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Topic: Xenoblade Chronicles 2

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EvilLucario

@NEStalgia For the main story and understanding the combat system, I would not refer to the combat as something so convoluted and obtuse they're designed to sell Prima guides or something. I would maybe argue that maybe applies only to X because it does absolutely nothing to try teaching you how anything works in that game (which 1 and 2 for the most part handle fine honestly, the tutorials do a good job in explaining new things), and learning how to use Overdrive is a brick-wall learning process. But 1 and 2 are all very easy to where you don't need to really try that hard to beat the games. X is much more challenging, but there are some combat flaws like horrible teammate AI that can sometimes make that hard for the wrong reasons.

A lot of the core of JRPGs lie in experimentation though. You're given a lot of options in how you want to kill things, so take the time in checking what you have then proceeding forwards.

Xenoblade 1 actually had some optional tutorials in its menu, detailing more advanced tactics and techniques, like how to really get mileage out of Chain Attacks and such. It also told you about Spike damage, which can range from nasty effects if you hit something that's Toppled or Dazed (leading you to get Toppled or Dazed yourself) to just flat-out damage. But all the important things were all explained by Makna Forest, which is like, what, 10-20 hours in out of a 40-50 hour long main story? Nothing to beat Xenoblade 1 or 2 is so obtuse to use for the main story. X is worse in that, actually, because Overdrive is very important to combat but learning how to use it effectively is extremely hard without practice.

I would argue that in terms of mechanics, Xenoblade as a whole has a lot of positives that work extremely well and stack extremely well ontop of each other, with the ATB/MMO mechanics fueling each other into a well-crafted battle system. The "do this do that do this" thing seems a bit more like common sense and decision making than obtuse, convoluted design decisions.

When we get to sidequests though, that's when some parts of the games drop the ball. 1 had awful sidequests and there were just a ton of filler, and even the named sidequests with some story stuff was indeed obtuse at points. X can be even worse at some points with collectible quests that suck even more than 1's collectibles, and enemy drops that require specific appendages to destroy from enemies is stupid. But at least there were a lot of great sidequests that developed the world and atmosphere. (Side note, augment creation as a whole in X was awful, due to the insane amount of grind needed) 2 is a middle-ground with much more markers pointing where things are, but there are still some quests where you do have to look everywhere for something. At least they're a much smaller percentage than previous games.

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EvilLucario

@NinjaAceTrainer If you get good at managing consistent DPS, Sharla's usefulness drops like a rock. Small heals here and there from people like Shulk and Riki are enough to sustain yourself while you destroy the enemy with Chain Attacks. And Melia can self-sustain with Summon Aqua to heal as well.

It takes a bit more work, but it works overall better than having Sharla anywhere. It's why I always recommend newcomers to at the latest ditch her after you get Riki. I personally ditch her after I get Melia or Dunban.

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NEStalgia

@Grumblevolcano "Bugs are found at certain collection points" Yeah that's one of those problem points again. Which collection points? And how do you know it's collection and not salvage points? Nothing indicates this, and nothing in the game tells you which of the thousands of collection points throughout the world contain bugs. That's the type of thing that's a serious flaw. Thankfully for now it didn't matter, but lots of side-quests suffer from that problem (I have 3 pages of incomplete side quests for that reason.)

@EvilLucario "A lot of the core of JRPGs lie in experimentation though. You're given a lot of options in how you want to kill things, so take the time in checking what you have then proceeding forwards." I'd agrue a lot of JRPGs got sucked into the trap of "how can we make this like Monster Hunter?" The disastrous FFXIII of course made it an almost straight rip But all these systems in many RPGs since MH popularity, including "eating food for temporary buffs" and shoehorned crafting systems all seem to relate to some copycating there.

One of the things you mentioned I think inadvertently hit on what causes so much controversy with Xenoblade: MMO. The MMO structure creates certain problems in a narrative JRPG, and will rub non-MMO players very very much the wrong way, making the game behave in ways one doesn't expect. That's probably why X, despite being much worse in a number of areas is seen better in those areas. The game was 100% MMO, just without other players (more or less) with a hub-and-field model, so the structure suited those elements rather than standing juxtaposed to them.

NEStalgia

hirokun

@EvilLucario wow thanks for sharing about pouch items. I didn't know that "favorite" foods actually doubled the item's effectiveness. I just assumed it was a feature to unlock more stuff on the skill tree and give just a bit more trust points than normal foods.

