Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Catch-all

Checking in again, since I've cleared both Ch. 4 and 5 since last I posted. Thoughts in spoilers:

Spoiler:

-I really didn't have much to say on Ch.4. Outside of Mecha-Rosa and Morag joining, it wasn't all that interesting story wise. It just seemed like it was setting the table for the next act.
-It didn't help that I spent a bunch of time in Ch.4 doing sidequests, which can be a slog. And I've played enough Xenoblade games to know I don't have to do every quest, but sometimes I found myself doing it anyway, plus a bunch have some annoying requirements. But on the plus side, I'm now regularly 3-5 levels higher than the bosses I fight at the end of each chapter.
-So after Ch.5 plus a bit of 6, I now have a motivation for Jin; the whole 'Blades should not be servants and should be able to retain memories and build up a culture, so I'm going to kill all the humans and then the Architect" routine. That said, fighting to throw off the oppressive system that keeps blades from building culture is actually a pretty interesting idea, and moves him into a 'villain with an actual motivation' category, which is always better than just wanting power or something.
-Plus the girl on ice, which I recognize from some of the ads for the Torna DLC
-Speaking of interesting story points, the game seems to be throwing a bunch of stuff out there, like war orphans getting adopted by the mercenary group and the refugees in Indol who are angry at blades for destroying their homes. That said, most of that was just from side quests or just running around, and doesn't seem tied directly into the main plot. I wonder if that stuff will remain more as worldbuilding, or will come up more prominently later.
-And with the Praetor and Jin, we are confirmed to have EVEN MORE people who were around 500 years ago. The Torna DLC seems to be more and more necessary.
-Speaking of Praetor Amalthus, every time we meet with him, I always get the feeling something bad is going to happen or he's going to betray us at some point due to his ties with Malos or something. It hasn't happened yet, but I keep expecting it. The next thing in the story for me to do is go see him again after Fan/Haze's funeral, and I continue to expect it to go bad, despite the fact that he has been a reasonable authority figure so far. I'll be right eventually.
-And everyone has secrets that are vaguely hinted at (like Zeke hinting at something for Morag), plus the whole Nia thing. It wouldn't be a JRPG without it, I suppose.
-I liked when Zeke serioused up at the conference with other leaders contrasting with with his usual act.
-I'm still waiting for the mechs to start happening. I don't count Rosa.
-Managing the mercenary group seems mostly like busy work, but I dig it anyway.

And now that I have enough characters who can equip multiple blades, I'm impressed at how good the AI is at switching blades to hit the elemental combos. I ran into some issues for a bit when I gave Nia an Attack blade that she then used most of the time, which meant we weren't getting healed enough, but specializing the party members in one type but multiple elements seems to solve that problem. Getting the season pass also means I started with 20 legendary blade cores, which was enough to get 10-12 of the blades with custom portraits, and so everyone has some good options at this point.

Sundown wrote:

20 legendary blade cores, which was enough to get 10-12 of the blades with custom portraits, and so everyone has some good options at this point.

Don't expect that luck to keep up through all of the blades. I stopped at 250hrs and at least a few hundred legendary cores (lost count of rare and common) burnt in pursuit of my final 2 blades, despite doing everything tutorials said could affect the outcome.

Also, nice update. Glad to see what you are thinking as you go. What location is Chapter 6, again? A cave, right?

mrtomaytohead wrote:
Sundown wrote:

20 legendary blade cores, which was enough to get 10-12 of the blades with custom portraits, and so everyone has some good options at this point.

Don't expect that luck to keep up through all of the blades. I stopped at 250hrs and at least a few hundred legendary cores (lost count of rare and common) burnt in pursuit of my final 2 blades, despite doing everything tutorials said could affect the outcome.

Also, nice update. Glad to see what you are thinking as you go. What location is Chapter 6, again? A cave, right?

Don't know yet. I have at least one more cutscene before I get directions on where the next goal is.

Out of curiosity, how did you hit 250 hours? Both XC1 and XCX took me about 80 hours since I usually explore enough to get my money's worth and do some sidequests to stay leveled, but when the credits roll I move on, and I'm expecting about the same for this one (plus the DLC).

Also, a comment on a thing I said in an earlier post about the Architect.

Spoiler:

I mentioned that I thought that Shulk might be the architect near the beginning of the game, since I had heard he was in the game and was speculating. Well, I found him and Fiora in a Colosseum from one of the bits of DLC from the expansion pass where he could could be my blade, but it was screaming POST GAME CONTENT so I took a pass on that. I'm less confident now that he was the Architect, but the nature of the Architect has not been revealed yet for me.

mrtomaytohead wrote:

What location is Chapter 6, again? A cave, right?

To answer this question, Ch. 6 is taking me to Tantal aka the snow place.

Also, I have a quick mid chapter rant that I need to get off my chest. I'll put in spoilers since it's story related.

