Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Review

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Posted January 30, 2018 by Kyle Simcox in Video Games

Developer: Monolith Soft

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date: December 1st, 2017

Platforms: Nintendo Switch

It’s taken us quite a while to sail among the cloud sea of Alrest and save the world but after spending well over one hundred hours with Monolith Soft’s RPG we feel like we’re ready to tell you about what we think of Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, you play as Rex, a young salvager hired to help in salvaging an ancient warship. After discovering the mythical blade known as the Aegis, Rex meets Pyra and promises to take her to Elysium and save all of Alrest. The plot is full of ups and downs but around chapter 5 is when it all sort of begins to decline. There were times where I would get distracted during a cutscene and still manage to follow what was going because the story was that simple. The game also has a problem with it’s villains. They’re built up very early on and then near the end game, it just sort of disposes of them and it honestly never felt like a satisfying conclusion for them.

 

When boy meets girl…

While it has some issues early on, the combat is reminiscent of Final Fantasy XII and a total blast. Players simply target an enemy and draw their weapons to engage in combat and your allies fill specific roles like Tanking or Healing by equipping the correct Blades. Where it differentiates itself from Final Fantasy XII however is in its heavy focus on teamwork. One of the downsides to combat is that enemies have a ridiculously high amount of HP but with a little bit of teamwork, taking large chunks of health away from an enemy is simple. Another issue is that there are a lot of interruptions to the flow of combat. Enemy driver’s can completely block all attacks during the early stages of the game for example so you’re stuck with 10 seconds of watching your party members stumbling around.

Players can set up devastating combos with their AI companions, who usually respond very quickly to commands or specific status effects. Setting up a “Driver Combo” is a quick combination of attacks that begins with breaking an enemies defenses and ending with slamming them into the ground to get loot and potions out of enemies mid-combat. Driver Combos also extend the duration of Blade Art effects, which can be combined into devastating “Blade Combos” which when strung together correctly can seal specific boss abilities and stack elemental orbs on them for a “Burst Attack”.

Where loot is concerned however, it makes more mistakes than what it does right. Enemies have specific loot table that players can farm to their hearts content if they need anything specific, like “Beta Scopes” which come in handy down the road. However, it completely does unlocking the rare blades wrong in almost every way. While some of the rare blades can be earned through quests, most of the 38 rare blades are locked behind an RNG “loot box” system. You might unlock a 5 crown rare blade like the attacker Vale or tank Newt, but you’ll more than likely unlock a 2 crown common healer that uses a basketball as a weapon.

 

The game suggests that there are ways to tip the odds in your favor by increasing your Luck stat or leveling up a character’s “Idea Cloud”. However, they honestly feel negligible and luck is almost never on your side, especially as you get closer to unlocking all the rare blades. On top of that, you can only use one Core Crystal at a time, there’s not pity system incorporated into the mechanic and you can’t skip the first part of the core bonding scene. As of writing this, I just opened 4 legendary Cores, 16 rare Cores and 99 common cores with the most unsatisfactory results compared to all my gaming experiences. I’d much rather perform 36 mind numbing side quests than suffer through the gacha system of Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

Another downside to the blade system is the incorporation of “Field Skills”. Since you acquire blades randomly, you may or may not manage to retrieve the skills necessary for specific quests like the Botany skill. For the longest time I didn’t have the skill “Ancient Knowledge” and was unable to complete a quest I had been carrying around since the earlier chapters. Instead of having a skill for their element, Rare Blades also come equipped with completely useless Field Skills as well like “Girl Talk” which only comes into play during one of the rare blades side quest. I also don’t want to forget to mention that managing your field skills is an absolute bitch to do.

There’s also the inclusion of “Tiger! Tiger!”, a mini game in which players will spend hours grinding out Ether Crystals and praying to RNGesus that he graces them with those items that feel unobtainable to upgrade the blade known as Poppi. There are multiple levels to play but they never feel like they reward you for their increased difficulty and the mini game is actually somewhat of a challenge, even with the “easy mode” Monolith added in December. I’d like to point out that Tiger! Tiger! isn’t a bad mini-game but it just isn’t a fun one either and its unfortunate that this is the only way to keep upgrading Poppi throughout the game.

 

Not compared to today’s graphical standard, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 really does look great when its docked and played on your TV. Each location you visit has a very unique feel to them as Titans are the coolest parts of Alrest. Take the Gormott Titan you visit in the first stages of the game for example. With it’s vast, lush green fields and Torigoth is a beautiful, bustling city. In the background you can see the Titan as it lumbers through the cloud sea of Alrest. The only problem is the game has framerate issues while it’s docked. Undocked, the visuals take a huge hit and look muddier but I have noticed that when the Switch is undocked, I experience a lot less framerate issues, especially during specific weather conditions.

The voice acting you’ll either love it or hate it. Some characters like Rex will grow on you while others are pretty bad all around like one of the Torna members. I’d also like to point out that Torna just feels like it was ripped straight out of Kingdom Hearts II. The group almost feels like a mirror image of Organization XIII. The only difference being that Torna just straight up sucks and it feels like the developers forgot what to do with them.

To be honest, I really enjoyed the 150 hours I put into the game. Despite that though, I really feel that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 does more things wrong than right, even after receiving a few patches to improve it’s quality of life since release. The combat was more than enough to make me overlook the shallow storytelling and glaring mechanical issues like the Field Skill management. If you own a Switch and you just need to fill the JRPG-sized void in your heart then I might suggest Xenoblade Chronicles 2 but it might be in your best interest to just wait until a price drop.

 

Xenoblade Chronicles 2



Xenoblade Chronicles 2

6.5

Final Score

6.5 /10

Pros

  • The combat is a blast.
  • A lot to do.

Cons

  • Weak storytelling.
  • Voice Acting.
  • Unlocking new blades isn't fun.
  • Field Skill management.
  • Graphical issues docked and undocked.



About the Author

Kyle Simcox