Nice to know about aux cores. I thought shoulder to shoulder looked good, but the numbers were arbitrary to me, and when I doubt I usually default to things like increased healing, or improved ether/strength

[quote]
"hold back on your Art and cancel it after the third autoattack instead of just canceling immediately after the first two autoattacks or Art." I don't understand this feature. Also its of note that its hard to tell especially with roc since his auto attacks seem to be 2 hits.[quote]
How do you know what attack is the third if you lose track, and how do you know if you executed your auto-attack cancel on the third attack versus the first one or second one, and is there a middle ground if you cancel on the second auto attack? I also noticed mention of arts canceling, do you know what that is and how it works? I tried cancelling arts but you can't select a new art until another one finishes.

"Honestly, all I'm seeing here is just giving up at not being dealt the right hands with random Blades and not looking at options, but even the common Blades are good. Some even have exclusive skills that Rare Blades don't, and by endgame if you want to spend time grinding, they can be even more powerful than 90% of Rare Blades"

could you elaborate there? I honestly see that as great news.

"actual need of skill/understanding for good damage. I do genuinely believe that almost everyone complaining about the combat (in any game) are clueless one way or another about it."

I'll push back here. Yes, and that is the point of contention. This was the issue I had with in the first place. To understand things I had to look online at explainations of what arbitrary words actually meant. Like in xenoblade 1 a good example is for gems you had electric plus and electric up gems and lightning attack gems. There are other similarly confusing situations. There isn't really an explaination of what each does exactly. Its the small things of not having a description tag to tell you what something is that causes issues. However as soon as you know, it changes the game entirely. Having good clarity in a game is important, and why digimon world on the PS1 to this day is an enigma that I will never bother figuring out. Poor me as a child never had a chance. See the very fact that you have to explain this stuff because I can't even find good enough explainations on my own is why I put the game down sadly. But you are giving me hope because I do genuinely want to see the story of this game unfold to the end, and the combat is otherwise engaging.

High leveled enemies have been a Xenoblade staple since the beginning. Don't you remember Makna Forest with level 90+ Gogols, Satorl Marsh with similarly level 80+ enemies at the start?

yeah but a lot of them either didn't move, or had a region they stayed in. These jerks roam half the area map. Even just a few of the flying characters that are maybe 10 levels ahead of you suddenly deciding to say hi can be unwelcome especially since attacks on you when you aren't engaged in combat seem to do like 3 times more damage than normal more or less on some enemies, I'm guessing a surprise attack bonus can be a pain. But really its more about zoning than it is the fact they exist. immovable gonzales in guar plains was just that, and he stood as a monolith of don't go that way rather than "is this part of the flightpath of birbo the destroyer?" and then when thinking no, getting in a fight, and suddenly dying, looking up and seeing birbo the destroyer. That is my only qualm there.

Even in Chapter 4 with the plains right before Zeke, if you've bothered exploring the industrial district you would have found an alternate way that completely skips the level 80ish monsters there.

fair enough if true, that one is on me. ha!

And on that note, running away. I would argue that it's a GOOD thing that running away requires more actions on top of being more intuitive in button presses.

bad game design is bad, don't make excuses for it. I agree with your premise, but the asinine way to go about it in 2 is not right either. a combo button press could easily be a solution potentially. If I recall, the left arrow button isn't mapped to a blade or any action, so to press and hold that to bring up a prompt and then tap it again to confirm would be nice. I just feel there has to be a mutually agreeable solution. Though I do admit I don't think its unfair to die to a fight I decided to pick and couldn't win. Just when birbo shows up for example mostly. A big reason I like xenoblade is it doesn't outright punish you for losing a fight by reverting to last save point or docking you tons of xp or money or anything like that. So its just a gripe that confused me when I first tried to run as if I had missed something thinking "surely this can't be right, they have to have made disengaging fights less stupid" as I was cycling attack focus on enemies half way across the map trying to disengage.

character design is personal. Just because you seem to not be able to understand why people groan at it doesn't mean it isn't valid. But since you seem to be popping a vein, I don't want to contribute to an aneurysm haha.

In terms of the stiff animation, yeah, it was a thing on the first game. Again I have no idea what X was like. But I figured after all this time they would figure it out. This is more technical, but I think it comes down to the people doing the model rigging for the animators. A good animation rigger is worth his weight in gold, but it seems they likely have some people that are not very good at it, so their skeletons don't articulate as well as they could otherwise. But also the animators seem to not ease any sort of animation easing which if even used in a minor sense would eliminate that issue. But I pay way more attention to that than most people, and its not too bad overall. Each character moves in their own way and has flavor, and that is far more important. If you played charades with each character and had them move like another you'd probably be able to tell which character they were mimicking. Totally a plus there.

So again, thanks for helping me understand the game better. As I said I really want to finish it and I do enjoy it, but have hit a wall. I just set down the game as I got to the boss fight with Zeke for the third time, and I figured enough was enough with that one since I can't beat him. I'm curious if you would recommend which two characters to use for that fight or a tactic maybe in particular.