Spoiler:

The assassination and resurrection of the emperor Niall was the most forced thing I have seen in a long time. So, Giga Rosa was a pushover, but then Bana is going to self destruct to take everyone with him, which would be bad. So Niall has his Blade put up a big shield to protect everyone, but then he runs out of the shield to attempt to stop Bana from pushing the button that is in his hand. As opposed to maybe staying in the shield and being fine like everyone else there. So the explosion goes off, and Niall dies, but the sacrifice is wildly pointless. Then Dromarch leads some half hearted distraction away so that everyone can leave so Nia can do her 'surprise I'm a blade and can heal' reveal. (so that spoiler was correct) And I can see why some people followed, but why Morag left her king and brother (or cousin? I think it's brother) as well was unbelievable. And then the Urayan Queen just looks around and says 'welp, see you later' and wandered off right after her counterpart was just killed stretched my suspension of belief beyond the limit. Now, maybe if Nia shared her life force with Niall to revive him like Pyra did with Rex and that becomes a plot point later, I can sort of live with that. But as is, it seems like they just had a bunch of characters act unbelievably in order to set up a reveal.

Also, I continue to spend a lot of time on sidequests which is starting to hurt my enjoyment of the game, so I'm probably going to mainline the story for awhile until the battles start getting tough again and I need some levels. During the boss fight in the spoiler, the boss was lv. 42 and the lowest person in my party was 48. Now, everyone is 51 or higher, and the enemies I've seen so far in Tantal are high 30s and low 40s. I probably spent 2-3 hours yesterday just cleaning up sidequests, and always somehow picking up more, so I'm probably overleveled at this point. I appreciate that many of the sidequests are multistep (especially the blade quests) which makes them a bit more interesting that what was in the previous games, but still usually just ends up as go here and kill this thing or collect this thing. So I'm taking this as my cue to get on with it, or at least only do quests that are on my way.

Sundown - yeah Man hit the story hard! You may find a side quest itch later and can return the.

Sundown wrote:

Out of curiosity, how did you hit 250 hours? Both XC1 and XCX took me about 80 hours since I usually explore enough to get my money's worth and do some sidequests to stay leveled, but when the credits roll I move on, and I'm expecting about the same for this one (plus the DLC).

I did most sidequests, almost all merc missions, nearly maxed out all of my blades affinity charts, (most have sizable sidequests), got to level 99, and got to chapter 5 or so in NG+. And I fell asleep at least a few nights while working towards those ends, too. But yeah, even though I spreadsheeted unlocks on the blades, I was still going back and forth everywhere working on those things. Also, I did all this BEFORE they added the ability to level down to gain more XP in fights, or something like that. Most of what I did was pre-NG+. Once I went NG+, I was just seeing how fast I could get through and pick up on some stuff that required a 2nd play to get, including more of the items that let you switch a blade's driver.

When it comes to time logged on my Switch, it's XC2, BotW, and then Rocket League. Nothing else comes close.

I'm at 200 hours, without being anywhere close to maxing all blade affinity charts, nor entering NG+. I've done "most" sidequests, max lvl, merc missions etc.
The game is just freaking huge.

Shadout wrote:

I'm at 200 hours, without being anywhere close to maxing all blade affinity charts, nor entering NG+. I've done "most" sidequests, max lvl, merc missions etc.
The game is just freaking huge.

I'm sure putting stuff into a spreadsheet so I could customize my parties to be sure I got all affinity unlocks that had overlap helped quite a bit.

Checking in again at the completion of Ch. 6. Thoughts in spoilers.

Spoiler:

-So for those who don't remember, this is the point where Jin changes into his second form and goes all anime light-speed sword skills in a cutscene and the party loses, and Pyra agrees to go with them to unlock Elysium. Needless to say, this was one of those twist endings for a chapter.
-I was actually wondering if Pyra/Mythra would leave the party at some point. It was either this or maybe they reverted to a core crystal and we got to explore the nature of blades and their memories some more.
-So with Akhos and the two other bad guys being Flesh Eaters, that's probably another 3 characters who were around 500 years ago. The list keeps growing to just about everyone who isn't Rex and Tora and maybe Zeke.
-Malos is surprisingly chill. He was just hanging out after we whupped the flesh eaters, and even told one of them to lay off when they were trash talking. It seems like he's alright except for the times he's trying to kill you.
-I think I found the mech. We got a brief shot of Siren up in the atmosphere when Pyra was threatening to blast herself to smithereens, and it looked like a giant robot. I'm expecting more.
-And this game is still good about both chapter names and smash cuts to chapter titles. This time, Jin just told off Rex for letting Pyra get badly hurt and not noticing, then WOUNDS shows up on the screen. Continued masterful work there. And considering the title of Ch. 7 is THE FEAR SHE CARRIES, I'm guessing the end of the chapter will be a doozy.
-I hung around for the start of the next chapter, and got to see the girls chewing out Rex. Maybe an odd thing to note, but Brighid's actress did a really good job in that scene. Also, when Nia was chewing out Rex was the first time I had noticed her ears looked backwards.
-And since I was Pyra-less, I thought I would do a few blade quests to open up some of their affinity levels so I could level them up. But surprise, three of the quests (Wulfric, Ursula, and Azami) required Pyra present to move forward with. Oops. Well, I got Praxis at least, so I have a new attacking blade for Rex, once it's available to use.
-I continue to be a bit overlevelled, so I'll probably continue pushing through the story for now. When I get Pyra back (lets face it, there's now way I don't. Right?), I'll probably knock out some of the quests that require her, then continue on. I feel like I've been at a better pace since last I posted.
-One thing I liked about Tantal was that far under the castle and the city, there was some big ether vein coming up from a pool. All around that was level 80 monsters, and they were all floating or congregating around it as thought they were drawn to it, and all the smaller stuff stayed away. That was a neat little bit of design, and one of the things I really like that the Xenoblade games do to build their worlds.
-As a side note, earlier in the chapter I made a sidequest run to Temperantia, the place where the Ardinains and Urayans were going to fight. Considering how many level 90 dinosaurs were wandering around the place, I wonder how any of the infantry lasted more than 10 seconds, even in the camp. That place was a nightmare to explore since you have to zig and zag and randomly die, with no real cover. Very good music, though.

