Nintendo Life recently had the opportunity to talk to the production team behind Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna - The Golden Country. Over the course of our conversation with Tetsuya Takahashi, the game's Executive Producer from Monolith Soft, Koh Kojima, the Producer (also from Monolith Soft) and Genki Yokota, the Director from Nintendo, we chatted about the new expansion, its development, localisation and even the a cut version of the ending of the main game. We even confirmed the name of a previously (officially) un-named blade!
Check out the full interview below.
Nintendo Life: Torna - The Golden Country is a standalone story that takes place during the Aegis Wars, 500 years before the events of the main campaign. Can you tell us what the significance of this time period in Alrest is?
Takahashi: Well, for Torna - The Golden Country, I can tell you that first off when we were considering this content, we originally planned to sandwich it between the seventh and eighth chapters of the main game. The more we dug into it, however, the more we realized it was a very expansive story we were trying to tell, and it would be too difficult to fit it into the main story, so we approached Nintendo and asked them what we thought should be done. After talking to them we decided we should. You’re probably familiar with Jin from the main game and we had a really important story we wanted to tell about his character and we're using the DLC to do that.
For those that are new to the game, what order should they play the two stories in?
Takahashi: Speaking purely from a personal perspective, I’d say if you haven’t played either, you should start with the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 main game, finish up until Chapter 7, then play through Torna - The Golden Country, then finish the rest of the game from Chapter 8. That's sort of in line with our original concept that I outlined in my previous answer. But, of course, we designed both of these games to be able to be played by players who aren't as familiar with the series, but I would say that Torna - The Golden Country features a number of updates from the main game that may make it easier for new players to get into, so that might be another way for players to approach the series.
Torna plays quite differently from the main game. Are you concerned that players may find the transition between battle systems and mechanics jarring?
Takahashi: Basically, some of the largest differences you’ll notice in the two battle systems are in the control, and as I’m sure you’ve noticed, how battles play out and feel, but they’ve been designed to not feel too jarring to the player regardless of the order you play the two games in. Part of the thinking in designing the differences between the two games is that we have this big gulf of time that has passed between Torna and the main game. In Torna, the relationship between blades and humans had not been refined to the kind of coordination and symbiosis you see in the main game. So you’re switching back and forth between controlling different party members in Torna, whereas by the time of the main game, things had progressed into relationships between blades and humans to the point that they’re working together more symbiotically and that represents itself in the battle system as well.
Were the changes made to Torna the result of feedback from players?:
Takahashi: So first off, with the battle systems in Torna as well as other systems that have changed from the main game, as we were coming up on wrapping up the second half of development of the main game, I really started to have a really strong feeling of wanting to create systems and subsequent content that would really make it easy for players to engage with the game, and I had a really strong impulse to realize that idea. Along with that feeling, I also thought that if we were going to go through all of this trouble to create a separate DLC, we may as well try to include as many new gameplay elements as possible, that manifested itself in new story and characters as well.
Does anything carry over from Torna to Xenoblade Chronicles 2, or vice-versa?
Takahashi: While we don’t have any save data or gameplay that carries over directly from the main game into Torna, we do have some visual surprises cued up for those that clear both games.
Are there plans to continue support for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 following the launch of Torna?
Takahashi: No. Right now we are actually planning for Torna - The Golden Country to be the final content for Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
Is that true of just story content or all content?
Takahashi: There are no plans for any additional content for Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
In the US, the names of many blades and characters were changed, could you tell us the origins of some of the Western blades’ names, like Dromarch?
Yokota: The localisation for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was handled by Nintendo of Europe. After laying out the overall translation policy they could follow with Monolith, they left the smaller localisation decisions to them to do with as they saw fit.
In previous interviews, the team said they didn’t like the ‘JRPG’ term for Xenoblade Chronicles X, as they were trying to make a game for everyone rather than just the Japanese audience. Xenoblade Chronicles X featured a more realistic art style. What drove the decision to change to a more anime-like art style?
Takahashi: I’d like to restate that my feelings about the term ‘JRPG’ are still the same. When comparing the look of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 to Xenoblade Chronicles X, we’re making these games for a worldwide audience, and I think we have a feeling at Monolith that if we’re going to be sending these games out to a worldwide audience as Japanese game developers, we feel more comfortable adopting a style that we feel we can do justice to, as opposed to skewing too close to something that would be overtly realistic. So, we went for a style we felt we could do the most justice to.
There’s been some talk among players about how many of the blades turned out as attractive women. Could you give us some insight into the design process behind the blades?
Takahashi: So, we worked with a large number of character designers on Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and when giving our requests for character designs to them we didn’t go so far as to specify whether we wanted male characters, female characters, or beasts. Instead, we gave them elements of those characters and how we would like them to perform in battle. We left it up to the designers at that point, and we ended up with a lot of females, and I think that’s the best answer I can give.
WARNING: The next question includes major spoilers for the ending of Xenoblade Chronicles 2. If you haven't yet finished the game, this will spoil the ending for you. You've been warned. Go ahead and enjoy this screenshot before we get to the spoiler bit:
At the end of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Pyra and Mythra sacrifice themselves to save Rex, only to appear alive later on. Can you tell us what happened and what happens to them following the ending?
Takahashi: [Laughter] Originally we envisioned the ending sort of in an Inception-style where you would see a cutscene with Rex’s core crystal glowing, and that would be the end of the game. But, while making the final scenes of the game, I really thought we should give players a clearer sense of closure, and I really started to come around to the feeling of ending the game on a happier note. The players have been through this incredibly long, trying the experience of completing the game, so why not give them a happier note to finish on? So we thought, "Well, okay, we'll bring back Pyra or Mythra, which one should we use? Or maybe we'll bring back—what's her name? The green-haired one." In any case, we thought about ending the game with one of these female characters joining Rex again, but I decided to roll with the feeling of a happy ending of sorts and thought as a bonus why not bring both Pyra and Mythra back as a bonus for the player at the end of the game?
Is that third character Pneuma?
NOA Representative: There's no official name for the character, but we'll get back to you on that.
Editor's Note: True to their promise a representative from Nintendo of America did reach out to Nintendo Life to confirm that while the character is not named in-game, she can be referred to as Pneuma.
Is there any message you can give to fans that want to see a sequel?
Takahashi: At Monolith Soft we’re constantly thinking of new things we want to create, and that, of course, includes the Xenoblade series, but at present, we have no firm plans for continuing the series.
We'd like to thank Mr. Takashi, Mr. Kojima and Mr. Yokota for taking the time to sit down and speak with Nintendo Life. What do you think after reading the interview? Do you wish we'd get more Xenoblade Chronicles 2 content, or a sequel? Let us know with a comment below.