Author Topic: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (no not X)

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Grainofariver

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Re: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (no not X)
« Reply #165 on: February 14, 2018, 05:34:05 AM »
I appreciate the answers. They don't really satisfy me, but that's not because of you or your answers, but the writing itself. I think the worst of my fury has ebbed off -- I should be able to see the game through to the end, but I'm definitely going to end up extremely removed from the story and characters. I don't even mind anime tropes -- although no game is without some considerable flaws, I generally enjoy the Tales series. But I feel like even compared to Tales, the character development and interaction in Xenoblade 2 is aggravating. It's one of the three things that I think are really holding the game back from being great. The first being that everything takes too long (even at 10 levels higher than an enemy with a mirror-matter chip'd Hikari, the fight feels like it drags; the way it has to constantly show Blade abilities for resource gathering; etc.) , and the second the RNG (putting rare blades behind fantasy loot-boxes wounds me, since I have notoriously horrendous luck in video games).

Ironically my overall feeling for Xenoblade 2 is that, if refined and streamlined, it could produce a top-tier sequel. It has some great ideas, but for every positive I can think of, there's at least one nagging negative that seems like, given more time, would've been addressed. I'm aware that the team at Monolith was under a pretty huge burden since most of the staff was working on Zelda, so it's a bit of a bummer that while your team is busy making THE game of 2017 for Nintendo, your own game winds up lacking the kind of refinement that could've made for a classic.

If anything, I'm curious about the original, as that's the one that seems universally loved. I intend to give it a go at some point, but since I started Xeno 2 coming off of a second playthrough of P5, I'd really like to spend some times on RPGs that won't run me 80+ hours.

-edit-
Spoiler: show
Also is there a single JRPG where the pope ISN'T the bad guy?


-edit edit-
I broke. The game broke me. 
Spoiler: show
 You're fighting an army of spooky ghost Adams that couldn't kill me if I put the controller down and walked out of the room, but then the game has the audacity to act like I'm somehow losing. Then Nia reveals her true form and the sweeping music plays as we power-of-friendship our way through a bunch of dweebs who couldn't so much as knock the HP bar below half. Next we learn that Rex is now fighting for his friends, even though the game has not offered a single moment that shows him being selfish, and several of him throwing himself in harm's way to protect people. Either way, now that he has flat-out said the Shounen-boy power of friendship line, he is now qualified the be the very best, like no one ever was.


I laughed. I laughed so hard it actually hurt, for over a minute. Ludonarrative Dissonance: The Game has slain me. I can't hate it, I can't love it... I can't feel anything toward it at all. It actually, genuinely broke me.

Bravo, Xenoblade 2. Bravo.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2018, 11:06:35 PM by Grainofariver »
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Aeolus

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Re: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (no not X)
« Reply #166 on: February 15, 2018, 12:33:07 AM »
I told you bro. I told you man. I told you about those clones.

Spoiler: show
And yeah, that was Nia totally confessing her undying love for Rex only to immediately ricochet off of his impenetrable JRPG protagonist density field into the friendzone. At the very least, you couldn't have picked a better day to see that cutscene (or thereabouts depending on timezones). Also, say hello to the best healer in the game. Seriously, the Scimitar has stupidly good healing passives that just turn Rex into an unending stream of both self regen and partywide healing, as well as providing him with his only direct healing Art which is also really good. The only downside is not having Nia around as a Driver, but you're basically trading a Healbot for an even better Healbot.

At least you're past the worst of it. Now let me tell you about the upcoming goofiness that is the plot cancer and Megaman Rex.
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Grainofariver

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Re: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (no not X)
« Reply #167 on: February 15, 2018, 01:00:43 AM »
Spoiler: show
The thing with Nia is a major bummer, because she and Rex actually have some kind of relationship. Even if it's non-romantic, it's better than whatever Rex has going with Homura/Hikari. I don't really want to trash on the game, so don't take this as a major point of contention, but Homura is really just awful. She has so little personality that I actually have this overall sense that she doesn't speak much throughout the game, because most of the time she opens her mouth, she has nothing of value to say. Hikari is generic tsundere, but she told Rex more of value in the ten seconds after she woke up than Homura has yet to say about anything. She's the better of the two, but it's like comparing brands of cardboard.

