- Dec 14, 2017
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is one of my favourite Switch games, and it's also one of the best JRPGs I've played in years. I love the combat, I love the setting, it has incredible map design, an excellent soundtrack and it has a very well developed cast of characters.
But there's plenty that's wrong with the game. In this post I'm going to talk about the parts of the game that I felt didn't live up to its otherwise top-notch quality, the parts that let it down somewhat. Don't take this as a hateful rant- I love Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but like every other game, it is not without its flaws. You're free to disagree with me and tell me why you feel I'm wrong, of course.
- The Ending: When I say the ending, I'm referring to a very specific section in the ending. I'm not talking about the World Tree or the things that lead up to it, or Rex's meeting with the Architect and the revelations that follow, and the connections it makes with the first game. All that stuff was great. In fact, up until a certain point, I thought the endgame was going really well. I'm talking about the very final scenes- more specifically, the fact that Pneuma makes it out alive. Not only did it not make much sense, it also cheapened the impact of a death I felt was played out perfectly. Pneuma dying was something that made sense in context of what was going on, and it was set up perfectly, and the fact that she came back right at the end with no real, logical explanation as to why that happened lessened the impact of what I felt was a great death for the character. What I found even more ridiculous was the fact that she came back not as Pneuma, but as Pyra and Mythra- two separate entities, which makes absolutely zero sense. Because they were not two separate entities. It just felt too much like a cheap "boy gets the girl at the end and lives happily ever after" ending, except even stupider because now he gets two girls (who, as per the seventy hours that preceded this scene, were actually one single girl).
- Pacing issues: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 struggles with its pacing, like most long RPGs these days seem to do. The game starts off well, and up until the ending of Chapter 3, the momentum keeps building (the final cutscene of Chapter 3 is one of my favourite sequences in the entire game). Things keep escalating, and the story progressively keeps become more interesting. After that for some reason the game decides to completely go off tangent and destroys its pacing. All of chapter 4 is basically a pointless side-story that has little to no bearing on the larger narrative, and feels like unnecessary padding. The whole thing with Tora's father is just there for... why exactly? It feels like an entire segment of the game that could have been done away with with little to no consequence. After that, the pace starts picking up again, and the game continues to make up for the boring chapter 4 for some time, but then chapter 7 happens, which is, in my opinion, the worst section of the entire game. It feels like a drag, and goes on way too long, and was perhaps the only time in the entire game that almost made me want to stop playing.
- Writing issues: I often say (like so many others do)- never go full anime. And Xenoblade Chronicles 2 doesn't ever go full anime. But it does have plenty of cringey over the top stuff. The characterization of Tora, for instance, is far from perfect. I'm not saying he's a bad character, I actually liked him (at times), but so many things about him were off-putting, most of all the annoying way he talks (meh meh meh, what the fuck is up with that). Then there's the scene where he wakes up Poppi for the first time (that scene made me cringe out of my skin. Completely unnecessary, and I know it was meant to be funny, but I really don't think it was. It was just embarrassing). Then there's Zeke- now don't get me wrong, I like Zeke. I thought he was a pretty cool character. But he grew on me overtime. His first few appearance only made me groan, and it was only after he joined the party and the game developed him as a character rather than as a device for humour that I grew to like him. Also side note, since it's a little bit relevant here- the voice acting is wildly inconsistent. I liked the VO for Pyra and Nia, but almost everything else was just bad.
- Tutorials: Seriously, the game still gives you tutorials about many of its systems even fifteen hours in. The combat system wasn't completely "unlocked" until more than a dozen hours into the game. That's a serious problem. I was able to tolerate it because I was loving the setting and the plot was really intriguing, but I imagine for a lot of people that wouldn't be enough.
- Side quests: XC2 has the kind of inane, meaningless, boring, and pointless side quests that have no place in any game anymore.
I'm sure many of you may not agree with me on this, or may feel there were other issues with the game I didn't bring up- please tell me how I'm wrong :P