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Grumblevolcano

@NEStalgia There's a lot and it's kind of random whether they appear when you interact with the collection point. The only collectables with salvaging are mechanical (outside the chests) and treasure (inside the chests).

Grumblevolcano

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NEStalgia

@hirokun @EvilLucario I'll chime in and agree with hirokun once again mainly because you're echoing a lot of what I said. The fundamental problem is the lack of explanations about many things in the game. I get the feeling that for EvilLucario you already did ton's of "internet wisdom" research for the first two games so you came into the game with a certain existing knowledge set about how Xeno games work and applied it...so it works for you for the same reason the devs don't notice the problem, they looked at it with fully formed knowledge and assumptions players coming into it won't have. A game should not ever rely on reddit to teach players how to play. And if the systems are too complicated to explain coherently it might be a sign to revisit the drawing board and think about why the systems are designed that way, and if they need to be.

"Even in Chapter 4 with the plains right before Zeke, if you've bothered exploring the industrial district you would have found an alternate way that completely skips the level 80ish monsters there."

Yeah I did the run through the lv80 monsters too. That sucked. Yes there's an alternate route....the game hints at losing a key, but that doesn't give you indication of what to look for, if you're using the nav marker it's not clear, and even if you do find it, you may find, like me, that you're walled off by a field skill gate that due to that whole system not being properly explained either, you get a dead end and think you're not meant to go there yet. So you keep going downstairs, glitch past the spiders, and run like mad. The game always makes you feel like you're cheating your way past things you should be doing but can't or don't know how to. Imagine yourself as the game producer. Imagine you expect your players will have no computer and no internet connection. Now imagine how they will play your game with only what you've included in it. Is XC1, 2, or X the game you would create as-is? Part of it is gamers are trained to expect certain queues. If you're going to build a game that doesn't utilize those queues, you have to make sure your game is very clear and thorough about the kinds of mindsets the players should engage in, either through instructional, or by example in early parts of the game as a teaching mechanism. XC throws out the rulebook on conventional queues, but never replaces that with teaching mechanisms of how to think the the world of XC. Which does make me think of MMOs, once again.

It always feels like ultimately if you know what to do most things in the game aren't actually difficult, but you're always left with huge knowledge gaps that make things virtually impossible. Not just in 2 but the entire series.

NEStalgia

Switchnado

SKTTR wrote:

I was ranting about Xenoblade 2's story, characters, world, graphics, sound, battle system, and weird new mechanics for the first 50 hours as I expected absolute perfection. I was pretty spoiled by Xenoblade X's greatness.

Thankfully Xenoblade 2 is a game where almost all complaints turn into compliments - but it sure takes some time for the game to blossom up.

Right? I'm picking it up soon, and I just expect everything to be perfect,

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SKTTR

@RockingTheSwitch

Even with Xeno2 turning out to be great in the end, don't expect another Xenoblade X.

XenoX was 23GB, Xeno2 is only 13GB, and you 'll see the punch in the graphics department right away.
I guess they delibaretly reduced graphic extravaganza to make this game fit on a 16GB cart.
Kinda shameful for developers if the only options are to reduce graphics etc. to fit a 16GB cartridge or to make the rest of the game downloadable. Worse graphics are apparently the better choice though.

And the graphics aren't the only thing in Xeno2 that aren't perfect, so keep that in mind.

I had a huge list of flaws in the beginning, but now it's only 3 things that deserve minus points.
Granted, the game fixed a lot of its most glaring issues with updates the following months after release, while Xeno1 and XenoX were perfect from launch day on.

1) The Tutorials aren't re-readable. I thought an update must have fixed this by now but it seems they want people to go online for finding help.

2) RNG: If you want all blades, like me, (and I got em all by the way), be prepared for days of grinding blade crystals. I never want to replay the game from scratch because of this and it's great to have a NewGame+ option where I can start a new game with all the blades I already have.

3) Ursula! This blade takes very long to max out. And on NewGame+ you'll have to do it all again (if you're a completionist like me), and you can even miss a couple of Ursula's quests the second time around (like I did accidentally), so I have an incomplete quest list now in my second playthrough.

The rest is nitpicking. I'd love to have a monster encyclopedia like in XenoX, or a collectible screen for those insects, flowers, etc. just like in the other two Xeno games.