Nia, on the other hand, actually HAS a personality. She and Rex joke, fight, and comfort one another. I may have issues with the way they handled her being a member of Torna, but as a character she's one of the game's strongest. I used to hope that the game would end with Homura/Hikari sacrificing herself, leaving Rex and Nia alone.


I'm curious, have you played the first Xenoblade? I have many questions for somebody who has played both games.
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Aeolus

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Re: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (no not X)
« Reply #168 on: February 15, 2018, 01:38:35 AM »
Spoiler: show
The thing with Nia is a major bummer, because she and Rex actually have some kind of relationship. Even if it's non-romantic, it's better than whatever Rex has going with Homura/Hikari. I don't really want to trash on the game, so don't take this as a major point of contention, but Homura is really just awful. She has so little personality that I actually have this overall sense that she doesn't speak much throughout the game, because most of the time she opens her mouth, she has nothing of value to say. Hikari is generic tsundere, but she told Rex more of value in the ten seconds after she woke up than Homura has yet to say about anything. She's the better of the two, but it's like comparing brands of cardboard.

Nia, on the other hand, actually HAS a personality. She and Rex joke, fight, and comfort one another. I may have issues with the way they handled her being a member of Torna, but as a character she's one of the game's strongest. I used to hope that the game would end with Homura/Hikari sacrificing herself, leaving Rex and Nia alone.


I'm curious, have you played the first Xenoblade? I have many questions for somebody who has played both games.

Fire away.

(Although, I'll answer what is likely one of those questions right now by saying that XBC2 never really goes heavy into referencing XBC1's plot or characters. There are two notable (three if you count Nopons) exceptions to this but are incredibly unimportant to what's going on in this game. The first will show up in the next plot boss battle, but as long as you had a chance to play Super Smash Bros IV whatever or know literally anything about XBC1's protagonist Shulk, then you'll catch the reference in full. The second references the XBC metaplot, but its the metaplot and literally doesn't matter at this point. The Nopons of XBC1 aren't quite as shady as in this game, but are still pretty damn shady; the best example being Bana the Betrayer (incidentally XBC2's Bana is a third reference to XBC1 and just serves to flag an NPC as villainous immediately rather than in the 5 minutes it takes for him to ship Rex off to a cadre of shady KH rejects). Really, the most overt and deeply connected to the lore reference is fucking KOS-MOS.)

I can also field questions relating to XBCX (which I can tell you right away has no bearing on XBC2).
In my vision, I see that one of us is going to KO the other.

Grainofariver

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Re: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (no not X)
« Reply #169 on: February 15, 2018, 03:55:50 AM »
Spoiler: show
Rex just sank to the bottom of the cloud sea, and is looking for a way out. Fun fact, much like the first time we found ourselves trapped, quick travel continues to work.


Which brings me to my first question, how much is there of this gameplay/narrative break in Xenoblade 1? Aside from being sick of getting told I won a battle I clearly lost, the gameplay just seems to clash with the narrative at every turn. You're supposed to be trapped, but you can still quick travel. Rex loses Homura/Pyra and decides to stop being a driver, never-mind the 6 or so other blades he's carrying around. In fact, they're never even mentioned, despite some being canonicaly tied to him.

I'm not really going to ask which has better characters or plot since that's more of a matter of taste, but I'm curious how Xenoblade 1 presents its characters and plot differently. For the first several chapters Xenoblade 2 was like a television serial, where each chapter started and ended with reaching the tree, but the core content of the chapter was mostly unrelated. I'm all for a game with a set objective -- I think FFX's "reach Zanarkand" is pretty much the staple of this. However, in FFX, while each location featured a mostly self-contained plot, everything nonetheless built toward that conclusion, while in Xenoblade 2 much of the first 4 chapters feels like filler while the game world-builds towards the actual plot. This also results in the last two members of the party joining much too late for them to be of any use gameplay-wise because by the 37-45 hour mark (when they joined for me) I'm pretty content with my set-up. It also means that, whenever the more political scenes show up, these two characters take the lead while Tora and Nia sit on the sidelines. In fact, outside of saving the party's butt a few times, Tora hasn't been relevant to the plot in ages.