Completed Ch. 7, and putting down my thoughts and impressions in spoilers.

Spoiler:

-Addam’s cave to get to the 3rd Aegis sword was a massive slog
-Addam constantly looks like they pulled him out of Assassin’s Creed with his hood up
-Nia reveal was interesting, but not yet sure if it changes anything, other than her cutscene power to annoy Malos with regeneration. Especially since I would rather keep her on as a Driver since she’s a good healer, rather than turn her into blade.
-Found I really missed having Pyra in the party, since she swings fast, filled up meters fast, could topple, heal, and generally made battles easy. Roc is the opposite for me, so I’m scrambling to find another good attack blade. I found myself playing as Zeke a lot, since he could at least hit hard. I also have been using Morag as my tank instead of Tora, and Nia is a fixture of my lineup for all the heals.
-It was kinda funny when Blade-Nia told Rex that she loved him, and Rex turned around and said that he loved her too. And everyone else. Her stunned expression that turned into a laugh said it all.
-That said, after seeing what Nia did to Malos, I think we’re going to get more about her before we’re done. That also may explain how she was able to bring Niall back from the dead. And might be why Jin wanted her around, to bring back Lora or something. If her power is regeneration, that seems pretty broken.
-And a lot of Malos’ attacks had Monado in the title. Wondering if that is a tie to XC1
-We met the giant mecha, and it’s...Pyra and Mythra? They said it was their power, and was red and white, so idk
-Apparently they were saving up the ANIME budget and then blew it out for the end of chapter 7. Pyra/Mythra trasformed and got new hair, Rex got a new glowing sword and glowing new suit, Malos yelled a lot, mid air fights against Jin, Siren fighting Orphion (aka mecha fighting an air snake with a mecha on it’s head), and explosions so big it messed up the graphics in handheld mode.
-And then they fall into the abyss as a cliffhanger. I wonder if we are going to see what is under the cloud sea; it was briefly touched on at the start of the game. Hopefully it’s not as eerie as it was in Skies of Arcadia.
-It seems like there's at least one plot thread to go; namely, what’s up with Indol and the Praetor. Them strong arming Tantal made it clear there’s more going on and that my suspicions that they he was going to be a problem later at some point weren’t totally misplaced. I don’t know how much more story we have to go at this point, so I assume that will come up soon.
-Plus Lora, who is still on ice. Guessing Jin wants to bring her back, but not sure how she plays into his plan to destroy the world.
-I also don’t think that Niall or the Urayan Queen have had much impact on the plot, so I wonder if they will show up later.

I have no idea how much game is left, but I have to be closing in on the end. The story boss battles have been a breeze for awhile at this point, so I've largely be able to just keep plowing through the game and keeping a good pace. I may knock out some blade quests for the experience and just to see some more unique content before I get deep into Ch.8.

Also, since I'm getting on in the game, I'm starting to think about how the three Xenoblade games compare to each other (which has the best story, best characters, best music, best combat, etc.) and putting together some rankings. I'll post it when I've finished the main game, and I'd be interested to see what others think.

Chugging right along with completion of Ch. 8.

I’m now taking notes as I go, so if you see me wonder about something in one note and then comment on what actually happens, that’s why.

