Review: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewed by Robfozz, posted Dec 7, 2017, last updated Dec 7, 2017
Dec 7, 2017
  • Release Date (NA): December 1, 2017
  • Release Date (EU): December 1, 2017
  • Release Date (JP): December 1, 2017
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: Monolith Soft
  • Genres: RPG
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
Let's not just give this game free points because it's a Nintendo RPG on the Switch with anime characters.
I love the original Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii, even the New 3DS port is great, in my opinion it is one of the finest RPGs ever made. Xenoblade X was a step in a very wrong direction and that game is literally the worst RPG I have ever played from head to toe. Now we have Xenoblade Chronicles 2, apparently a direct sequel to the original. This must mean it takes place in the same world or has the same combat, or the same characters or anything, right? So it must be good, right? The short answer to all of those is a hard no and if thats all you're looking for you can scroll down to the bottom of the page and look at the pros and cons and the score and be on your merry way. Maybe leave a nice comment about how I'm an ignorant asshole for not liking this prestigious anime RPG with big tiddy grill and a plot straight out of last Summers hot meme anime. Or you can read on and let me tell you why Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a piece of garbage you should definitely avoid this Holiday season.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2's plot is boring. Some kid who looks like Kirito from Sword Art Online finds a sword girl with big ol tiddies and they go on an adventure with a neko-chan kawaii desu ne to stop some guy named Marshmallow I think. Theres these titan guys that are dying. Driver's blade and the blade with the drivers powers and the blade and the driver and the driver and the blade and aegis. Every single character is a 1 dimensional anime trope, and that 1 trope is played out to hell and back. Rex is the guy. Nia is tsundere cat girl. Pyra is waifu perfect girl who cooks and has big tiddy. Mythra is the blonde bitchy girl. The list goes on. Anime trope plot points are also present and in full force. "He could have killed me with that last move but he didn't. What a proud warrior, lets let him go." Hot spring scene. Wake up with big tiddy in your bed. Grab titty to teleport. I'll give you half my life force. Everything you've seen a million, bazillion times is here.

This image perfectly describes this entire game.

Would I be less critical of these moments if the story in-between them was good? Absolutely. But it isn't. The entire story feels like the same sentence being repeated over and over again whenever they try to explain backstory or lore. It's like one of those Summer animes that's big for a month and people make a bunch of epic Twitter memes about and then is immediately forgotten about forever. Also Im pretty sure this game had nothing to do with the original Xenoblade Chronicles so why is it called 2?

The gameplay in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a lot like the original, if you gutted everything out and "streamlined" it. You're limited to an auto attack, 3 attacks that refresh bit by bit as you auto attack, and an attack that charges up each time you do one of the other 3 moves. That's it that's all you get, unless you change Blades, then you get different move but from every blade I tried, they were all slow as hell and a lot weaker so whats the point just stick with the better default blade.

Now the battle system is fatally flawed for 2 reasons. The first reason is that because of the way your moves refresh, its basically a glorified auto battle. You can still move freely during the battle like the first game but its made completely useless because your moves wont recharge, as they recharge with the auto-hits you do by standing still. So you are forced to just sit in the enemies range and take hits, rather than evade moves and wait for your moves to refresh from a cooldown in the original game. Another fatal flaw is that the game is literally broken. You can just flick the stick over and over again in the same direction and it cancels the delay between your auto attacks. This means you can attack incredibly fast and refill all the bars and meters on the screen in seconds. This is actually a godsend because battles even against a single enemy that is several levels lower than you take an absurd amount of time. However, even with this exponential speed increase the battles take way too long.

This game rewards the player very, very poorly. Side quests give you a poultry amount of gold and experience, maybe a shitty item that isn't useful anymore because you have better stuff already(this was the case every single time for me). I've played tons and tons of RPGs and this one wins the award for longest time to gain a level, no contest. You get hardly any experience for killing things, even if theyre a level or 2 higher than you. Don't even bother fighting things under your level because you get fuck all for it.

Speaking of levels, the enemy levels in this game are a mess. In the original Xenoblade Chronicles, there are monsters that will be much stronger than you while you are exploring, but it's extremely obvious which ones they are and they tend to sit still in one spot, or in groups. In Xenoblade 2, enemies of all levels are all over the god damn place, running around like its nobodies business and they are very difficult to avoid. Exploring is heavily discouraged because of this and even getting to the required story destination is a pain in the ass because some random little bird or tiny dinosaur thing will run past you by random chance and one shot you. You are then sent back to the last landmark you walked by which there aren't many of and have to just try not to get killed again. It's absolute bullshit and at some points I wanted to just tear my hair out because I would almost make it to where I needed to go only to get sniped by a random bird that flew by and then get sent back to an area that is like 15 minutes away.

