Xenoblade Chronicles: Relax, and Let the Adventure Guide You
These days, all RPGs feel as if you're setting up a game of Dungeons and Dragons. I know I'm showing my age here by asking, "Whatever happened to games like Chrono Trigger where you spent a minute in exposition and then you're hurling fire spells at enemies as easy as pie?" What happened is that kids keep getting a lot smarter and I don't have time to keep up with them. So as I did with the last two Final Fantasies, I spent the first hour grumbling at the screen while walking through the assorted tutorials that make up Xenoblade Chronicles.
The game starts out strong, showing two titanic figures locked in eternal battle. One is Bionis, and the other Mechonis, and their war is the entirety of existence until one fatal cut by the Bionis locks them in stasis. Years later, civilizations grow up on the bodies of the gods and, like all good civilizations, they go to war.
On one side are the humans, and on the other are the machine-like Mechon. The only thing that has any effect on their armor is the Monado, an energy sword that is the titular xenoblade. A brave soldier named Dunbar manages to stop the Mechon's advance using it, but at the cost of losing the ability to use his right arm.
Later, we pick up with the party proper, a military researcher named Shulk and his friends. It's here, while Shulk is scavenging for Mechon scrap for weapons, that the game really gets going.
It's very clear that Monolith Soft was trying to strike a magic balance between the likes of Skyrim and more conventional and linear RPGs. Though you control a party, in reality only the actions of your leader are really under your command, and save for specific arts and skills, they mostly just attack. Learn to effectively manage your party's skills and you'll be an unstoppable force.
The only unfortunate thing is that the game does throw an awful lot at you very quickly, and it's a bit too much to digest. Frankly, if the early enemies didn't avoid attacking you unless you attacked them first, and if you pretty much had to try to die during battles, I doubt I would've gotten far.
Then, once you get to your first town, Colony 9, you are inundated with something like 20 fetch quests delivering biscuits and telling people you love them. Being the insane completist that I am, I started trying to go down this list one person at a time, and here's where it got really frustrating.
First off, even this initial area is huge. It utterly dwarfs any starting point in any RPG I've ever played, not the least because there are no boundaries. You can hop over fences and swim across water. You are as free as you would be in real life, and for some players that freedom can be downright terrifying.