Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Review – Written by Jose Vega
Product provided by Nintendo for the purpose of review.
In 2010, a little game called Xenoblade Chronicles was released for the Nintendo Wii. It was a game that wouldn’t come to America until 2012. It met with not only critical acclaim but also commercial success. Last January, Nintendo announced that a new Xenoblade game would be coming to their new console, the Nintendo Switch. It would be known as Xenoblade Chronicles 2. It would come out 11 months later, serving as a sequel to the first game. The question now is this… does it hold up well against its predecessor?
The game’s story centers on Rex, a 15-year old salvager who is offered a job to recover a large, ancient ship. Accompanied by several Drivers, he wanders off only to find a strange sword and a mysterious girl. Approaching it, he is killed by Jin but then the girl, Pyra offers him a second chance. The only catch is that he takes her to a place called Elysium. He accepts and soon become Pyra’s driver. After a clash, Rex and Pyra go on a journey. They meet many friends, foes and people in their travels, culminating in a fight against good and evil for the fate of their home in Alrest.
Games like this offer much in terms of plot and this is no exception. The game’s story was intriguing, intense and it had me wanting more. From start to finish, it was great. By the time it’s over, you’ll be shedding tears. From my personal experience, it already had and then some.
Xenoblade 2’s gameplay is similar to the original in many aspects. You control a party of three characters traveling through the world of Alrest. It’s split between two styles: field and battle. In the field, you travel around many places where you can accept quests, go to town to buy supplies, find treasure, salvage and in many cases encounter monsters. Sometimes when you explore, you unlock areas that you can be able to travel to quickly. The game has fast travel and it’s a welcome feature in case the journey becomes a slog. Battle is where things play out similar to the original. Your party attacks anything automatically but you have to manage how your character performs. Since you have a total of five party members, Monolith Soft decided to compensate by giving each party member, or Driver, access to specialized being called Blades.
Blades are Xenoblade 2’s main focus. You obtain them from using special items called Core Crystals. When you use one, it goes into a lottery-like system where some cases you get a common Blade and sometimes, you can get a Blade that is rare. Rare Blades are beings that not only have personalities but also provide in terms of battle and on the field. They come in three categories: Attacker, Healer and Tank. They provide support for Drivers and in some cases assist in delivering powerful attacks. Players who devote time in building Trust with the blades can unlock improvements to their respective stats via Affinity Chart but also access to quests that go deep into each Blade. Blades also have a use on the Field with various techniques that help their Drivers do a variety of things like solve puzzles, find hidden areas, etc. They’re also helpful when Blade Combos and Chain Attacks go into play. Blade Combos are powerful attacks that can deal heavy damage and with the right combination can seal away effects that can be beneficial to the party. Chain Attacks return from the previous game but it also integrates into Blade Combos. Dealing the right elemental damage can lead to an Orb shattering and causing an Elemental Burst. This extends the chain attack and it can lead to serious damage if used well enough.
Blades also have another use and it’s in the form of Merc Missions. You can send out Blades that are not in use on missions where they can go and complete jobs. They lead to not only good rewards but also boosts toward their stats. Missions also depend on a town’s development level so if you want access to more missions, you need to do more things in the town you’re in.
A game like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is going to take players hours to beat. Truth be told, expect to spend more than 100 hours, maybe more. DLC is included as well but unlike other games, the DLC for Xenoblade 2 offer not only more quests but also items that can be helpful on your journey. New Game + extends the length even more, offering players even more to do to the point where players can get special Blades. Xenoblade 2 offers so much for a $60 game and that’s saying a lot.
As far as presentation goes, the game is truly amazing. Although the game doesn’t run at 60fps, only 30, it’s still just as good. The transitions from field to battle are seamless and immediate. Characters look good with some though feeling like they cater to people who like anime and such. Not that it’s a bad thing. Voice acting is good in some areas though sometimes it can lead to some questionable things. Thankfully the game also comes with dual voice acting, English and Japanese. Japanese came as a free DLC. Again, not a bad thing but if you feel the English isn’t your liking, there’s an alternative. Where do I even start with the music? The music is awesome. Yasunori Mitsuda along with ACE, Kenji Miramatsu and Manami Kiyota deliver a soundtrack that is gold. Pure gold. Some tunes are outright addicting to listen to and gets you pumped for more. I personally love it.
But for as much as I enjoy the game for all its positives, there are also a bit of criticisms. This game will make you grind to get stronger… a lot. The game’s difficulty can go from being normal to difficult at the drop of a hat. There are many instances where it happens and for players, it can turn them off. Sure a bit of planning can help but yeah, that I feel is one thing that disappointed me. Also the game kind of follows some of the many tropes that are seen in stuff like anime and manga. It’s not bad but I feel it hampered the game’s plot a little. This shouldn’t stop players from enjoying a game as grand as this.
Overall, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 took everything that made the first game great and multiplied it ten-fold. The story intriguing, the gameplay and battle system are easy to get into and in some cases really addicting, it’s presentation is solid with bonus points going to its rocking soundtrack and then some. Had it not be for its criticisms, I would say the game would deserve all the praise and more. Regardless if you own a Switch, this is one journey you don’t want to miss out on. I promise you that.
I give Xenoblade Chronicles 2 a 9.5 out of 10. This game is worth the full purchase price and then some. It earns my personal seal of approval hands down!