One Community Writer's Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Review

My thoughts on Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Very well-polished game in general.

Symphonies provide masterpieces that thrill the audience. However, great symphonies can provide exquisite masterpieces while masking and blanketing the flaws in the artist’s craftsmanship. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 offers several unique elements that shape it into a great masterpiece. While Xenoblade Chronicles 2 does have a few flaws, these flaws get buried under the cohesive gameplay elements that Xenoblade offers.

Characters and Plot

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has an amazing cast of characters that support the lead character, Rex. Despite their different backgrounds, each one still stands out as unique and well developed. Additionally, watching several of these characters interact with each other provides humorous moments that never feel forced. The well-developed interactions with each character make the audience care about the growth of each one as they rally around Rex, trying to help him get to Elysium in hopes that the “dying world” can be saved. Rex embarks on his quest to Elysium based off a promise he made with his Blade Pyra. He faces several trials against enemies from Torna, who generally overwhelm him. To overcome these enemies, Rex must seek the “power to protect.” However, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has several additional themes that touch the audience. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 tells a story about the virtues of teamwork, love, beautiful memories, and the importance of friendship. The great characters and important, virtuous themes allow Monolith Soft to string together an excellent story with some plot twists that I won't spoil. This structurally hitched story creates a rollercoaster of emotions that correctly toys with the audience’s emotions. Unfortunately, some emotional scenes get completely ruined by poorly executed voice acting (I’ll go into detail about this later).

Gameplay

In terms of gameplay, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 offers many hours of content. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 took the great gameplay components of the original and added different components. The introduction of blades, which come in the form of core crystals, allows the player to constantly mix and match different blades. Additionally, players have access to rare blades which have special abilities that cannot be obtained from normal blades. However, obtaining rare blades requires a ridiculous stroke of luck, for each core crystal is completely randomized (kinda sucks you can burn through several core crystals without a single rare blade). You can also dispatch blades on mercenary missions. These missions give you experience, gold, and special items in addition to raising your mercenary group's ranking, which allows you to take on additional missions. These missions also help level up weaker blades, which can then help you on your main mission. This allows the player to experiment with several different blades no matter the strength. Additionally, you can upgrade your character's affinity through side quests. Side quests were featured in the original Xenoblade Chronicles and throughout the series. Side quests can grant you experience, gold, and SP, allowing the player to upgrade the affinity of the main characters. Additionally, the player can upgrade blades and characters with certain key items. With the number of customizations, the player has tons of freedom customizing each character.

 Graphics

I never really find myself playing my Switch on the TV (in fact, my Nintendo Switch dock is still in the original box). I bought the Nintendo Switch mainly for the handheld aspect. Additionally, I own a gaming laptop, and thus I never find myself using the TV for gaming (R.I.P., the Steam Link sitting in the corner of my room). Thus, I have never played Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on my TV.

But the undocked version of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 looks poor, graphically, and I have experienced some noticeable frame drops (very few, fortunately) while playing undocked. When fast traveling, backgrounds take a while to load. However, every Switch owner should bear in mind that the Nintendo Switch has limitations in hardware. Additionally, I never found myself bothered too much by the graphics since I was so drawn in by the great story and gameplay. Graphics are not always the most important part of a game.

Voice Acting

The voice acting. The biggest flaw in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Most of the time, the voice acting never bothered me. However, I generally found myself hating Rex’s voice acting on emotional scenes. This truly bothers me, especially when directly compared to the original Xenoblade Chronicles voice actors. The voice acting in Xenoblade Chronicles packed emotion and dynamic flare. Xenoblade Chronicles 2, however, went backwards in this department, and poor voice acting can ruin dynamically emotional scenes. Most emotional scenes featuring Rex had piss-poor voice acting. In fact, I often found myself laughing or mentally facepalming myself listening to the poorly executed voice acting of Rex -- but it doesn't end with Rex.

It carries over into some of the AI, which can create annoying fights (I’m mainly talking about the Ardanian soldiers). Walking into a group of Ardanian soldiers screaming the same broken dialogue -- “Don’t forget me” (trust me, we won’t) or “Think you can take me?” really drill deep inside your head. While you can disable the dialogue, it actually works against you; I often found myself depending on the characters' dialogue in combat because it helps the player hear important battle cues. While the voice acting is not completely terrible, the sections that have poor voice acting truly stick out.

Soundtrack

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has a spectacular soundtrack that strikes each heavenly harmonizing chord in existence. I prefer the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 soundtrack over the original Xenoblade Chronicles soundtrack (come at me!). Each tune, from "Mor Ardain - Roaming the Wastes" to "Torna Boss Theme" stuck with me. Additionally, the tunes that featured lyrics generally struck several chords of emotion. “Drifting Souls” really hit my emotions and made certain cut-scenes memorable. Overall, big fan of the soundtrack. Go experience the soundtrack for yourself on YouTube.

Verdict/Final Thoughts

I enjoyed Xenoblade Chronicles 2 from start to end. It has plot twists, memorable soundtracks, and gameplay features that make it a great game. However, the game does have a few minor flaws. So why would I give this game a 10/10? I found myself devoting 86-87 hours to it, while completing a fair amount of side quests -- however, I never found myself wanting to put my Nintendo Switch away. Instead, I continued to play and progress throughout the story, wanting to continue to watch the characters grow. Being a PC gamer, I found it hard to justify spending $60 on a brand-new game. However, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is worth every penny. I bought the special edition with the art book, which cost $82. It was worth it. Despite the flaws, the great aspects of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 blanket the flaws within the game. It’s the great aspects of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 that make the game great. So, what are you waiting for? Go get the game, and enjoy an experience that should be in your Nintendo Switch library. 

Published Jan. 4th 2018

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