Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Catch-all (Out Dec. 1)

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A new Xenoblade game is upon us and though the number two is in the game's title it's not a direct sequel. We've got new worlds to explore and all new characters.

You are Rex, the Aegis (whatever that means), and your companion is Pyra, who is a Blade. Your task is to get Pyra to Elysium, the mythical paradise. Along the way you'll gather companions and collect more Blades, who you can use in combat.

Some things have changed, but a lot has stayed the same. The UI and how you select arts has completely changed, likely for the better as it appears to be refined. I wanted to say simplified, but I don't know if that's true. Positioning is still important, as are status effects and stagger/topple is still important.

In the game there will be multiple Titans to explore. Civilizations have sprung up on the backs of certain Titans, with different biomes to each Titan. Some Titans are smaller and act as airships. How many and how varied they all are is to be seen.

The game is slated to be released simultaneously in all regions December 1st, 2017.

Note: There will only be English voices, no Japanese track. Nintendo changed course here and dual audio will be available at launch as free DLC.

Also, Nintendo of Europe is the lead for localization outside of Japan, just like with the original XC.

Nintendo Treehouse blog detailing combat: https://nintendotreehouse.tumblr.com...

Have a Switch and wondering what a Xeno game is and if you should care? I'm here to try and answer that.

What is the Xenoblade series?

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/nj21qqU.jpg)
Way back in 1998, when Square was riding high on the success of Final Fantasy VII, they released a game directed by Tetsuya Takahashi titled Xenogears. What was important or different about Xenogears that we're still seeing "Xeno" games nearly twenty years later? The short answer is that the story brought in philosophy and religious concepts not usually seen in games. Xenogears mixed Carl Jung and Friedrich Nietzsche with mechs. Basically, it's the game version of Neon Genesis Evangelion.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/xFaxnD9.png?1)
Takahashi left Square, formed his own studio Monolith Soft and went on to make the Xenosaga games with Namco. While not direct sequels to Xenogears, the Saga games nonetheless continued the trend of mixing philosophy and religion into the story of their games (with lots of cutscenes). While initially planned to be a series of six games, Namco decided to kill their funding after the third game due to sales decreasing with each subsequent game. Namco then sold most of their stake in Monolith Soft to Nintendo in 2007.

Takahashi and Monolith Soft switched gears and developed ARPG Soma Bringer for the DS in 2008. Sadly, it never left Japan, but instead of being weighed down by heavy metaphysical musings, Soma Bringer focused on gameplay first and story second. This is, essentially, flipped on how they approached their games before.

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This brings us to Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii. Takahashi approached XC as a game that would strike a fine balance between story and gameplay, something his games quite hadn't managed to do previously. The world was set, literally, on the bodies of two giant gods frozen in combat. The game plays something like a single player MMO, with action combat and a fully explorable world. Much like MMOs, when engaged in combat your characters will auto attack. You control only one party member with the others acting in union with the rest of the party, essentially replicating the grouping experience of an MMO. The player's focus is on utilizing positioning around enemies (front, side, back) in conjunction with the proper abilities and your party's abilities.

XC was released to great accord, something Takahashi hadn't experienced since Xenogears. XC managed to balance the gameplay and story, while still bringing in some of Takahashi's philosphical leanings. The main knock on the game is that character models are quite ugly up-close as the game engine was tuned to sacrifice close shot fidelity in lieu of a long draw distance. This helped the game feel massive and led to many amazing views, which one would not expect to see on the Wii's admittedly limited hardware. It also happens to have a phenomenal soundtrack.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/E15JLOj.jpg?1)
In 2015, for the nearly dead Wii U, Monolith Soft and Nintendo released Xenoblade Chronicles X. If XC on the Wii was to balance gameplay and story, XCX throws that completely out the window and focuses almost exclusively on exploration and gameplay. Despite Takahashi reportedly writing a ton for the story of the game, most of it didn't make it into XCX.

To say the game is a technical achievement for the Wii U is probably is an understatement as much as it's an understatement when said about XC on the Wii. Monolith Soft clearly has some talented tech people, which can be evidenced by their aiding Nintendo on both Zelda Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild. The draw distances here are huge, once again, and overall the game looks like something the PS4 could do, not four Gamecubes taped together the Wii U. It's also a true open world game with no loading screens for 99% of the game.

XCX retains XC's combat for the most part, with a more scifi than fantasy flair, and manages to pile more systems on top of the already fairly complex combat. Much of the in-game dialogue is inane and very anime-esque, something that's been lobbed at Monolith Soft's games since Soraya Saga stopped working on their titles after Xenosaga II.

