When it comes to games JRPG series called Xenoblade, with me always befall with awe. Every game in this franchise takes the players a huge amount of time to explore a giant virtual world. The passage of such works go for tens or hundreds of hours of real time. Such luxury can afford not every game journalist. I really liked the game Xenoblade Chronicles and Xenoblade Chronicles X, so I just could not pass direct sequel to the first one, which I will try to tell you all the details.
Game: Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release date: 1 December 2017
Developer: Monolith Soft
If you read my reviews, you probably remember that the events of Xenoblade Chronicles (game of 2010, which was released first on the Nintendo Wii and then was ported to the Nintendo New 3DS) unfolded in a fantasy world where humans and other races lived on the bodies of giant creatures known as titans. Action Xenoblade Chronicles 2 takes place in the same universe. The world Arrest is a vast ocean, the surface of which is covered with white clouds. Fans of the first game will certainly be happy to be back in this fantastic world.
In the center of the cloud ocean is a giant World tree, on top of which in the perfect world of Elysium, according to legend, lives the Supreme deity who created all things, is an Architect (just like in “the Matrix”). All other living creatures are forced to sleep on a few titans, furrowing the ocean. On the backs of these giant creatures, but also inside them, humans and other races Alresta base villages and big cities. But the titans are not eternal, they gradually grow old and die, carrying away behind themselves at the bottom of the ocean of settlements with their infrastructure and existing ecosystems. The lack of territories and resources gives rise to numerous military conflicts and becomes the cause of increasing global tension.
Another important point of the game is the fact that among the creatures inhabiting Arrest there are so-called “drivers” — those who are able to awaken and subjugate the power of ancient crystals. Crystals are born into the world “blade” — a synthetic life form, giving drivers the unique magic and fighting skills. Something like you might see in a famous series of Japanese role-playing Persona. Roughly speaking, each blade is the same “person”, is inextricably linked with his master and supports him in battle. The blades are divided into three classes: offensive, tanks and healers. Skillfully using their advantages in combat, the driver can cope with any opponents.
The protagonist is a boy named Rex. He roams the oceans on a small old Titan named Gramps (“grandpa” — English). and earns on life that dives in a special diving suit on the bottom of the ocean, rising out different values (in memory immediately POPs up the famous movie “Water world” with Kevin costner). Most of the money Rex sends the residents of the village where he was born and raised. The only way he can save them from starvation. And that is why, when trading Guild suddenly invites him to take part in particularly dangerous missions, thereby earning the impressive sum, he, without a moment’s hesitation, agrees.
During this task Rex and other members of the expedition find themselves on a mysterious space ship, raised from the bottom of the ocean, within which is stored a capsule with an ancient blade called the Aegis. According to legend, this blade was created by the Architect. Rex accidentally starts a chain of tragic events, which resulted in killed. It turns out that the mission was for him dear in the one end, and a trade Guild just wanted to use his talents and experience, and then get rid of the boy as unnecessary consumables. It would seem that this is the end. But there it was!
To life it returns the same legendary blade, which turns out to be a charming girl by the name of pyre. She gives Rex half of his life force, thus forever linking his soul with him. Of Payr explains to him that her in whatever was necessary to get back on top of the World tree in Elysium, where the Architect lives. Otherwise, all living in Alresta will cease to exist. Rex, being a very kind and sympathetic young man, of course agrees. In addition, it says a sense of gratitude to the Pyre – after all, she literally brought him back from the dead. So begins the most exciting and long adventure in the life of the protagonist.
Unlike Xenoblade Chronicles X, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 the main character — not impersonal being, but a complete person with its own character, strengths and weaknesses. In my opinion, this approach to character creation more interesting, no matter what anyone says. Remembering XC X, I can’t say anything about the protagonist, it seemed to me a soulless doll (although, in fact, it was even from the point of view of the plot). Pacifier, to associate themselves with which most of the players was quite difficult. I am very pleased that the developers are back with a pre-written characters, abandoning the former, not very successful idea of “depersonalization”.
But how would the characters of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 nor pleased me from the point of view of characters, design them, and stereotyped behavior in most situations cause a number of issues. Externally, the characters are too anime that will resonet eyes even fans of traditional JRPG. In previous games in the series artists on the characters gave them some zest, a feature that distinguished the appearance of the characters from the rest. This time something went wrong. The situation does not save even a part in the creation of games by the famous artist, Tatsoi of Nomura, responsible for the appearance of characters such legendary games as Final Fantasy VII, VIII, X and Kingdom Hearts.
