The constant bombardment of new information, trailers and screenshots for Xenoblade Chronicles X can be overwhelming at times for even the most die-hard of fans. As such, it’s easy to take for granted the changes in the visual style and all-around graphical improvements.
Chronicles X was first introduced in 2013 as simply Monolith’s X, complete with a giant red “X” to symbolize the title.
Along with two teaser trailers (the first which debuted in January and the second during E3 2013), gamers were enchanted with the huge scope, beautiful landscapes and giant mechs of the “sequel” to Xenoblade Chronicles.
A brief look at the history of its visual style and development should be beneficial in showcasing the incredible evolution of the game.
In one of the first trailers shown above, the UI during general and Skell combat can easily be seen:
Compare that to the current UI used in the most recent trailers and you’ll notice a huge difference in the layout of vital information:
The first UI is very basic to the point of being bland. It uses square shapes and clearly lacks direction in its visual style.
The redesigned palette takes on a more circular and streamlined form, better integrating the new information displayed on-screen (such as showcasing new information introduced to Chronicles X like the Skell fuel amounts) and overall better representing the differences between the two title’s gameplay.
Another interesting note is draw distance and overall environment details. In the earlier trailers, while the environment is certainly impressive you’d be hard-pressed to see past a very short distance (or in some cases see past the graphical fog used to obscure far distances).
New footage, however, reveals a much higher draw distance with more detail shown in the far background.
An image from the 2013 trailer:
Versus images from recent trailers:
It may be hard to notice when the game is in motion, but there have also been some improvements made to lighting effects. Taking a look at the same scene from different trailers, you can see major enhancements to lighting, enhancing visuals even further (credit to bomblord1 for the screenshots).
Older E3 trailer:
Recent Nintendo Direct trailer:
Let’s not only dwell upon graphical upgrades and UI changes, as concept art and designs has also evolved by leaps and bounds since Chronicles X‘s first trailers in 2013.
The first obvious change has been to the iconic graphic, the massive “X” that heralded the initial announcement. Originally it was bright red drawn in a rough and painted style, which served its purpose of catching the attention of those who watched:
Later on Monolith changed this key color to a more restrained and sleeker light blue “X,” which better reflects the setting and colors of the technologically advanced world:
Then there’s the concept artwork itself. The very first piece, which was released around 2012, had a distinctive Mobius-like feel — a complete departure from Xenoblade Chronicles‘s style:
Recent concept art, however, switches up the style to reflect its predecessor much more closely but kicked up the colors and elaborate designs:
One can see the drastic changes made to the designs in the above concept art comparison. While both versions certainly have their merit, the later works better to reflect the vision and goals the development team strived to achieve with this title, as well as tie it in much more seamlessly with the previous Xenoblade Chronicles.
As the Japanese release date is upon us now — with the Western release slated for this year — it’s quite fascinating taking a gander at the visual evolution of Xenoblade Chronicles X from its very early stages to its now current and polished form.