Tag Archives: Xenoblade Chronicles

The MoeGamer Podcast: Episode 40 – The Not-E3 2020 Podcast

Welcome back! In the absence of E3 this year, we thought we’d talk about some of the recent happenings that interested us. Joining me today are show regular Chris Caskie of MrGilderPixels, and longtime friend of MoeGamer, Joe “Erichannel” Sigadel from Twitch.

The MoeGamer Podcast is available in several places. You can subscribe to my channel on YouTube to stay up to date with both the video versions of the podcast and my weekly videos (including the Atari A to Z retro gaming series); you can follow on Soundcloud for the audio-only version of the podcast; you can subscribe via RSS to get the audio-only version of the podcast in your favourite podcast app; or you can subscribe via iTunes and listen on Spotify. Please do at least one of these if you can; it really helps us out!

Enjoy the podcast in video and audio formats below:

Hit the jump for show notes!

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Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Bringing the “Niche” to the “Mainstream”

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An interesting aspect of Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s Western release is the matter of its localisation.

I’m not talking about it from a “censorship” perspective or anything like that, mind you — largely because, in my experience, those sorts of discussions often tend to get bogged down and never really go anywhere.

Rather, Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s localisation is an interesting case because, more than anything, it appears to represent an honest attempt to bridge the gap between a genre of game that has come to be regarded as highly “niche interest” over the last few years, and the broader, mainstream audience Nintendo typically courts with its console platforms.

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Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

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The Xeno series as a whole has always been renowned for tackling challenging themes in ambitious ways… and occasionally not quite being able to match the ambition with the execution.

The Xenoblade Chronicles subseries has been somewhat experimental with its storytelling over its three installments to date. The original Xenoblade Chronicles featured a strong, linear narrative with a number of independent side threads that unfolded as you reached the various locales that were important to the story; Xenoblade Chronicles X de-emphasised its main scenario in favour of strong worldbuilding and a sense that you were just one part of something much bigger; and Xenoblade Chronicles 2, unsurprisingly, takes an approach somewhere between the two.

Does it work? Absolutely, and the sheer scale of the whole thing means that there’s a whole lot to talk about.

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Waifu Wednesday: Mòrag and Brighid

Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s main cast runs the gamut from spunky, optimistic youths to a few rather more reserved characters.

Mòrag and her Blade Brighid (Meleph and Kagutsuchi in the Japanese original) fall into this latter category, both offering their own distinctive take on being the “detached voice of reason” in most situations.

Both of them are interesting characters in their own right, so let’s take a closer look at both today.

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Xenoblade Chronicles 2: A Titanic World

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While the Xeno series has, from its outset, always been about imaginative takes on worldbuilding, the Xenoblade subseries in particular has placed a strong emphasis on this.

Indeed, as we’ve already explored, the very reason the first Xenoblade Chronicles exists at all is because series creator Tetsuya Takahashi thought it would be cool to have a game set atop the bodies of two gigantic, frozen gods. The concept was subsequently fleshed out into the divide between the Bionis and the Mechonis, and the rest is history.

Xenoblade Chronicles X subsequently provided a somewhat different take on worldbuilding, providing us with a huge, seamless and geographically diverse planet to explore at our own pace. But Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is closer in concept to the first in the series, albeit with a few twists of its own.

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Waifu Wednesday: Poppi

One of Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s best characters is Poppi (aka Hana in the Japanese voice track), the artificial Blade created by the Nopon Tora as an attempt to finish the work his dadapon and grampypon started.

Always endearing, surprisingly empathetic and understanding to her friends and companions, highly capable in a variety of situations and owner of probably the sharpest tongue in the whole cast — though she has some stiff competition from Nia — Poppi is an absolute delight to spend time with, and a highlight among an already very strong ensemble of characters.

She’s also a character who undergoes some of the most obvious and recognisable growth — in more ways than one — over the course of the narrative. So let’s take a closer look!

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Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Violence Doesn’t Solve Everything

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One of the key ways many people like to distinguish the stereotypically Eastern and Western approaches to role-playing games is via non-combat mechanics and progression.

It’s fair to say that, as we’ve already discussed, many role-playing games from Japan place a strong focus on combat both as a core aspect of gameplay and the central aspect of their overall progression. You can contrast this strongly with something like an Elder Scrolls game, which still involves combat at times, but, depending on how you choose to play it, can also place a strong focus on crafting, spellcraft, stealth, exploration and all manner of other aspects.

Xenoblade Chronicles has, since the first installment of the subseries, always been about something of a fusion between the linear, narrative-focused nature of Japanese games, and the more open, flexible, “emergent” gameplay of Western titles. And this tradition is well and truly intact in Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

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Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Combat Complexity Without Chaos

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Role-playing games, by their very nature, tend to deal in abstract representations of reality.

The exact way in which they do this varies somewhat from title to title — and significantly between typically Eastern and Western approaches — but one challenge developers of this type of game always have to confront is exactly how complex they can get away with making their games.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 strikes a good balance, with none of its individual mechanical systems being dauntingly complex by itself… but its sheer number of different interlocking parts create an experience that is extremely satisfying to learn, explore and master. Today we’re going to look specifically at how you fight in the game.

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Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Introduction and History

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The fact that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 exists and, moreover, has been treated as a distinctly high-profile title for Nintendo’s Switch platform is nothing short of remarkable.

The Xeno series as a whole has been around for quite some time now and has been fairly consistently well-received by those who have played its various installments. But it’s been a long road for it to achieve the mainstream levels of acceptance and awareness it now enjoys. And a pretty interesting story, to boot.

So, before we dive into the game proper over the course of the next month, let’s look back at what it means to be a Xeno game, and how we got to where we are now.

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From the Archives: Wandering the World

I’ve asked this question before in our visual novel column, but it bears repeating: why do we play?

The answer is different for everyone, even between fans of the same type of game. Some enjoy JRPGs for their heavy focus on story and character development in a narrative sense; others enjoy the gradual process of building up their strength and power and being able to take on the toughest challenges the game has to offer. Others still enjoy finding all the secrets there are to find in the game — and there are usually a lot.

For me, as a self-confessed narrative junkie, I primarily enjoy the experience of hanging out with the characters, of fighting alongside them and, eventually, taking on some sort of earth-shattering, physically-improbable Big Bad, probably in space. Battling against all odds. Building those bonds between people that the Persona series is always banging on about, you know?

But this isn’t the only way to enjoy a JRPG.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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