Now while Xenoblade Chronicles 2 does admittedly have some nice, giant and wondrous areas, they're not very fun to explore and they don't reward exploration properly. There are these new field actions that unlock sections of the map or dig up treasure but if your character doesn't have a high enough stat, you don't get anything. Every single time I went off the beaten path and into a very long, tangential hidden area, every time I got to the end I was met with a thing I couldn't interact with and was forced to walk all the way back empty handed. And when you are eventually able to open those things up, its never anything worthwhile just some materials you can find elsewhere. In my opinion the areas in the original game are much more well designed, interesting, better looking, and rewarding to explore.

This is a good game graphically. Even though I don't care for the obnoxiously anime character design, the environments look great and everything looks smooth. The draw distance is insane and every area is densely populated with foliage and monsters, only rarely dropping frames. It's incredible that this is also a portable ga- wait. How does this game look undocked? Oh, it looks like absolute shit. The resolution dips from a 720p with extreme anti-aliasing that makes the game look very clear and smooth, to a muddy, choppy, jagged, 360p. Yes you read that right, the game runs at 360p in portable mode, in 2017. Games haven't been that low res since Nintendo 64. Even the 3DS's native 240p ends up looking clearer and better than this because that screen is made to display only that resolution. The Switch screen is giant and made for 720p resolutions so a 360p image on it looks jarringly terrible. Yes its true the game has a dynamic resolution in poprtable but it only seems to reach those slighty higher resolutions in cutscenes only. This is just unacceptable and it is obvious no effort was put into making it work better. No graphical settings actually change in portable, which at first sounds like a good thing but at the cost of a potato resolution? They could have turned the draw distance and foliage density way down and that would easily allow a higher resolution, and also generally look better because the Switch's smaller screen it would be less cluttered.

A direct screenshot I took while playing in portable. If this doesn't look that bad to you, it looks even worse on the actual switch screen in motion.

Theres also a really weird oversight, in both Docked and Portable modes, where when you fast travel to a different area, the game decides to not load long enough and you get to watch all the geometry slowly pop in as low poly untextured, grey models, and then slowly become their normal selves through each level of detail. Its basically what you would see if a game had no loading screen at all. It's appalling how they thought this was acceptable. Easily fixable by increasing load screen time, which is only like 3 seconds to begin with so a little longer load time won't kill anyone.

Also the lip sync is terrible they didn't even try.

The music is ok. A couple good tracks, but nothing outstanding or memorable. Lots of completely forgettable, more subtle songs. Nothing near as good as the originals, absolutely legendary soundtrack.

This game is very disappointing in all areas, even more so if you played and were a fan of the original Xenoblade Chronicles. This game is undeserving of the 2 in it's name. Everything has been stripped down and is filled with a lot of strange oversights or maybe intentional decisions that give off the impression this game was rushed out the door and didn't have much care put into it.
Nothing about this game is "good". Very few things are even "ok". This is a very bad game in every category and should be avoided. If you're one of those people who love generic anime then maybe you'll get a kick out of this, but for anyone with any sense of quality and standards you best stay away.
+ Music is decent sometimes
+ Despite the, in my opinion, obnoxious anime designs the graphics are pretty good while docked
- Absolutely awful, unoptimized, lowest resolution I've seen since N64 experience when in portable mode
- The story plays out like the most generic anime you have ever watched, filled to the brim with tropes and clichés at every sentence of dialog
- Combat is broken and even if it wasn't its still much simpler and less interesting than the previous games
- Enemy levels are inconsistent and lead to a frustrating experience when exploring
5 Presentation
The game looks and sounds good when docked but I dare you to play in portable mode. They did not even try, they cranked the resolution down to as low as it'd probably go and called it a day. So I'm taking away 5 points out of 10 because portable mode is half the switch experience.
6 Gameplay
The combat in this game is boring and broken. In my playthrough it took 15 hours to unlock the full battle system and even then it wasn't made much better. It's a shell of what it was in Xenoblade 1 and it wasn't even the most deep and interesting thing in that game. Battles take absolutely forever even when fighting enemies that are several levels weaker than you. The main quest is nothing to ride home about either and has plenty of filler.
3 Lasting Appeal
All of the side content is abysmally boring. Side quests are typically just go find this guy to talk to, and then go talk to the first guy again. Collect a bunch of this thing thats hard to find. And you're rewarded extremely poorly for doing these menial tasks, you'd get more gold and XP fighting monsters.
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
If you're a fan of the original Xenoblade Chronicles, don't buy this game. If you're looking to get into the series, don't buy this game. If you want a Switch RPG, don't buy this game. Absolutely disappointing to see this is what people want from a JRPG these days. If you like generic anime, then maybe buy this but you'll probably get bored of the actual gameplay eventually.


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