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Xenoblade Chronicles 2

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Sequel to the Wii game? Regardless, it looks amazing. No one does open world JRPGs quite like MonolithSoft. If they can cut out all the extraneous crap from X (and the godawful music), it will be amazing. 

 

EDIT: revlob has very kindly created a helpful manual himself:

 

Quote

I'm going to write some help for this game. I think a few people found guides on Affinity and Skills useful in XC1, and given XC2 doesn't have much in the way of tutorials and in-game help menus, others may find this advice useful. It's a work in progress.

 

Xenoblade Chronicles 2: The Missing Manual

 

Combat Basics

Spoiler

First, I'd suggest progressing as far as your first large town before worrying about anything. Along the way you'll be taught all of the following concepts. You'll have to know at least this much in order to get anywhere.

 

Auto-attacks

As you as you engage in combat with an enemy, your character will begin auto-attacking when in range, dealing out a series of basic attacks. These attacks will be executed in short combos, getting stronger with each hit until the sequence is completed and the combo starts again. If a character moves in battle, you'll stop auto-attacking, and restart any auto-attack combo you may have been in.

 

Targeting & Running Away

While the R button is held in combat, you have some targeting options. Pressing Y or A will cycle through the available targets, and pressing B will sheathe your weapon, allowing you to flee from combat if you can get far enough away.

 

Driver Arts

The X, Y, and B buttons are mapped to three different Driver Arts which you can execute in battle. These will usually deal out greater damage than standard auto-attacks, and will either provide a secondary benefit, or grant bonus damage if a condition is met. For example, Sword Bash does extra damage normally, but will do even greater bonus damage if executed while behind your target. You'll know if you've qualified for the bonus if the damage number has a yellow sunburst around it. Your Driver Arts will be uncharged at the start of each battle, but each successful auto-attack will charge your Driver Arts up a little until they are ready for use.

 

Special Arts

The A button is reserved for your Special, a type of Art which will start uncharged, and only charge up when you use Driver Arts. One complete charge will allow you to use your level 1 special, but it can be further charged up to level 4, with each level being more powerful than the last. When you execute a Special, you can score bonus damage through one or more button prompts which appear on screen.

 

Healing

Some Driver Arts will immediately restore health to party members, and others will spawn HP potions in battle. These are glowing green bottles which you'll have to run to, in order to pickup and use, restoring some health to all members. It's a good idea to leave these on the ground until you need them. If a party member is reduced to zero health in battle, they will fall, but can be revived by running over to them and pressing A, if you have at least one full portion of your Party Gauge, the meter in the top left of the screen.

 

Intermediate Combat

Spoiler

These intermediate concepts are introduced a few hours into the game, and will be important for fighting anything which isn't a pushover. Of particular note is the concept of Blade Combos, which are key to increasing your damage output.

 

Cancels

The timing of your Arts is important. If you execute an Art as soon as an auto-attack connects, you will "cancel" the current combo and reset it, gaining a bonus towards the amount of charge your Special receives. You'll know if you've scored the cancel bonus if a blue ring surrounds your character when you execute the Art. You can still get a cancel effect on the final blow of an auto-attack combo. You can also get the cancel effect by triggering a Special when an Art hits, or switching a Blade when an auto-attack or Art hits. You can't cancel one Art into another until you've learnt an Affinity Skill, much later.

 

Blade Combos

Every Blade has an associated element, and Specials executed with that Blade will always be of that element. As soon as anyone has executed a Special, you'll notice a flowchart appear in the top-right of the screen, and a timer will appear above the enemy's health bar. The flowchart will show you which elements can follow the Special just executed in order to contribute towards a Blade Combo, if done before the timer runs out. To reach the next stage of a Blade Combo, the next Special must be of one of the two elements shown in the next level of the flowchart, and the Special must be of a level at least that of the next stage in the Combo (so it's possible to go I > II > III, or III > III > IV, for example).

 

Each step taken in a Blade Combo will provide additional benefits, culminating with an explosive final if you manage to chain three Specials together. You can use zL and zR when indicated on the left or right of the screen to prompt a party member into executing their Special, when it would start, or contribute towards an existing, Blade Combo. Completing a Blade Combo will cause an additional negative effect to be applied to the enemy, by "sealing" their defences or abilities.

 

One of the most useful things you can do in this game is familiarise yourself which the Blade Combo flowchart, or at least the parts of it which are accessible using the elements at your disposal. Knowing which elements can follow which will enable you to kit out your party with complementary Blades, and make it easier for you to complete Combos.