Spoiler:

-Well, I called going to the bottom of the Cloud Ocean right on.
-I don’t know what I was expecting to happen, but the ruins of a past (present?) human civilization being at the bottom with a bunch of green clouds in the distance wasn’t on the list. Nor was having Jin join the party.
-I forgot to mention this in the Ch. 7 notes, but the main battle theme changed. I love it when JRPGs do this as you get deeper in the game, although Chrono Trigger is the only game I can think of off the top of my head.
-In one of my notes before, I wondered what the Mechonis Left Arm moment for this game would be. Turns out it might be in Torna with Jin? So if that logic holds, and this game is going like XC1, then we will fight Jin and Malos at the top of the world tree, then after a twist we have to go fight Praetor Amalthus (not really a twist at this point since Jin already revealed he was bad). Lets see if it plays out that way.
-Before climbing the world tree, I stopped to do some sidequests, but keep running into roadblocks. It will take forever to grind Ursula’s traits up enough to perform, and I don’t want to keep sending her out on mercenary quests every 10 minutes. I can’t finish Kora’s quest because I only can hit 9 Girl Power between 3 blades. I’ll need another one, and that means getting MORE rare and legendary blades and spinning the wheel. Pass for now. This seems like a good game to keep you busy if you want to 100%, but that’s not what I’m going for. Still completed a few others, so it works out.
-Actually, I got one of the blades I need for the Girl Power quest shortly after I typed that. Problem is I still need to grind her up. That's kind of the problem with introducing new blades at this point; since I haven't unlocked all of the bonuses for them, they always feel underpowered compared to what I had before.
-I'm also trying to juggle the elements I carry with me now, like dropping Roc on Rex for a dark blade, and putting an earth healer on Nia instead of a fire healer, since the other two party members carry fire as well. Don't need more than two of anything to hit the lv. 3 chain attacks, so I'm trying to cover my bases better. No ice or wind at this point, but it's not much of a problem for the chains I usually do.
-When the inside of the tree is one giant future computer, I kept wondering 'what is even going on anymore,' Kind of wish the characters had commented more on just how weird it was and out of the blue compared to everything else they had seen.
-Well, as Ch. 8 came to a close, they didn’t exactly try to hide Amalthus’ bad turn. That said, the giant end cutscene where Torna and Indol were fighting was really cool, and the setup of Rex vs. Jin vs. Amalthus as three competing factions is actually really interesting. It’s probably too much to ask for a three way battle at some point where all are on the field and throwing down, but I can hope.
-Starting this chapter, I could have been convinced it was the final one based on the title "World Tree". That's clearly not the case anymore, since Ch. 9 is up next. But with a title like "Rain," I'm guessing 9 isn't the end either. Although if it's metaphorical rain, then something bad will probably happen in it.
-The story is really in high gear now. I don't remember where exactly it dialed it up, but it's definitely throwing some high octane stuff at us for awhile now.

I put the cartridge back in my Switch today. Patched it up.

Maybe I'll find my way back this week.

Stele wrote:

I put the cartridge back in my Switch today. Patched it up.

Maybe I'll find my way back this week.

How deep are/were you?

Looks like chapter 7 with levels between 54-60 for my team

Going to take a while to remember how to fight. It's been the better part of a year

Checking in with my latest chapter recap. Thoughts in spoilers.

Spoiler:

-So I was wondering if the refugees in Indol would become part of the story earlier. They didn’t, but refugees at a camp in Amalthus’ past did come into play in a flashback. And Mik, one of the Torna Blade Eaters, was one of those refugees. It seems like they’re trying to give everyone a sympathetic backstory.
-On the outside of the World Tree, I found a Salvaging spot that I used twice, and both times when I came back up a Named Indol dragon rider was waiting for me. Came close to beating it one time, but got comboed to death before I could launch a Blade Combo and explode 4 of the orbs I put on him. As a side note, I’ve now learned to use the combos to explode the orbs after I’ve put 3 or 4 on, and if I time it well it will take about half the health off most high level enemies. I just need the full meter to do it, and it’s hard to keep the meter when I get two shotted. Otherwise, it works great.
-So Mik got his hero moment protecting the party, then got blown up…..With Lora on board? Hard to believe that’s it for her.
-The fight against Jin was a bit easy, but the mood music was a nice touch to it.
-And then Perfect-Cell Amalthus showed up all transformed and talking about taking the data of the blades he cleaned. To what end, and how you download blade data, don’t know yet.
-Jin’s voice in a lot of dramatic scenes is very stilted and awkward. Not sure if that’s on purpose, or voice direction is just a bit off. He’s also big on being vague all the time.
-Amalthus went down easily as well. I thought these big fights would be spread out further than they were. I sat down to make a little progress, and was locked in for about an hour between fights and cutscenes.
-And I sort of got my three way battle between Jin, Rex, and Amalthus. But Jin and Rex teamed up quickly, so no true battle royale. Instead, Jin got to die looking cool (no pun intended) by killing Amalthus. And maybe that means we actually are done with Lora, since she was so critical to Jin’s backstory.
-At this point, Ch. 10 feels like it has to be the last one. The deck has been cleared for a battle of the Aegis’, plus meeting the Architect (and maybe fighting him as well, since this is a JRPG after all)
-The World tree seemed very linear. But then, so did the Land of Morytha. And so did the Cliffs of Morytha. I may circle back to this in an end of game review, but it seems like a lot of the areas in this game were pretty linear, or at least didn’t have as many interesting corners to poke your nose into as the previous couple of games. Is this just me?

At 82 hours, I rolled credits on Xenoblade 2. I'm creating several spoiler tags; the first one is for my thoughts on the final chapter, and then on the overall game. And since I've now played all 3 Xenoblade games, I decided to rank them across a few metrics for kicks.

