Xenoblade Chronicles 2: The fallout

I just pawned my copy of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, seven months after clearing my run of it. The reason is simple: although I had tons of fun playing that game, I'm pretty confident that I'm never going to touch it again. This is partly due to how long and extensive my playthrough was: after 160 hours spent roaming and grinding, I feel like I've seen nearly all XC2 had to offer. However, there are other, more sinister reasons that make me want to steer clear from that game henceforth. The truth is that thinking back to my run makes me feel a mite nauseous. As entertaining as said run was, it left a sour aftertaste in my mouth; and I can't help but feel like most of it was a sheer waste of time. In the process, I came to acknowledge a couple of unsavoury things about XC2, things I had not realized earlier because of how smitten I was with the game.

Nope, I won't be running through Alrest ever again.

It's really shallow: Although the sentence "Wide as an ocean, deep as a puddle" is mostly associated with Skyrim, it also perfectly applies to XC2. This is a game that wows you at first with its massive scale; however, once you start shearing the fat, you realize that XC2 is not much deeper than your average RPG. At its core, that game is just about running around, fulfilling quests and killing the boss du jour, which is pretty much the program offered by 95% of RPGs out there. XC2 tries to present itself as that complex, layered game that provides a deep gameplay experience; however, that supposed complexity is but smoke and mirrors. Take the infamous fighting system, for instance: it's said to be quite intricate, but it's actually anything but. Most of the intricacy stems from the game's intentionally elusive tutorials, which leave you in the dark about most combat features and force you to experiment on your own. You might have an eureka moment when you suddenly uncover a fighting mechanic that wasn't clear until now; but the truth is that a better designed game would have filled you in right of the bat and acknowledged its own simplicity in the process. The same goes for sidequests: although the game tries to pass them as convoluted endeavours by piling up the steps towards completion and making you run all around the world map, they're really just mere fetch quests at their core. Same story for items, which could be ten times less numerous without any discernable influence on the gameplay, and so on and so forth. 

Sorry, Dahlia — We'll never ever meet after all.

It's rife with fake longevity: XC2 has to be one of the most bloated RPGs I've ever played, if not the most bloated. Everything in that game seems to have been designed to inflate play time, in the most artificial and irritating way. The sheer breadth of the game world is the most obvious display of fake longevity here, with those humongous distances that force you to spend dozens of minutes just running; however, that is far from being the only offender. An exhaustive list of said offenders would have to include the heavy gatcha/RNG element, which can lengthen the obtention of a full Rare Blade roster towards infinity and make salvaging rare items a real pain. It would also have to include that darn Tiger!Tiger! game, which is so impossibly grindy it's not even funny, as well as the requirements for unlocking most of the Rare Blades' affinity charts, which typically involve hours of grinding. Let's not forget the Skill animations, which are way longer than they should be, and the forced slowdown of running speed in battle. Take pretty much every feature in XC2, and you'll find fake longevity nested somewhere in it. Heck, I'm pretty sure Monolith Soft would have dispensed with quest markers and instant travel in the name of increased play time, if not for the fact that the game would have become virtually unplayable in the process.

I'll kinda miss you, Pyra. So long, goodbye, hooray, Mythra.

All in all, I feel that XC2 somewhat scammed me. It stole my precious time by making itself bigger than it needed to be, forced me to toil to understand gameplay mechanics that should have been made clear from the very beginning, duped me by posing as a fancier game than it actually is, and ultimately swindled me of my gamer's affections. I won't denying that I was utterly and totally hooked on that game; but with hindsight, that attachment had more to do with a case of mild addiction that with genuine, unadulterated love. Sure, there were some things I utterly and totally fancied when I played the game, such as the fighting system and the grandiose vistas; however, all those things ultimately failed to leave a lasting imprint on my gamer's soul. That whole experience confirms something I already surmised; namely that long, sprawling RPGs are not my cup of tea and that I favour compact offerings much more indeed. To quote an example rooted in the latest gaming news, I'd choose Link's Awakening over Breath of the Wild any day of the week. At any rate, XC2 has now left my game library, probably for all eternity; and let's face it, I'm relieved. Thanks for reading, and be my guest anytime!


  1. Waow, what a turnaround. Are you sure you won't regret this? I mean I agree 2000% with everything you wrote, but you were so into it. I guess you could always buy it again later if you change your mind.

    1. Of course, one may never say never... However, the fact that I feel slightly nauseous when thinking back on my run is a pretty good indication that I won't ever feel the need to revisit XC2. I like to compare my run to a giant serving of junk food: kinda heady and addictive when you're digging into it, but leaving you half-sick and disgusted when the whole thing is polished off.

      Apart from the soured memories factor, the things I loved the most in XC2, namely the constant fighting, the evocative vistas and the heavy grinding, can be found in plenty of other RPGs. I really didn't care that much about the story, the characters and the game world itself - in other words, I don't care about any of the things specific to XC2, so I doubt I'll ever miss it.

  2. It's funny, your description of the big empty world is why I had trouble playing past a certain amount. I have this built-in limit of games like this, and it's usually around the 50 hour mark that I get bored and, out of nowhere, take the game out and never play it again. With XC2, it happened at 45 hours.

    Want to hear something funny about that? Monolith Soft also did the world in Breath of the Wild - by far my least favorite Zelda to date. "Wide as an ocean, deep as a puddle" indeed. How long did it take for me to get bored of BotW? 45 hours.

    Monolith Soft's overworlds have almost exactly a 45 hour life span on my psyche.

    I think I just get older and my time becomes more valuable, so having to spend 20 minutes running somewhere just isn't as fun as it was a few years back. I adored the original Xenoblade Chronicles, and managed 85 hours before completing the game. But, I took a long 5 month break at, you guessed it: ~45 hours! Still one of my favorite games but if I wanted to simulate running, I'd.. step outside and go for a run. That's the most accurate simulation I've found so far.

    1. Oh my, a 45 hour-limit when it comes to a certain developer's works is something I had never heard of until now! :D I never get bored of hearing about my fellow gamers' idiosyncracies. ^^

      "If I wanted to simulate running, I'd.. step outside and go for a run": Amen to that! I could have written that sentence myself. In fact, I did write it in my rant about Xenoblade Chronicles 3D. :D