Okay, I finally just beat the game, so I want to rant about it. Tons of spoilers below, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.
– I do like the game overall. I wouldn’t have poured 150+ hours into the game if I didn’t like it. The setting is pretty great, and I love the scope of the world. There are a ton of sidequests, and although none of them have great stories, I appreciate the effort. Some of them are pretty extensive, having several stages to them. They even have voice-acting from time to time, which I was surprised by. Even Rare Blades I never use in combat (e.g. Perun) get to have their time in the spotlight.
— Thank god for fast travel. Thank god for the ability to set the in-game hour to any specific time I want.
– Speaking of Perun, I hate the majority of the character designs in this game. Perun, for instance, is a walking, talking upskirt shot. Not only that, 90% of the female characters in the game are either women with gigantic breasts complete with jiggle physics or little kids. Even when Hikari comes out of her ascended status, her breasts have to jiggle. Why?
— Some quests are just downright horrible, though. Like Ursula’s quest to become a singer. This requires you to send her off on mercenary missions in order to improve her vocals, looks, and soul. The initial missions only give you one certificate for each aforementioned attribute. You pretty much need 90+ of those certificates to finish her quest. Christ.
— Launching a T-Rex into the air then smashing it into the ground to see a ton of loot fly out is pretty dope, I gotta admit.
— Yo, that ending was pretty lame. Why even bother “killing” Homura and Hikari off if they’re just going to magically come back to life after the credits? And why are they separate people now?
— Worse yet is how everyone is sympathetic towards Malos/Metsu. Aw, you tried to wipe out all of humanity not once but twice, but it’s only because you were tainted by the evil pope man. Now that you’ve found your life’s meaning, I hope you can rest in peace!
— It’s such a bullshit JRPG thing to try and redeem the bishie bad guys by the end of the game. Unfortunately, I never grew to care for Jin or any of his Torna cohorts. So when Mikhail suddenly decides to sacrifice himself to save your party, I’m just like meh. Or how about the last second reveal that Akhos and Patroka are “siblings.” I’m just like, “Um, okay…”
— And you never really get a strong villain. No one stands out to me. Evil pope dude has no presence until the very end of the game, then all of a sudden, we’re bombarded with boring cutscenes after cutscenes about his backstory. Malos’s personality is just grating, and he doesn’t even really have any strong motivations. Jin could’ve been a good villain, but the story is too safe. It sucks that Blades have largely been subservient to humans, but the game never really delves into the dark side of the subject. The story touches on war, poverty, and all that bad stuff, but always from a distance. You’re always told how bad it is, but you never get to see it upfront. Tantal is supposed to be struggling. They can’t grow food, shops have closed down, everything is sold on the black market, yadda yadda yadda. But when you visit the kingdom, it looks fine enough. Even the protesters in Indol don’t look like they’re really suffering all that much, and that’s because the story is afraid to go whole hog and embrace the dark side. The game is a light-hearted, cheerful romp through and through.
— Speaking of evil pope man, my god, the last three chapters were a slog. Walk ten feet, cutscene, walk ten feet, cutscene, take an elevator, cutscene, walk ten feet, cutscene. Damn it, let me play.
— Most of all, I never warmed up to any of my party members. Some of them have their charming moments, like how Saika likes to mimic Zeke’s actions. But I really, really dislike Rex and all his generic JRPG goodness. Nowadays, I almost prefer the silent protagonist. Take Persona 5, for instance. Even though none of the dialogue choices ever mattered, I at least got to pretend as though I was injecting my personality into the game. In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, I have to sit there and listen to Rex’s dumb nonsense. Nia finally accepts herself, and confesses her feelings to the hero. She loves him, she says. How does he respond? He goes, “I love you, too! I love all of you!”
I’m paraphrasing, of course, but c’mon, it’s so cringe-inducing. Or how about when God asks him what he intends to do with Malos. “I’m going to punch him!” Rex exclaims, “Then I’ll get a beer with him afterward. It’s in the salvager’s code! Oh wait, I’m not old enough to drink yet.” Again, I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point. Fuck Rex.
— Pyra/Homura and Mythra/Hikari never feel like they ever step out of Rex’s shadow. It always feels like they’re just there to prop him up. For someone who has existed for centuries, they’re really lacking in the personality department.
— But then again, none of the other characters really have much going for them either. Morag/Merefu looks cool, but eh… it’s a long game, but only because there’s so much to do. It’s not a long game because these characters have interesting lives to explore. That’s why I really like the Persona 3/4/5 trilogy. At least I get to know my teammates in those games. They just feel so empty here. Even the Legend of Heroes games get this part right. It’s 2017. Give my party members a life outside of just being a JRPG hero. I do think Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is superior to the recent Tales games, but not on the character personality front. You get a much better snapshot into the lives of a Tales character than you do here.
— Cultivating your Blades so that you can use their field skills to unlock secrets is a neat concept… until you find yourself constantly digging through menus. It’s very rare that my base party has all the tools I need to get around. Oh hey, here’s a pillar of ice that I need to melt. Well, Pyra can take care of the fire part, but I need someone with wind mastery. Oh hey, now there’s an airflow I need to get past. It takes… earth mastery and leaping? Welp, time to dig through my collection of Blades for those skills. This street sign requires superstrength? Sigh…
— The RNG surrounding the Rare Blades is dumb. I’ve probably gone through 200 rare and legendary cores in the past two days, and all I’ve gotten is Dahlia. Granted, I only have 5 Rare Blades left to unlock, but I shudder to think how many more hours that will take. I still have Tokyo Xanadu to play, so I don’t exactly want to keep grinding Xenoblade Chronicles 2 forever. It’s alright. It’s not like I was ever a big fan of KOS-MOS.
— I would love to use Tora and Poppi. It’s just too bad I really, really hate the Tiger, Tiger” mini-game… so Morag is my tank for life.
— The high/low cloud tide never really panned out, huh? I imagine they couldn’t do it for every continent, because it would’ve just taken too long to design a complex zone full of secrets. In fact, nothing ever quite lives up to Gormott, which is the first major open world area. Some of the later areas are just straight corridors for the most part. That combined with the fact that the cutscene pacing is way off in the final hours of the game pretty much makes me think they ran out of development time. Considering Xenogears’ second disc, I guess this isn’t too surprising. Still, it’s a shame.
— All in all, the gameplay gets a 9 from me, but the story is about a 4 at best. I wouldn’t say it averages out to a 6.5, because the gameplay makes up the bulk of the experience. I’d say the game is about a 7 or a 7.5 overall.