Although I hate the RNG method for acquiring blades, I think the meta and variety they offer is pretty much the best thing the game has going for it on the combat side of things. I'm not a fan of micro-managing, so I mostly stick with the same rotation, but I'm curious how the original Xenoblade handles character growth and progression.

In a similar vein, how long are the fights in Xenoblade 1? Most of the enemies in Xenoblade 2 just have too much health, which makes generic and easy fights drag for much longer than they should. If an enemy is small or human-sized, they won't have much health, but they'll be full of moves that evade all your attacks or bounce most of them. Since there's nothing you can do during these segments, they serve little purpose other than to needlessly drag out the fight. Yet, while the bigger enemies don't typically have any such moves, their HP pools are freaking massive. Worse,  the game doesn't seem to make much of a difference in terms of dolling out rewards (so-far as I can tell), so that a level 53 bunnit that can be slaughtered in seconds will offer a similar reward to a level 53 snow-bear that takes a full minute to down.

That pretty much sums up the questions I can think of off the top of my head. Xenoblade 2 seems to be pretty divisive, so for the most part I'm wondering how it compares to the highly-praised original. I want to try the original myself someday, but 'when' is pretty up in the air. I spent years feeling like I missed out on something special by not playing it, and carrying those expectations into Xeno 2 lead to my first 20 hours being a largely frustrating experience. Even now, I don't think Xeno 2 is a BAD game -- I've rarely seen something so perfectly embrace a 7/10 -- but it makes me wonder if the legacy of the first might be a result of several outside factors (it was a solid Wii JRPG in a time when the outlook for both was pretty bleak, coupled with the limited release and Gamestop's shitty policy of collecting used copies making for extraordinarily limited product). Not that I mean to decry the quality of the original, but 2012 is a far cry from 2017 in terms of the number of quality releases, both in and out of the genre. The more variety available, the pickier people tend to get.

Anyway, that's my story. The reality is that I'm actually just deathly curious and stoked to finally have somebody capable of answering my questions!
« Last Edit: February 15, 2018, 03:58:14 AM by Grainofariver »
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Aeolus

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Re: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (no not X)
« Reply #170 on: February 15, 2018, 12:59:00 PM »
To answer these in order:

There are a couple of fights where the plot interrupts them in XBC1, but they're rare and a clearly not meant to be won with what you have when you fight them. These usually have something that happens within the same scene that usually changes things around (like unlocking a new Monado power), but the big reason for this is due to the Monado's chief mechanic of Mechon/Hom damage discrimination as well as the Face Mechon's primary plot gimmick (since its a lot easier to justify a loss when every attack you do is inflicting 1 HP worth of damage).

XBC1 presents its story in a far more linear manner since most of your plot progress involves climbing up the Bionis or the Mechonis. By the time you finish climbing the Mechonis you're ready for the endgame your typical Xenowhatever insanity sets in. The characters aren't as well integrated as in XBC2, but then the game's plot is minimal enough that you really don't need to visit Highfort to get the lowdown on Sten's situation.

XBC1's character growth is mostly focused on Experience Levels with Skills, Equipment, Gems and Arts on the side. Your Level is by far the most important thing to have for most of the game because it A) carries penalties to the lower leveled side, and B) determined how much character growth resources (i.e. AP for Arts and SP for Skills). If you're fighting an enemy at the same level, then you'll likely prevail barring fighting at a tactical disadvantage like being surrounded by a mob of enemies, bad terrain, Spike Damage, or kiting some Level 90 asshole that wandered in. If there's a level disparity though, your characters will either have a higher or lower damage modifier bonus and be more or less likely to Hit/Evade the enemy (which is absolutely critical due to a mechanic called Tension that rises as your team performs well and lowers as they do poorly and influences mechanics like damage, Hit and Evade and even the length of a Chain Attack which is the game's big money maker). That's why enemies with 10 levels or higher over your team have Red name tags since you're not supposed to be fighting these guys yet (you can spec for Red tag fights but that's generally end/postgame content since UM's go up to Level 120 in that game whereas your party caps at Level 99; and it mostly involves dumping as much as you can into Agility because that's the stat that governs your Hit and Evade rates).

