When it comes to the JRPG-series games called Xenoblade, I always have awe with horror. Each game of this franchise takes a huge amount of time for the players to explore the giant virtual world. On the passage of such opuses dozens do not take off, but hundreds of real-time clocks. This kind of luxury can not afford to every gaming journalist. I really liked the games Xenoblade Chronicles and Xenoblade Chronicles X , so I just could not pass by the direct sequel to the first one, which I will try to tell you in detail today.
Game: Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Genre: Action / RPG
Release date: December 1, 2017
Developer: Monolith Soft
If you are reading my reviews, then for sure, remember that the Xenoblade Chronicles (2010 games that first came out on the Nintendo Wii console and then was ported to Nintendo New 3DS) unfolded in a fantasy world where people and other races lived on giant bodies beings called titans. Action Xenoblade Chronicles 2 takes place in the same universe. The world of Alrest is an endless ocean, the surface of which is covered with snow-white clouds. Fans of the first game will surely be happy again to be in this fantastic world.
In the center of the cloudy ocean there is a giant World Tree, on top of which in the beautiful world of Elysium, according to legends, there lives the supreme deity who created all that exists – the Architect (just like in the “Matrix”). All other living beings are forced to huddle on a few titans plowing the ocean. On the backs of these giant creatures, as well as inside them, people and other races of Alrest are founding villages and big cities. But the titans are not eternal, gradually they grow old and die, carrying with them to the bottom of the ocean settlements with their infrastructure and existing ecosystems. The lack of territories and resources generates numerous military conflicts and causes a growing tension in the world.
Another important point of the game is the fact that among the creatures inhabiting Alrest there are so-called “drivers” – those who are able to awaken and subjugate the power of ancient crystals. From the crystals to the world “blades” are born – synthetic forms of life that empower drivers with magic and unique fighting abilities. Something like that you could see in the famous series of Japanese role-playing games Persona. Roughly speaking, each blade is the same “person”, inextricably linked to its owner and supporting it in battle. Blades are divided into three classes: attackers, tanks and doctors. Skillfully using their advantages in combat, drivers can cope with any opponents.
The main character of the game is a guy named Rex. He travels the world ocean on a small old titan named Grempes (“granddad” – English) and makes a living by diving in a special diving suit to the bottom of the ocean, picking up various values from there (a remarkable film “Water World” immediately pops up in his mind “With Kevin Costner). Rex sends most of the money to the villagers, where he was born and raised. Only this way he can save them from starvation. And that’s why, when the trading guild suddenly invites him to take part in a particularly dangerous mission, thereby earning an impressive amount, he agrees without a moment’s hesitation.
In the course of this assignment, Rex and other members of the expedition find themselves on a mysterious spaceship raised from the ocean floor, inside of which is stored a capsule with an ancient blade called Aegis. According to the legend, this blade was created by the Architect himself. Quite accidentally Rex starts a series of tragic events, which result in death. It turns out that the mission was for him a one way trip, and the sales guild only wanted to use his talents and experience, and then get rid of the kid as an unnecessary consumable. It would seem that this is the end. But it was not there!
To his life returns the very legendary blade, which turns out to be a charming girl named Payra. She gives Rex half of her life force, thereby permanently binding her soul to him. Payra explains to him that she needs to return to the top of the World Tree at Elysium, where the Architect lives. Otherwise, all living things in Alrest will cease to exist. Rex, being a very kind and sympathetic young man, of course agrees. Among other things, it says a sense of gratitude to Payra – because she literally returned it from the other world. This is how the most exciting and long adventure begins in the life of the main character.
Unlike Xenoblade Chronicles X, in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 the main character is not an impersonal being, but a full-fledged person with his character, strengths and weaknesses. In my opinion, this approach to creating characters is more interesting, no matter what anyone says. Remembering XC X, I generally can not say anything about the protagonist, he seemed to me a soulless doll (although, in fact, so it was even from the point of view of the plot). A dummy, to associate oneself with which most players were difficult enough. I’m very pleased that the developers have returned with pre-registered characters, abandoning the former, not entirely successful idea of ”depersonalization.”
But no matter how the characters of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 pleased me in terms of characters, their design and patterned behavior in most situations raise a number of questions. Externally, the characters are too anime, which cuts eyes even to fans of traditional JRPG. In previous games of the series, the characters’ artists gave them some sort of zest, a feature that distinguished the appearance of the characters from everything else. At the same time, something went wrong. The situation is not even saved by the participation in the creation of the game of the famous artist Tetsui Nomura, responsible for the appearance of the characters of such legendary games as Final Fantasy VII, VIII, X and Kingdom Hearts.
