Friday, July 12, 2019
Xenoblade Chronicles 2
I’m on holidays. You know, the European variety of holidays, where you get three weeks in the summer to relax and not do very much. A good opportunity to try out some new games, so I deliberately left the laptop (and thus World of Tanks) at home and instead took the Switch and my new iPad Pro (3rd gen 12.9”). But the perfect new game still proves to be elusive. A long history of gaming creates a long list of expectations, and real games often do not live up to that imaginary mix of the best features of every game you played.
So I have been trying Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on the Switch. I read reviews about it complaining about the combat, but as one of the main complaints was that combat was slow and not as “real time” reaction based as it seems, I thought this would be the game for me. I prefer turn-based combat anyway. Unfortunately it turns out that even I don’t like the combat system in this game. Not because it is too slow, or too complex, I am fine with that. But because it doesn’t give you very good feedback about what is happening. I am in chapter 3 now, so I have a full party of three characters, each one with at least one “blade” sidekick. But of those 6 characters fighting, I control only one, while the other 5 do their own thing on auto-pilot. Yeah, I can launch their main ability in order to build a blade combo, but that is all I can control of the other characters. So I am playing on the small Switch screen, there are 6 of my characters fighting X enemy characters, and I barely have a clue about what is going on. They usually win, but it feels as if they also would have won if I had gone for a cup of coffee instead of pressing buttons. That is not very satisfying.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is certainly a nice JRPG with an interesting world and story, fun characters, and lots of cinematic highlights. But to me it feels way too passive, with me having no control, neither in combat nor in the story. There are no dialogue choices, the story is completely on rails. There is no open world, not much exploration, and as I said not much control in combat. I could certainly occupy myself for many hours just playing through the story or doing some grinding (salvaging or combat). But I feel that I could have more fun with another game. I just need to find the right one.
P.S. I bought a transport case for the Switch that comes with lots of little pockets for the little game cartridges that the Switch uses. But I wasn’t very thorough filling those pockets and left Legend of Zelda - Breath of the Wild at home, having already “finished” it. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 made me want to play Zelda instead, too bad I didn’t bring it.