The original Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii was a big adventure revolving around a sword called the ‘Monado’. It had a cast of British voice actors and an interesting storyline. Five years later, in 2015, Xenoblade Chronicles X launched on the Wii U. It was the first to introduce a create-your-own character, but the story is a bit of a hit and miss. Fast forward to the first day of December 2017, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was released for the Nintendo Switch. It not only has surpassed the original’s huge world, it has also done great overall.
Platform Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Platforms Available: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Monolith Soft
Release Date: December 1, 2017
This review is based on a retail copy purchased by the reviewer.
To my surprise, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 doesn’t continue the story of the Monado. Instead, it embarks on a whole new adventure featuring another set of British people. This sequel is set in the fictional world of Alrest. But just like its predecessor, living creatures here live on the backs (or even inside) even larger creatures. These titanic beings are called, well, Titans.
Titans are this world’s mini-‘planets’. They swim around the great Cloud Sea. Yes, Alrest has Clouds for seas… and clouds in the sky. Clouds.
All’s well, but then again, everything has its end. One by one the Titans are slowly dying out, taking their inhabitants down with them, unless they’ve evacuated (duh). Territories are becoming scarce by the minute. Kingdoms are trying their best to provide for their people peacefully. But, circumstances push them to the brink of war.
Enter Rex. He’s our main protagonist. He comes from a little village of Fonsett, and like many others, he’s scared that his village may soon die, too. He’s a Salvager. Salvagers dive down the Cloud Seas in search of things to, uhmm, salvage. He then sells the stuff he collects to merchants. At a young age, Rex has sent money home to help his village.
After a couple of unfortunate events, Rex found himself to be the driver of one of the most powerful blades.
Drivers are this world’s warriors. They’re accompanied by Blades, who are also their weapons. Think of them as this game’s Personas or Pokemon. You awaken them through the blade cores you collect. The cores are dropped by enemies and treasure chests. Monolith Soft could have gone the microtransactions route on Blades-collecting, but I’m really glad they didn’t. It’s an easy pay-to-get rare blade here, with $1.99 per rare core — LET’S NOT Give them ideas. Hehe.
Rex and his newfound blade, Pyra, make it their united goal to reach Elysium. Elysium is at the center of Alrest, where it has been told that everyone used to live there – Blades, Drivers, and people alike. Including their all-mighty creator, the Architect.
The lore of this game is convoluted. Thankfully though, the game developers have designed the game so that players experience it at their own pace, introducing elements slowly and surely.
The deep gameplay mechanics in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 made me sit through a couple of read-only tutorials, even after playing for fifteen hours. Just a tip – don’t forget to read and understand them fully, since once you’re done reading them, the tutorials disappear. The only way to read them again is to buy them at different merchants found around the in-game world. It’s a weird design choice, but it encouraged me to take a break from playing and search the web (heh).
Thank God for the internet!
Seriously though, there are a couple of times I’ve been stuck in a quest for hours that I needed to consult walkthroughs just to move forward. Most of the problem is because of the map. Skip Travel, this game’s version of fast traveling is one jumbled mess. I tried explaining how bad it is here, but fortunately, the developers released a patch that made things way easier to navigate.
Still, it’s a pain when I know the exact point on the map, but I have no idea how to get there. Xenoblade Chronicles X has remedied this with the follow-ball. However, that feature is missing in this version.
I know the games are designed to be an exploratory RPG, but there are times when I just want to finish a side quest or a story. Especially if I’ve circled around an area and killed almost all of the enemies. I don’t mind roaming around though, especially if it means hearing Rex’s “Hoooo-pah” every time he makes a jump.
Voice acting is a bit hit and miss. I’ve downloaded the Japanese voice pack, but ultimately I stuck with the English version. It’s so much fun watching the cutscenes. I’ve got a fun party tip: play the cutscenes on the big screen, and every time the lip sync goes hilariously bad, take a shot.
Character one-liners every time you battle an enemy is also hilarious, but this isn’t new to the series. Rex’s “We’ll beat them with the power of Friendship!” almost made me choke from laughing. Nothing in this game is cheesier than that.
There’s a lot to talk about here, like with the story’s mystery that never fails me to push forward even after hours, but let’s not. This game is best experienced when you play it at your own pace.
I’ve enjoyed my time with this game, and I’m still enjoying it more, now that I’m over-leveled due to grinding and undertaking the side quests. You see, even side quests have great stories here.
Monolith Soft has done an awesome job portraying the world of Alrest and its story. Every chapter feels like it could have its own game, complete with their own twists and turns.
Did I forget to mention how the camera always has the best position during cutscenes (especially when focusing on the female characters)?