Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Fantasy-based role-playing games typically transport you across several massive, sprawling locales, but even going in with that expectation, I was taken aback by the sheer scale of what I played of Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
Those who weren't fans of Xenoblade Chronicles X on Wii U should find peace of mind in the direction of this entry, as several elements look like it's veering closer to the original Xenoblade Chronicles. Not only are the Skells nowhere to be found, but the game is more story focused and the combat is more based on combos.
In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the world is completely covered in water. The only inhabitable locations for oxygen-breathing organisms are massive titans that float atop the liquid. My gameplay session drops me into the belly of one of these titans. Though I have a mission waypoint, I decide to explore a bit. I control the main character, Rex, who is traveling with Nia and Tora, a cute nopon. Each character is accompanied by personified weapons called blades. Pyra is a fiery redhead who is my equipped blade when I enter the demo. As I approach my first battle, I learn that it's crucial to swap between my blades if I want to be successful against tougher enemies.
Unless you're moving your character during battles, Rex auto-attacks. All you have to do is worry about your positioning and manage your blades. Though Pyra deals great fire damage, she can only carry on for so long before needing to let her abilities recharge. Once I've exhausted all of her abilities, I swap her out for Kisaragi, an ice-based blade. Each blade features different special abilities called arts that operate on cooldowns. Kisaragi has my favorite art of Rex's three blades, as the icy weapon can launch targets into the air, allowing the party to combo it.
Battles in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 are fun and engaging; even though Rex auto-attacks, managing your positioning, blades, and arts is satisfying when you combo them just right. The most exciting moments came as my party gauge filled up and I began chaining attacks together. Stringing together attacks proved most satisfying as I churned through several lengthy battles.
The belly of the titan I'm exploring is massive and downright beautiful. As Rex, I run, jump, and swim from one corner of the map to a decent-sized town. As I approach the ramp that leads to the town, I opt to help out a group of mercenaries who are in over their heads with a group of baddies. I intervene, taking them out in swift fashion. Afterwards, the guys I helped tell me they are going to keep training and will one day be powerful enough to be of worth, which I feel is like a hint that my helping them could come back to help me in the future. I enter the town, climb many stairs to the highest point, and gaze out upon the world I just traversed. The vista is impressive, and gives me a great feeling of just how enormous this world is. Despite how massive it looks and feels, it's only a portion of one titan in the game.
For many RPG-loving Switch owners, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is the title they've been dying to get their hands on ever since its initial announcement in January. If what I played is any indication, players will have plenty of sights to see when the game launches on Switch later this year.