Edited on by SKTTR

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subpopz

I like the Xenoblade series and like talking about it, but I just can't relate to whats been the ongoing discussion here. I had't played much for jrpgs since FF7 and jumped into Xenoblade 1 and 2 and really didn't experience any of things you guys are talking about. I didn't find their mechanics that bad at all and quite enjoyed learning how to use them. I didn't experience the game-stopping walls from lacking field skills in XB2 - I salvaged for cores occasionally, usually when I didn't have a lot of time to play, so that's all I really had time for; 10~15 mins at a time and kept common cores with a wide variety of skills.
I didn't think they were flawlessly perfect (yes, the tutorials should be re-readable), but I didn't think they were anywhere near the confounding mess some of you paint them to be.

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EvilLucario

@hirokun Arts Plus boosts the power of your next Art, so you'd want to cancel after the third autoattack to maximize damage with that Blade Art. The timing of when you cancel your autoattack determines how much extra damage you'll do, so take advantage of it.

As for keeping track, you'll just have to watch the animations, but some can be tricky. Rex with a Megalance is hit -> hit hit -> hit. With Roc, it's hit hit -> hit hit -> hit. Morag with Brighid is hit hit -> hit hit -> hit hit. Admittedly it takes a bit of trial-and-error, but once you learn the patterns you can commit them to memory.

Re: common Blades. This is more late game, but common Blades have multiple perks over Rare Blades.

  • They can be any combination of element or weapon type you want. If you want a Fire Bitball user, a common Blade can fill that role.
  • The best Blades have better stat modifiers than the best Rare Blades. Blades like Brighid have a +15% Agility mod, for example, but you can potentially pull a Chrome Katana Blade that can give upwards to a 24% mod.
  • They have exclusive skills no Rare Blades have. Ranging from Accelerated Growth boosting XP gain, Orb Master which is hilariously broken (adds an orb if you complete a Blade Combo step if the Blade is even active, so stacking orbs is hilariously easy and broken if you have a varied way of doing Blade Combos like Light -> Lightning -> Fire, which can allow you to put a Light, Lightning, and Fire orb in one go), Weaponmaster which boosts WP gain, they're really good.

You may start off with weak common Blades at the beginning, but starting at midgame you can pull some pretty sick Blades that devastate enemies.

As for the understanding of all the systems in place, (also pinging @NEStalgia here) I honestly, legit don't get the difficulty and convolutedness in understanding the terms and systems, at least for 1 and 2. I've played every game without much help and still managed to understand the overall systems and advanced strategies. That said, X was the worst about it since that game actually does throw you into the deep end with no help. It took a lot of experimentation and trial-and-error to figure out how Overdrive actually worked, and the manual and game does not tell you what certain stats like Potential (which increases the amount of healing you get from Soul Voices and boosts the damage of your TP Arts, which would have been REALLY nice to know). But 1 and 2 provide good tutorials that explain things well, so I genuinely don't understand this part from other people for both 1 and 2, but shrug. I did two full playthroughs of each game to nail down the gameplay criticisms of each game, but in terms of tutorial and teaching the player, I only blame X for dropping the ball hard. 2 isn't perfect though, a tutorial revisit like 1 or Ys VIII would have made it perfect though.

I can think of worse convoluted things on the level (or worse) as Xenoblade X, like Xenogears not telling you how Deathblows work or even how to obtain (which by the way was actually mandatory to know if you want to get through the game, good luck knowing without a guide), or Final Fantasy VI's Rage system with Gau, or Pokemon's EVs and IVs. Maybe I'm just used to JRPGs, but Xenoblade 1 and 2 were easy to jump into for me personally. A lot of the little details of Xenoblade combat I learned after the fact, and I wouldn't say that knowing one game's combat will help you for another. Even if you've played Xenoblade 1 before X, for example, you still need to learn how to properly manage your secondary cooldowns, Overdrive, and Soul Voices that make it play MUCH differently from Xenoblade 1. And Xenoblade 2 is just so different from both 1 and X that you have to relearn it all over again. They're all really different so it gets hard to really compare 1:1 with one another, and they only share superficial elements across each other.

Re: high-leveled enemies. I'd argue that all the high-leveled enemies are also sticking to one set place in Xenoblade 2 as well, just like Xenoblade 1. They can wander a bit more, but they don't wander as much as Xenoblade X, and the world isn't littered with aggressive high-leveled enemies like X.

Re: running away. Xenoblade 2 is already using every single button available. Left on the D-Pad is actually a command for your party to focus on the target while right, up, and down swap Blades. Clicking in the sticks also have actions too, and even if they could have moved the "hide pallet info" into the actual settings, I don't think clicking in the left stick to run away would be good either.

But yeah, you take more damage if you don't have your weapon drawn. I think they've said that in a tutorial, but I can't 100% remember that detail.