Final chapter thoughts

Spoiler:

-Well, the title card confirms this is the final chapter, so I was right that I’m close
-The opening cutscene of the chapter was of a couple of scientists, one trying to flip a switch to create a new universe. My memory is fuzzy, and I’m not going to go back and check for fear of spoilers, but was that the same scene from the end of XC1? (spoilers for the rest of the paragraph for XC1) I thought Professor Klaus looked weirdly familiar, and then I swear that scene played out very similar, if not the same way to when they created a new world where the two scientists became Bionis and Mechonis. So then I’m guessing XC2 takes place in whats left of “our” world after the scientists run their experiment, a XC1 is in the new universe the experiment created. And we’ve seen a glimpse of the Architect, and it’s just some old looking dude. Maybe he was just like an admin on the space station before the experiment went off?
-This game keeps giving me mild surprises. I wasn’t sure what to expect when we got to Elysium, but a dried up town wasn’t really it. I was thinking they did a good job porting Fallout New Vegas into this game, though.
-The fights against the other party members were actually pretty good. I had to do a serious reevaluation of strategy against Morag, since I was getting worked over several times and was getting tired of the trip down the stairs. I switched accessories, to one that boosts healing and one that increases damage against higher level foes by 55% (since she was 1 level higher than Rex), and that worked. Keeping a healer on Rex at all times has been a good idea throughout the game.
-So, the Architect was Klaus himself, doomed to look over the world he destroyed in his experiment and to try to rebuild it. So not sure if the other half of him in a different universe was Zanza, or how that works yet. And we get the multiverse, so having other Xenoblade games “in universe” will work fine going forward.
-And then he dies when Zanza was killed in XC1, most likely. It sort of sounded like Shulk’s voice talking about killing a god in the cutscene before he died.
-The final fight was very reminiscent of the fight on top of the Mechonis in XC1, where you fight the top half of a giant robot. So if it wasn’t for the title card saying this was the final chapter, I would have been ready for the next twist to kick in and the game to go 20 more hours.
-Interesting that Malos was supposed to be a blank slate, and it’s only because Amalthus was his Driver that he went bad. I’m interested to see more about Addam from the Torna DLC, since that seems to be a big hole just hanging out there, and what impact he had on Mythra.
-A lot of drama with saying bye to Pyra, and the explosions around the station conveniently stopped in time so they could have their moment.
-Credits roll, mostly happy ending, and we get a bittersweet song to go with it. I’m glad it was in English, since I can think of other credits songs in JRPGs (Persona 3 comes to mind) that aren’t translated, and the punch that it’s supposed to provide the player doesn’t land if you don’t know what’s being sung.
-So I’m guessing Pneuma (green hair) is gone, but Pyra and Mythra made it out in the core crystal. I’m guessing we’re to assume they kept their memories somehow for the happy ending, but when Rex looked down and hesitated, I thought they might had forgotten everything, and he was steeling himself to introduce himself to them as their new driver. The title card was Boy Meets Girl, after all. But XC1 also had an implausibly good ending, so I’ll assume it was the best.

Full game thoughts

Spoiler:

-So, now looking at the game in it’s entirety (beating it around hour 82), and my thoughts aren’t fully formed yet, I think it is a very good JRPG, with a good story with some good surprises, which also took time to flesh out it’s characters which is something I really want when I play JRPGs now. I think there was more they could have done with some of the characters like Morag who could have used more info on her backstory, or showing how Jin was supposed to be a great guy before but we only saw glimpses of it in the flashbacks. Tora ranged from fine to obnoxious, but that seems to be what Nopon do in all of the Xenoblade games. I was also surprised how linear much of the game was, or more directly, how little exploration there was compared to the other two games. Gormott was big and open with lots of things to poke around in like Gaur Plains, but Uraya was mostly linear with one big room in the middle (and not much to do in it but fight enemies); Mor Ardain had a port, a strip of land, a city, and a medium open field that was a path to the ether mine and the old factory; Leftheria was literally a bunch of small islands connected by straight lines; Tantal was a mostly a straight line down from the city to the floor, which was huge but didn’t have a bunch of interesting places to poke around; Temperatitia was a massive open field with a couple of crevices with level 80 creatures in them; and the Cliffs of Morytha, the Land of Morytha, and the World Tree were all almost entirely linear. Now to be fair, at that point the story was in high gear and I can see the reason why they didn’t want the player to wander around a bunch when you are supposed to be trying to rescue Pyra or get to the top of the tree, but it still felt like they were setting aside the thing that the Xenoblade games are great at (exploration in a giant, interesting, and alive feeling world).
-I also wish the game had done a bit more to mix up the combat, since once you got into a rhythm of chain attacks and maybe doing the topple combo, there wasn’t much else to learn. I know you could tweak the combat by switching blades, but since it takes so long to unlock their affinities or level up the moves for each weapon type, there was a lot of pressure to stay with what you knew for the most part, or have to choose between grinding or falling behind the power curve a bit.

