Last post on Xenoblade Chronicles 2, I swear!

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.

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10 Replies to “Last post on Xenoblade Chronicles 2, I swear!”

  1. Ayyyeee a xenoblade 2 post; was kinda hoping to hear your final thoughts on the game (long comment incoming; i know you’re not too keen on long comments so if you’re not interested, just scroll down to the end).

    Im just going to run through some things I liked in the game, some things i disliked and the things i agree/disagree with you on.

    -I dig the combat; I would polish a few things here and there but i love how the combat system is all about building a certain rhythm in battle and integrating dendritic combos to maximize damage on enemies for the sake of reaching one huge climax with your chain attack

    -I’m mixed with how i feel about the RNG for core crystals; on one hand it feels like you’ve won the lottery when you finally see that cutscene of obtaining a rare blade; on the other hand, it feels as tedious a trying to win the lottery; it’s a catch 22. I feel that my slight positivity about trying to obtain blades in this game is more of my opinion being clouded by operant conditioning rather than there truly being any inherent goodness in having the blade obtaining system be this way. They probably should either increased the chances of getting a rare blade with a rare core crystal to 30/33% or make it so that rare blades must be specifically found; as in there are designated core crystals that will always give you a specific rare blade. This would make exploring for blades that much more rewarding.

    -I appreciate a good amount of the side quests, i just wished they were all consistently good. Man, ursula’s side quest can go die in a ditch

    Now; on to some story details:

    -Patroaka and Ahkos being siblings was actually revealed early in the story; that cutscene in chapter 9 was more about fleshing out how come they were willing to follow Jin; it was alright. I do agree that a lot of our villains are kept in the background for too long and that makes feeling committed to their character moments or the weight of their actions kind of perfunctory. On the other hand, some of villains’ actions do have some good thematic payoff like Jin putting an end to Amalthus. There are aspects of his execution that i wish were a bit more gripping as i feel that there are blemishes in the character writing that prevent Jin from being a great antagonist rather than a decent one; however, i think him coming to terms with the fact that the life of a blade is not a perennial curse is thematically strong, especially given what we later learn in chapter 10 with Klaus and his whole systematic design of blades; the aegis being processing units meant to feedback information from the outside world into the cloud sea so that it may propagate new blades better than the last. The idea that blades are meant to be mankind’s guiding beacon to a better future falls perfectly in line with Rex’s answer to Jin and definitely accentuates the architect’s ultimate goal of creating a cycle of life that could sustain itself without having to fall into the same trap that his world once did. Jin accepting his role essentially cements the last piece to this strong chain of thematic concepts of blade and driver bonds, memories and carrying on the will of the next generation. Similarly, it highlights Klaus’ regrets of not having someone who could have stopped him from being consumed by his ambitions and blowing the universe halfway to hell, making his design of the current world feel that much more meaningful to the themes of the story

    -ugh….that cromulent ending……completely agree with you; hated it. It was as if the writers felt like beating Malos and returning home wouldn’t have been cathartic enough so they needed to drum up some artificial drama to get a rise out of the player; only for it to be a complete red herring with no substantial payoff. All i kept saying through that whole Pnuema “sacrificing herself” sequence was, “please go thru with it, please go thru with it;” unfortunately that wasn’t the case. The moment Pnuema restored Rex’s heart and her core crystal was left in his care, that was when i knew the ending was doomed.

    -I liked the reveal of what the world tree actually was and who the architect is; that scene hits you even harder if you have played the first Xenoblade chronicles. The idea that God is really just a human being like the rest of us has always been a philosophical quandary that intrigues me and to see the architect this humble, powerful, yet this emotionally defeated human being who has subjugated himself to the ostensible belief that the cycle of malapdative and self-destructive behavior of man-kind is an inevitable cog in the perpetual cycle of creation and destruction, gave the narrative some texture and gravity to its preceding events. I found the creation of alrest and Klaus’ motivations and methodology behind trying to correct his sins compelling, especially since his dilemma reflects shades of monadology philosophy and existentialism. Chapter ten has quite a bit of depth to it upon analysis, which makes me appreciate the narrative as a whole all the more.

