Video games are a staple in the lives of a vast majority of the nerd (and non-nerd) population of the world. 2017 in particular was a great year for games, giving us some of the most interesting video game titles of this decade, and along with them, the sequel to my favorite game of all time, Xenoblade Chronicles.
For those who haven’t played it, Xenoblade Chronicles was a story-focused, character-driven JRPG for the Nintendo Wii, featuring a fun and interesting combat system, beautifully written characters, a vast and delightfully diverse open world, hundreds of hours of side-story content, and one of the best stories ever written into any video game, ever. All-told, i’ve probably sunk over 600 hours into Xenoblade Chronicles alone between my original playthrough, my NG+ playthrough, and, most recently, my full 100% playthrough in anticipation of getting a sequel. And in december, the sequel released, for the Nintendo Switch, so, how did it measure up?
Well… Frankly, I was disappointed. While I knew there was almost no chance it would end up being as good as the first game, I had very high hopes for Xenoblade Chronicles 2. After all, with ACE+ returning to do the music, Tetsuya Takahashi returning to write the story, and MonolithSoft pouring their heart and soul into reviving the spirit of the original game, what could possibly go wrong?
The answer is: A LOT. My first impressions were actually quite violently negative, as indicated by a very wordy rant I made on Twitter about 6 hours into the story, airing out quite a few of my frustrations. The combat system felt clunky and impossibly complicated, battles taking far too long to complete. The main character was annoying, the voice acting was, for the most part, pretty subpar, and the character designs really bothered me. After putting so much time and effort into the original, these changes felt… well… WRONG.
I can’t deny that the world is absolutely gorgeous. The detail put into the designs of each of the Titans is breathtaking, and the amount of exploration you can do in each area is absolutely wonderful. With bits and pieces of the soundtrack constantly reminding me of the incredible soundtrack of the first game, I couldn’t help but adore the music. The game plays super smoothly, too, the little Switch giving both better graphics, and a much better framerate than the original game ever had on the Wii.
The story was pretty interesting as well, though still lacking compared to #1. The story kept me engrossed until the end, and even elicited a few tears from me, even through my utter detest of the immature, annoyingly positive, obnoxious main character, Rex. After becoming so familiar with Shulk, a main character carrying both a light and a dark side, generally mature, strong, capable, and genuinely interesting, Rex is like that one short, annoying kid that you REALLY want to take to the nearest toilet and give a swirlie to.
By the end of the game, I did end up having to revise a few of my earlier opinions. Yes, the combat system is EXTREMELY complicated, but once you learn all the ins-and-outs of it, it presents players the opportunity to really showcase their skills, chaining together massive move combos to deal enormous amounts of damage, resulting in a very technical combat system that, while hard to get the hang of, can be very satisfying once you get everything figured out.
I still hate Rex, and i’m still not a fan of a lot of the character designs. Where the first game was super focused on the characters and the story, XC2 features quite a lot of shameless pandering, from the scantily-clad Blades to the various parts of the main girls that the camera decides to focus on during cutscenes.
While the story felt far more amaturely-written than the first game, there were some very nice tie-ins and expansions to the lore from the first game, which really helped my enjoyment, especially in the latter half. Additionally, while the writing may not have been the best, the story itself did keep me entertained through the end, and the game itself has so much content that i’ve already sunk about 150 hours into it, mostly over the Christmas Break.
So… the verdict? Well… it wasn’t what I was hoping for, and it certainly doesn’t live up to the first game. However, the game was fun and interesting, though a bit clunky sometimes, and has plenty of content, definitely more than enough to warrant the $60 price tag (plus another $30 for the Expansion Pass). I ended up having a great time playing the game, and overall, i’d probably give it around a 3.9/5, all said.
I hope you guys enjoyed my thoughts about Xenoblade Chronicles 2. If you’ve played the game, let me know what you thought of it! If you haven’t, I hope this helps you decide if you want to, or not.