Re: character design. I get why people hate them, but sometimes it also comes off as hypocrisy on the other hand. I remember people getting so butthurt about the art change, but after I went back to play Xenogears after all three Xenoblade games, I see it as less of a "betrayal" and more of just a return to form since Xenogears is also as anime as you can get. People also mix up hating the design versus the art direction, which further drives me off the deep end whenever the actual ignorant idiots go off ranting. I don't know if I'm desensitized to stupid outfits (which started all the way back in the SNES era all the way to the present era - other games like Ys VIII also have some questionable designs too) or what, but I didn't blink an eye when seeing the designs.

Re: animation. Animation is pretty expensive, and spreading it across over 14 hours of cutscenes is very costly if you want to carefully animate everything. So you have to cut corners somewhere unfortunately. It sucks but it is what it is. If you want a worse offender, Ys VIII also reuses the same animations over and over with static and stiff animations as well. JRPG budgets generally don't burst the bank so that's one explaination. Granted you don't have to like it, I didn't like it all that much in X and Ys VIII (though what really hurts X and Ys VIII was that it was 95% ONLY static and stiff animations, 1 and 2 have the decency to mix it up with the actual nicely animated cutscenes).

Anyways, I apologize if I came across as dismissive and rude earlier in this thread. Probably wasn't the right tone for some points I made. As for Zeke though, you can actually have three party members in that fight. I assume you were using Morag who wasn't going to fight, so that changed up your party setup, so put Tora in your party and the fight should be winnable.

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Switchnado

@SKTTR Thanks for the in-depth detailing. I actually have never played a Xeno and this would be my first time diving into one. I guess I won't really know what I'm getting until I'm playing. Depending on how much I like that game will determine if I will put up with the RNG you're talking about. I usually only do one playthrough no matter so I'm lucky I'm not a 100%er. Wish me luck as I am stepping in soon.

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hirokun

@EvilLucario no worries. You butt heads to figure things out, and we were both genuine and you really helped me.

Sounds like you are just geared for JRPGs though in general. Also I didn't know that there were games before xenoblade(probably since they weren't called xenoblade) so if its a return to form, good for fans of that. However I can't deny that I really liked the overall package for xenoblade 1. I can't make a full comment on 2 since well...I haven't finished yet.

Oh and yeah I forgot about left arrow being assigned. Maybe for the next installment they can manage to get it to work out!

Didn't think you could add tora back in, and yes I did have Morag in my party since I wanted to up her trust in battle. However on the character screen I couldn't seem to put Tora in so I just assumed it didn't actually want a 3 man fight. I trust too much sometimes.

Curious since you are super into the JRPG area more of your suggestions on other games if you have any in particular. I have played a few, but not a ton myself. I played FF8 and 10 way back when but as a kid I didn't even get close to finishing but I remember liking 8 a lot. I actually am pretty deep into pokemon, but to play the story isn't really anything hard of course. I really enjoyed Bravely Default and Second. Played Monster Hunter Stories. None of those is anything super crazy complicated, but I enjoyed them. Though I do like unique and deep skill trees to customize, so I like that in games. I get a kick out of upgrades for some reason.

Anyhow thanks again very much. I hope you don't mind me coming back to you in the future for more help if I should need it?

but still screw grinding tora tora!

Edited on by hirokun

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EvilLucario

@hirokun Hm, alright. I don't remember not having the option to put Tora inside the party for his fight, but I did see multiple complaints about it on the Xenoblade subreddit. If there was actually no option, then yeah that's a problem. But I'll be willing to pop in to give advice, I stalk this thread day in day out lmao.

Anyways, at the risk of derailing this thread... as for JRPGs, good ones that I think anyone can play fine are EarthBound and Chrono Trigger. EarthBound is simple turn-based combat with a twist on damage taken, in that your HP rolls down real-time so you can potentially save yourself from a lethal attack by healing yourself right then and there without falling unconscious. It's also a real charming and quirky game that puts a smile on my face every time I play it. Chrono Trigger is the classic SNES RPG too, if there's one RPG I want people to play it's that game. Not too challenging, very short for an RPG, the combat is slick and fun (though your options come nowhere near as varied as Final Fantasy V or VI), and it flows beautifully.

Moving on from that, the older Final Fantasy games on SNES/PS1 are good. IV has aged really badly and the story, looking at it from a critical analysis, has some holes and forced-feeling moments. But it's still very enjoyable all the same. Gameplay is also pretty easy, though the DS (and I think Steam) version is actually REALLY hard and improves the gameplay a ton because of that. Not for newcomers though, because IV on DS/Steam is unforgiving as hell. I recommend the PSP or SNES version instead, at least for a first playthrough.

Since you enjoyed Bravely Default, give FFV a shot. That game was the first game to really take advantage of the job system's fuller potential (after FFIII), though it's pretty hard at points. Jobs can potentially be overwhelming, but if you liked it in Bravely Default I don't see why you can't enjoy them in FFV. Story's good but nothing that noteworthy imo, but it's a great step-up from FFIV (though in all fairness, FFIV pretty much invented epic stories in games so I can cut that game some slack).