 

Switching Blades

The D-pad will allow the party lead to switch the Blade they are currently using. This may change the Arts they have available, and/or the element of their attacks, allowing for more options to complete Blade Combos. It's important to note that while the Arts of your other Blades have their own charge gauges, they will still charge on every auto-attack hit, even if the Blade is inactive. So, it's not uncommon to switch to a new Blade in combat and have three fully charged Arts waiting for you. Your Special gauge is shared amongst all of your Blades, so if you raise it to level 3 with one Blade, it'll still be level 3 after you switch, which is extremely useful for reaching higher stages of Blade Combos.

 

Affinity

Affinity is a temporary resource which accumulates during battle. The Affinity Bond is that glowing line which connects a Driver and Blade, and while you are in close proximity to your Blade, Affinity will rise. When it reaches its maximum, the Bond will start to glow yellow, and during this time your Arts are stronger and will charge slightly faster.

 

Advanced Combat  

Spoiler

The game will teach you about the following advanced concepts after several hours of play, but they are only necessary for fighting stronger foes, like bosses, or if you want to shorten longer battles by increasing your damage output.

 

Level 4 Specials

I mentioned before that Specials go from level 1 to 4, and are charged by using Arts. That's only true for levels 1 to 3. To get from 3 to 4, you must instead remain close to your Blade, once you have reached maximum Affinity. While you are close enough, the Special will continue to charge until you see the "IV" on your Special indicator.

 

Status Effects & Driver Combos

Similar to previous games, there are four negative status effects which can be applied to enemies via certain Arts, of ascending severity, but they must be applied in sequence. "Break" lowers an enemy's defence and can cancel any "stance" Arts they might be using, "Topple" makes them fall over, "Launch" does what it says, and you can guess what "Smash" does (actually, it increases the rewards from the enemy). The left bar above the enemy health display will show any current effect and the time it has remaining. The game refers to the application of these effects as a "Driver Combo".

 

Fusion Combos

A Fusion Combo is where you execute a Blade Combo while a Driver Combo is in effect. You'll get the battle narrator shouting something like "ICE BREAK" or "VOLCANO TOPPLE" and the effect and duration of both the Blade Combo and the Driver Combo will be increased.

 

Chain Attacks

After a Blade Combo is completed, an elemental orb will begin circling the target. The purpose of these is to be "burst" during a Chain Attack. Once you unlock the ability to do these, you can start one when the Party Gauge is full by pressing +. You then start a series of Specials, by choosing a Blade for each member of the party. Three Specials will break an orb surrounding your target, but Specials of an opposing element count as two. Popping an orb adds "massive damage" to your Chain Attack, and gives you a chance to extend its duration.

 

Equipment

Spoiler

Accessories

These can be thought of as traditional equipment items. Hats, shoes, pieces of armour, rings, are all accessories and can be equipped on Drivers, increasing a statistic or providing a passive benefit. They can be bought at Accessory stores, found in chests, dropped from monsters and obtained through quest rewards. They come in three levels of rarity, and some Accessories have more than one version e.g. a common and a rare.

 

Core Chips

Each Blade equips its Driver with a weapon. There are hammers, lances, swords, "balls", over ten different types if you include those unique to certain Blades. The stats of the weapon are determined entirely by the Blade's Core Chip. These can be bought at blacksmiths, found in chests, and very occasionally dropped by enemies. Each Blade can have one Core Chip installed at any time. Of all the types of equipment, these will make the largest difference to your damage output, so make sure to equip any Blade you're using with the best you can afford.

 

Aux Cores

Aux Cores exist to add special effects to your Blade weapons, like altering the amount of aggro generated, increasing the damage against certain enemy types, or to make your healing Arts more potent. Aux Cores are obtained "unrefined", and must first be "refined" before they can be used. Refining an Aux Core is done at an Aux Core store, by selecting one and filling it with a certain type of material obtained from Collection Points. Some Cores will accept a broad variety of materials, others require very specific ingredients. Most Blades start off with a single Aux Core slot, but more can be unlocked, I'm just not sure how yet.

 

Pouch Items

Almost any other item not falling into one of the categories above is a Pouch Item. Each character starts off with a single pouch, into which you can place an item which will provide a passive benefit for a limited period of time. Drivers and Blades all have preferred item types and specific favourites, using which will contribute towards affinity skills being unlocked and Trust being generated.

