Xenoblade Chronicles 2 - Nintendo Switch Review

The quintessential RPG experience that shouldn’t be ignored for any RPG fan.

Game Info

  • System: Nintendo Switch
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Monolith Soft
  • Release Date: December 1, 2017

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 - Story Trailer - Nintendo Switch

Who it Caters to

The beautiful aspect about life is that no experience is ever the same. Every waking moment is another adventure just waiting to be embarked on, another location to be discovered and new relationships to develop. The same aspect can be said for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the follow up to the successful original which takes a look at Rex, a young ambitious boy who must come to terms with himself through the many adversities he experiences.

Anyone who fancies a brand new experience will find Xenoblade Chronicles 2 to be one that’s not only satisfying, but also memorable since the more you immerse yourself in the compelling story, the more emotionally encouraged you feel to dive deeper. It’s not the type of game that seems to point you in one direction, of course, the objectives require that, but the exploration of the open world is of your own vocation. You’re encouraged, even during your main story objectives, to take on new paths and experience something invigorating each time. A new monster, new materials to collect, or that rare core crystal that you’re so hungry for, all envelop this unique adventure that you cannot replicate in any other game. As a heads up, we played the Japanese version so the names may be different in the images and videos we provide.

What to Expect

Most people would probably encourage you to play the original Xenoblade Chronicles so that you get a feel for the mechanics, but to be quite frank, trying to create comparison between them is like night and day. In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, everything is totally fresh and the battle system has been totally revamped to create a very impactful and rewarding experience, something that you can’t get in the original. Core crystals play a big role in the advancement of your character and the blades they wield in battle, as each Blade carries their own unique characteristic that can applied to various scenarios.

In a way, each Blade you acquire tells their own story and so that becomes somewhat of a new addition to the already riveting story that you now can experience. Expect a lot of emotional highs and frustrating lows, a plethora of unexplored areas that beg for your attention, and rewarding boss battles that will have you feeling truly satisfied for your hard work. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is truly a once in a lifetime ordeal and if you have a Nintendo Switch handy, it’s one title that you don’t want to ignore. With a surplus of content coming down the pipeline in 2018 via the expansion pass, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is like a never ending story that will only fade if you give it permission to.

Story

You star as the young and ambitious Rex, a salvager who desires nothing more than a great adventure and of course, being able to grab the rarest of treasures. Suddenly, the world he once knew was interrupted by a corrupt group of individuals who intend to unleash suffering on the world of Alrest, and now, Rex finds himself in the midst of all the drama. He is then killed abruptly by one of the enemies but is then revived by Pyra, a beautiful Blade, who sacrifices half of her life to ensure Rex can continue to live. The two must now fight together, along with new comrades that join your squad, to protect the world of Alrest and stop the threats that lie ahead before it’s too late. It’s a story that’s comical, emotionally riveting and truly genuine.

Gameplay

Core Crystals

Core crystals play a major role in the advancement of the game since cores provide you with Blades, each with their own characteristics and elemental value that can help you in heated battles. These crystals can only be collected by exploring the open world, taking on rare and strong enemies, along with completing certain parts of the story. The Core Crystals come in forms of Common, Rare, Super Rare and then Legendary, and obtaining them is all RNG based. There’s never a guarantee of what you’ll receive, which has provided the incentive to keep on hunting, until you’re rewarded with that powerful Blade you’ve wished for. This is perhaps a gift and a curse in a way since for one, it encourages players to explore the many facets of the lush and beautiful environments and not just rely on a linear approach. On the other hand, due to the nature of RNG, it requires you to do a lot of grinding to get these coveted items. Whether that’s good or bad really depends on your thinking, but this is an open world RPG so if you’re expecting simple and quick results, then this game isn’t for you. The battles may feel slower than its predecessor but that’s because there’s so much more to do that you’re not just sitting there mashing away for a quick reward, you truly have to work for things. As you take on new enemies you’re always thinking of new solutions to solve problems that may lie ahead, and for that reason alone, you’re motivated to push further.

Over 20 hours have been poured into the game and only 4 legendary Core Crystals were obtained. The Blades we received were powerful in their own way and it felt really exciting to see just what each one could do. The common Blades tend to behave in similar fashions and can be upgraded similar to the rarer ones, but it’s the legendary Blades that truly stand out and add a lot of character to your squad. Let’s say that you’re growing a little tired of Pyra and want to use the beautiful and well endowed ice princess Dahlia, you can simply go into your character section and do a quick swap to have Dahlia be the lead. That simplicity and ability to customize your team is one of the great aspects of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 because it gives every battle you encounter a fresh new feel. Without these Core Crystals, the game would not have felt so diverse simply because we’re all so accustomed to leveling up our characters and applying different abilities to them to create something distinctive. However, you now have a plethora of Blades to create and each one of them can be used in a variety of ways, such as giving them specific roles for certain scenarios. Which brings us to our next portion of the review: The Battle System.

