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What’s in Your Box: Week of 1-16

/ Jan 16th, 2016 No Comments

Life is Strange Episode 3

Each week, we here at Gaming Illustrated are always playing a number of different video games. However, we may not be talking about them in reviews or editorials. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth talking about, but for any number of reasons an avenue to speak on them doesn’t come up. To remedy the issue, we’re going to ask our staff (and you, honestly) what’s in your box?

What’s in Kalvin’s Box

It has been a rainy week in Portland, which has helped in making me want to do nothing but play video games. Well, video game really because since starting it two weeks ago, I haven’t been able to shake Xenoblade Chronicles X. Something about the game has burrowed into my head and I haven’t been able to shake it. It sucks you into this grand conflict between the last bastion of humanity and hostile xenoforms on an alien planet. You can’t help but keep going to improve the situation on Mira.

What has happened in a week’s time since I started is the open-world fatigue has begun to take hold. Xenoblade Chronicles X is truly a huge game with an insane amount of things to do. While most open-world and JRPG games allow you to mainline the story missions easily, Xenoblade Chronicles X dissuades you of that notion by having stringent exploration and mission requirements to further story progress. Much of this seems to ensure you aren’t under-leveled for some of the tougher story missions. Admirable as it may be, it does have the byproduct of wearing your out by the sheer amount of side quests you can do.

Xenoblade Chronicles X

There are some nasty creatures in Xenoblade Chronicles X.

Completing side quests helps you improve your BLADE ranking, which in turn allows you to find more treasures in the field. However, not all side quests are as exciting as others. The majority of them range from simple item collection to taking out indigens around Mira. They are often very simple missions, which are quick ways to earn cash and some experience. The side quests that are much more worthwhile are the affinity missions.

These are more involved in both mission scope and pre-requisite. The average affinity mission needs story progression, and the main character and certain side characters to have a specific affinity rating, which are raised through successful soul voice activations, dialogue actions, and completing missions. What sets these missions apart are the cut scenes have full voice acting, story consequences, and net additional useable team members. It is highly recommended to scout out all available affinity missions around New LA, and do them early as possible to make sure you are actively meeting any affinity pre-requisites.

Finally digging deep into Xenoblade Chronicles X also got me thinking hard about my personal top 5 of 2015.

Top 5

We are in the process of our GOTY deliberations right now. While we have gotten down to five nominations, and I agree with them wholeheartedly, but they aren’t necessarily my top 5 of 2015. A top 5 should be slightly different from a GOTY consideration because it can be more personal. Rather than trying to decide what game is pound for pound the best, it can be about how a game touched you and stuck with you. Certainly a number of our GOTY nominees did strike a personal chord with me, but not all of them.

Life is Strange Episode 3

Unlocking the top 5.

I played a ton of games in 2015, but here are the games that left me feeling some type of way: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Life is Strange, Galak-Z: The Dimensional, and Xenoblade Chronicles X.


Galak-Z is beyond fun.

Some have obvious personal implications because Type-0 HD likely won’t make any GOTY discussions, but it mesmerized me with its addictive gameplay and complex story. A lot of my love for it also might be influenced by my noted love for Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. Galak-Z is just flat out cool ****ing games with an excellent presentation and style, and the gameplay is ridiculously fun.

Life is Strange touched me in all my feels, and I fell immediately in love with Max and Chole as characters. Helping Max make difficult decisions and using her rewind powers was one of the most enjoyable moments of the year. Rise of the Tomb Raider is one hell of a ride that continues to build Lara Croft into the character she deserves to be. It’ll be exciting when more people can experience what is one hell of a follow-up to Lara’s inaugural journey this year.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider has some amazing cinematic moments.

Xenoblade Chronicles X is quite simply one of the most engrossing experiences I’ve had outside of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain this year, and in quite a while. It is a massive experience with plenty of stunning wild life and environments to explore. Fully covering one of Mira’s five continents isn’t even scratching the surface of what you can see in the game. When you finally get the ability to fly in a skell, your mind will be blown.

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Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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