Xenoblade Chronicles 2 - Staff Analysis

Hollywood Duo

Oct 25, 2017
posted for MetalLord

The game was made by a very reduced team, the overall staff is bigger than Xenoblade X, but the Monolith staff involved was severely reduced, the outsourcing was massive, to every company possible, including Tri-Ace

Several key Monolith Soft employees weren't involved in the game :

Examples :
Nohiriro Takami - Art Director on Xenoblade, Xenoblade X, Xenosaga 2,3 - Involved in BOTW
Koh Arai - Director of Xenosaga 2,3, Lead Field Design on Xenoblade X,Chief Artist on Xenogears - Involved in BOTW
Shingo Kawabata - Director of Soma Bringer,Producer of Xenoblade, Xenoblade X
Masahiro Kabe - Level Design Director on Xenosaga 2,3, Level Design on Xenogears,Xenoblade X
Hiroshi Ando - Lead Enemy Game Designer on Xenoblade X - Involved in BOTW
Shigekazu Yamada - Lead Social Designer on Xenoblade X,Level Designer on Skyward Sword - Involved in BOTW
Takafumi Hori - Lead Concept Artist of Xenoblade X,Map Designer in Xenogears, Xenosaga 1,2,3, Vagrant Story - Involved in BOTW
Tadahiro Usuda - Character Designer on Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Xenosaga 1,2,3, Xenoblade, Xenoblade X - Involved in BOTW
Takashi Mikami - Map Designer on Baiten Kaitos 1,2 , Xenoblade, Xenoblade X - Involved in BOTW
Kazue Hiramoto - Map Designer on Baiten Kaitos 2 , Xenoblade, Xenoblade X - Involved in BOTW
Atsushi Domoto -Lead Enemy Modeler on Xenoblade, Xenoblade X, Lead Modeler on Xenosaga 1,2,3, Lead Artist on Front Mission 2,3 - Involved in BOTW, Splatoon 2

Other staff from Xenoblade X involved in BOTW but not in Xenoblade 2

Game Designers
Kohei Kawazoe
Naoto Murakami
Tomonori Kawazoe
Yuichiro Tsumita
Emi Takano

Kei Watanabe
Hiroki Omote
Masafumi Naito
Yasuhiro Fujita
Akiyoshi Tamanoi
Asami Fujita
Ikuko Matsumoto
Shuichi Murata
Takeshi Okui
Kengo Inoue
Daiki Hayashidani

Most of the leads from Xenoblade 2 are among the few monolith employees who havent worked on BOTW
Koji Hayashi
Mitsuhiro Hagi
Masahiro Iwamoto
Yuji Tago
Eiji Takahashi

Other Observations
Monolith Kyoto was not involved at all, except for Yasuyuki Honne, making his first actual development credit since the first xenoblade
BOTW tool team helped with the game

A example of the reduced staff :

Map Design

Xenoblade X - 14 Map Artists

Xenoblade 2 - 6 Map Artists

Special Effects

Xenoblade X - 10 Effect Designers

Xenoblade 2 - 3 Effects Designer

TLDR - B team
Oct 25, 2017
Pretty nuts that one studio can juggle a massive MMO-lite JRPG, helping with Breath of the Wild, and create a great JRPG all in a couple years.

XCX came out in 2015, BOTW in early 2017, and XC2 in late 2017.
So like 2 years and a half.
Oct 27, 2017
B team made a better game than A team's last one.

I guess the A team is working into that new medieval IP then (I wish they would let Honne do something by himself though).


Oct 27, 2017
B-team? Wow. They made a game close to the original in terms of quality. I can't wait to see what's next from the studio.


Oct 29, 2017
That's really impressive actually. Hopefully they kept the budget under control so this doesn't need to sell gangbusters to make a profit. I don't want the Xenoblade series to die after this game.


Oct 25, 2017
Very interesting. Monolith Soft has grown quite a bit over the last several years (143 employees as of September 2017). They're clearly focusing on a new ambitious project, but they're also open to making more Xenoblade games going by Takahashi's comments regarding the series' future.
Oct 26, 2017
What other devs besides Tri-Ace were involved? Surprised to see Tri-Ace at all, as what was their last Nintendo project, Beyond the Labyrinth on 3DS?


User requested ban
Oct 28, 2017
What's up with writing credits? Is it the same team compared to Xeno1?
Oct 25, 2017
The XCX team is super impressive on a technical level. The studio lead said they focused on exploration instead of story which makes the game a bit messy in terms of structure, but it’s a technical achievement and feels like 3 XC sequel in terms of progression.

Seems like the B team focusing on story made a better game, but I’m pretty excited for what the studio will do in the upcoming years.
If this does mean that XCX team has been mostly free since 2015 then that bodes well for how long we have to wait for their next game


Oct 25, 2017
This bodes well for having more Monolith on Switch. Seems they still managed to make a great game too.


Oct 30, 2017
You can sort of tell it was done by the B-team, game is a little more rough around the edges than the others
Still, a little over 8 hours in and I'm really enjoying myself, questionable writing aside (I hear it picks up), so good job, team!