The game world is no longer open, Xenoblade Chronicles X, but instead is broken into huge locations, discovering that the story progresses, the player can return to them at any moment using the map fast travel. Art study locations and their detail are impressive. They are all unique from the standpoint of the “internal architecture” and flora is inhabited by an amazing fauna and teeming with hundreds of secret places and treasures. In order to get to some secret places, players will have to pump special Field Skills. For example, to get rid of the fallen on your way up a giant tree, you will have to use a special fire magic one of your blades. And to open the complex lock on the treasure chest, you will need a completely different skill.
Game locations are incredibly beautiful. Sometimes I just stopped to admire the magnificent scenery. Draw distance allows you to see even what is in the player at a great distance (with the exception of small parts, of course). It’s amazing how tiny a Nintendo console Switch copes with all this beauty. Pleased with how the level designers designed the game world. Almost every location consists of a plurality of levels located at different heights and connected by numerous transitions, which makes the study environment very interesting. Personally, I still love the thrill when you jump out of some incredibly high cliff into the lake located at its foot.
Unpleasantly surprised me is that imperfect navigation system where in all this splendor easy to get lost. The player only sees the direction in which to move and also the distance to the target. But given the multi-levels and intricate the structure of the transitions between these multiple “floors” you can easily lose a lot of time trying to find the right road to the goal. At any time you can activate as their goal the current story quest or one of the many optional tasks. World map switches between miniature “radar” or translucent plan of the area on half of the screen. But even that usually does not remedy the situation, so the player continues to wander between the three pine trees.
The combat system in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is one of the most advanced in its genre. As I said, the heroes of the game depend directly on the blades. A list of these artificial life forms is not limited to only those that become available to the player according to the story. You can get new blades, completing various quests, thereby adding to his Arsenal of new techniques and elemental attacks. Yes, each blade possesses a certain elemental magic like fire, water or air. The driver and his blade connects thin luminous thread. The closer the blade to its owner, the stronger becomes his physical attacks. And the longer you fight with the blade shoulder to shoulder during this battle, those attacks become faster and more accurate. The thread gradually changes its color from blue to gold, strengthening your bond.
Physical attacks, by the way, happen in automatic mode as soon as you pull out your weapons and aim at the enemy. It is important to be from the enemy on the distance at which a strike becomes possible. The weapons in the game are very different, and it kind of depends on each individual blade, because these creatures are themselves weapons. To improve the weapon by using special items. So you will increase the damage, accuracy and other parameters. If you are familiar with the series, Xenoblade Chronicles, you should remember that plays an important role here, which side you are bombing the enemy. Some of them are more vulnerable to side attacks, and protected from behind. At some point, using the correct attack, you can even knock the enemy down or throw it up in the air, and then inflict additional damage. You should always remember that.
In addition to the standard attacks available to the player so-called “arts”. It’s combat skills linked to the three buttons of the controller, “B”, “X” and “Y”. The player selects a list of available attacks yourself in the special menu, but in order to use them in battle, it is enough to apply a few standard attacks of the enemy until the associated gauge. These attacks can be pumped using special skill points. On the “A” button assigned a unique joint reception of the driver and his blade, the level of which is constantly increasing from the first to the fourth during the battle. Your party of heroes is still common scale filling constantly. Once it is filled, you will be able to make some powerful attacks, consuming a significant part of the health of the enemy. Often during such attacks QTE used when the player is forced time to press the appropriate buttons to increase damage.
A significant role in the battle played and your companions. From time to time on the edges of the screen will appear the buttons that activate the elemental attack your comrades. In the upper right corner of the screen you’ll also see combinations of items that will inflict heavy damage. Thus, building the right chain elemental attacks, you will easily make even the most powerful bosses. To understand the diversity of combat techniques for the first time will be Oh how difficult. Compounding the situation is the fact that the game tells you such details only once. And more you never need these instructions, you will not see. In the game menu there is no training section or any of its alternatives. Remember to read the instructions in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is critical. Miss one and you will never see. The game interface in General is not intuitive and easy. That’s really something the developers would have to work carefully. In the jumble of menus is confusing and the logic of the relationship between them is not always obvious.
