The expertly crafted overworlds of the Titans, that boast their feral fauna from the get go – intimidating newcomers with thirty-foot, level 80 gorillas pounding around the plains – are enticing in a way that made me desperately grind out levels in the hopes of finally taking them down nearly a hundred hours later. It’s addictive, long-term goals like these that made sure I saw the credits to developer Monolith Soft.’s newest epic.
It doesn’t hurt that the numerous sprawling worlds of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 are just so darn pretty to behold. The sense of scale on display here is unparalleled, and adds another feather to the Switch’s already impressive cap. A game that requires huge time investments and lengthy play sessions doesn’t quite feel at home on the Switch at times, but it also feels like an absolutely necessary addition to the consoles library. This is the deep RPG experience we’ve been waiting for – though I would really recommend playing it docked whenever you can.
It’s not just the ridiculous scale that suffers when you play portably, but the resolution takes a serious nosedive when you’re out and about. With recorded lows of about 342p, the game becomes muddy and underwhelming on the smaller screen. I played about ten hours of the game in handheld mode, and this was easily the most disappointing time I spent with the title. Considering how beautiful and vast the game can look played on a good TV, you’re doing the title a massive disservice by playing it in such an inferior mode. If you can, avoid this feature at all costs.
I also want to take a moment to talk about Pyra’s bust. It’s distractingly ridiculous, and robs the best character in the game of a lot of emotional weight (whilst adding to her physical weight considerably, I’d imagine). She’s phenomenally acted by Skye Bennett, who lends her a mature tone and wonderful aural imperfections, and her character design is great – despite her S&M outfit. As someone who will happily play Senran Kagura or Dear or Alive, I’m shocked to find myself saying that Pyra’s gargantuan cleavage constantly ruined scenes she was in for me.
The sound is equally as awesome as the scale of the title, with one of the best scores I’ve heard in a video game in a long time. Like the OST to a shounen anime, the game uses epic guitar tracks to beef up dramatic scenes with great results. Tailor made cuts of tracks perfectly sync to events in cutscenes, dying out organically for intense one-liners and climactic moments. When not in the heat of over-the-top cutscenes, the music still sets a beautiful tone when out exploring, even changing to slower tempo versions of the same songs when the sun sets and you’re exploring at night. If you couldn’t tell I’m really smitten with both the score and, against all odds, the voice acting.
‘Xenoblade Chronicles 2‘ often feels like a disparate mix of a lot of a different elements. All of them feel fantastic individually, but often fail to knit together in a wholly satisfying way. Despite this, Monolith Soft. somehow pull it off and make a game that, even with its hodgepodge nature, is a phenomenal success, and belongs in every JRPG-fan’s library. Its ludicrously deep systems, loveable cast, wonderful sound design and breath-taking worlds cement this as one of the best Switch games to date.
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