    -I agree that Pyra/Mythra’s plight is not all that interesting in execution. The ideas were there to give her a compelling story arc but the narrative kind of dropped the ball a bit on that regard. When she states later in the narrative that her goal of going to Elysium is to die, i couldn’t really get behind the weight of those words because the story didn’t do that good of a job painting a panoramic portrait of her inner conflict. Wouldn’t it have been nice to explore why Mythra was so appalled by her fate as an aegis that she constructed a false self to avoid such responsibility? Wouldn’t it have been compelling to see how mythra/pyra’s mercurial nature affects the way they perceive their responsibility of the past and their struggles in facing the future? I just feel like there is a lot of missed opportunity; not bad writing per se, but rather an insufficient amount of narrative complexity for a character who is being presented as having these multi-faceted dilemmas. I thought pyra/mythra (more pyra than mythra) was a pleasant enough character that im glad i spent time in the narrative with; but i just wished there was more to her character than what we got; she was just functional. I wasn’t too keen with the whole Nia confessing to Rex just to get some half-assed rejection scene. Throughout the game i was like: “please writers, do NOT let Nia be some third (fourth?) wheel in some love drama between Rex and Pyra.” The game has clearly made it obvious that it has and always will be pushing the Rex and Pyra front, so why needlessly have another character grow a romantic interest that will clearly go nowhere nor meaningfully affect the status quo of the relationships between the characters. Nia does happen to be my favorite character of the party cast though (followed by Zeke and gramps); she’s the kind of snarky, witty, sharp-tongued character that i enjoy watching.

    -As for Rex, I did not hate him as much as you did. Sure he’s the stereotypical young vigilant boy with lots of guts and and shit, but he’s played so genuinely in this narrative. He’s not overly proud, he’s friendly and outwardly caring. He wants to see the best in people; he admits when he makes mistakes and takes his consequences at face value (this is the part that made me actually like the kid); he doesn’t try to make excuses for himself. He’s childishly sweet and overall he’s a hard working kid. He’s not as egregious as some of the other characters of his ilk. Would I have appreciated a less derivative male lead? Sure; but he never becomes insultingly bad and he’s played so innocently straight that i couldn’t help but not hate the kid. I know you’re not a fan of long comments so im going to stop here (I could delve into this all day)

    Contrary to your feelings, i actually thought xenoblade 2’s narrative was pretty solid; Takahashi had mentioned wanting to write a more light-hearted tale compared to his previous works and it shows (and there’s nothing wrong with that) There are some qualms i have with the story but i would give the narrative between a 7.5 and 7.8 due to the cast of characters, who while not intricately layered, still have decent character arcs through the game (especially Nia). The cast still feel like they grew during the course of the story, which should be the goal of any good narrative.

    TL;DR I think the game play is a 9 as well; I agree with some of your qualms while disagreeing with some points you made. Overall, I’m glad i got to hear your thoughts on the game. I kinda like your blog taking this shift of you doing posts on video games whenever you get the impulse to do so.

    1. I dig the combat;

      It’s good… when I push myself to fight stuff that are ten or twenty levels higher than me.

      on one hand it feels like you’ve won the lottery when you finally see that cutscene of obtaining a rare blade;

      I think that was the biggest downfall for me. I never got that awesome feeling. My favorite optional rares were the ones I quested for anyway. Theory is awesome (and one of the few female designs without comically huge breasts). Sheba is kinda amusing. On the other hand, pulling Dahlia was like, “Ugh, I’m never going to use this monstrosity.”

      I appreciate a good amount of the side quests, i just wished they were all consistently good

      Yeah, they could be a lot better storywise. But when I think about how shitty the sidequests were in FF15, I guess I’m thankful that some developers still give a shit.