Skills provide a bunch of passive traits like extra stats, auto-buffs at certain phases of battle, damage reduction from Spike Damage, extra healing from Chain Attacks or Critical Hits, higher Exp, AP or Gold gains, faster speeds for Auto-Attacks, higher odds to trigger Double Attacks, Critical Hits or debuffs, the ability to wear heavier equipment, or lower Agility penalties from wearing heavy equipment, massive stat buffs from fighting naked, and so on. Everyone starts the game with 3 Skill trees (set of 5 skills with progressively higher SP costs to unlock) and can obtain two additional trees through sidequests obtained by raising town affinities.

Equipment is largely valued by Gem Slots, followed by the Anti-Mechon and whether you're looking for higher Block, Crit rates or higher Auto-Attack damage for weapons, while Armor is basically what's your best Light Armor because Evade negates the need for high Defense and Ether can't be Evaded followed by what visual abomination you can slather your characters in/swimsuits (barring Seven who's gimmick is that all of her equipment have locked Gems and you're building based upon Speed/more conservative wear because the Speed equipment set is hella stripperiffic but is by far and away her best set).

Gems are divided into Weapon, Armor and General categories with basic stat buffs being General (can be worn on either Weapons or Armor), status effect guarding or auto-buff Gems being Armor, and everything else being Weapon (i.e. Haste, Double Attack, DoT multiplier bonuses, status debuffs, debuff modifiers, Critical bonuses, Elemental Damage bonuses, passive healing Gems, and so on), and further subdivided based upon the Level of the Gem (from 1~6 or I ~ VI ingame) with Level 1 providing anywhere from +1 to +5 to a base stat like Agility, whereas a Level 2 gem provides +6 to +10 Agility, while Level 3 provides +11 to +20, and so on to Level 6 gems which provides anywhere from +40 to +50 Agility (which is the cap for that particular Gem bonus, all Gems can't provide a bonus beyond the hard cap which Level 6 Gems will either reach or get close to; so your progression will go from not bothering with Gems beyond what you find, to indulging in the mini-game to make them for their maximum increase then stacking Agility gems to break the level curve, to farming end game enemies for the materials needed to craft top tier Gems so that you can maximize your bonuses).

Arts can be improved to increase damage output or length of the effect's duration as well as reducing cooldown length, all by a percentage, up to level 4 when first learned and levels 7 and 10 through Arts manuals (the lower level manuals can be bought in stores and is where most of your spending occurs; the latter manuals are all rare drops from endgame enemies aside from a couple found through sidequests or Monado Arts which only requires the mid-season upgrade).

There's also Party Affinity that increases the odds of performing longer Chain Attack chains, as well as improving Gem Crafting results (generally) and allowing for more Skill Linking which allows characters to share up to five Skills with other party members based upon the Skill's icon shape, Skill Coin costs (generated through levels and UM kills, and coins are refunded in full when Skills are removed from the Skill Link) and whether the original character has learned the Skill to begin with.

Fights in XBC1 vary in length depending on the difficulty of the fight and what your current level is. The thing to note is that trash mobs leave you alone past a certain level threshold (when the party has +5 levels over them as they are no longer worth fighting beyond fulfilling quest conditions). But generally a solid fight will last about a minute or two, more if they're stronger, less if they're weaker or aren't as capable, and you absolutely want to bench Sharla ASAP since she's all about healing and support, can't Chain Attack well at all, has like 3 offensive Arts out of her 16, and is far more about keeping your team alive forever rather than providing offensive support. Fights also get substantially shorter once you start speccing for damage output as DoTs can melt Life Bars if done correctly, and Seven is a goddamn walking blender (of course she'll absolutely self-destruct at the mere sight of Spike Damage without heavy Spike Damage Reduction).


Now ask me about XBCX....
In my vision, I see that one of us is going to KO the other.

Grainofariver

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Re: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (no not X)
« Reply #171 on: February 15, 2018, 04:53:39 PM »
Hah! I see the system complexity won't be any less diminished for not having blades around. I'm not gonna lie, a lot of it went over my head, but the detail helps give me an idea of what to expect. I can only hope that my time with Xenoblade 2 will help me wrap my head around the original, since I'm guessing everything will be just as poorly explained. I should actually probably bookmark this post so I can come back to it later...

