Upon launch, the title featured a number of odd bugs and strange design inconsistencies, making the experience feel like something of a “one step forward, two steps back” scenario. Unskippable summoning cutscenes added hours of tedium to a playthrough. Some bugs would cause the game to crash or soft lock. The fast-travel mechanics and map system were terribly non-intuitive. However, over the course of the following months, Monolith would churn out a number of patches that fixed issues and added features, making for a much smoother gameplay experience. In booting up the game for a New Game Plus run, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 felt entirely new to me, in some places. Things moved more briskly, Blades dropped more reliably, and getting where I needed to go both in menus and in the environments felt like much less of a hassle. Part of this may have been from experience, but I can say with confidence that the quality of life improvements definitely made an impact. The most fascinating aspect of Xenoblade Chronicles 2's improvements and additions is certainly its downloadable content, which has offered quests and rewards that feel as though they should have been included in the base package (such as the premium cylinder and accessory craftsmen), new rare blades with very unique functionality, a challenge mode, and of course, the soon-to-be released story expansion known as Torna: The Golden Country.
What confuses me more, though, is that Torna looks very good: the alterations of Xenoblade Chronicles 2's combat mechanics, the addition of cooking and crafting systems that include new options to the playable characters, the brand new continent to explore and possibly access to areas featured in the base game's narrative (as characters often comment on skirmishes that took place prior and gave certain areas their names), and brand new tracks for an already-stellar OST. It's impressive to think that, even at a fraction of the base game's length and price, Torna may even offer an experience that rivals its other contemporaries in the Role-playing genre - and it is merely additional content based on a pre-existing game. What is stranger is that Torna looks like it might offer a superior experience in comparison to the game it is based upon. The latter of these two points shouldn't surprise anyone, though - Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was certainly the most rushed of the three Monolith Soft Xenoblade games. Having witnessed the various technical and mechanical inconsistencies and seeing the narrative of improvements and additions over the past year, Torna feels like the cherry on top of a cake that was slowly iced over time. Even outside of these performance aspects, however, playing Xenoblade Chronicles 2 prior to Torna makes the latter feel less like a missing piece of the puzzle and more of a... well, downloadable extra, answering questions that did not necessarily need to be covered in the base game. This makes me wonder what the opposing narrative might be for someone potentially starting with Torna and moving on to the base game afterwards - will the narrative beats and revelations be lost thanks to the existence of Torna as a stand-alone title? Will Xenoblade Chronicles 2's combat system be less appealing thanks to its decreased emphasis on equipment and increased Aux Core grind? In other words, does it make sense to go backwards?
Resident demon-monger and hype parasite. I'm a fiercely opinionated RPG fan, although I dabble in other genres. Raised on Nintendo devices, I have branched out somewhat with Sony and PC games, but I still love the variety and honest fun that each Nintendo console brings.
I am a huge Paper Mario (1 and 2), Xenoblade, SMT, Zelda, and Atooi fan. Oh, and I guess I like Metroid too.
Nintendo Switch Friend Code: 247544170414 / Twitter: @EeBeeArrPeeGees
August 1, 2018 07:33:59 AM
|Up to 10 years ago, physical add-ons (that were sometimes stand-alone) to games were pretty standard in pc gaming, so I don't see any problem with that. They should however communicate what you need to play, so customers won't get confused.
I was nevery more hyped for a DLC/add-on than this! I'm "only" 165hrs in the main game (just started NG+), but I love it very much (but yeah, it has a vast amount of problems -.-). If Torna is an overall better experience in terms of gameplay and technical fidelity, that's good, because that means the problems of Xeno2 don't come from the technical limitations of the Switch, but from the missing understanding of the development team. I really hope Monolith won't need to rush their next game that much and that they deliver another masterpiece later in the Switchs lifecycle, this time without that many problems.
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