Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Review – A Love/Hate Relationship
With a spectacular year behind them, Nintendo tries to finish strong by releasing Xenoblade Chronicles 2 in December. Is it another reason to own a Switch, or is it lost between Zelda and Mario? Check out our review and find out.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Review
In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the whole world is covered in a cloud sea. Living creatures live on the backs of other enormous creatures named Titans who float above the Cloud Sea. Rex is a Cloud Sea salvager, and is the main character you will be playing. He has made a reputation amongst other salvagers as being really talented for his age. As such, he has caught the eye of some higher-ups who are looking to hire him for a particular salvage job. The pay is 100,000 gold, which is something Rex cannot pass up. On this job, you are introduced to Drivers and Blades, and this is where the game starts to open up more.
Drivers are people who control Blades, which are mostly humanoid (sometimes animal) creatures who fight with Drivers. Blades lend their power to Drivers and give them a weapon to battle with. Rex is not a Driver, so he has to battle with a regular sword and doesn’t have special abilities. While you are doing the salvage job, Rex finds a unique Blade named Pyra and bonds with her. Pyra tells Rex that to bond with him she wants him to help her find Elysium, which is a lost land and sort of a paradise. He agrees, and after they team up the journey to find Elysium starts. It is not a short game by any means; it can run you 80-100 hours or more if you are looking to do all the side content.
The combat is Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is complicated. The base combat is simple enough – engage an enemy and use your abilities to bring it down. That isn’t enough to get your through the game during the later parts though. There are combos and elemental weaknesses that you also have to worry about. The reason I say it is complicated is that even after the tutorial, it most likely won’t click with you. The idea is to chain elemental combos together with the way the game lists them for you. As I was writing that, I realized it hardly made any sense and that is because it is more complicated than it needs to be. Your special attacks have four levels that they can power up to. You need to start with a level one element attack, then chain into a level two element attack that the combo allows for you to chain into and then finish with the right element at level three. Once you get, it is really simple to understand, but it might take you some time to get it under your belt.
A key combat of the combat is the Blades, and you can carry up three at a time. Each Blade will give you individual stats, elemental attacks, and weapons. Acquiring new Blades is going to irk some people and please some others. It is all RNG based, meaning it is random on which Blade you get at which time. There are a ton of common repeat Blades that you will often get, and then much fewer rare Blades you can attain. The rare Blades are designed uniquely and are the strongest of the bunch. The Blades have their own upgrade paths and can have their own equipment. You get new blades via Cores, and the Cores can be difficult to acquire. Common Cores are easy to get, but the chance of a rare Blade is slim. However, Rare Cores can also have common Blades so you are at the mercy of randomness, and that is no doubt going to make some people mad.
Other side content includes side quests, mini-games, and salvaging. Salvaging is a basic quick time event where you dive into the sea and pop back up with treasure…and sometimes enemies. I hoped it would be more in-depth, but this does make the game quicker. Side quests are hit and miss. They do one of the worst things a game can do. Sometimes they are quick and simple. Other times though you collect your items, return and are then asked to go back out and collect more items and return on the same quest. If it was once or twice I could forgive it, but this happens a lot, and if I am going back out collecting more items that should be a separate quest. To get the EXP that you get from side quests, you have to sleep at an Inn, much like Final Fantasy XV. This is good for players who prefer more of a challenge and don’t want the extra levels.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 does have plenty of technical shortcomings. There are plenty of frame drops and other bugs you will encounter. When you warp to another town the textures and buildings take longer to load in, then you take longer to load in, so it looks very terrible. In docked mode, it looks good enough but when you are in handheld mode it does not look pleasant, there is a clear difference between the two. You can choose between an English dub or Japanese dub with English subs, and the English dub isn’t good. There are a lot of awkward pauses mid-sentence, and it was quickly noticeable. The soundtrack is excellent though, so it has that going for it.
Though it is not without its faults, I enjoyed Xenoblade Chronicles 2 quite a bit. Unfortunately, there is a ton of frustration attached to that enjoyment. If you are a JRPG or Xenoblade fan, then you should be able to overlook its flaws. If not, you may want to check out some videos or borrow it first.