Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Reviews Are In, Here's What The Critics Think

Xenoblade Chronicles 2
(Image credit: Monolith Soft)

Nintendo and Monolith Soft's Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is gearing up for release on December 1st for the Nintendo Switch, and reviews have already started coming in for the game to give potential purchasers an idea of what to expect based on what the critics think.

VentureBeat rounded up the game's experience as a "Miyazaki-esque" world that is accompanied by a beautiful soundtrack and a fantasy world steeped in unique artistic flavors. The review covers how the game's combat isn't quite like Kingdom Hearts but it's still in real-time and still requires player input to execute battle arts, string together combo attacks, and utilize your teammates tactically on the battlefield. The site notes that the voices can get annoying during battle; that the presentation of the characters is sometimes inconsistent, and that the voice acting itself (in English) is hit or miss.

Even still, the review praises Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for being a noteworthy JRPG on the Switch and decided to settle on giving it an 82 out of 100, rounding out the piece by writing...

It's not a technical masterpiece, but Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a deep and fulfilling JRPG. It's a great game to show just how well this genre works with Nintendo's newest system. If you like JRPGs with neat worlds and lot of systems that reward combat and planning, you'll be able to spend a lot of hours in Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

Metro takes a less technical approach to reviewing the game, focusing more on its story elements and characterizations, while also bringing players into the complex world ruled by Titans and fantasy magic. The review thoroughly informs readers that you won't have to have extensive knowledge of the Xeno universe to enjoy Xenoblade Chronicles 2's story. In fact, you can completely skip out on the Wii U exclusive Xenoblade Chronicles X and still understand where the story is going in Monolith's latest outing.

In its barest form it's about a young lad named Rex attempting to help a powerful and special girl named Pyra get to a place called Elysium. Politically motivated factions and morally ambiguous groups attempt to waylay the duo's journey and capture Pyra (and her power) for themselves.

Metro does warn that given its steep dive into anime theatrics, not everyone is going to want to sit through hours of gameplay to get to the good stuff, even if it is unique...

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is an unusual game in that it can manage to simultaneously feel weird and unique but also exhaustingly predictable. It's also much more linear than its immediate predecessor, with much longer cut scenes. Many are going to find the storytelling aspect of the game a drag, which is a shame because things do get more interesting in the second half of the game. But considering how many dozens of hours that takes to get to many will have lost interest by then.

The Metro 7 out of 10 score seems to fit with the criticisms of the game's voice acting, and the fact that it appears to lose some visual appeal when going from TV mode to handheld mode.

RPG Site had a slightly more positive outlook on the game, praising the character depictions, battle system, story and soundtrack from top to bottom. The exhaustive review rounds up the experience as a solid 9 out of 10, with the tweet succinctly condensing all the good parts into a single sentence.

The review does warn players that you won't get a lot of playability out of the portable mode when gaming on the go. The reviewers clocked in just two and a half hours of non-stop play before the Switch's battery went kaput.

The extensive Telegraph review points out that there were times when the game struggled in TV mode while the Switch was docked, once they hit the open vistas and large areas where the draw distance would begin to cripple the frame-rate.

Unlike RPG Site, the Telegraph review felt the story was a typical derivative anime tale in a typical JRPG formula. The review also criticizes Monolith for recycling the repetition of fetch quests from Xenoblade Chronicles X and that the UI for the game leaves much to be desired. While the review recommends the game for hardened veterans, it comes with a word of caution...

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is very close to greatness, but never quite manages to hit the same highs as the original game or inspire the same sense of mastery over the open-world quite like Xenoblade Chronicles X managed. With some missteps in storytelling, performance and UI- It's easy to see that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 might be a game that's quite hard to digest for many experienced players, especially for those who might not be familiar with Japanese RPGs.

Empire Online almost has the complete opposite take on the game. The review hammers home a decidedly positive take on the experience, rounding out the score as a five out of five game. While noting that the story could be convoluted at times, the gist of the review is that if you enjoy anime, Studio Ghibli-style art, and large, expansive JRPGs, then you owe it to yourself to check the game out for the Nintendo Switch.

The review even goes as far as to say that it moves the genre forward in every respect...

As far as Japanese RPGs go, Xenoblade Chronicles moves the genre forward in just about every discernible respect. It looks simply stunning: if you're a fan of anime, you might just as well go and buy it now, as it's right up there visually with the best work of Studio Ghibli and co, and has the typically convoluted but absorbing storyline to match. It has a great battle system, too -- thankfully abandoning a turn-based format in favour of wall-to-wall action.

This is obviously going to be polarizing for some gamers, but it seems as if those who enjoy complex, traditional JRPGs will enjoy the story in Xenoblade Chronicles 2, while those who are fans of Monolith's open-world antics will enjoy that aspect of the game. Most agree that the English voice acting isn't the greatest, but, thankfully, there will be a free Japanese voice-over option made available as day-one DLC.

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.