Sorry to say, I don't really have any questions about X. I don't have a Wii-U, nor do I see myself picking up one in the future. I probably wouldn't have even taken the plunge on a Switch if not for the distant promise of SMT5. Nevertheless, if there's something you want to say about X and it's place in the series (the general sense I get is that X is kind of an off-shoot that's not exactly a 'must play'), then I'm happy to listen.
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Re: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (no not X)
« Reply #172 on: February 15, 2018, 05:27:41 PM »
X had useable mechs and astounding music.

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Arvis

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Re: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (no not X)
« Reply #173 on: February 16, 2018, 09:10:13 AM »
Xenoblade X is one of the best RPGs I have ever played
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Re: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (no not X)
« Reply #174 on: February 16, 2018, 07:21:05 PM »
Xenoblade X is one of the best RPGs I have ever played
Well if we're going all out, it's definitely one of my favorites.

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Grainofariver

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Re: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (no not X)
« Reply #175 on: Yesterday at 04:58:15 AM »
I feel like this game is proof that I'm a masochist. I just passed the 70 hour mark, and I have no clue what keeps me going. I mean, it must be a good game, right? Why else would I sink so much time into something that's not good? And yet, multiple times I find myself frustrated at the game. I wouldn't even recommend this game to anyone just to save them the inevitable headache. Nevermind the story, there's so many little problems that, had the studio not been so busy with Zelda, I'm SURE would have been caught. Stuff like:

Why do items disappear so quickly after killing an enemy? If there's more than one enemy, you're bound to have at least something disappear.
Similarly, with how many enemies hover over a cliff or abyss, why aren't items that fall off automatically grabbed and put in your inventory?
Why doesn't the gather symbol change to indicate the type of material you're gathering (mineral, fish, tree, etc.)?
Why, in a game with so much verticality, does the map not have layers?
Why does the game have to stop every time a blade uses its ability? (I've actually stopped gathering because of this)
WHY CAN'T I VIEW OLD TUTORIAL MESSAGES?
And much, much more!

This, of course, is all without getting into some of the bigger gameplay problems, such as the lack of any control over AI behaviour or positioning removing any kind of tactical depth from combat and occasionally turning easily winnable fights into nearly-impossible slogs. Or, the constant shuffling through menus to set up the right composition of blades to clear a field check, only to have to go back in and revert everything to normal (and often times, change it up again two steps later for an entirely different field check). Etcetra, etcetera.

Yet, for all my complaints, here I am at 70 hours, and unless the remainder of chapter 8, 9 and 10 are all super short, I'll likely hit 80 before the credits roll. Why? Am I insane? Is it the video-game form of Stockholm Syndrome? Are the environments just THAT freaking good? When it works, there's a wonderful sense to exploration, and the environments are a little bit more fantastical/alien than something like BotW (which otherwise beats out Xenoblade in every open-world aspect). Even the characters have moments where they show signs of something engaging. Rex's comments on first seeing the refugees in Arcadia/Indol* are actually quite mature, and come from a character I'd like to learn more about. Too bad it only takes a few steps before the shounen-boy trope re-asserts its control, and the 'words won't fix everything' comment comes off like a bad joke.

I think, maybe, a lot of my frustration stems for the feeling that, if they'd just taken a bit more time to really test and reflect on the systems, this could be a really amazing game. It feels close, like a jigsaw that you can see clearly in your head, but the pieces just aren't quite coming together right. The result is something where I get a sense of what it could be -- and am really enchanted by it -- but am constantly tripped up by what it actually is. I'm glad I don't have to put a number to this game. Despite what I said earlier, I don't really buy into numbers as an accurate summation of an opinion (feel free to think of me as a hypocrite, I deserve it for trying to simplify my opinion). I would be at an utter loss for what to assign this game. Nonetheless, I'm curious what we'll see next. I see so much potential here, and I'd love to see it actualised.

Also, Aeolus, nothing on Xenoblade X? It's just the best RPG with mechs and a strong desire for bigger guns?

*I will never understand changing proper nouns in localisations. Playing with the Japanese voices, some names are just ingrained in my head from hearing them so many times. It's so jarring when I go to talk to other people about it, and I can't see what is gained from the changes.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 03:55:47 PM by Grainofariver »
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