That said, what you have is a game about crash landing on an alien planet, exploring five vast continents, meeting different alien species and eventually flying giant mechs. This all sounds great, and it is! It's just a shame the plot is poorly paced, doesn't take off until near the end, ends on a massive cliffhanger and has very little of the philosophical and religious references we have come to expect from Takahashi. Overall, XCX is a massive and imposing game that I believe is also enjoyable in the moment-to-moment of running around exploring. In that way it's a great game, but you have to ignore much of its flaws.

A special mention to the otherwise enjoyable soundtrack, except that the same song plays repeatedly when in the main city. You spend a lot of time there and it gets quite tiresome to hear the same vocal over and over again. Also, needing to consult a wiki to figure out the one enemy who drops this one item only at night when its raining is perhaps a tad too much for most humans. Scale that sh*t back, Monolith Soft.

Oh, and they added in mp. Like I said, it's a massive game with massive scope and mostly holds up under that weight. Mostly.

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And here we are in 2017 with a new Xenoblade game coming. The overall aesthetic of the character models seem to be stripped straight from a Tales game (and is certainly not something uncommon to Takahashi games). It's Takahashi's self-proclaimed desire to do something more story-focused, so here's hoping that now the technical base has been set and they can bring out the big guns on the story side.

So, if you're new to the Xenoblade series or Xeno games in general will you like XC2? I have absolutely no idea tbh. The combat system is different from most games and hews most closely to an MMO. I also believe it demos incredibly poorly, which is not helped when someone spends most of their time demoing the game by killing bunnies. But once you play the games and get a taste for the combat system, it's much easier to see what's going on. Without a basic understanding of the combat, it all looks like a giant mess. Perhaps my suggestion is to give one of the Xenoblade games a try, assuming you can. Gotta have a Wii, Wii U or New 3DS to do so though. Or watch someone else play through! I don't know. There's really nothing quite like the Xenoblade series.

My fear is that Xenoblade Chronicles was lightning in a bottle and Monolith Soft isn't quite capable of bringing everything together in a cohesive package again. Perhaps XC2 will bring back the balance and end up being a true JRPG classic. I'm cautiously hopeful.

Can't I at least get a downloadable Japanese track? Good lord people...

I don't know how to explain it but the footage left me unimpressed. The first one had such huge environments and monsters, and the 2nd seemed to add better graphics but this one....it looks pretty but it seems to lack (at least for me) the epic huge feel of the other games.

*And as I watch the second video again it is just as huge as the first two so I don't have any idea why it doesn't feel that way to me.

And, as usual, the combat seemed just overly complicated without any good payoff. It doesn't seem more fun because it is complicated.

I wasn't super impressed by the trailer I saw in the spotlight presentation either. I was also pretty annoyed that the two female characters had ridiculous sized chests.

I want a good Xenoblade game on the Switch (or ports of the Wii and Wii U games), so I'm hoping this turns out well.

farley3k wrote:

I don't know how to explain it but the footage left me unimpressed.

I don't think much explanation is needed. I felt the same. I skipped Chronicles X on the Wii U, but really enjoyed the 40 or so hours I put into Chronicles on my 3DS.

Chronicles 2 doesn't look bad, it just doesn't look particularly exciting. Then again, I didn't think Chronicles looked exciting either until I started playing it, so maybe this will be similar. I will wait for reviews and impressions.

While I'm mostly just happy that people are continuing to pay Takahashi to make games, a good part of me wishes they had decided to do a more story focused game in the Xenoblade X setting. Xenoblade Chronicles (1) was certainly the best all around game his teams have ever made, but Xenoblade X sheltered the promise of a return to the complete madness that I loved so much in Xenogears (and Xenosaga, to slightly lesser extent). Also, I can't say I'm super jazzed by the character art direction they've shown so far, but anime is going to anime, I suppose.

Anyway, minor grumbles aside, I'm thrilled to get another Xeno game, and a bit surprised to be seeing it just two years after the previous one. Crazy!

That giant anime boobs probably means I will pass on this one.. If it was a full on ARPG I might look past it to play but this looks more like a turn based timing RPG which isnt my thing at all.

garion333 wrote:

I'm working on this. Stay tuned.

Thanks Garion. Looking forward to what you have to say about Xenoblade Chronicles X.