      Patroaka and Ahkos being siblings was actually revealed early in the story

      I must have forgotten or just plain didn’t pay attention. I just think they appear too sporadically for me to care. And to be honest, towards the end of the game, I was drifting in and out of the cutscenes. The mounting drama just never reached a point where I actively cared for what was happening. I don’t know, something felt missing. I wasn’t gripped. Certainly, the world was in danger, but the game didn’t convince me to care. I never developed a personal connection to anyone or anything.

      There are aspects of [Jin’s] execution that i wish were a bit more gripping

      I think this pretty much explains the gulf between my opinion and yours. I feel this way about every character. And I feel it strongly. I just couldn’t get behind Jin’s motivations. I see his story, and it sounds sad on paper, but the execution is… lacking in some way. I’m pretty emotional. Yakuza 0 got me worked up. Nier got me worked up (even for side characters like the operators). The sad parts in XC2, on the other hand, just fell flat for me. I can’t quite put my finger on why that is. Maybe it’s the tone of the overall game. 90% of it is so happy, then you get these short bits with the villains trying to be super tryhard about how sad their lives are, and it’s just very difficult for me to buy in. I just look at the world and I think, “Dude, it’s not that bad.” Atmosphere is important to storytelling, and I think XC2 misses the mark there.

      The moment Pnuema restored Rex’s heart and her core crystal was left in his care, that was when i knew the ending was doomed.

      I really hated that part. He died at the start of the story, so she saved him by sharing a part of her. Now she gives him everything so he can live, but she also has enough strength left to save the world… then she became two. And it’s like okay why don’t we just hand Rex everything on a silver platter.

      I liked the reveal of what the world tree actually was and who the architect is;

      Maybe. Again, by this point, I was fed up with the game. It was like two hours of nonstop exposition dumping and cutscenes and very little gameplay. At this point, I was tired of the game. The reveal didn’t resonate with me. I think the game’s pacing really hurt it. It can have all the best ideas in the world, but a last second revelation just doesn’t work for me.

      I agree that Pyra/Mythra’s plight is not all that interesting in execution.

      Yeah, she lacks pathos. Her whole “I want to die” thing wasn’t developed properly. But to be honest, that applies to all of the characters. Remember that part where Rex suddenly had to fight everyone one on one, and they all dumped their issues on him at the same time. That shouldn’t be some last second psychological mindfuck. That should’ve been a part of the party’s journey from start to finish. These are important sides to these characters that we never get to see except in some “dream” sequence.

      As for Rex, I did not hate him as much as you did.

      You say childishly sweet, I say one dimensional. He’s a blunt hammer of justice. Most of all, his tunnel vision annoys the fuck out of me and it annoys the other characters too. Over and over again, he kept fighting even when Pyra was obviously in pain. At first it’s like alright, he’s a kid so he’ll learn. But he never does. He makes the same mistakes over and over. And of course, he tunnel visions on Elysium without really considering his party’s feelings. But again, outside of a small “dream” where you face your party members, he never really has to deal with the consequences here. And the ending where everyone runs off but Poppi and Seiryu stays behind to talk to Pyra/Mythra. Again, tunnel vision. As a result, he doesn’t realize that Poppi makes a promise not to help him later. Again, tunnel vision. Why are you not paying attention to the most important in your life? Rex epitomizes everything wrong with the generic do-good JRPG hero. He charges in with no thought but good intentions, and yet at the end of the day, he manages to attain a veritable harem and the world’s respect. It’s fucking stupid.

      In the end, I stand my assessment of the story. I think it’s very typical of the Xeno games where everything ends up being rushed. I also think the characters are too simple and too broadly painted. You like Nia, and I don’t disagree. I think she’s the only party member with a decent arc. Everyone else falls flat for me. Tora literally tags along just because he’s always dreamed of being a Driver. That’s way too simple, man. Who goes on a life-threatening quest to save the world just because. It’s one thing if it’s Quina, aka some 8th member of the party that you don’t have to care too much about. He’s literally the third party member though and he’s just this comic hijink character. Then I look at Morag and Zeke, and their reasons for tagging along aren’t compelling either.

