Xenoblade Chronicles 2 - Critique
It wasn't that long ago that the idea of living inside a stomach was unthinkable to me. Yet, after several dozen hours spent on Xenoblade Chronicles 2 , I literally fell in love with the colorful forests and waterfalls of Uraya Kingdom. And this is just one of the imposing Titans - a sort of living island or continent that is home to the inhabitants of Alrest in particular - around which this immensely large role-playing game revolves. Like the title itself, these giant creatures become more and more interesting as you explore their innards.
You learn about this through Rex, a young boy who earns a living selling old relics of vanished civilizations, unearthed at the bottom of the ocean. His boundless optimism has never bored me, and maybe thanks to some quality English dubbing (for purists, Japanese dubbing are also available in a free DLC at launch). It doesn't take long for Rex, however, to find himself at the center of a symbiotic relationship with a living, conscious weapon called the Blade - and what's more, the most powerful of all.
Naturally, a bunch of villains want to appropriate the unique power of the Blade of Rex. This vendetta quickly leads to a sort of routine of fighting the same bosses over and over again, but in different situations. An approach that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 masters that says pretty well. These clashes are indeed very rarely repetitive, thanks to many reversals of the situation. And even when these fights lack revival, it's generally intentional, as is the case with some fighters like the Zekenator, whose appearances serve mostly as a humorous valve.
Be warned: between the philosophical interventions around the nature of the relationship of the Blades and their masters (the Pilots), and the concerns of the latter towards dying Titans, the game never misses an opportunity to slip Silly sequences worthy of Japanese RPGs. At one point, you will see Rex's companions explaining to the most powerful creature ever created how to behave like a naughty maid that " every man is looking for ", before witnessing the next moment to a somewhat embarrassing scene. , made up of several close-ups ... of her chest.
However, the narration does not lack depth. It revolves around particularly complex characters, such as Inquisitor Môrag, a formidable adversary but who is also capable of questioning his convictions when he is confronted with troubling situations. Evil, darkness, death ... These themes are very present in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 , but the game also leaves the door open to optimism, by featuring people capable of putting aside their differences when their world is threatened.
The artistic direction of the game is a good illustration of this opposition between the light and heavy themes discussed during the campaign. The main characters thus enjoy an animated style as colorful as it is fluid that should stand the test of time, while the secondary NPCs are entitled to a more realistic 3D character design. The combination of these two visual styles, however, does not always work as well as textual narration. We sometimes have the impression that certain characters have escaped from old games. The fact that the title does not run at 1080p on the Switch's dock, and that small lags are felt when many NPCs appear on the screen, does not help matters. But apart from that, I only encountered one real technical problem: in some cutscenes at the end of the game, lip sync sometimes suffered a lag of a few seconds.
Rex's quest, in search of Alrest's saviors, is carried by environments as varied as they are visually impressive. From the plains of Uraya resembling the Garden of Eden, to the ruins and industrial deserts of Mor Ardain, a change of scenery is always waiting for you. There are also large dynamic areas, like an island, some of whose passages are only accessible at low tide. It is even possible to complete certain quests to improve the level of development of an area. This allows you to unlock new items or discounts in stores.
Each zone also enjoys an incredible feeling of verticality. A feeling such that even when I was at high altitude, for example at the top of an ice precipice, I knew that I could reach a snow-covered forest below through a nearby path.
That said, more difficult than it seems - and this is one of the major flaws of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 . The minimap is excruciating, and the only clue you're given to direct you to your goal is a diamond-shaped marker that appears on the compass at the top of the screen. Problem: This marker only indicates whether your objective is above or below you. Information most often insufficient to know in which direction to progress. So I think I spent 5% of my 80 hours of play moving around, in a frustrated way, blindly, looking for the road that would take me to where I was supposed to go.
The maps linked to the fast travel function help to get around this problem, as they are the only ones that can accurately indicate the position of the objectives, as long as they are on the same vertical plane. However, this is rarely the case and it is very difficult to guide yourself, especially when the objective is in an unexplored area. This is especially true as the map does not automatically open on you. You therefore lose a few seconds each time, the time to find yourself on the map. Finally, the menus are not very intuitive, with the exception of a few rare components better thought out than others.