Xenoblade Chronicles 2: A Focused Look at the Systems and Flaws of the Combat

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 came out in December, and I played about ten hours of the game in that month before putting it down for other titles. I did enjoy those few hours, but there were a lot of issues with it that kept it from gripping me at the time.

Eventually, I did come back to it about six months later, and did power through it to completion. That took an additional 100 hours of playtime, give or take, with a lot more content that I could still go and do; that should give you an idea of the size and scope of the game. It did improve considerably as it went, but there were times even dozens of hours in when I found myself saying “I’m not sure if I love this game or hate it.”

But still, results speak for themselves. I got through the game and overall quite enjoyed my time. The conclusion was satisfying, and some of the plot developments and twists were quite enjoyable. There were nice and unexpected tie-ins to the first game that made it worthy of being called Xenoblade Chronicles 2 in ways that X was not. And then I ended up binging the sizeable expansion that released shortly after I finished it, enjoying that also.

Now, as much as I like the game, plenty of those flaws do stick with me. There’s a lot of questionable game design in there that I wanted to deep dive into, going over what works and what doesn’t. That was originally the purpose of this article; alas, like many of my writing projects of late, it didn’t pan out as intended. It’s been about two months since the first draft of this article was written, which probably comes as a surprise to absolutely no-one. That said, I want to put something out there, so I’m repurposing what I wrote into a more focused article.

I could talk about the Xenoblade series as a whole quite a bit on many levels, and perhaps I shall do so at some point. For now, this article is taking a good look at the fairly interesting combat system that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 offers, and why it ends up being so flawed and clunky despite the promise.

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Backlog Battle Report (11th Dec 2017)

Yep, okay, this one’s late. It’s been a week, and I’ve got no excuse. Doesn’t matter, it’s here now, so let’s get into it. Not a lot of games this week but here’s what’s been there nonetheless.

Realm Grinder (PC)

Need to bring this one up first again because, quite frankly, it’s becoming a problem. Addiction to the notion or sensation of progress isn’t uncommon for me, and I’ve bounced around between a few idle games offering similar stuff, but something about this one is keeping me checking on it to the point that it’s actually inhibiting my other gaming or writing.

It’s seriously gotten to the point where I will set up things or do what seems like a maximised build for this run, then sit and see it through. I’m not spam clicking the entire time or anything, but I’ll be watching Youtube or chatting on Discord in between managing that when I should be doing other things. It’s not entirely to blame for my hold-ups and delays, but it is a factor and I need to start really limiting how I go about maintaining this.

All that said, I’m a way into Reincarnation 6. More upgrades and challenges are right around the corner of unlocking, I think. Seems like more aspects of the game go quite a way back if you keep running it… which I will probably do, but in the background. Or offline.

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Backlog Battle Report (4th Dec ’17)

Home stretch of the year, which means I’m quietly compelling a bunch of arbitrary awards of which I can laud upon the many storied games of 2017 for nobody in particular to comment on. It’s a hobby, everyone does it, and I’d like to look back on what has been a stellar year in game releases (albeit less so in industry developments) with some positive words. That’s coming soon, but for now, here’s the week’s gaming.

Heroes of the Storm (PC)

So last week I spoke about how Blizzard had introduced a PvE Brawl into the game, but commented that I felt it was too easy and would have liked to see multiple difficulty settings or more challenging versions. Well, this week the Brawl is the same, but on Heroic difficulty, and it is pretty much exactly what I was hoping for.

On the basic difficulty, you could pick pretty much any composition and have people run to all corners of the map and still likely pull through. On Heroic, going on your own is a death sentence if people aren’t on hand to save you. Enemy heroes will slaughter you if they CC chain you well, it’s pretty easy to get overrun, item effects are necessary for easing your way and the final boss is challenging no matter how you set up your team. Speaking of which, there’s numerous team compositions that I’d imagine would just have no hope.

In about a dozen attempts with various friends or people accompanying me, I’ve only cleared it once or twice. We had a full group of five at one point in voice comms, messing around with various group makeups and trying to figure out a way that suited us. We didn’t clear it, and sometimes we just messed up and got brutally beaten, but we were all laughing and enjoying ourselves immensely. It’s a lot of fun, and having to band together and focus like that is a welcome challenge.

I don’t know how much it would affect the game’s overall population, queue times, and so on if this style of mode became permanent. But if it was, I’d likely play it a fair bit. This is great, and kudos to Blizzard for trying it out. I hope to see more stuff like this soon.

Beyond just the Brawl, there’s been a few normal games but nothing too much to write home about. I’m working once more on getting as many heroes as I can close to leveling without actually doing so, since the Christmas event is right around the corner. I might as well aim to get as much limited time loot from chests as I can, and it worked out pretty nicely for me last time. Hoping to get one of the Christmas Valla skins. I’ve also got the gold ready for Hanzo and almost for Alexstrasza in addition. Should be a fun time.

Continue reading “Backlog Battle Report (4th Dec ’17)”