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Thread: Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Whoa!!!

  1. #1

    Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Whoa!!!

    Good review.
    I have mixed feelings for this game. As someone who plays JRPGs and played Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and really enjoyed it and played Xenoblade Chronicles X and generally got bored of it, I feel this game kind of sits in the middle with more leanings towards 1 than X. The game has notable deficiencies compared to 1.
    - Exploration
    The world is large, as is the case for the series in general. That said, and as you mentioned, the compass is garbage. Xenoblade Chronicles 1 got by through the reliance of large plains with less overlapping elements. This game has A LOT of overlapping sections and the compass does not properly convey where you need to go besides what elevation you need to be on. Draw distance being as bad as it is means that if you need to hunt enemies, they will be highlighted in the compass but you may not even see them until you get closer. You can easily run around a rock not realizing where the target should be. Also, the game does not provide multiple waypoints on the way to a destination making it difficult to determine where it is you even need to go.
    The mapping system is also a step back. You have to use the fast travel system to see any details on any map. It is a poor substitute for having an easier access map system, especially because fast travel points can occur on different levels of the same area meaning you have to scroll through fast travel points to potentially see your destination. It doesn’t help that you have to scroll through menus just to use it. Frequent usage will drain on the patience of some players.

  2. #2
    - Combat
    Works the same way as 1. That said, it partially feels like a step back. The combo system is retained from the original as is elemental damage bonuses, but the game isn’t clear as to what is weak to what. The first time you learn about party combos, apparently Water is weak to Fire (wut).
    Levelling also feels poorly judged. There appears to be a scaling factor based on what your level is relative to your enemy’s level. The higher level you are, the more damage you do and less damage you receive, which is normal. What isn’t normal is the relative difference this makes. Enemies have inordinate amount of health in this game compared to 1, so if your level is lower, even by 2-3 levels, regular fights can be a grind of tedium. if you aggro enemies surrounding the area, be prepared to be fighting a regular battle for 5+ minutes while you repeat the same arts and combos over and over and over again. Oh and every time you initiate an art or do anything, your teammates spout one liners constantly. You can turn off battle audio, but it does make the fights seem rather lifeless.

  3. #3
    - Party AI and Blades
    Party AI is a mix of two halves. On one half, they understand when to change to elements for chain combos, which is good and something that existed in 1. However, they are not good at identifying when to chain specific moves like topple and break. Since you cannot control more than one character at a time, you are kind of limited in how you can execute these actions. Also, sometimes the AI will recognize when to pick up potions dropped by enemies during battle and sometimes they ignore them completely. What this means is you end up doing all of this during battles involving larger monsters. Like the first game, your character moves at a glacial speed when in combat versus out of it which creates a bit of a problem for micro management and baby sitting your teammates.
    The AI is also completely garbage when it comes to identifying environmental hazards. They don’t distinguish between when they are fighting in poison or not. This was an issue in 1, but the rate of damage you take while in an environmental hazard is significantly higher than when you are not in it. This may be partially due to the fact that in the first game, you could have health that could hit 10k and higher. In this game, the max health appears to be 9999. Damage isn’t scaled properly and the rate of damage is quite high. This isn’t an issue for lengthy periods of time, but it is noticeable when it does happen. You can draw aggro from a distance to alleviate this issue.
    Acquiring blades is absolutely ridiculous. Yes, Nintendo does not charge for Core Crystals and you can grind for them, but the random nature of it and the really slow cutscene to open one makes it tedious when you are opening multiple crystals in the hopes of getting a rare blade. A tip is to do this when you are further into the game as you will have higher level core abilities, but all the environmental abilities are tied to rare blades and these are mandatory for exploration. You also need to play at least 40 hours before your characters will be of a reasonable level for their core abilities. This leads into customization
    - Customization
    Poor compared to 1. I guess the larger variety of rare blades resulted in the change from the traditional loot and gear system of previous games to this system where blades are half of the customization, but like battles it is two halves. Arts are tied to blades and there are only 4 per blade versus the 20 plus arts per character in 1. Each character in the first game represented specific functions like tank, attacker and healer. In this game, each character has a specific role they are good at, but it is the blades that determine what role they will be. A blade that is an attacker will be an attacker for anyone that has them equipped. This creates a situation where it seems like there is more variety as you can equip up to 3 blades, but it seems a lot of attack blades have the same 4 arts. This makes each of them boring outside of the weapon and element they represent. One attack blade could give you a sword versus another giving you a spear.
    You also cannot customize appearance. What you see is what you get. Each character can equip two accessories and has a pouch for a time based consumable. Blades can equip 1-2 accessories unique to blades and can upgrade their weapon with mod chips. This seems to greatly affect art damage and does less for base damage on regular attacks, which may attribute to the grind in defeating enemies. This is in stark contrast with 1 and X where a diablo-esque loot system was in place.
    - Story and Dialog
    So so in the beginning. Opens up at around the 30 hour mark. The game also takes 20-30 hours before all its systems open up to you. Heck it takes about 15 hours before you learn how to party combo an enemy. This differs from the way the first game worked. The first game kind of gave you most of its abilities very early and let you experiment on your own. There is also no tutorial after you are shown something so you have to research it online if you forget how a system works. The story itself is decent. It has a lot of JRPG tropes which is something a lot of reviews either enjoyed or didn’t like. For me, the story is stronger in this game than in 1 or X. Part of this comes from a stronger dialog between characters. The characters have more personality, but they are also quirky. The other part is they pull the veil on the mystery of the Titans. It seems they designed this game for a newer audience of people who never played the previous games and tried to present the world with more information than before.

    However, about that dialog…. It is good in some spots for a JRPG and bad in others. Lip syncing is difficult to fix given the native language of the game is Japanese, but they also try to voice lines in time for when the characters lips move and leads to some jarring pauses mid sentence, even without a comma separating the words. The recording is also a mixed bag. When characters talk it sounds like they are talking in a small room, but in reality they are outside in a crowded city or nature. There is little to no ambient environmental noise in this game. The characters are at least expressive at the right times, but when they need to yell or scream, it comes off as cheap sounding, especially because the character animations in game look different from the expression given in voice. This is all english voices. You can enable Japanese audio through a free download pack, but I don’t like reading subtitles if I don’t have to.
    All in all, the game is good. It teeters on greatness with a well developed world and generally likeable cast. Tora and Poppi are both the most annoying characters in this game (par for the course for Nopon) but are the most enjoyable to customize and use. That said, it does have some deficiencies and they are all gameplay related. Whether or not this harms your experience is entirely up to you. It is a good first entry into this series for new players, but veterans will have differing opinions on this game.

  4. #4
    All excellent points; unfortunately, I never played the first XB.
    You know what’s crazy? I rarely use pouch items. Probably should check into using them more often as I have $250,000 in the game and haven’t had to purchase too much as I get a lot of great stuff in drops.

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