      I love JRPGs despite all of their cliches, but XC2 didn’t have enough charm to power me through.

  2. “I love JRPGs despite all of their cliches, but XC2 didn’t have enough charm to power me through.”

    And you know what? I can completely see how you could take all that away from your experience with XC2’s narrative. It’s funny because prior to reading you initial thoughts on the game, one of the things i mentioned to myself was what i felt was improper execution of conveying a sense of impeding war or atmosphere that punctuates the seemingly inevitable death of the world of alrest. It feels like the developers were so focused on making the game feel like a gorgeously arresting fantasy meant to be explored with a light-hearted, adventurous whimsy that it slipped their mind that visual storytelling is important to the narrative they are trying to tell; that there is a disconnect between contextualizing the world of the game to what’s being exposited by the narrative. Sure the beauty of Alrest could have served as a subterfuge to what is essentially a dying world, but it feels like there wasn’t as much focus in selling that both narratively and aesthetically. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the game needed to look like a grungy, lowly saturated, apocalyptic world, but there should have been an atmosphere underlining the potential for conflict and state of emergency the world is in. Behind every beauty vista could have been an equally unnerving and concerning image reflecting the true state of the world. Armies could have been lining up in the continents we visit preparing for war; the game could have made the citizen’s concerns and opinions of incoming war more salient to the player; create side-quests around the plight of the people and how the upcoming war might affect them. The game does highlight some of these things, just not enough. The game does do a good job presenting its scope to its player and i appreciate its efforts on that front

    “Theory is awesome”
    Hell yea she is

    “But when I think about how shitty the sidequests were in FF15, I guess I’m thankful that some developers still give a shit.”

    Sigh…how the FF series has fallen. You know, the sad thing is that there are certain things about the latest FF entries that I think are pretty sweet; its unfortunate that it all gets bogged down by some (i.e a lot) of uninspired game design choices

    “Remember that part where Rex suddenly had to fight everyone one on one, and they all dumped their issues on him at the same time”

    Yea i do; And I’m right with you on the fact that those issues should have been fleshed out throughout the game’s narrative rather than placing it towards the end. The psychological mind fuck angle could have still been played, but rather than it being these issues that could have easily been explored throughout the story, it would be “what-if” scenarios of events that might have taken place during their character arc had they probably not overcome the darkness festering in their hearts, painting a new context for the character development that you, the player has been so heavily invested with for a degree of hours. That would have made for more compelling storytelling in that section of the chapter (for me anyway) than what we got.

    While i do say this, i think what we did get worked decently enough as a possible introspective peek into the thoughts of our cast. The story itself had given us quite a few hints of each and every one of these characters hang-ups and upon reflecting back on some of their actions throughout the story, it paints some of their dialogue and decisions in a new light. Again, I say it worked “decently enough” because while its cool to think “Ah, so that’s why that character behaved that way before,” a good amount of these revelations are too broad in scope to merit any riveting psychological analysis. Still, I can see the good in the character writing; and while the characterization is not as layered as i would like, it still succeeded in making the cast feel charismatic and enjoyable to follow. They felt like they had confronted some weakness about themselves by the story’s end; to a point where i felt that they at least grew emotionally as people which kept me engaged during the tribulations throughout the story enough. Each of the characters have something that matters to them and the writing goes out of its way to bare those emotional motivations clearly and succinctly. The story, while light-hearted, does tackle some mature concepts (some which are admittedly crammed in the last hours of the story) that asks some surprisingly interesting questions. I found the mix of light-hearted trivialities and serious plot developments not feeling as disparate as you had; and while i would have liked the narrative to have not played it safe in some aspects of its storytelling, I dont lament the light-hearted, “boy meets girl” direction this xeno game decided to take in cementing its identity within the series.

  3. Okay, this is going to be a long rant. I won’t talk much about the gameplay, especially the battle system, because I think it’s fine for the most part. The parts that displease me aren’t as bad as the story and the characters, excluding the RNG part that is meant to emulate gacha in those waifu-collecting mobile games. So, I’ll talk about the story and characters here for the most part.

