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Xenoblade Chronicles 2

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I got a copy of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for Xmas and currently have little over 30 hours into it.  Not really a spoiler, but I'm on Chapter 04 of 10.  I have to say I'm enjoying this RPG.

Story content in entertaining, combat is good in respect to complexity and accessibility.  As you level up into the teens, paying more attention in fights to details and enemy attacks will be more relevant.  Sleep in an Inn to bump some levels up via bonus XP from your battles.  Quests in each area will help you unlock Blade perks (skill points and abilities).

A quick overview of Blades, is that they are living weapons.  If you're an Anime dork, Soul Eater would be a similar concept to the Blades in Xenoblade.  The menu section is pretty rich with options, as you have your level and stats, along with the same for other party members and their Blades.  Blades can also equip gear, level up their abilities and they get attribute boosts and skills from the skill tree.  When you see a notification come up about a Blade skilling up, go into the middle option to view your blade skill tree.

Also as you progress, you will unlock more advanced combat options.  The 3 bar meter on the top left will let you raise a fallen party member if you have a full bar available.  Once unlocked, having all 3 bars will let you press 'start / +' to initiate a Break Combo.  This will juggle between all the Blades in your party and do heavy damage to said enemy.

Another item that doesn't get usefully used until a little bit into the story is 'Switch Target'.  By holding RB, you will be able to press Right or Left arrow to change targets.  Most of the earlier parts of the game should be pretty easy to avoid enemies linking, but as you progress, linked mobs and bad damage control will have you die.  Luckily upon a party death, you will be able to resume from a semi-nearby checkpoint.

While playing you will encounter various items.  Some are food that you put into a pouch to enhance your Blade and others are crafting items, while you will also encounter Gems that will enable you to upgrade your Blades.  Lots of the random harvest point items will be used to unlock skills you can socket into your Blades.

As I noted I have little over 30 hours in so far.  The map system is quite nice as it has teleport waypoints you can use to rapidly get around the game world.  Side questing is also handy with the use of the robust mapping system.  Areas are well designed with plenty of exploration points and zone depth.  There are some very tall zones where you will need to find the right path to get up and down a zone.  Granted once you unlock the teleport waypoints, you will not need to keep re-traversing the same zones.

There is also a Japanese audio option for the US version of the game, via a download from the eShop.  I had this on shortly but found it a little confusing trying to keep up with the JP audio and subtitles.  Watching a series is one thing, but playing a game is a little trickier I think.
Speaking of Videos, you can replay the story cutscenes from the game menu screen, once you unlock them.  Changing the time of day in cutscene replays is a nice feature too.

Speaking of time, you also will come into the ability to control the time of day (on the fly) and cloud depth between high and low tide.  So far I only had to change the tide a few times to proceed with story or sidequests.

As with every switch game, juggling between tablet and docked mode is quite nice.  Lengthier games are especially welcoming to switching modes so I can play in the living room for a little bit, then switch back to my desk.  You can also save at any time, short of in the middle of a fight.  Also you can put the system into powersave and kick off from where you left off later.

This is a great game.  The characters are enjoyable and at times cringey.  Granted some of the cringe is their charm.  The combat system is legit and continues to progress in scope as you play.  If you like RPGs with a nice combo system, scoop this game up.
 

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Bumping as I now have almost 60 hours in as I finished Chapter 04 last night.  That was a meaty chapter of battles and exploration.
As you play Chapter 04 you will have access to some supply quests for each nation.  These are a nice way to level up your blades and gain some perks, items and fame with the cities.  Some of the sub quests will require you to complete some of these supply quests as well.

Battle will continue to get more intense and I found myself backing off a fight to skill up enough blades for all my party members and to upgrade their blades to a comparable level.  Battle control will get more precise in you needing to manage enemies in a party to effectively win.  Before most fights were semi easy if you are of the same level range, but as I was about to finish Chapter 04 I found a little spike and skill needed to wrap that battle up.

Playing this in tablet mode is also really nice.  I saw people say the art looks washed out but I do not see it to a fault, even with my glasses on.  I can throw a comparison to say Doom on the switch in tablet mode does look a bit washed out.  However Xenoblade Chronicles 2 still looks quite good in tablet mobile mode.  World map exploration is enjoyable and the teleport system is fantastic for questing and quickly hopping around the realms.

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I'm about 85 hours of playtime and near the end of Chapter 7.  I was stuck at a point due to needing higher field skill checks, but was able to level that by doing a dozen or so salvaging drops to increase the needed Ancient Knowledge.

Side quests keep popping up as you proceed in the story and they also net you a good reward in respect to leveling your blade companions.  The marker indicators when you are in the right region are helpful for finding the right parts of the map to finish your quest in.  In case I didn't mention it, be sure to rest in the Inns.  They will let you spend your bonus XP and jump up in level, since leveling in the field gets pretty slow beyond the 20s.  My current squad is largely around level 52.

I was up way too late playing last night.  Loving this game though.  Really glad I dived into it.

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Completed 120 hours.  Level 69 before credit roll.  Final fight was rough but practicing elemental chains was hugely helpful.
I found Max is much easier to deal damage with, if you set him to PC (bot ai) controlled.  I used a tank in slot one that I rotated him to slot 3 so I could one-button skill attack, while tanking to stay alive.

A new patch is coming soon and patch 1.30 will have an easier difficulty, new game plus and some other dynamic changes.  I definitely had grinding sessions to continue as I played the storyline, but it was a fun world to explore.  As usual for me, I took my time between main story and side-quests.  Awesome game overall.

I added link to the patch notes as there is a lot of stuff going on.  It also looks like the blade menus will get more sort options.  That will be helpful for finding the right field skills when you are exploring.  The UX for blades can be really busy.  I tend to go to character select then pick a blade, as that lets you press the shoulder buttons to view each equipped blade's skill trees, instead of doing it manually from the blade menu.
FYI if you get the DLC pass, it will give you some advanced items, such as letting you re-assign blades to another driver.  I used these pretty early in but I suggest waiting after a few chapters before doing so, as they will have more utility.

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