Oct 25, 2017
(I wish they would let Honne do something by himself though).
I suspect Honne doesn't want to. MS Kyoto was a Monolith Soft creation that he decided to head. I guess he just wants to do art stuff rather than direct again

With BotW done, I guess all those folks are coming back for the Medieval game. Makes me even more excited for it now


Oct 27, 2017
At first I thought there were staffs in this game and this thread was going to tell me the best ones to use. But this is very interesting info too!


The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
Impressive, more evidence that Nintendo is treating Monolith almost as an extension of their core internal staff than as a 2nd party partner.

What about character designers? Seems like that would be the one area where 2 would have to require tons more personnel than X, especially with all the rare blades.


Oct 25, 2017
Wait, so if this is a B team product... What's the A team doing?!

Well outside of making Breath of the Wild.


Oct 27, 2017
Makes sense - then again this game only exists because of the groundwork the A team did on the previous titles.
Monolith having two teams/groups that can be working independently on such big games is a great news through.

They really are stepping up.


Oct 25, 2017
I guess this means that we'll get another game by them pretty soon.

Give me that Fantasy Action RPG game Monolith!

Pablo Mesa

Nov 23, 2017
That's really impressive actually. Hopefully they kept the budget under control so this doesn't need to sell gangbusters to make a profit. I don't want the Xenoblade series to die after this game.
Xenoblade Never ever been a high seller game, its a cult classic title, I like that Nintendo recognize that Niche and supports it


Oct 25, 2017
Big parts of Monolithsoft having been busy with Zelda doesn't mean that Xenoblade 2 was developed by a B team. People seriously need to stop giving teams names like that -- as if anyone at Monolith was thinking: "Oh yeah, we give Xenoblade 2 to our lesser staff while we work on Zelda". Classifying teams like that is silly and frankly insulting.

Apart of that, I was always expecting Xenoblade 2 to be developed by a smaller team considering Monolith's involvement with BotW seems to have been quite extensive. I was expecting Xenoblade 2 to be a smaller game due to that -- and I was honestly surprised when it wasn't. They did great work handling two big projects side by side.

Breath of the Wild DLC and Mario Kart 8
Monolith Tokyo (the main studio) wasn't involved with the production of Mario Kart, was it? I think Zelda was the only time Monolith's development studio helped on the production of a Nintendo project to a significant degree. Monolith Kyoto, on the other hand, was founded to support Nintendo's internal teams and has helped with a lot of games (they are mostly just creating assets though, they don't seem to have more than a couple of programmers if at all).


Nov 16, 2017
Xenoblade 2 wasn't developed by a "B-team". B-team entails the game having different directors when that clearly isn't the case. Kojima and Takahashi were leading development like always.


Oct 25, 2017
Hopefully some more of the "A-team" get involved with a Xenoblade X2. I'll love to see what new stuff they've learned from that open-world BOTW applied to it.

It explains my more meh feelings on XB2 compared to past Xeno titles. Also I definitely got some Baten Kaito vibes and even some Star Ocean from the game.

Interested in if that medieval title will be something like Dragon's Dogma or Dead Souls. No advance technology (Disaster withstanding) in a Monolith title would be weird.


Oct 25, 2017
Also Xenoblade X having more staff kind of ties into all the new technology they made for HD that they can now exploit.

As for more map design Xenoblade X is such a high game it makes sense for their to be more designers. As we as the fact as an open-world game the map may be designed in a more complicated way than linear as its meant to be revisited a lot from different directions.


Oct 26, 2017
Honne <3

I hope to god Soraya is back on something soon. These games need her writing desperately.


Oct 25, 2017
Probably most of them were on BOTW and that's all, but it gives me hope for a future main game with the same greatness as X, it's in their DNA to make glorious unpolished games.
I'm guessing the medieval game will be, but it didn't seem a Takahashi's thing...
Oct 27, 2017
Also, even though it's a decent game, you can definitely tell its their B team. It doesn't have near the ambition the previous games did, and you can tell they tried playing it a bit safer than trying to do too much with it.

For a first title for many of them, it's definitely impressive. It's definitely a decent stepping stone to making an amazing game.


Oct 25, 2017
Austin, TX
I mean if I had to choose between working on X2 or BOTW, I would've made the same call. :P

Jokes aside, impressive effort for a reduced team.


Nov 27, 2017
Well makes sense for the team to be smaller when the engine is done. However this also implies a good part of the rest of monolith soft have been working on the next title for a year and a half now, likely on the same engine, which means we could get their next title reveal within a year


Oct 25, 2017
The Netherlands
This is very interesting. From that job listing, they seem to be scaling up for the next project which doesn't seem to be Xenoblade, so looks like work on that will likely be some way along already. Looks like we're getting at least 2 games from MonlithSoft on Switch, wonder if they can pump out another Xenoblade too. Good times ahead!


Oct 25, 2017
Brath of the Wild took more resources from them than I thought. So it bascially confirms that A team is working on that new IP that was teased a while back right?


Oct 27, 2017
Yeah, this makes sense. People that understand how game development works instinctively suspected as much after the first couple of trailers and the reveal of Monolith's second project.

Great research MetalLord! I was going to do this myself over the weekend but I'm glad you got to it first. :)


Oct 28, 2017
Who are tri-Ace? I don't see any clarification in the OP, are they a different Nintendo studio I haven't heard of or a completely external studio?