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.
Continue reading Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Bringing the “Niche” to the “Mainstream”
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.
Continue reading Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation
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.
Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Mòrag and Brighid
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.
Continue reading Xenoblade Chronicles 2: A Titanic World
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!
Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Poppi
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.
Continue reading Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Violence Doesn’t Solve Everything
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.
Continue reading Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Combat Complexity Without Chaos