    I think the story sucks. It has the potential to be great and the current story can seem nice in paper or concept, but the execution sucks big. At first, I thought that the nature of Blades meant that the story can take two routes. First, it can criticize the objectification/fetishization that a lot of J-media fans have done. I meant the Blades are essentially objects/macguffin that the players have to or at least encouraged to collect. The game can give a lot of take that to those waifu-collecting mobile games and their fans and/or even those waifu-obsessed otaku. Heck, the game already emulates those games with its RNG and the stupid design of the female characters. The design of the male characters are also stupid as f*ck, but the ladies have it much worse. But, nope…

    The other route is to focus on the nature on the artificial nature of the Blades itself. For example, let’s just say humanity has created the ultimate android. It can think and respond to us in real time. If we’re happy, they are happy. If we’re sad, they’ll try to cheer us up. And so on. That android is essentially so humanlike, you won’t realize that it’s a robot if you aren’t told that it’s one. Is that android can be considered human, though? The way that it sense data, then take the result, feed it back into its original function, adding a new set of sense data ad infinitum is no different than fundamental principle of human consciousness, but that android does all that because it’s programmed to do so. Can that android be considered a human being? Is Blade different from that android? I mean those Blades just come out of some “core” stuff. But…

    I can have either a game that played as much as I played it or an awesome science fiction story about the nature of human consciousness and how we treat the rights of synthetics, but nope… I got a crappy JRPG’s story that is only better than the story of Tales game in paper.

    And the characters. Goddammit! Both the protagonists and the antagonists suck big time. Nia is good enough I guess, but she alone can’t make up for the rest of them. I mean she is the only one here that I feel actually change and develop as a character. The rest of the protagonists are either flat or flat and irrelevant. Rex and Pyra are relevant (I wish they aren’t, though) and they have good reasons to be the protag, but they are so flat that they feel like a minor NPC than a protag. Morag and Zeke is just as flat and their reasons are kinda meh, but they are not as bad as Tora. Looking at him and those that defend him makes me feel that if Jar Jar Binks had a maid fetish and can build a cute android shoujo, people would like him. Other than Nia, they are just so flat. I thought this story is about Rex growing up? This isn’t a story about Rex growing up. This is just a story about some brat got everything (two hot waifus included) handed to him in a f*cking silver platter. And Pyra is just too waifu for me to stomach. Ugh, is she a character or a prop in Rex’s backpack?

    And the antagonists aren’t much better than the protag. They are indeed more decently written then the protag, but they are executed as bad as them if not worse. I mean what is up with animu-related stuff and last minute sob story for the bad guys? Can it be even more cheap and sleazy? Of course, all of those crap is meant to give those f*ckers depth and not cheap emotional manipulation. Whether I’m moved or not is up to me, so I’m just a negative nancy who complaints all day all night. *sigh* I don’t give a crap about these collection of pretty but evil people. They can all moan and bitch all about their sob stories and I just go meh. I really hate how animu and its fans equate good villains with some f*cker that has one terrible past, ignoring their actions or their points.

    I don’t think you need to care that much about those rare Blades. Pyra/Mythra are OP enough for the entire game and those rare Blades are nothing more than a bunch of one-note lame animu character stereotype/archetype with equally lame character design. Those rare Blades are just meh. Not worth the time and effort.

    This game is a 5 for me at best. I play RPG more for the story nowadays than the gameplay. Fortunately, the battle system is genuinely a fun and enjoyable experience. I don’t feel it make up for the shitty story and characters, but I’m glad it’s there.

    1. Just out of curiosity, what do you equate to bad character designs? I hear this complaint thrown around a lot without people systematically delving into what exemplifies good character design and art in the first place

      By the way, I think you have some neat ideas regarding what you would have liked to see from the relationship between artificial blades and human beings (the idea could use a bit more polish though); however, XC2 was not that kind of story in terms of what themes they were trying to explore with that specific relationship. I would have liked the ideas you mentioned to be explored in a game with a different tone altogether rather than this more light-hearted take on a Xeno game.

