Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was my favorite JRPG of 2017. It was a great finish for what was a historic year for the Nintendo Switch. Many were skeptical the game would release in 2017 at all, and it's actually quite surprising it did with how few developers were actually working on the game.

In Den-fami Nico Gamer, Katsura Hashino talks about the development struggles while working on the project. As many likely knew, Monolith Soft was helping Nintendo EPD with the open world design of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. What we didn't know was that 50-60% of Monolith Soft's staff was dedicated to BOTW.

To put that into context, Monolith Soft has less than 100 employees. That's a very small studio, compared to the average size of a AAA developer. Factor in that several more were dedicated to R&D (Research & Development), and you begin to realize what a herculean effort it was to get this game shipped in December.

To make matters worse, three of Monolith Soft's UI programmers left in the middle of the project, making what was already an ambitious project even more of a nightmare to finish. Monolith Soft didn't create everything internally, as that wouldn't have been feasible with such a small studio. A sizable portion of the game was outsourced, but everything vital and central to the core game or story was done internally.

In spite of all of that adversity, the game has sold over a million copies as of December 31, 2017, it's story, gameplay, and character designs have been well-received, and the president of Monolith Soft has suggested he'd like to see Xenoblade Chronicles X ported to the Switch. With more content on the way via the expansion pass for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, including a new game plus option later this month, this is an exciting time to be a XC fan.

One thing that does provide clarity, knowing the staffing issues, is there is definitely a lack of polish in some areas. I haven't played the game in handheld mode, but I've heard several complaints of a horribly low resolution and inconsistent performance. This lack of optimization would make sense, given Monolith Soft did not have the manpower to truly polish the game for a December 2017 ship.

Even with these minor issues, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 still offers 100+ hours of incredible content that will keep you thoroughly invested the entire time. I do hope that with the next game, Monolith Soft will be operating at 100% capacity. They have built a great foundation for the franchise with their first title on the Switch. I cannot wait to see what they do next.

Are you surprised Xenoblade Chronicle 2 was made by a skeleton staff? Have you managed to complete it yet? Feel free to post your comments below!