The world of the game is no longer open, as in Xenoblade Chronicles X, but instead is broken into giant locations, which, as the plot develops, the player can return to them at any second with the help of a quick-moving map. The artistic elaboration of locations and their detailing are impressive. All of them are unique from the point of view of “internal architecture” and flora, are inhabited by an amazing fauna, and also abound in hundreds of secret places and valuable treasures. In order to get to some particularly secret places, players will have to pump special Field Skills. For example, to get rid of a giant tree fallen on your way, you will have to take advantage of the special fire magic of one of your blades. And to open a complex lock on the treasure box, you will need a completely different skill.
Game locations are incredibly beautiful. Sometimes I just stopped to admire the magnificent scenery. Range of drawing allows you to see even what is from the player at a huge distance (except for small parts, of course). It’s amazing how the tiny Nintendo Switch console handles all this beauty. Pleases and how the level designers designed the world of the game. Almost every location consists of many levels, located at different heights and connected by numerous transitions, which makes the study of the environment extremely interesting. Personally, I still take breath away from when you jump from some incredibly high cliff into a lake located at its foot.
Unpleasantly surprised me, except that the imperfect navigation system, because of which it is easy to get lost in all this magnificence. The player sees only the direction in which to move, as well as the distance to the target. But given the multilevel levels and ornate structure of the transitions between these numerous “floors”, you can easily lose a lot of time, trying to find the right way to the goal. At any time, you can activate your current quest quest or one of many optional tasks as your goal. The world map switches between a miniature “radar” or a translucent terrain plan on half the screen. But even this, as a rule, does not correct the situation, so the player continues to wander between the three pines.
The combat system in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is one of the most advanced in its genre. As I said, the characters of the game are directly dependent on the blades. The list of these artificial life forms is not limited to those that become available to the player according to the plot. You can receive new blades, performing various quests, thus replenishing your arsenal with new techniques and elemental attacks. Yes, each blade has a certain elemental magic, for example, fire, water or air. The driver and his blade are connected by a thin luminous thread. The closer the blade to its owner, the stronger its physical attacks become. And the longer you fight the blade shoulder to shoulder in the course of the current battle, so those attacks become faster and more accurate. The binding thread gradually changes its color from blue to gold, strengthening your connection.
Physical attacks, by the way, occur in an automatic mode, as soon as you take your weapon out of its scabbard and aim at the enemy. It is important only to be from the enemy at a distance at which striking becomes possible. Weapons in the game are very different, and its variety depends on each individual blade, because these creatures in themselves are weapons. You can upgrade weapons with special items. So you will increase the damage, accuracy and other parameters. If you are familiar with the Xenoblade Chronicles series, you should remember that the important role here is played by which side you strike the opponent against. Some of them are more vulnerable to side attacks, and some are not protected from behind. At some point, using the right attack, you can even knock the enemy off your feet or throw it into the air, and then inflict additional damage. You should always remember this.
In addition to standard attacks, the player is available so-called “art”. This is a fighting skill, tied to the three buttons of the gamepad “B”, “X” and “Y”. The player selects a list of available attacks on his own in a special menu, and in order to use them in combat, it is enough to inflict several standard beats on the enemy, until the energy scale associated with them is filled. These attacks can be pumped using special skill points. The button “A” assigned a unique joint reception of the driver and its blade, the level of which is constantly increasing from the first to the fourth during the battle. Your party of heroes also has a common scale, which is filled constantly. As soon as it is filled, you can make several powerful attacks that take away a significant part of the enemy’s health. Often during such attacks, QTE is used,
A significant role in the battle play and your buddies. From time to time on the edges of the screen will appear buttons that activate the elemental attacks of your comrades. In the upper right corner of the screen you will also see a combination of elements that will inflict particularly powerful damage on the enemy. Thus, by building the right chains of elemental attacks, you will easily tolerate even the most powerful bosses. Understand the diversity of combat techniques for the first time will be very difficult. The situation is aggravated by the fact that the game explains these subtleties only once. And you will never see these instructions again. In the game menu there is no training section or any of its alternatives. Remember that reading the instructions in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is critical. Skip one – and never see it again. The game interface does not differ intuitively and conveniently. That’s what the developers should work on especially carefully. In the heap of game menus, it’s easy to get confused, and the logic of the relationship between them is not always obvious.