      1. What I think about bad character designs is obviously subjective, so feel free to disagree. Most of the times, I have three criteria for it based on what the design make me feel when I look at it.

        1) I think this design make the character look like an idiot: I know JRPG is trying really hard to make its characters look unique and special, but I think it has gone too far in recent years with the stupid hair and stupid costume. All of those don’t make me think this character is special. It’s indeed unique, but not in a good way. It makes me think that this character is trying hard to be cool or sexy. Like those kids that try too hard to be different or go against the norm by wearing stupid shit. It makes me cringe. It isn’t inherently bad, though. Sometimes, it can help characterization which bring us to the second criteria.

        2) I think this design doesn’t fit the personality of this character: Sometimes, in an attempt to make a character to be cool or sexy or titillating us. The characterization of the character suffers. Like it’s hard to imagine a proper and prim lady that doesn’t seem like the type to wear clothing that show her ass crack to everyone would wear one. I mean if she is a seductive temptress, I guess I could give her a pass on this one, but most of the times, that temptress turns out to be a pure maiden at heart, so nope. A character should wear something that he/she should wear, not something that feels forced upon them. Heck, if the character fits, I have no problem that he/she wears something stupid like Zeke. The dude is a tryhard dumbass, so it’s fitting that he is dressed like a tryhard dumbass.

        3) I think this design is just too fanservicey: Okay, I know this is a sensitive topic, so I’ll be more detailed here. I’ll use two reasoning here.

        > Reason One: You know what you feel when let’s say play a tabletop rpg game and the GM and/or other players start to introduce their personal fetishes into the game deliberately or accidentally? For me, it feels uncomfortable and like they shove their private parts to my face, making me want to shout: “Too much information, people!”

        > Reason Two: You know what you feel when let’s say you read/watch/play a story that is too just heavy-handed? Replace that heavy-handedness with fanservice. For me, it makes me want to shout: “Yes, I know that he/she is hot and sexy. So, could you please stop shouting that he/she is hot and sexy in front of my face!?”

        Basically, if I want to think that a character is hot and sexy, I want to do it myself. Excessive fanservice just turn me off and makes me the character is stupid or doesn’t make sense. Out of character in a sense. Not to mention that I think this kind of thing just screams cheap and lazy. I think if I can complaint about cheap emotional manipulation, I should also be able to complaint about cheap sexual manipulation or something like that.

        “By the way, I think you have some neat ideas”

        Thanks, I’m just really disappointed at the direction that the Xeno franchise is heading toward. One of the reasons I love Xenogears is its story, so to see the franchise is getting less and less like Xenogears and not in a good way is just hard because it means that I would never play a game that is better or at least like Xenogears in terms of story. (Let’s face it, Xenogears has a lot of flaws and I’m not talking about the second disc here. I’m a fan of Xenogears, but I won’t call its story is perfect.)

        This is also the main reason why I can’t think of this game as a part of the Xeno franchise.

        1. Ill get into what makes good character designs and use some examples of blades that i think respect good art design and ones that don’t; but out of curiosity, what was your opinion of the narrative of the first xenoblade chronicles?

          1. I think that you don’t need to try so hard in defending the character designs of this game. It’s either terrible or uninspired I think. Do you seriously think the character designs of this game is an improvement over the character designs of the previous game in the Xeno franchise and newer games in this franchise should follow this game’s example? I think it sucks, but if you like it, it’s fine. It’s a matter of taste. Let’s leave it at that.

            Narrative? I assume that you talk about how the story is told in Xenoblade 1 and not the actual story, right?

            Pacing: The pacing of the game is fine for the most part, but it takes a dive in this aspect the closer it comes to the end.

