To say I’m excited for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is an understatement. In one breath Super Mario Odyssey is my most anticipated Switch game for the remainder of this year, and then in the next it’s Xenoblade! I’m so psyched that we’re getting both of them this holiday season and absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on this new installment.
If you played the first Xenoblade Chronicles, you’ll remember that you lived on a huge robotic beast (Bionis) and eventually travelled the other land (Mechonis). These were so big that the entire world, including lakes, rivers, mountains, and entire cities were dotted along the way. This was such a cool scenario and it’s fantastic to see this concept returning in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. This time around you live on a gigantic beast named a Titan, so all of the forests and towns and everything is on the back of this huge creature. There are other Titans you can visit by flying around in your airships. I really dig the idea that there isn’t really landmasses like typical games have. Indeed, other Titans will have different landmasses and will have varied environments like water worlds, ice worlds, etc.
Also new this time around is a brand new battle system. The developers have streamlined combat a bit and gotten rid of the usual combat menu at the bottom of the screen. They’ve narrowed it down to four different arts on the right hand side. You’ll still have familiar tactics, like increased damage from the side or behind, depending on which weapons and skills you have equipped. This time around you can have another character with you augmenting your powers, (Blades) so as you deal damage with your arts the other character’s gauge fills and eventually you’ll be able to unleash their super attack.
In the demo shown off at E3, Rex (the main character, called a Driver) had two different Blades: Pyra and Fudor. Pyra had fire elements and could deal some serious damage to your foes, while Fudor had different power abilities. You can form new Blades by finding Core Crystals, which let you conjure a new Blade into existence. They bring with them a new weapon type and brand new arts. There are three styles of Blades: Attacker, Healer, and Tank. So based on your gameplay style you can mix and match the Blades to best fit what you need in battle.
Depending on your Driver (playable character) and Blade (partner helper) you will have different attacks and specials. In some cases the Drivers may actually be able to ride the Blades to traverse the world even faster.
The graphics style of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has changed a bit from X and even the original. While it looks closer to the first game the characters have a more animé look to them, which have a more timeless look to them. The environments still look gorgeous, and during today’s stream they mentioned they’re still putting the finishing touches on the graphics, so expect the final game to look even better. This is typical with a lot of games in development, the special effects and small touches often come in during the final months. Hopefully this isn’t a sign the game is going to see a delay.
One thing that’s noticeable is that the character models and faces look really good close-up. When in the towns it’s very apparent and everything does look great with this aesthetic. The only concern I really have at this stage is that all of the videos posted on this game so far from Nintendo are in 720p. I hope that doesn’t mean the game is 720p even when docked. I really would love to see this one in 1080p.
The music in the game promises to be something truly special. I’ve heard a few tracks from the game so far and have very much enjoyed them. Both of the prior games had amazing pieces of music (especially the first game), so I’m really excited that many composers from the first title have returned for this one. Also the characters seem to have British accents again (like the first), which is a nice touch. Plus, like prior games the music will slightly change depending on if it’s day or night.
Needless to say, I’m super excited to play this later on in the year, assuming there’s no delay. I think this will be a fantastic looking game on the Switch in portable mode, so it will be fun to get my Xenoblade fix anytime I want.