Increasing the level of characters is carried out exclusively in hotels, which can be found in various localities. In other words, you travel, fight, save experience, but your level and parameters increase only when you rest the whole team in between adventures. The blades are pumped in parallel to their masters. Each character and blade has a kind of radial skill tree, opening access to new perks, skills and other useful opportunities in the course of the game. In terms of equipment, the game does not spoil you with variety. All have two slots, where you can install items that increase the different parameters of the characters and their blades. And these items do not affect the appearance of the characters. Even the main character has a special waist bag, where you can put, for example, useful food,
There are a lot of side quests in the game, and if you are a supporter of 100% passing and uncovering all the secrets without exception, I hasten to please you: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 takes away from you not one hundred hours. Most of these side-tasks, as I said, are connected with the receipt of new secret blades and their subsequent pumping. After all, some useful skills become available only after performing certain quests. Grinda became noticeably smaller than in Xenoblade Chronicles X (in that game the mandatory grind was quiet horror!), But still it is. You will have to collect “so many such and such items” or “kill as many monsters of a certain kind”, but all this, fortunately, is not a mandatory requirement (with very few exceptions). Pleases,
Speaking about the technical performance of the game, I want to praise the graphics in a stationary mode, when the console Nintendo Switch is connected to the TV with the help of the docking station. The picture in the resolution of 1080p pleases with the range of drawing and the abundance of details. The staging and spectacular effects of battles are impressive with their scope and brightness. However, I can not keep silent about one very unpleasant feature of the game. In the portable mode, only a small part of this magnificence remains. The performance drops sharply, like the resolution of the image, which makes the picture soapy and abundant with stairs. To this is added a rather strange effect of sharpness, trying to reduce the abundance of “soap” to a minimum, but without success. On the one hand, developers can understand: open spaces, a huge number of details and effects require large processing power. And how this can be handled by a tiny Nintendo Switch in a portable mode at reduced iron power and in a battery saving mode, without making compromises, it’s not entirely clear. But the fact remains: in the portable mode the game is not so beautiful, as in the stationary one. Keep this in mind if you plan on playing Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on the road.
The musical accompaniment of the game Xenoblade Chronicles 2 traditionally pleases its diversity. Five composers worked on the soundtrack: Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Shadow Hearts, etc.), Tomori Kudo and Hiroyo Yamanaka (duet ACE), Kenji Hiramatsu and Manami Kiyota. A total of 300 (!!!) musicians worked on the game, and more than 20,000 sheet music were written during the OST production. As a result, 120 unique musical compositions were born – you can imagine the scope of the work done. Also in the work on the game was attended by the Irish choir Anúna and the Bratislava Symphony Choir from Slovakia. They recorded great vocal parts, adding extra beauty and epic to the game. Two tracks for the game (including one,
The game has two options for voice: English and Japanese (downloaded completely free of charge from the eShop store). Not to say that the English sound track is of particularly outstanding quality, but the Japanese one is not without its shortcomings. For example, when the Japanese voice acting is turned on, you will not understand that the characters scream during fights – these phrases are simply not provided with English-language subtitles. And they are screaming during the battle, they are just not shut up, which in time even starts to irritate. I, as always, was greatly upset by the fact that the developers from Nintendo and Monolith Soft ignored the Russian market and did not translate the game into Russian. Yes, JRPG in our country is a niche genre, but for some players it becomes a little offensive.
- A truly fascinating and interesting story.
- Excellent work of artists and game designers.
- The game looks wonderful in a stationary mode.
- The production of plot scenes draws on a full-length anime.
- A huge fantastic world that I want to explore.
- The developers promise us the release of new story content.
- A huge number of all kinds of quests and secrets.
- Incredibly complex and thoughtful combat system.
- Just a wonderful musical accompaniment.
- To complete the game 100% you will need hundreds of hours.
- Performance problems in portable mode.
- Too much anime characters do not suit everyone.
- They persistently do not want to translate the series into Russian.
- The user interface is far from perfect.
- The navigation system leaves much to be desired.
- There is no way to re-read the instructions.
The game Xenoblade Chronicles 2 became another sturdy JRPG in the library of the rapidly growing console of the Nintendo Switch. If you lack epic adventures with Japanese coloring, buying this game will be a good choice for an exciting pastime. Fantastically, the epic is pleased with the huge world available for research, the magnificent design of locations, the incredibly advanced combat system and the abundance of opportunities for pumping characters and their blades, but it is impossible to turn a blind eye to the frankness of the project. The most serious problems include performance in portable mode, a curved navigation system and a far from perfect interface. Be that as it may, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 deserves the attention of fans of the genre, as well as all, without exception, owners of the console Nintendo Switch.8 points out of 10 .