The original Xenoblade Chronicles was released for the Wii back in 2010 and then surprisingly re-released for the 3DS in 2015. A side game in the franchise, Xenoblade Chronicles X (prounouced Cross, not X) was released for the Wii-U also in 2015. Now, in 2017, a sequel to the first title has been released and thus we have Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for the Nintendo Switch. Developed by series creators Monolith Soft and published of course, by Nintendo.
For longtime fans this game may have a whole new cast of characters to get acquainted with but what matters is how well those characters are developed and how well written the story is, as well as presented. Does this sequel give us a satisfying return to this world of Alrest or does it leave the player disappointed?
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 takes us back to the Xenoblade world of Alrest, full of titans and god like creatures, only with a fresh set of characters. Shulk is replaced by Rex – a scavenger turned Driver – this go around. As a driver, he is accompanied by his blade, Prya. Prya is very similar to Shulk’s blade Monado, only with a lot more personality, given that she is a fully realized character and not just a weapon. Still, both Pyra’s weapon from and the Monado contain extraordinary power and also grant their drivers the ability to wield extraordinary abilities.
The major difference between the two is that Prya becomes a character with an artificial human appearance and goes through her own story arc, while the Monado was more a standard weapon. I feel this adds an interesting layer to the game and makes the game more immersive. Prya’s journey to find Elysium with Rex is interesting because finding Elysium is essential to saving humanity from extinction. The Titans who have protected humanity are dying off and Elysium, or Paradise, is their last hope. It’s more than just Prya wanting to “go home”.
The only fault I find with Xenoblade Chronicles II is a slight repetition that happens throughout Rex/Pyra’s journey. I say journey, because saying “story” doesn’t seem right. There isn’t much more story than Rex and Prya exploring the world, searching for Elysium, meeting people along the way and saving the world from various evils. There is a pattern of you continuing on your journey, a roadblock stopping you from continuing and you needing to get past it and usually fight a boss battle. While this normally would bore me, I found the gameplay quite addicting and the characters enchanting and fun to get to know. There is also an interesting history to the world and blades you get to learn along the way which became some of my favorite story moments for me. Exploring the world also helps when everything looks as pretty as this game does – this game has stunning scenery and beautiful character / monster animation.