 

Poppi, Tiger Tiger, & Poppiswap

Poppi is Tora's Artificial Blade, and you'll meet the pair quite early in the game. Because of the random nature of Blade acquisition, Poppi exists as a unique Blade which can be configured to your specifications. So for example, if you are missing a healer-type to round out your party, Poppi can be configured to be one (except not until you've reached a certain point in the game). Everything about her stats, abilities, and element can be controlled through the Poppiswap feature in the character menu when Poppi is selected. To get the components you'll need, and crystals to perform upgrades, you'll need to play the Tiger Tiger game in Tora's house in Torigoth.

 

Environment

Spoiler

Collection Points

Gone is the collectopedia of previous games, but there are still buckets of frogs and twigs, and rocks and golf balls, and more rocks and more twigs, to find lying around all over Alrest. In XC2, you visit Collection Points to mine fish. Or twigs. These raw materials have a variety of uses, from refining Aux Cores, to turning in for quests, and Pyra can cook up dishes in Tora's kitchen using the edible ingredients. Some Blades have special "Field Skill" abilities which will trigger when using a Collection Point, which will increase the yield.

 

Salvaging

Rex is a Salvager by trade, so wherever you see a hook symbol above the cloud sea, you can dive in to fish around for treasure. You'll need a cylinder to perform a dive, and these come in various different qualities. Better cylinders will increase the likelihood of finding rarer items, and reduce the chances of fishing up a monster to fight. Performing a dive will require a series of QTEs, the success of which will affect the odds of your haul being good. There's a Nopon in Argentum who will assess your salvaging ability for a fee, and may reward you if you've dived often and in enough different places. The main point of Salvaging is to collect enough junk to create treasure sets which can be turned in at Exchanges for more money than the individual parts are worth.

 

Development & Deeds

Like Colony 6 in XC1, each region has a development level. This is raised mainly by buying and selling goods, but other activities like talking to townsfolk and completing quests, will have a minor effect. The Development level of a region will determine the prices and the stock available in the shops. Some shops will sell you a deed, which will offer you a permanent discount, if the region has reached a certain development level and you have bought at least one of every item they have in stock. 

 

Staying at Inns

The XP awarded by quests is not instantly applied to your characters. In order to actually use that XP to level up, you've got to stay at an inn. After staying at an inn, sometimes you'll get a clue about the location of a Heart-to-Heart.

 

Party Management

Spoiler

SP, Affinity, & Trust

Skill Points are accumulated by defeating enemies, and these are spent unlocking skills on the Affinity charts of your Drivers, providing permanent stat upgrades, and new abilities.

 

Trust is a stat for each Blade, which rises as you use them in battle (at maximum Affinity), and is awarded to equipped Blades when you complete quests. Trust is important for unlocking Key Affinity levels, new tiers in a Blade's own Affinity Chart. You can't unlock a Blade's Affinity Skills until their Key Affinity levels have been reached.

 

WP & Weapon Arts

Using a weapon in battle accumulates Weapon Points, which can be spent to upgrade the Arts for that weapon type. It's worth checking every so often whether your Drivers have any exclamation marks next to the weapon icons in the "Enhance Arts" section of the Character menu, as that means they have enough WP to upgrade an Art.

 

Although you can only equip three at a time, each weapon type has four Arts, and it's possible to switch them around in the "Enhance Arts" menu. This is particularly useful once you get the Affinity Skills which allows you to start battle with Arts bound to a specific button, charged.

 

Class Effects

Each Driver can equip up to three Blades, and every Blade belongs to one of three Roles: Healer, Attacker, or Tank. The combination of the different Roles of a Driver's equipped Blades determines their Class, and this is visible on the Character screen, along with the benefits provided by their current Class.

 

Mercenary Band

Once you've unlocked this feature, you'll be able to send your Blades on quests of their own. The Merc Band menu will show you what contracts you have available, and what the requirements are. Completing a contract is always guaranteed, and you won't be able to accept contracts you don't meet the requirements for, so there's no risk involved. When selecting the party to dispatch, if you include a Blade with one or more of the "recommended skills", then the amount of time to complete the quest will be reduced.

 

Obtaining Rare Blades

Spoiler

Blade Bond

Most of the Blades you acquire throughout the game will come from Core Crystals, using a process called Blade Bond in the Blades menu. Through Blade Bond, you select a Driver, then a Crystal. You many optionally use one or more Boosters, then the game is saved and the result is determined.