FFVI is the best of Final Fantasy overall (imo, there's back-and-forth between that, VII, and IX) with the best narrative/characters and best combat system (mix of FFIV and FFV with "Jobs" like FFV with a lot of customization, but all characters are set classes/Jobs like FFIV) of Final Fantasy. Something about it doesn't feel as fun as Chrono Trigger, but FFVI is a damn good game too.

PS1 RPGs have aged pretty badly (looking at you Xenogears), but I still think the PS1 Final Fantasy games have held up reasonably well and are worth a play. Xenogears though, oh boy that game is only good for its story/characters and nothing more, because that game's combat is... I have mixed feelings. I mentioned earlier that Deathblows (one of your primary ways of attacking) was convoluted to unlock and never explained how exactly you get them AND use them, but then there's stuff like Gears (basically Skells from Xenoblade X) and their combat does feel pretty cool, but some of the balance is way off with some blatant OP stuff or absolutely baffling decisions like not being able to heal Gears until like 10 hours into the game, and healing Gears is also extremely expensive mid-combat.

Oh, and platforming and navigation sucks.

Play it if you want to see where Xenoblade takes all of its ideas from. The story is really, really fantastic and on paper beats out Xenoblade 1's story by a landslide, but some sloppy storytelling (though not in the developer's hands due to strict deadlines) in the second half brings down some of the impact so I still prefer Xenoblade 1's story above all else. But as a game itself, it has aged pretty badly.

If you want more real-time action, from my limited experience Tales and Ys are both good choices. I have played Tales of the Abyss and really enjoyed it, though it's been years since I played that game so I don't remember completely about the story/gameplay, but I remember enjoying both. Ys VIII on Switch is also really fun, playing more a hack-and-slash like Bayonetta. The RPG elements aren't as important as raw skill in maneuvering terrain and reacting to enemy movements. Story's good too. Kingdom Hearts is also great, though imo only KH1, KH2, and Birth by Sleep are good gameplay-wise. Hating on Kingdom Hearts' story has become a meme at this point, but I can still enjoy it.

That's all that comes to mind for now.

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NEStalgia

@EvilLucario It sounds like you have a lot of familiarity with Xenogears/saga prior and are more in tune with retro RPGs (naming FF6) and as a result, like the devs themselves are kind of immune to seeing the bad design elements because you're just used to them. I'm an RPG junkie, mixed W & J RPG, but it's been ages since I've messed with the older stuff, and never touched the earlier Monolith stuff. I imagine Fallout 1 would confound me if I picked it up again today, even though it all made sense to me in the 90's Over time you get used to not having to worry about outdated design issues, and then a game comes along that reintroduces them and it throws you sideways.

If I really boil down the roots a lot of my problems stem from it mostly boils down to: Little to no explanation of affinity trees/field skills and no pacing that shows you how it all works, and the fact that the system itself and the UI for it sucks, right down to requiring them to be equipped, counter-intuitively. Plus very insufficient explanation of chain combos. I came away from the tutorial thinking of it as an optional bonus element in the game that I'd rather save my party gauge for revives than use as a matter of risk/reward (brave/default?) Finding that essentially "oh you need to use that and "oh you need to use it a specific time in battle against some gimmick bosses otherwise you get crushed". Combos and chains apparently are critical to play, but the game glosses over the first, which makes the glossed over tutorial on the second which depends on understanding the first twice as bad, and that causes a lot of problems later. I really had no idea they were even slightly important or paid attention to them until you guys mentioned them whenI was stuck at the core....I was like "you mean that thing is actually meaningful?" Some mucky systems, but worse, a lack of introduction/explanation/teething of them breaks things.

Those are the things I think are real, actual core problems in the game. The rest are pet peeves and design issues, the high level enemies that you have to run from make sense in theory but implementation isn't always the way I think they saw it in their heads. Everything about Poppi aside from the writing and design is a design flaw but not a game breaking one outside the caves. The glut of loot with huge scroll lists of materials and chips and pouch items while having to randomly throw parts from those huge lists at aux refinement without really knowing what you're doing, the very flawed navigation markers, etc, all of those are flaws, but only the above paragraph represents serious actual problems. The flaws can be grumbled through and looked past. The actual problems cause serious play issues and stop points.

@subpopz Interesting, so you were maxing out affinity trees while just kind of casually playing even without being a JRPG aficionado? I mean some of that is obtuse, collecting and certain points, or feeding specific foods to specific characters in the pouch...And having the correct bladed equipped to use the field skills. And if your'e not doing that, you're going to hit the walls (and the game never had a tutorial for the affinity trees and field skills.)

