the disc takes a while. Loading it from the console itself is much faster. Japan actually had 5 DLC packs, 2 came with new skell models, 1 came with a new weapon and all three came with a new party member. The other two were affinity and cash boosting missions. They were all included on disc in the english version.

  61. bateruchan
    February 13, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    what the fuck are you talking about?

    also, i’m gay, so whatever the fuck you’re spewing under that fedora really, really does not matter to me. by the by, people are not programming algorithms. believe it or not.
    go back into mommy’s basement, though. go view more MRA whiny bullshit to support your confirmation bias. that’s the reason you’re not getting chicks, it’s all feminism’s fault, amirite?! :^)

    look, fedoralord, i’m all for some good hearty “and this is why i’m a faggot” jokes when straight dudes bitch about chicks around me, but i assure you your problem is less ‘feminism’ and more your weird issue with seeing people as ‘algorithms’ rather than people with thoughts and feelings, motivations and goals, likes and dislikes, etc.

  62. Feniks
    February 13, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    I think it has more to do with the old puritanical streak that is still alive in the US.

    You have strong Church and social leaders who are allowed to appear in public media instead of safely ignored.

  63. Montrillian
    February 17, 2016 at 2:14 am

    It was a Data pack to increase the loading speed. It’s 10 gb of data.

  64. Fandangle
    February 17, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    Yeah, technically it is on disc but the disc loads it slower because the sheer amount of it. Loading from the hardware is usually better for disc based games.

    Semi-related: This is also why Cartridges are and will ALWAYS be better than discs.