E3: Hands-On With Xenoblade Chronicles 2

We give you the scoop on the latest game from Monolith Soft!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 06/30/2017 21:15 Comment on this     ShareThis

The first two Xenoblade Chronicle games on Wii/New 3DS and Wii U are a couple of the best modern JRPGs ever made. With exceptional combat systems, gripping narratives, engaging casts of characters, and some of the best production values on any console, Xenoblade is part of the vanguard of JRPGs in the contemporary video game landscape. It’s because of this pedigree that the excitement level for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is through the roof.

Like its predecessors, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is set atop the backs of enormous beings called Titans. Players will be slipping into the shoes of Rex and his new companion Pyra for this new outing. Pyra is a Blade, someone who can grant powers to users dubbed Drivers as they build a bond between one another. Working together, the two will attempt to uncover Pyra’s homeland of Elysium, which is considered to be the ultimate paradise for humanity.

Though there’s a “2” in the title, this new installment will not bring fans back to the world of Shulk and his friends. Why it warrants a “2” at all, then, might seem perplexing, but Tetsuya Takahashi, Monolith Soft head and creator of the series, broke it down to IGN like this:

Xenoblade 1 and 2 are connected and linked in the sense that they’re linear and story-driven games, whereas Xenoblade Chronicles X was more focused on open world and exploration, and maybe an online aspect. I feel like I’d like to continue to create games separating those two aspects out.”

Clear as mud, right? Ultimately, how all of these games connect from a story standpoint doesn’t seem to matter to Takahashi—the bond is more thematic than anything else. Considering Xenoblade Chronicles X stood on its own two feet just fine, I’m inclined to trust that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 will hopefully do the same. What seems to be most pertinent thing here is that we’ll be able to explore more of the huge, expansive environments that this series is known for, with fresh new characters, civilizations, and more to engage with.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 will also bring back the signature battle system that has thrilled fans for two games now. Combat is not turn based; it’s a real-time system that allows for free movement around and between enemies. Players select from various attacks and “Battle Arts” as they fight, with each requiring a recharge before they can be employed again. There’s a bit of a learning curve at first, but after a few intro battles, the basics are easy enough to nail down. It’s one of the more engaging battle systems I’ve ever encountered, and I’m thrilled to see that it will return for Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

One of the biggest changes comes in the form of the aforementioned Blades and Drivers. Drivers are people who can interact with something called Core Crystals. When one is touched, it creates a new being called a Blade. Blades grant Drivers new weapons and powers, which vary from Blade to Blade. The idea is that players will switch between Blades during combat and more, as well as try to collect as many as possible. On a related note, the Battle Arts and palette that fans have come to know in previous installments is back, but it’s been refined and simplified this time around—it’s been condensed down to a four-stroke input that should make it easier than ever to fight. We’ll have to wait until we get our hands on it to see if that’s true!

Before we sign off, we’ll leave you with this quote from Tetsuya Takahashi, creator of the game, who had this to say about Xenoblade Chronicles 2:

A young adult story with a taste of boy-meets-girl. Lately it feels like all I’ve been doing are games full of devastation, like where your hometown burns down at the start, or the spaceship you’re riding crashes (oh wait, that is all I ever do). Sometimes I just wanna try something different!

I want to make something that people can look back on fondly one day as something that really shaped their lives. Something like what I loved as a boy, like Oliver! (by Carol Reed) and Galaxy Express 999 (by Rintaro). — That’s why I started working on this game.

I’ll leave the stories about the solemn old men and hot stylish guys to someone else(even though there’s way more demand for that stuff), and go ahead with this.

That’s what was on my mind around the end of 2014 through early 2015.

Yeah, we started while Xenoblade X was still in development. We’re building a whole new ‘Xenoblade’ title using the foundation laid by X. That’s the core of the project.

Some people think exploration is what games should be all about, while some are like “no no, story is what’s best.” Well we’ve got something perfect for both of those kinds of people: Xenoblade 2. And that’s what I wanted to tell you with my first announcement. Sound cool?

There are still a ton of surprises left, of course. I’ll be revealing little bits of information and riling everyone up all the way until release. And that was my June of 2017. (Wait, will we even meet the release deadline?!)

Tetsuya Takahashi

Note: Translated by CAAAAAAAAAAAW on Neogaf

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