I finally did it. I completed Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and I’m (finally) ready to tell everyone what I think of it. Is Xenoblade 2 as bad as some people would have you believe it is or is it a good JRPG that’s worth picking up on the Switch?
Xenoblade 2 plays like an MMO. Once combat starts everyone would automatically attack their target until their skills are ready to be used. There’s a steep learning curve to the combat. You won’t learn everything at one time. This made playing through the first 15 hours of the game a chore because it felt like a really long tutorial. Once I did learn everything the gameplay was really good. I was toppling, launching, and smashing enemies into the ground with no problem and this tactic is an important one because it makes some of the harder bosses in the game really easy to beat. Having the right blades for the job is important. What are blades you ask? Blades are your companions and weapons. Once a person links with a blade they’re known as a driver. It’s a unique system and it’s one I really enjoyed mastering during my 65-hour playthrough of the game. Having the right party lineup is incredibly important for the last chapters of the game. I completed the game with Rex, Tora, and Morag and steamrolled the final boss in 10 minutes.
Once I unlocked enough blades I was able to create the perfect party setup. Instead of Rex being a DPS I made him a DPS/healer hybrid and I didn’t need Nia in my party anymore. I love experimenting with different builds in my RPGs and I love that Xenoblade 2 allowed me to do that. There’s a lot to like about the customization here. It’s not just about getting new blades. A big part of the game is equipping the right cores to your blades, finding new weapons, and equipping accessories to everyone in your party. Some accessories increase the amount of damage I did in battle while others increased my health. Auxillary cores do something similar, but for the blades instead of the party members. Some cores increase damage against flying enemies while others increase the damage you do indoors or outdoors. It’s possible to go through the whole game without caring about this feature because I forgot it existed for about 50 hours. I only started customizing my blades core slots when I realized I was still using the same ones from Gormott.
Traversing the terrain was a bit of pain in the ass because the Skells from Xenoblade X spoiled me. I kept trying to Skyrim my way up mountains because I kept getting lost. Why? That horrible map. What RPG in 2018 doesn’t have a decent map? Enlarging the map only makes it more difficult because it covers the entire screen and looks like something out of the PS2 days. The map in Xenoblade X wasn’t perfect, but it was leagues better than this. I always knew where I was and I could just hop in my Skell and fly off if I got lost.
Xenoblade 2 has a great soundtrack. I love the battle music, different tunes that play while I’m out exploring, and it has decent voice acting too. There’s a lot of hate on the English voices in this game. I thought they were fine. They’re not the best, but I’ve heard much worse from other JRPGs that I’ve played. The voice work here is solid and I played the entire game in English. I played for about 20 minutes with the Japanese voices and it was also fine. I prefer to play games in my own language so I went with English and still enjoyed my experience.
Where do I start here? The story is all over the place sometimes, but it’s mostly good. We play as Rex, a scavenger turned driver that embarks on a long journey to take his blade/friend to Elysium. I felt like the story went on a little too long, but it wrapped up nicely at the end and I’m glad I stuck with it. There are some chapters where it feels like nothing happened to advance the main plot and I feel like the developers tried too hard to make us care about the bad guys by giving us flashbacks on them. The main antagonist is terrible and even though I don’t hate Rex he’s not a great protagonist either. I do like his supporting cast (except Tora) and some of the blades have special missions that let me get to know them better too. This game is filled with cutscenes and character building and you’re either going to hate it or love it. I liked the story, but I don’t love the story. I don’t feel like I wasted my time with it and I am planning on playing it again once new game plus drops.
Some areas in this game are breathtaking. Walking through the open fields of Gormott was a treat for the eyes, but there are some really ugly areas too. Mor Ardain and some of the end game areas are just fucking ugly though. I also don’t like how often the resolution changes to compensate for the Switch’s lack of power. It’s a real problem because I can notice it. I notice when the character I’m running around as gets a little blurry and it took me out of the game a little. The graphics are a mixed bag for sure. They’re not terrible, but they’re not great either. There are much better-looking games out there on other platforms. At times Xenoblade 2 is the best looking game on the Switch and at times it can be one of the worse looking games on the Switch. I felt the same way about Breath of The Wild.
I had to beat the boss of the game twice because the first time I did it my game decided to run at 1 FPS and eventually crash. It pissed me off and almost made me trade the game in for something else. When shit hits the fan, which is almost all the time in this game, the FPS dips. It even dips when I’m just running around cities talking to NPCs or turning in some quests. This game is optimized like shit and I don’t think it’s going to improve anytime soon. The developers seem to be focused on making shitty DLC instead of optimizing their game.
Why is it so hard for Nintendo games to have good side content? All of the major releases on the Switch have piss poor side content. Breath of The Wild, Odyssey, and now Xenoblade 2. When I first bought the game I was excited to do everything because it was a new game and that feeling you get when you buy something new is there. Once that feeling left I lost interest in about 90% of the crap that people asked me to do. The rewards were never good (just like Breath of The Wild) and if I don’t get rewarded for doing something then why do it?
Xenoblade 2 is one of the best games on the Switch. Even with the performance issues (which really only impacted the game at the very end), and subpar side quest I still managed to get over 60 hours of enjoyment out of it. I really liked the story, most of the supporting cast around Rex, and the gameplay can be fantastic at times. There is a steep learning curve here and I didn't start to really like this game until the 20-hour mark. It's a slow burner, but it's worth it. There's a lot to like about this game and not a lot to hate in my opinion.