            Dialogue: The dialogue is overall better than a lot of other JRPG, but it still have its moment of stiffness and even cheesiness straight out of shonen anime. Not to mention, better than a lot of other JRPG doesn’t say much, considering that a lot of JRPG have dialogue that feels like it comes straight from fanfiction or webnovel.

            Characterization: A lot of people seem to dislike the subdued characterization of this game. The limited animation also doesn’t help that case. But, I honestly don’t hate this. To be honest, I think the characters of this game still adhere too much to the good old anime archetype, but at least they don’t do all the standard animu exaggerated quirk, so it doesn’t become obnoxious. A lot of anime and games seem to compensate for the lack of characterization in time or writing by exaggerating their characters’ personalities and quirks. So, I don’t hate it. I just wish this game takes it further. This is just the first step I think.

            I also think that they should either improve the relevance of some of the party members or replace them if they don’t. Some of the party members seem to overstay their welcome on the team. Just because you have that heart to heart stuff, it doesn’t mean that you can ignore their place in the actual plot.

            1. I don’t really have to try hard to defend the character designs in the game; a lot of it for themselves. More often than not people misconstrue their preference for aesthetic and character design without having an understanding of how to evaluate and separate these similar yet simultaneously disparate terms. Some of the designs in this game are very striking in their architecture with some smart use of color, sharp line art, balance, with a great attention to symmetry and design patterns. Pandoria (who i think is one of the best designs in the game), theory, Poppi, Nia, Ursula, Asami, Vale, Kora, Mythra, etc. A good deal of these characters use the concept of semiotics and theory of shapes quite well to convey the essence of what their character are.

              What you stated in your previous comment about art design is not the metric in which you evaluate it. Sure, those factors play a role in how we receive the art, acting as reactionary consequences of good art design, but not much of what you stated are proper guidelines to evaluating art; subjectivity included. At the end of the day, how we perceive art is going to come down to personal taste and perception, but if you’re just going off your gut feeling without actually putting the art to some sort of standardized parameter, you’re not truly evaluating it for what it is. So yea, I do think a lot of the character designs in this game are very good. Sure there are some duds, but that has nothing to do with fanservice as that means absolutely nothing to good character art and design.

              “Too fanservicey, fits personality”; those are vague statements that don’t add much to your opinion. Now I can understand why a character like Dahlia would be off-putting to some, but even her character design has a lot of strong art design elements to it. Her large knockers disrupt how we perceive her form and distorts our perception of the balance of her design; but in all honesty, people with dahlia’s proportions exist soooo yea im not that off put by it. I dont think its one of the strongest, but i dont think it sucks…but hey….that’s part of my personal views talking.

              If your turned off by some of the aesthetics of the character designs then fine; but if you’re going to say that the designs are bad then you need to be able to explain yourself from a critical standpoint. Some people don’t like certain music and are quick to say it sucks, but does that necessarily mean they’re right, especially if they have no music literacy to competently evaluate the musical piece? Exactly; the same thing goes for character designs and art. Now granted you could have the competency to evaluate something and still dislike the design, but at least then you’re illustrating an ability to be able to truly break down the topic of which you are analyzing and fundamentally understand what goes into making it what it is.

  4. You know, I’ve been doing some reflective thinking regarding games ive played in 2017 and those that i want to in 2018 (looking at you octopath traveler). In doing so, I’ve also been thinking about my journey with Xenoblade chronicles 2 a lot. I’ve realized how much more i like the gameplay sans the bullshit RNG and some lacking sidequests (While they could be better, i appreciate that there was actual effort to flesh these quests out; especially when compared to the first Xenoblade) although id still leave it at a 9. However, I’ve realized how much more I’m bothered by things in the narrative that i felt didn’t work and now i feel slightly frustrated at what could have been had the storytelling really capitalized on the strengths of its premise and characters. I still like the cast well-enough; a good lot of them have personality and carry interact with each other in a warming enough manner to appeal to my sensibilities. I’s say the narrative for XC2 is about a 7 (maybe a 7.2 because i find the characters more pleasant that those in XC1 where id give that narrative a solid 7)

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