I really enjoyed XCX despite a million serious flaws in it, largely because it is the best pure EXPLORATION game I've ever played. That has me watching this with interest. I wonder if they'll have a separate "lineage" and we'll get a Xenoblade Chronicles X-2, with each "line" emphasizing certain traits?

beeporama wrote:
garion333 wrote:

I'm working on this. Stay tuned.

Thanks Garion. Looking forward to what you have to say about Xenoblade Chronicles X.

I really enjoyed XCX despite a million serious flaws in it, largely because it is the best pure EXPLORATION game I've ever played. That has me watching this with interest. I wonder if they'll have a separate "lineage" and we'll get a Xenoblade Chronicles X-2, with each "line" emphasizing certain traits?

That's exactly what's happening:

“The way I see it,” says Takahashi, “I feel as though Xenoblade 1 and 2 are connected and linked in the sense that they're linear and story-driven games, whereas Xenoblade Chronicles X was more focused on open world and exploration, and maybe an online aspect. I feel like I'd like to continue to create games separating those two aspects out.”

X games will focus on exploration while the non-X games will be more story-focused.

I am going to start thinking of these as Final Fantasy games. IE games that share a name and sort of a world but largely are separate.

That's exactly what they are.

Yeah, it has just taken awhile to really accept that. I kept trying to find some deep ties or continuation of story but there really are not any.

garion333 wrote:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/nj21qqU.jpg)
Way back in 1998, when Square was riding high on the success of Final Fantasy VII, they released a game directed by Tetsuya Takahashi titled Xenogears. What was important or different about Xenogears that we're still seeing "Xeno" games nearly twenty years later? The short answer is that the story brought in philosophy and religious concepts not usually seen in games. Xenogears mixed Carl Jung and Friedrich Nietzsche with mechs. Basically, it's the game version of Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Most of the major plot points in the game are literally from the Book of Genesis.

Thanks for the awesome overview, I have heard of these games but had no idea what they are about.

This sounds like something I might really like so looking forward to checking it out when it is released.

farley3k wrote:

I am going to start thinking of these as Final Fantasy games. IE games that share a name and sort of a world but largely are separate.

Isn't this true of many Japanese RPGs?

Well, we now know why Testuya Nomura was listed in the credits of the trailers. He's designing the characters for an in-game organization called Torna.

IMAGE(http://gematsu.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Xenoblade-2-Nomura_06-21-17_001.jpg)

IMAGE(http://gematsu.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Xenoblade-2-Nomura_06-21-17_002.jpg)

Don't know who Nomura is? Well, he's responsible for there being belts and zippers on Final Fantasy characters since FFVII along with being the man behind the Kingdom Hearts series and every other Square-Enix project that is delayed repeatedly.

garion333 wrote:

and every other Square-Enix project that is delayed repeatedly. :P

Hey now, I don't think The World Ends With You was delayed. And he definitely cooled it on the belts/zippers things a releases ago (although the world cannot forgive him the Vivi design in KH)

That said, top image definitely looks Nomura-esque specifically an expy from the KH Unchained Chi guild leaders.

shoptroll wrote:
garion333 wrote:

and every other Square-Enix project that is delayed repeatedly. :P

Hey now, I don't think The World Ends With You was delayed. And he definitely cooled it on the belts/zippers things a releases ago (although the world cannot forgive him the Vivi design in KH)

That said, top image definitely looks Nomura-esque specifically an expy from the KH Unchained Chi guild leaders.

Well, his lineage lives on in XC2 anyway.

I missed this the other day, but should give some insight into why this is so anime looking:

Tetsuya Takahashi wrote:

A young adult story with a taste of boy-meets-girl. Lately it feels like all I’ve been doing are games full of devastation, like where your hometown burns down at the start, or the spaceship you’re riding crashes(oh wait, that is all I ever do). Sometimes I just wanna try something different!

I want to make something that people can look back on fondly one day as something that really shaped their lives. Something like what I loved as a boy, like Oliver!(by Carol Reed) and Galaxy Express 999(by Rintaro).
-- That’s why I started working on this game.

I’ll leave the stories about the solemn old men and hot stylish guys to someone else(even though there’s way more demand for that stuff), and go ahead with this.

That’s what was on my mind around the end of 2014 through early 2015.

Yeah, we started while Xenoblade X was still in development.

We’re building a whole new ‘Xenoblade’ title using the foundation laid by X. That’s the core of the project.

Some people think exploration is what games should be all about, while some are like “no no, story is what’s best.” Well we’ve got something perfect for both of those kinds of people: Xenoblade 2.

And that’s what I wanted to tell you with my first announcement. Sound cool?

There are still a ton of surprises left, of course.

