METAL MAX Xeno (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gabriel Jones 23.09.2018

Review for METAL MAX Xeno on PlayStation 4

In the not too distance future, breakthroughs in artificial intelligence led to the birth of "NOA." This supercomputer was designed to monitor and protect the planet. Almost immediately, it recognised Earth's greatest enemy: humans. Now, really, was there ever any doubt? Mankind has been destroying the environment for centuries. Did they seriously believe there wouldn't be any consequences? Anyway, NOA didn't waste any time. After directing nuclear weapons to wipe out half the world's population, it built an army of machines to snuff out the other half. Now, only a few survivors remain. In METAL MAX Xeno, there's just one person who has what it takes to save the human race from extinction.

The idea of being the sole survivor of a cataclysmic disaster used to be appealing, but that was a long time ago. Nowadays, this concept has been run into the ground harder than zombies and roguelikes put together. What purpose do the all of these games serve? Maybe it's because gamers apparently need daily reminders that humanity is doomed. They need to be repeatedly shown a future filled with ruined buildings, skeletal remains, and giant seven-toed lizards that breathe fire. To put it bluntly, there are far too many post-apocalyptic videogames.

Interestingly enough, while playing through METAL MAX Xeno, some may stumble upon the epiphany that there's actually something strangely comforting about the post-apocalyptic life. Typically, humans spend the bulk of their lives in a constant state of stress. They work backbreaking hours, agonise over the smallest details, and then their worries and regrets follow them to their grave. It's a lonely life defined by minor successes and major failures. If the fear of losing everything is what drives people, then why not live in a future where everything is already lost? Granted, this is also a future where every living creature is the size of a bear and twice as ferocious, so it isn't all wine and roses. On the bright side, at least a person knows what their purpose is - their place in the sun. Perhaps the right idea is to treat them like vacations. They offer hours of escapism, except with more corpses than palm trees.

Screenshot for METAL MAX Xeno on PlayStation 4

It probably doesn't hurt that a lot of post-apocalyptic games are driven by wish-fulfilment. The protagonist of this game, in particular, seems to have been designed by a focus group. His name is Talis, he has a metal arm, and carries two swords on his back. Note that the swords are there just to make him look cool, as he never actually uses them. This rad dude isn't all that concerned about saving humanity. Despite the presence of multiple women in various stages of undress, his thoughts never drift towards "repopulating the planet," either. All he wants to do is destroy NOA's army of machines and monsters. They killed his mother, so all that matters is vengeance. Talis isn't especially charismatic, but that doesn't stop the rest of the cast - which is largely composed of JRPG stereotypes - from being totally hot for him.

The hero's most notable attribute is that he owns a tank known as the "Red Rev." Although the wasteland can be crossed on foot, it's basically suicide, as most monsters will flatten the hero in one or two hits. Therefore, he relies on the tank to get around. It's important to point out that that this devil on treads is a match for any fiend out there. Furthermore, while enemies will spawn at random, the player can choose to strike first, or simply pass them by. If their weapon is strong enough, they can destroy the monster without ever actually entering battle. It's a quick and easy way to earn experience and cash.

Early on, the Iron Base is established as the hub for all adventuring. Thanks to the wonders of convenient fast-travel, a trip home is always a few button presses away. It's here at the base that the characters can replenish their strength, purchase items, and remodel their tanks. There's also an achievement system that encourages players to check out every feature. Think of it as an extended tutorial, one that awards bonus points that can then be used to boost party members' stats.

Screenshot for METAL MAX Xeno on PlayStation 4

Unlike Talis and his friends, who become stronger through experience or equipment, tanks rely almost entirely on armaments. These can either be found in the forgotten corners of the desert, or by scraping together monster materials and assembling them at the Iron Base. It's also possible to run into SoNs (Sons of NOA). These exceptional foes will leave behind unique gear, provided the player is able to kill them. New tanks can also be found while exploring, which is always nice.

There will be many battles fought on foot, as well. Numerous ruins have to be explored without the aid of a tank, and they are filled with all manner of deadly creatures. Thankfully, the heroes can be equipped with up to three weapons. Whether it's crowd control or exploiting elemental weaknesses, there's no excuse not to have a variety of weapons equipped at all times. METAL MAX Xeno is a fairly linear RPG, but it still offers numerous side-areas to explore for extra goods. Most importantly, lost research materials can be found in the furthest depths. Finding these books will increase the Iron Base's tech level, which allows for new item purchases, as well as other benefits. Due to the short fights and large experience gains, grinding never becomes a problem.

For the most part, winning battles is a matter of preparation. As long as the player is upgrading their gear and properly configuring their tanks, they won't run into a lot of trouble. However, there doesn't seem to be a lot of room for moment-to-moment strategising. Each character class only has a handful of skills available to them, and their usefulness tends to be circumstantial. Battles are oft-times decided by whichever side does the most amount of damage in the shortest time. There aren't very many effective skills for restoring the tank's shielding, and a lot of the weapons have limited ammo, so battles aren't expected to take very long. If someone is having trouble, they might want to change up their arsenal. One way to deal with SoNs is to overload their shields. Some are strong against a particular element, but once that defence is broken, they become quite vulnerable.

Screenshot for METAL MAX Xeno on PlayStation 4

Xeno opts for a lighter touch when dealing with the concept of a 'Game Over.' In short, death is never the end. No matter where or how the party falls, they will always be safely returned to the Iron Base. Also, getting revived doesn't cost money or experience. The frequent fast-travel points ensure that the penalty for failure is miniscule. It's a nice system, especially because it encourages players to challenge everything, even if it might be above their level. That said, though, there are methods for checking an SoN's strengths and weaknesses, so nobody has to rely on trial and error to get by.

Still, the difficulty can be a little off. Rather than a gradual sense of progression, the balance is more comparable to peaks and valleys; for example, some of the tougher fights occur very early on. Also, the way forward isn't always clear. In one event, the heroes are challenged by a boss. During the fight, everyone was doing only a few points of damage to this behemoth per round. It's enough to make one believe they stumbled into one of those unwinnable battles that RPG stories are so fond of. That isn't the case, because the supposedly undefeatable monster actually has very little HP.

To the RPG fans out there that are allergic to deserts and indistinctive ruins, steer clear of this. The basic gameplay loop consists almost entirely of roaming the wastes, defeating monsters, and then returning to the Iron Base to recuperate. There isn't much to look at aside from sand and dilapidated buildings. The dungeons are composed entirely of hallways and rooms. Their sole purpose is to provide treasures to find and enemies to kill. Anyone expecting inspired set-pieces and convoluted puzzles will be sorely disappointed. This is the nature of METAL MAX Xeno. It has everything necessary for a functional RPG, numerous quality-of-life features, and just the right amount of unique systems to give it an identity. It doesn't strive to go above and beyond, and for some gamers that's quite alright.

Screenshot for METAL MAX Xeno on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


Although METAL MAX Xeno offers an intriguing mix of tank-based and on-foot battles, its low-budget and adherence to JRPG traditions makes it feel like a relic of the bygone age. The characters are largely forgettable and sometimes embarrassing. Then there's the story, which is competently told and not much else. Still, for whatever it's worth, the journey is a pleasant one. The player's experience won't be bogged down by needlessly long load times or a mind-numbing user interface. This post-apocalyptic trek, much like any decent vacation, is designed to be relaxing and convenient.


Kadokawa Shoten


NIS Europe


Turn Based RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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