Welcome to The Starlight Megaphone‘s playthrough of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Monolith Soft’s sequel to Xenoblade Chronicles, released exclusively on the Nintendo Switch on 1 December 2017.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is the highly-anticipated sequel to the original game, originally released in the West in the wake of Operation Rainfall. The success of that original title was so significant that it resulted in eventual remakes and sequels, culminating in the two most recent titles on Nintendo Switch: Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and a remaster of the original game titled Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. The third game in the series, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, is scheduled to release on Nintendo Switch on 29 July 2022.
The worldwide release of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 marked a significant advancement in the fortunes of the series. The original game experienced significant success and interest (sufficient to generate a spinoff in the form of the somewhat underwhelming Xenoblade Chronicles X). However, the release of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was attended by rave reviews and instantaneous fan accolades. Despite running on comparatively unimpressive Nintendo Switch hardware, the game world was immersive and the amount of content was vast. Moreover, the level of polish afforded to every aspect of the game came as a surprise to many who were expecting, in 2017, that the Nintendo Switch would be a haven only for technically simplistic ports and indie titles.
Although Xenoblade Chronicles 2 takes place in the same universe as the original game, the link between the two is somewhat unclear. The series developers have indicated that future games in the series will draw upon this connexion, so Xenoblade Chronicles 3 will likely elaborate upon the shared world in some detail. However, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 only draws upon the original in what seem to be fairly indirect ways. The single Monado of the original game–a semi-sentient blade–gives way to multiple ‘Blades’ in the second game, which are fully-realised beings who participate in the story and who stand in battle with the player characters.
The battle system relies on a high degree of player mobility, with various moves intended to be used from the front, sides, and rear of an enemy. The player controls one character at a time, with a reasonably competent AI handling the other characters. However, all of the characters (and their associated blades) are completely customisable: not only can they be assigned different roles (damage, healer, defence), but they can be customised within those roles, as can the blades themselves. Dozens of multiple blades can be acquired, each capable of different skills and development. And, skill synergies link together in a complex, elemental combo system that yields enormous burst damage opportunities. Beneath all of these mechanics, a system of passive buffs constantly runs by utilising expendable items from the player’s backpack, speeding up actions, increasing defence and damage, or providing HP regeneration.
The vastness of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 may seem daunting as the world expands before players new to the series, but the game does a fine job of establishing the setting in a manageable location–a single ship–before throwing the player into the vast expanse of the world. And that world is replete with opportunities that award exploration: plants to harvest, minerals to delve, secret enemies to find, and treasure waiting to be found, all in addition to the game’s numerous sidequests and additional DLC. In many ways, the content of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is on the scale of that found in top-shelf MMORPGs, and the presentation is suggestive of that to an even greater degree than the original game. Although the main story of the game can be completed in the typical thirty-to-sixty-hour JRPG timeframe, the additional content pushes the game well over a hundred hours.
Please use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the game, challenges you have faced, strategies and content you have uncovered, and any aids you are using in your playthrough. Do you believe that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 can still stand up against more recent open-world experiences? Do you prefer Xenoblade Chronicles 2 to the original game? Do you find the battle system wonderfully liberating, or too complicated and confusing? What sorts of changes would you make to the game? What features would you add or remove? Tell us all about it and join in our discussion below! We will select some of the best comments, each week, for our podcast discussion.
The aim in this playthrough is to complete the entirety of the game by 22 July. Instead of milestones, we encourage you to play at your own pace–but please keep us updated about your thoughts and progress as you play the game. This will help to sustain our discussion and encourage other players to complete the game, and it will guide us to know when it is time to close our playthrough. Please also make use of our official Discord channel, where we have an #events channel dedicated to playthrough chat.
Please join in with us and comment about your experience! Our playthrough is intended to encourage anyone and everyone to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the genre. Comment and tell your friends!
Without further adieu, we invite you to join The Starlight Megaphone‘s staff members and readers in XenoSummer, Part I: a Xenoblade Chronicles 2 playthrough!