I’ll be revealing little bits of information and riling everyone up all the way until release.

And that was my June of 2017.

(Wait, will we even meet the release deadline?!)

Tetsuya Takahashi

Gaf thread about the last bit indicates it's meant as a joke, probably in reference to people not believing they're close to releasing the game.

I should still get through the original Xenoblade on my 3DS. So many things to be playing.

ccesarano wrote:

I should still get through the original Xenoblade on my 3DS. So many things to be playing.

I wish I could do that, but I'm not buying a new 3DS for it. Here's hoping they port the earlier games to the Switch at some point. Unlikely, but it'd be super sweet.

So I started playing Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii and when I thought about going back I started hearing about XCX. From Garion's post I surmise that they are different games and not just a remake/remaster? Will either game tie in story wise to XC2?

Definitely different games. Probably won't have any link to XC2. I can't tell you much more about either, because I've only put a few hours into each. XC I think got backburnered by something else. XCX turned out to have text that was small enough that playing on a 60" TV, I had to strain to read anything from my couch 13' away. And there's a LOT of text in that game.

No, there's no direct story connection between any of them as far as we know. And XCX is a vestly different game than XC. The biggest thing they share is the combat system, but pacing, design and story-wise they're quite different.

If anyone wants to experience all of Xenoblade Chronicles, without the reptitive grinding and have someone who loves the game gush over most of it as he 100%'s it with tons of knowledge and highlights of the soundtrack and stuff, check out Chuggaconroy's Let's Play.

Another vote for Chuggaconroy. His Let's play is wonderful.

Gamespot has a good interview with Takahashi. Some interesting stuff in there:

In this game world that we're trying to create, there are these enormous beings called Titans that people live on and, that's their land. But their land, the Titans, are dying. Once they die, they sink into the cloud sea, so all these people are going to lose their land. They're not going to be able to survive, and I think when you look at it in the real world, I think something like that, something similar happens where there is a lot of competition for resources in the world we live in right now.

Relatively speaking, the United States or Japan are wealthy countries where people live comfortably, but on the other side there are countries that are very poor where people are struggling and suffering. Trying to think about what can we do for all of us to live together well and how can we do that is something that I think about when I'm trying to create games like this.

Then in terms of touching on the idea of religion a little bit, I think for us as Japanese people, we have a little bit of contradiction in terms of religion in that, in Japan, we celebrate Christmas, and then a few days later we go to the shrines to do New Year's Prayer, which is based on Shintoism. When someone passes away, we ask Buddha's monks to say our prayers. It's kind of all over the place, but at the same time there is this idea of having tolerance for all those religions. That is something that I kind of wanted to put into my game, so that the idea of tolerance is something that can be had between people as well. And when we're creating this world within the game, I kind of wanted to put that idea into the relationships that the characters have with each other and the relationship that the character has with his or her blade as well.

XC was one of my favorite RPG experiences ever whereas XCX was impressive technically but I stopped playing after 15hours or so, so I'm excited for a more story driven game. I've skipped all preview videos for this because I feel like JRPGs in general (even the first XC) come across surprisingly badly in videos compared to how they actually play. I think more than some other genres it's important to be drawn into the tone and context of the story to smooth over elements that are jarring out of context.

My fear is that Xenoblade Chronicles was lightning in a bottle and Monolith Soft isn't quite capable of bringing everything together in a cohesive package again.

I think we talked about this in another thread, but I had the opposite response to Xenoblade Chronicles and Xenoblade Chronicles X. XC was good, but chained its more interesting open world sections together with boring, bland, extremely linear segments underground that abandoned just about everything that made the game fun.

My hope is that this release doesn't confuse "story-driven" with that same start/stop pacing. (And I desperately hope they cool it with the wiki-required materials gathering.)

TheGameguru wrote:

That giant anime boobs probably means I will pass on this one.. If it was a full on ARPG I might look past it to play but this looks more like a turn based timing RPG which isnt my thing at all.

I'm confused. Passing because of character designs is fine, but I'm not sure what you mean about the gameplay. This isn't turn based.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:

That giant anime boobs probably means I will pass on this one.. If it was a full on ARPG I might look past it to play but this looks more like a turn based timing RPG which isnt my thing at all.

I'm confused. Passing because of character designs is fine, but I'm not sure what you mean about the gameplay. This isn't turn based.

He's saying that if it were a full on ARPG where you controlled every action of your character then it would excite him. More like Bayonetta.

Instead, it's time based in the way you use powers and stuff. Like WoW.

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