I have no problem with the characters, animation, art, etc. It's an RPG, it's expected. RPGs cost a lot to make, and graphics always get dialed back. Look at Bioware and Bethesda, even where lower graphics than other genres are standard. My problems are purely specific to gameplay systems and the instruction of.

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EvilLucario

@NEStalgia Even if I'm resistant to a lot of retro games' quirks, I'm not immune to bad decisions/design, even as a kid there were multiple points where I got angry at some of the RPGs having convoluted, annoying methods to get stuff with hidden passageways and crap. FFVI was very guilty of that, and only years later in my teenage years that I even learned about things like getting an early Genji Glove or whatever. Despite the games being pretty easy, some balancing and design was clearly extremely whack.

Xenoblade, though? Doesn't really have much of that, except in X. I would argue that you should pay attention to what the tutorials are saying, then put them to practice and give it a good whirl before moving on. Else you just put your fingers in your ears and turned away what's needed, which is ehh to me. Those tutorials are why you're going to be able to get into the game, which is why both Xenogears and Xenoblade X can be extremely annoying to play for newcomers.

And I would counter a lot of your points that the affinity trees are basically what you see is what you get with clear markers (and you can even just skip them with Merc Missions), they show you what Field Skills are in Chapter 2, they tell you about all the things you're going to need so if you're not putting them to use, I'm going to say that's the player's fault. The game should have given the option to revisit the tutorials, yes, but if you weren't going to pay attention then I'm going to have little sympathy, plain and simple.

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hirokun

@EvilLucario thanks for all that. Yeah I won't derail the thread. But I appreciate it. Maybe I'll find someone who wrote up or made a video on xenogear's story then. I do have to say I liked the narrative in xenoblade. I disagree with its message in part, but as it goes exploring ideas, I commend the writer and it was a wild ride. I do have chrono trigger on DS as I have a huge DS collection. I will eventually get to it and know its a classic. Everyone says the DS version is great. I'll get to it eventually. I also have Ys 8 coming, it looked like a good game. I played the first KH, never played 2, but I'll probably get 3, but I'm waiting to see what sony/MS do console wise as I don't want to get a XBone or PS4 and then have a new system show up and have those games ported or backward compatible. But I've waited longer for a game (looking at you starcraft 2). As I say never got big into FF as a kid, didn't have tons of money so I had really only big title games like pokemon mostly. I remember having FF9 but the disc two was messed up sadly. Garage sales are hit and miss...However I remember liking 9 for the first part heh. Earthbound is another classic I never played but knew as perhaps the most sought after SNES game for collectors. But I see its now on the N3DS eshop so hey I may pick it up and play it finally, yay for accesibility! I might print a custom 3DS case for it too for fun. Thanks for the tips. I'll try to add you on my consoles too. You've been awesome. Again don't worry you only ever came off as honest to me and your frustrations were understandable. You saved me from hating a game(xenoblade 2) that I looked forward to as much as BoTW and I'm a serious zelda freak.

Hmmm maybe I'm stuck with only 2 party members for zeke, yeesh, I don't mind grinding, but I'd hope to not need to. I'll have to research if there is something special you have to do. Time to snoop!

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NEStalgia

@EvilLucario I suppose it comes down to different people absorbing information in different ways. The way XC overall does it works for you, but it obviously donesn't work for everyone, hence why it's kind of polarizing in opinion of it more than many RPGs. For you, presenting text about something, somewhat out of context and without an immediate application is working I suppose. For me, most of the tutorials were detatched from a real world application to demonstrate the point from start to finish, and thus it easily gets compartmentalized as "I guess they're just giving me a heads up and I'll soon encounter something that will clarify the explanation." Chains they gave you a faux boss battle, and pre-charged your combos for you, and then you had no real application for it again for some time (until the battle at the ruins, but even there, it was a pseudo gimmick battle, and by then it was too far removed from the tutorial. Teach: Test, Teach: test. That loop is broken. Similarly with affinities, it's not self explanatory to most. The fact that it's a skills chart you can't directly upgrade, but each point has a different requirement ranging from food to rng collecting, to defeating uniques in set locations, and then even those are locked by affinity rings is not really intuitive. And even aside that, details like field skills were not explained, and not in a context that demonstrated the value.