-I was surprised at how quickly I got used to the anime artstyle. And I really appreciate that the game seemed to have a lot of adult characters in it, not just a bunch of teens like other JRPGs do. The Xenoblade games actually seem to be pretty good at that for the most part. And XC2 dealt with some interesting themes, like the tensions between two powerful countries, refugees and child mercenaries, fusing humans and blades, and being bound by the unfairness of a circle of life and death that few really understand. But really only the last one was deeply explored during the narrative.

-The setting itself was really interesting. The land is made up of giant creatures that are slowly dying, and there are a lot of tensions in place because everyone is sensing this impending end. I also really like the little detail that since the blades lose their memories when they return to core crystals, some try to record their lives in diaries, but sadly most diaries are lost. Brighid was an exception, since she was a like a royal heirloom and thus was treated and maintained better than most blades.

-So I think my overall conclusion is that Xenoblade 2 is in many ways like the other two Xenoblade games for me: I really like most of it, but there are a few things that held it back from being top of the heap for me; XC1 was maybe the best 60 hour JRPG I’d played that went on for another 20 hours after I was ready for it to be over and felt like it ran out of steam, and the ending earned a ‘wut’ from me; XCX had the best exploration I’d seen in a game (maybe only rivaled by Zelda; BoTW), but was let down by it’s story, music direction, and a criminally underused cast; and XC2 had some very interesting characters with interesting motivations but needed to do a bit more with them, and while the story started slow but ended strong, the game became very linear for the back third to get there. I see the greatness in each of these games but also what could have been, and I will continue to play these games when they come out for the hope that the next one is the one that puts it all together and becomes an all-timer.

And now for the ratings. Feel free to rate, hate, and debate.
Best Story: XC1>XC2>XCX
Best Characters: XC2>XC1>XCX
Best Music: XC1>XC2>XCX
Best Setting: XC2>XC1>XCX
Best Combat: XCX>XC2>XC1
Best Villans: XC2>XC1>XCX
Best EXPLORATION: XCX>>>XC1>XC2
Best Mechs: XCX>XC1>XC2
Best overarching sidequests: Probes>Mercenary Army>Colony 6 Reconstruction
Best twists: XC1>XC2>XCX

Best Overall: XC1>XC2>XCX

Now to go read about all the stuff I missed on TV tropes (which is a bad decision and no one should do this), before booting up the Torna DLC while the characters are still fresh in my mind. And see what some of you thought as well earlier in the thread. I skipped most of the discussion before since I didn't want spoilers.

Dude, thanks for posting. I almost want to go back. But I'm pretty much done after so many hours on my clock. Great to see what others thought, especially with thoughts so well presented.

Yeah, I definitely appreciated your thoughts.

SUNDOWN YOU HAVE TORNA LEFT AND I AM SO HAPPY FOR THAT ENJOY.

Sorry, I REALLY loved Torna.

Spoiler:

Not sorry

Thanks! I was in a bit of a writing mood while playing the game and especially at the end as I was starting to think about it, so I'm glad people were both reading and enjoying it.

EDIT: And now I'm starting the Torna DLC. Only about an hour in but....
-Opening scene where Malos is chewing the scenery? Check.
-What sure looks like a good female protagonist? Check.
-FANTASTIC piano-based battle theme? Check

Yeah, I’m really feeling it.

I would really give the Torna DLC a try. I bought the full DLC about halfway through my playthrough, finished the game in about 80 hours, decided to take a bit of a break before starting the DLC. That was probably 6 months ago

At everyone's suggestion, I continued on into the Torna DLC. There doesn't seem to be discrete chapters, but I'm about 7 hours deep so far and I'll post my thoughts.

Spoiler:

-So Lora and Jin met Addam and Mythra and started fighting. I was wondering if the Torna is going to be a story full of cool people getting with other cool people and doing cool things, to paraphrase Dan Rykert
-I assume this story is going to end with either a victorious battle against Malos, or a losing battle against Amalthus. Although based on the cutscenes in the main game, I’m guessing it’s the former. Either way, it really can’t have a happy ending.
-Not sure what to make of Addam or his accent, but he seems very…..welcoming.
-Everyone seems to facepalm at Addam; I wonder if this is going to be a recurring thing, or if his status in universe as a royal will override it. Lora changed her tone when she knew who he was, but those who traveled with him were unimpressed by his optimistic and go get em routine.
-And both Addam and Jin told off Mythra. I guess she’s not going to get a bunch of deference in this game unlike in the base game.
-Mythra does seem a lot more callous in this game than in the main game. I’m guessing she settles down with Addam’s influence
-Did some sidequests, and headed off to Gormott. I love the light jazz remix of the Gormotti theme from the main game. The music in the DLC is all top notch so far.
-And both Brighid and Lora called Mythra a simpleton. Everyone’s dumping on her this game. It’s kind of hilarious.
-The old emperor Hugo looks just like the new emperor Niall, same model and sounds like same voice actor. Going for the repetition of generations, or just trying to reuse assets to keep costs down? You decide.
-Same deal that all of the blades introduced so far (Jin, Haze, Mythra, Brighid, and Aegeaon) were all in the previous game.
-I kind of love that the in-universe reason that blades and drivers pass the weapon back and forth for Lv. 4 Blade combos was that Addam was impressed by Lora and Jin doing it, and they only were doing it because they were too poor for a second weapon.
-I also notice that the field skills for Mythra, Brighid, and Aegaeon have changed since the main game. My guess is that this is a tying the field skill mechanics to an underlying lore that blades emerge as slightly different individuals each time they are awakened, or become different individuals through their experiences. Not as sure about why that would be the case for Mythra, though.
-Mythra has a funny line when digging through the random drops on the field. Most characters are excited to be finding something, her reaction is something to the effect of “I guess I’m just randomly digging here then.”
-Now that the battle system has opened up, I like the flexibility it gives. I kind of wish I could see what the main game could do with it.
-There’s a lot of talk about Addam not being able to fully control Mythra’s power. I suppose that feeds into where he was unable to, but Rex is later.
-So Mythra bags on Addam, and everyone bags on Mythra. An Aegis gets no respect around these parts.
-The story sort of bogged down when we were waiting for Hugo to return and I was just messing around by Addam's palace, but with Malos targeting the Tornan capital, seems like it’s time for the story to pick back up. We’re heading off to/through a desert next.

The Aegis doesn't get the respect and reverence you see in XC2 until *after* the events of Torna, for reasons. Brighid is infinitely more interesting; I kind of want to replay her intro in XC2 because XC2 Brighid obviously had preconceived notions from OG Brighid's diary.

Part of Brighid's story, where her position as a royal treasure means that her diary is maintained even as she passes from Driver to Driver, and how that allows her to connect to her past selves is maybe my favorite bit of character work/world building in the game. That's one of those things I wish was explored more outside of the heart to heart late in the game. Assuming there wasn't more conversations like that that are buried deep that I never found.

Continued playing Torna, thoughts are in spoilers.

Spoiler:

-So Minoth joined the party, and I suspected he was a younger Cole. The internet told me I was correct, which is an interesting tie in to the main game, and also explains why he knew all the key players from 500 years ago (aka this game).
-I’m also impressed by the Blade balance now. Each driver has two blades, and every element is covered (fire is in twice); further, each driver has blades that are opposite sides of the elemental wheel from each other (Lora has Wind and Ice, etc.) It would have been impossible to balance the main game like this since the gacha mechanic was too built in and there were too many characters, but it says something about how they can make something that is well crafted when they have to work within a constraint. Constraints aren’t usually what I associate with the Xenoblade games.
-It also looks like they’re setting up the dude who tried to kill Lora when she was a child and later as an adult as a sort of long term enemy by making him a Blade Eater. I guess it adds personal stakes for Lora down the road, since tracking down Malos isn’t technically her mission, she’s just tagging along with Addam.
-I wonder what happened to that baby that Amalthus was holding when he was looking off at the world tree (it’s been in a cutscene in the base game, and now here in the DLC with a bit more detail about Cole talking to him about the world). And I’m trying to remember, I think in the main game some soldier killed a family and was about to kill this baby when Amalthus shanked him. I don’t have any idea if the child has some other significance to the story at this point.
-Speaking of journals, Jin found his and hid it from Lora, which is odd since they have been built up as so close. Wondering what he read, and what it changes. I think that cutscene was in the main game as well, so it has to be important.
-I had a massive battle in the desert. I wandered into a high level area, and was about 4-5 levels too low for the guys I saw. But I saw a water spout, and I used that to hop up on top of a mesa, which was covered in plants and bugs and tirkin. They were only a few levels higher than me, more on the 2-3 levels higher range. So I figure I might was well mix it up while I’m up there. It went sideways fast. First one or two bugs aggroed, then more, and then yet more. At some point, it felt like 8 monsters were fighting me all at once. The framerate plummeted, the resolution cratered, and all I could do was keep timing my Arts and hoping for the best. The fight lasted about 5 minutes as more kept joining in, but we somehow pulled it off. Usually battles like that are against a single, larger enemy, but sometimes you get zerg rushed instead and it usually gets ugly. Wasn’t a whole lot interesting up there, but that gave me motivation to keep fighting higher level enemies, so I feel like I went up 3-4 levels in about 30 minutes, abusing the overkill a couple of times as well.
-It’s much easier to do a full Break-Topple-Launch-Smash Combo by having abilities tied to switching characters than it was in the main game. I use Addam and Mythra a lot and they cover Launch and Smash just fine. My only issue is getting someone to Topple.
-And having reached the capital, I now need to raise the development level of Torna. I’ve actually done most of the quests that I’ve seen at this point and I buy stuff fairly regularly (especially new chips for blades) so hopefully this won’t take too long. But it feels like the game is being padded again.
-Still hoping to see Mythra and Brighid fight it out, per their Heart to Heart. Also wondering wen Azurda will show up, since he at the very least knew Addam, Jin, Mythra, and Malos.