The Battle System

No video game is ever perfect and there will always be something discerning that pops up that can cripple the experience. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 does run into problems, which we’ll brush up on later, but this new robust battle system really gives you a lot to work with. As we detailed before about each Blade having unique characteristics, using them in battle with the combo system is really cool to watch. As you get deeper into the game, you’ll unlock new abilities which include elemental combos and chain attack combos that just really create a great impact when fighting a horde of monsters. Each of your Blades is attached to one of the triangle buttons on the Joy-Con and you’re able to swap them out seamlessly during battle. Time the swap-outs and you’ll be rewarded with bigger damage. The same can be said for timing your attacks during battle, which also give you a massive damage boost each time.

You have what are called Arts, abilities that your Blades have that can unleash an enormous amount of damage and if you wait until the level 4 Art builds up, you’ll destroy anything in your path. Your Blade comes with 3 regular attacks with the Special Art being the 4th slot, and so in order to build your Special Art meter quicker, you’ll need to time your attacks consistently to rack up damage and then make quick work of the enemy in order to move on. It’s all a very simple yet complex ordeal that once mastered, will have you killing level 45-70 monsters with relative ease. Without spoiling too much of the post game goodies, we’ll say that there’s a ton more to unlock and achieve with the battle system, so please look forward to that. Attacks in the game are automatic meaning that you choose one move and the character will then initiate that move, unlike in action RPGs where you’re mostly in control. We stated earlier that this slow approach may turn off some players but this is the charm of the Xenoblade franchise and is what really encourages you to dive deeper to learn more about the mechanics, and how they work.

Salvaging will be something we encourage you to do since purchasing new weapons at every town you enter will be of great importance. Not only just weapons but the items you attach to your characters, they too play an integral role in how everything plays out during battle. Some items will provide exceptional buffs and compliment specific characters more than others, so paying close attention to detail is another cool aspect of Xenoblade Chronicles 2. You might think that one piece of armor is best suited for Rex only to realize down the road that it may have been better to equip it to someone else. It’s this constant change of pace that adds more excitement to the game and truly allows you to create your own adventure. The main quests alone are enough to net you about 40+ hours and more, and with the new story, DLC coming late next year that’ll probably add another 20-30 hopefully. The side quests are another addition which pretty much provide the game with over 100+ hours and then tack on the collecting of all the Blades and such, you’re looking at a game that’s well over 200 hours. Post game is another game on its own and we highly encourage you to play it all the way through.

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

So let’s get down to the pros and cons of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and wrap things up. As we just stated, this game has an overabundance of content to keep you busy for hours on end and that’s a very good thing. The core mechanics of the game are simple to understand as the game provides you with detailed tutorials at different times, and is complex in that you’ll need to really immerse yourself to fully grasp everything that’s given to you. The battles may seem slow and some animations at times are quite stiff, with characters even sometimes randomly disappearing off the screen. However, given the scale of the game and just how much content is poured into it, it should be natural to have such issues pop up every now and then.

Clipping issues, glitching with character animations, certain sections of the story having very low volume to hear what’s going on, all of these things are found within the game. But then again, much like life itself, when is anything ever perfect? The whole beauty of life isn’t to try and be perfect but rather, to aim for it and if you don’t end up obtaining it, at least you made the effort to do so. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is certainly stunning to look at both on Handheld Mode and TV Mode, but you can certainly tell there are some kinks that need ironing out. Does that take away from the overall experience of the game? Absolutely not. Your main objective is to enjoy the experience the game provides and not spend too much of your time invested trying to look out for bugs. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a must have RPG title that should not be slept on, and with a slew of new content arriving via the expansion pass, this game will have so much more for fans of the genre.

As Bruce Lee said, “It is like a finger pointing away to the moon, don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”

Honey's Pros:

  • Hands down the best Xenoblade experience to date.
  • Visually stunning and truly captivates you the longer you play.
  • Great tutorial to help players ease into gameplay more seamlessly.
  • Core Crystal grinds are a ton of fun, especially when you get those rare Blades.

Honey's Cons:

  • Clipping issues, AI issues, texture mapping issues among other things.
  • Voices seemed quite low at times during cutscenes.
  • May not cater to everyone.

Honey's Final Verdict:

In the end, our experience with Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was an exceptional one but of course, it doesn’t stop here. We simply cannot wait for the rest of the DLC to drop so that more hours can be invested into this spectacular game. Despite the flaws we experienced they all can be overlooked once you sink your teeth into the side quests, grind your way through hordes of strong beasts to gather rare Core Crystals, and a plethora of other interesting things. If you’re in need of a RPG that will keep you occupied for the holiday season, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is your best choice.

As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.

Rob

Editor/Writer

Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.

A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!

Previous Articles

Top 5 Anime by Rob "NualphaJPN" B.