It's one thing to know after the fact "oh, it's Pokemon HMs only even worse" but without entering it with that understanding, it doesn't present itself understandably. (Plus I've always despised HMs for many of the same reasons and nearly wept when they were removed )

Ultimately, the fact that the series renders some controversy tells us that the issues are real. Maybe some people handle the current setup more intuitively than others based on other experience, learning method, or what have you, but it's the task of the game planners to consider that, and their current method definitely doesn't fit everyone equally even among the dedicated RPG niche. I'm just trying to draw a point on where I think the roots of those issues lie. It's not the most offending JRPG series on the planet with these issues, but it's not also the most polished either. I disagree the tutorials are adequate, but even if I were to say they were, the problem is they were presented, frequently in contextually irrelevant circumstances that rendered the lesson blunt. TBH the tutorials feel to me (and Id put money on it that I'm right) an afterthought where gameplay testers told the team that it needed some kind of tutorial, so they found some spots it might fit and glued them in, but as an afterthought, where the scenario wasn't designed around teaching the lesson but they were instead bolted on top of completed gamelay in places the tutorial "might" work or come in handy. I suspect it was going to ship like X prior to that.

Still a great series, but it's great in spite of deep flaws and a lack of polish in a lot of areas, not because it's genuinely a masterpiece. I'm far from the Kotaku extreme that reviews every XC negatively insisting it's just boring and terrible. It's not, it's amazing, but it has some significant design flaws that hold it back from being utter greatness by making you kind of put blinders on to those problems.

I do wonder how big the Torna expansion is and if they'll be tuning any of those design problems better there.

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NEStalgia

@hirokun RE being stuck with 2 party members, that's another one of those design flaws that may be intuitive for some, but really isn't. Same happened to me at a later part of the game. you're not stuck with two. Go into the characters screen, press X to change characters, put cursor on one of the characters on the right (Morag isn't available, but Rex, Tora, Nia should be) and you should see a prompt on the bottom part to press "x" to include. It's not logical or intuative. But that ads the third slot back in.

Stupid design choices like that are what takes otherwise simple things and turns them into frustrating problems.

NEStalgia

subpopz

@NEStalgia No, I am not an JRPG aficionado by any stretch of the imagination.
I never had a problem with the affinity charts. It's been a while since I finished the game, but as I recall they told you what was required to unlock them when you selected a point on the chart and a "???" indicated you hadn't reached a point in the game where it wasn't doable yet. I believe pouch items had hints in the chart as well.
Early on with the brief field skills tutorial, since the game said they were going to be a thing going forward, I started casually gathering cores to make sure I had a variety of them with different skills and sent them on merc missions as that unlocked the affinity charts without me having to do anything. By the time I got to places that needed a lot of them, I already had them. There was a couple times I didn't have enough, but was already pretty close that it didn't take long to get what I needed. Being able to use multiple blades for them helps too. Need 3 dark, use a blade that has 2 and another that has 1 for the 3 for example.
I don't know, I had some gripes (mostly QoL stuff), but I just didn't have the same frustrating experience. I had such a good time with it that it's made me start looking for more JRPG's that I've missed in the last decade or so.

EvilLucario wrote:

IV has aged really badly and the story, looking at it from a critical analysis, has some holes and forced-feeling moments. But it's still very enjoyable all the same. Gameplay is also pretty easy, though the DS (and I think Steam) version is actually REALLY hard and improves the gameplay a ton because of that.

@EvilLucario That DS version caught me off guard. It's very noticeably more difficult than the SNES version I was used to. The difficulty spike in some areas made more sense, like the Rubicante fight with the opening and closing of his cape as I don't think that mattered nearly as much in the original SNES version.
I think (correct me if I'm wrong) that the version we got on SNES was actually the Japanese 'easy mode' and the DS/Steam version with the higher difficulty is the original Japanese normal mode.

Edited on by subpopz

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NEStalgia

@subpopz It's weird how different minds pick up different things. To me the affinity charts were vague and nebulous, yes it tells you want, but I didn't know what I needed, why I needed it, or why I would do all these oddly-specific quest things for each point on each tree (ultimately I do think field skills should have been separate from the affinity upgrade tree if they were to be so prominent) And I've heavily used merc missions, but not for my story blades who were in my party while other blades were on missions (so of course they still need their specific upgrade paths.) It never even occurred to me there was a benefit to not doing it that way! And the game lets you go on that way none the wiser until you're presented a brick wall (immovable boss, or a literal door you can't pass.)

Sadly many checks I failed I probably had blades with the skills but didn't know I had to equip the blades (which makes for annoying continual shuffling of blades just to open crates.)

Yet the weird thing is I'm an RPG enthusiast that disproportionately plays more RPGs (and pseudo RPGs like Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect and Deus Ex) than any other genre! Meanwhile you don't and that all seemed intuitive

"that the version we got on SNES was actually the Japanese 'easy mode' "
LOL, so typical of that era to assume Westerners can't play hard games. Funny thing was often times the "too hard for non-Japanese" versions were too hard for Japan, too....go figure

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