Increased levels of characters is carried out exclusively in hotels, which can be found in different localities. In other words, you travel, fight, collect experience, but your level and stats increase only in those moments when you rest the whole team in between adventures. Blades pumped in parallel to their masters. Each character and blade is a kind of radial skill tree that gives access to new perks, skills, and other useful in game features. In terms of equipment, the game doesn’t spoil you with a variety. All two slots where you can install items that improve different parameters of the characters and their blades. Moreover, these items do not affect the appearance of the characters. Even the main character has a special belt pouch where you can put, for example, healthy food, temporarily improving his skills.
Side-quests in the game very much, and if you are a supporter of 100% passing and disclosure of any and all secrets, I hasten to please you: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 takes you more than one hundred hours. Most of these side quests, as I said, is associated with obtaining a new secret blades and their subsequent pumping. Because some skills are available only after you perform certain quests. Grinda was significantly less than in Xenoblade Chronicles X (in that game mandatory grind was a quiet horror!) but it still is. You and then have to collect “so-and-so such and such items” or “kill this many monsters of a certain type”, but it is, fortunately, not a requirement (with very few exceptions). I am glad that the developers took into account the mistakes of the past and not to step on the same rake a second time.
Talking about the technical performance of the game, I want to praise the graphics in stationary mode, when the Nintendo console Switch is connected to the TV using the docking station. The picture in 1080p pleased with the range of drawing and lots of detail. Staging and spectacular effects of battle are impressive with their scale and brightness. However, I can not keep silent about one very unpleasant features. In portable mode from all this magnificence is only a small part of it. Performance drops sharply as the resolution of the image that makes the picture a soap and abundant a climbing frame. Added to this is a rather strange effect sharpness, trying to keep the abundance of “soap” to a minimum, but to no avail. On the one hand, developers can understand: open space, a huge amount of details and effects require a lot of computational power. And how can deal with this tiny Nintendo Switch to portable mode, low-power iron and in the saving mode battery life, not compromising, is not entirely clear. But the fact remains: in portable mode, the game is not as beautiful as in stationary. Keep this in mind if you plan to play Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on the road.
The music of the game Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is traditionally very diverse. On the soundtrack he worked from five composers: Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Shadow Hearts, etc.), Tomori Kudo and Hirago Yamanaka (duet ACE), Kenji Hiramatsu, Manami Kiyota. Only the game worked a total of 300 (!!!) musicians, and during the production of the OST was written over 20 000 pieces of sheet music. In the end the earth were 120 unique musical compositions can imagine the scale of work done. Also in the work on the game played by the Irish choir Anúna and the Bratislava Symphony choir from Slovakia. They recorded a gorgeous vocal melodies, giving the game more beautiful and epic. Two tracks for the game (including the one that plays during the final credits) was recorded with vocalist Jennifer bird from British Duo the Tomorrow Bird.
The game is available in two languages: English and Japanese (downloaded absolutely free from the store eShop). Not to say that the English audio track is particularly outstanding quality, but the Japanese is also not without its drawbacks. For example, when the Japanese voice acting, you won’t know that the characters shout during fights – these phrases are just not equipped with English subtitles. And screaming during the fight, they’re just not plugging that eventually becomes annoying. I, as always, was very upset with the fact that the developers of Nintendo and Monolith Soft has ignored the Russian market and brought the game into Russian language. Yes, JRPG in our country – the genre is niche, but for some players it is a little sad.
- Really fascinating and interesting story.
- Excellent work of artists and game designers.
- The game looks wonderful in a stationary mode.
- Staging scenes pull on full-length anime.
- A huge fantasy world that I want to explore.
- The developers promise us to release new story content.
- A huge number of possible quests and secrets.
- Incredibly comprehensive and well thought out combat system.
- Just wonderful music.
- To complete the game 100% you’ll need hundreds of hours.
- Performance issues in portable mode.
- Too anime characters don’t appeal to everyone.
- The series stubbornly refuse to translate into Russian language.
- The user interface is far from perfect.
- The navigation system leaves much to be desired.
- There is no opportunity to re-read the instructions.
The game is Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was another strong JRPG library is rapidly growing Nintendo console Switch. If you are missing an epic adventure with a Japanese touch, buying this game will be a good choice for a fun pastime. Fantastically epic pleases a huge world to explore, excellent design locations, incredibly advanced combat system, and an abundance of opportunities for leveling characters and their blades, but you cannot close your eyes to the blatant shortcomings of the project. The most serious are the performance issues in portable mode, curve navigation system and far from perfect interface. Anyway, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 deserves the attention of fans of the genre, and all without exception owners of the Nintendo console Switch. With that said, I put the game score of 8 out of 10.