It was quite silly in Torna how the game at the very beginning informs you that side quests are optional missions, only to have main quests that requires you to go do a bunch of side quests.

Checking in with my final Xenoblade 2 update. I finished the Torna DLC in the last couple of days, and put my thoughts down. In spoilers, as always.

Spoiler:

-After just a handful of quickly completed sidequests to get to Development lv 2, I was off to continue the story.
-I still love it when Malos chews the scenery and is impossibly smug. Which means I love basically every time he’s on the screen. The fight against him in the capital was surprisingly easy, but I think that has more to do with the new combat system. Yes, each blade art put an orb on the enemy, so when I put 5 on him and was able to do a driver combo to methodically destroy them over as many rounds as I could draw it out, it was over quickly. And looked cool. I definitely think this more dynamic combat system is better than the one in the main game.
-That post fight cutscene was rad. Addam and Malos trash talking, and Mythra and Addam throwing the sword back and forth without looking like it was nothing. Malos ran, of course. Wouldn’t be a JRPG boss if he didn’t.
-So Azurda shows up, and used to roll with Jin, and now is with Addam. And Addam calls him “Nuncle.” I’m trying to think was the nickname was in Japanese. “Gramps” was easier to figure out.
-LKJZDfjal;dskjf;a sdfjasldjr;aksjv;lkskdj f;ko asjd;lkjsf;jsaldjf;lasjkd;fljs
-So grinding out sidequests to get to Development Lv. 4 isn’t as bad as I feared, but it’s still pretty bad. Kind of slams the brakes on the storyline.
-It only took about 2.5 hours to go from Development 2 to Development 4. It got faster at level 3, since they started throwing multiple new community members at you for each mission at that point. One one hand, the more I did the missions the more I started to like them, the writing, and the city, which is probably the point. Before the inevitable destruction to make you feel bad about it all, of course. But still, I wish it had been a shorter jaunt to get back to the story.
-The final battle itself was fantastic and lived up to the whole “War of the Aegis” thing which hadn’t really been present before besides the skirmish in the city. Malos was being peak Malos, everything was exploding, framerates were dropping, and then the two Sirens were blowing each other up. I actually hit a bug where I think I was doing a blade combo when I triggered one of the Siren cutscenes, and the scene played out in sloooooooooooooow time. It was 6 minutes instead of what should have been like 10 seconds.
-Mythra accidentally destroying Torna after freaking out explains a lot of her guilt in the main game. The battle had a lot of back and forth moments, from the party beating down on Malos, but then he used his Siren to waste the capital of Torna, and Mythra snapped and gave us a big mecha fight, it contrasted the awesomeness of the fight against the continual collateral damage bringing down Torna as the battle raged on, and while Mythra won you can ask at what cost. And then a couple more people died to boot. You knew something bad was coming at the end of Torna, but I didn’t exactly know what. Most things (like Pyra being created from the trauma) was expected. I wasn’t expecting Hugo to eat it, and the two core crystals next to him kind of said it all.
-I still wish we had gotten to see the fight between Mythra and Brighid. And now that I think about it, Brighid would never have gotten to write her account of how the fight went.
-And Gort is a piece of work, ain’t he? And it looked like there were several more just like him in Amalthus’ army.
-After credits rolled on Torna, I actually went back and watched the scene from the main game where Jin killed Lora, to kind of bring the thing whole circle, since they skipped that part at the end of Torna.
-When looking for that video, I saw the one where Jin killed Fan/Haze, who was now under Amalthus’ control. Jin’s hesitation after killing her and stumbling back after having a vision of Lora takes on a new meaning now, and his explanation for his rage at the state of the world does too.
-So Tantal royalty was actually from the line of the sniveling prince who got tricked by Amalthus. They mentioned it during the main game, but the difference between Addam and the half brother is enormous.

I really liked the beginning and the ends of the Torna DLC, but there was a lot of padding in the middle there. I can understand why some of the development stuff was put in the game (both from a stretching it out and also getting you attached to the setting), but I still think it slowed down the narrative too much.

And after now seeing the full Xenoblade 2 story, I almost want to go back and new game plus the main story again and be able to pick up on more foreshadowing and references here and there. But, between the two games I put exactly 100 hours into this world over the last two and a half months or so, and I’m ready for the next thing. I’d be interested in revisiting it later though.

Also, I recently tracked down the XC2 soundtrack to pull of some songs for my video game soundtrack playlist (it’s great background noise for work), and as good as I thought the soundtrack was, I think I still underrated it before. It’s really, really good. A lot of the cities and open areas have very distinctive music, and I can immediately remember where it was when I heard it and the atmosphere of the area. And the battle music (especially against bosses) is great. I do think the unique monster music is the weakest of the three games, but that’s a small thing. Some of the songs (like Wandering Soul and Decision) that played behind some important cutscenes made me think of the story beats that took place during them, and made me remember just how resonant some of those moments really were.