 

There are four types of Core Crystals: Common, Rare, Legendary and Named. The first three will offer a random result, the last will always contain a specific Blade. 

 

The results of a random Bond are generated before you confirm, when the game is saved (so you can't reload and try again). Getting a rare Blade is a very uncommon result with a common crystal, and only slightly more likely with a rare one. Legendary crystals offer the best chance but it is still not guaranteed.

 

Ideas

What can affect the odds, and also which rare Blade may appear are your Ideas. Ideas are four stats for each Driver: Justice, Bravery, Truth and Compassion. These four stats plot a shape on a compass, and certain rare Blades are more likely to be found when certain Ideas are high enough. These stats can be temporarily raised using "Boosters" when bonding, consumable items which seem to have had little-to-no benefit for me. Each Idea is supposedly tied to two elements, noticeable by the swirling rings surrounding the crystal when choosing a Booster. There's a theory that the strength of your Ideas affects the elements most likely to result from your new Blade.

 

Specific Rare Blades

Spoiler

Perun

Spoiler

It took me ages to work out how to unlock her level 2 affinity. Basically there are very specific townsfolk in certain places, who have the trophy symbol above them, and if you can help three of them with their problems, you'll unlock level 2. There's one in the big towns in Garmott, Uraya, and Mor Ardain, and at least one other later on.

 

 

 

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I'm certainly willing to let them have another go. If they can reign themselves in a bit, focus on what they did right with Xenoblade and learn what they did wrong with XCX, then this could be something really special.

 

I'm guessing a late 2017/early 2018 launch in Japan, followed by an EU/US release in late 2018.

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1 minute ago, BruceBruce said:

Is the character art style throwing anyone off a bit? It's not a deal-breaker for me, but I definitely miss the old art style.

Compared to X? No, I prefer this style to that, by far.

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Yeah XCX had awful character design, like they just mashed the random face generator on a MMORPG character creator. X1 had a bright and colourful cast which came from some great concept art. The few characters they've shown in the XC2 trailer don't look especially original, but it's somewhat reassuring to see them boasting an actual artist behind the character design this time.

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Xenoblade X is a good game but it is completely lacking in many of the things that made Xenoblade 1 a classic. Now that they've experimented I hope X2 ends up being another landmark RPG.

Also I find the art style to be far too "anime", like they are trying to appeal to the same audience fire emblem has found recent success with.

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So Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is at E3 this year. I just watched the Nintendo Live Stream where they were showing off the first area. Bit of background for me, I played and absolutely adored the first game in the series - for me it set a new benchmark for JRPGs and the story and drama was ace too. Then I didn't bother with Xenoblade Chronicles X because it seems they lost their way a little in making it too big and focusing on the mechs, and without a compelling story driving you through.

 

But seems like Chronicles 2 might be back on form - here's what I learned:

 

- This game returns to a much more story-led experience similar to Chronicles 1, focusing on a small group of heroes and a more streamlined experience.

- The game features multiple Titans (huge creatures big enough to host landscapes and cities) which act as worlds in the game. They range in size and shape from humanoids to whales. Each Titan has a different landscape and its own host of creatures inhabiting it including those who you can interact with.

- Familiar elements return, it still looks quite open world but you travel around on foot (at least seen in the demo), looks more like Chronicles 1 than X. Graphics are pretty mediocre but art style is pretty enough. There will be full english acting in the game.

- The world is still full of enemies of varying levels and wandering super high level creatures you don't want to mess with

- The demo focused on showing off the new combat mechanics:

- Combat system has plenty of new factors. You still autoattack and can swap between team mates. This time around you have "blades" who are supporting characters you "equip" to your heros. They add abiltiies, spells, elemental attributes etc.

- You acquire new blades from enemies, sounds like there are a lot and I think you can level them up.

- In combat on the right of the screen you build up power to use your standard special attacks, which you use by hitting the appropriate button. However you can also wait and power these up to a maximum of 3 levels, when they cause extra damage and special afflictions to enemies similar to the last 2 games.

- On the left of the screen are your blade abilities - you use the buttons on the left controller to activate them.

- You can swap and use abilities and attacks without having to go into menus in combat using this new setup - i.e. 8 at your disposal at any time.

- As ever comboing abilties and attacks is vital to success and employing side and rear attacks.

- Heroes still have different roles such as healer and tank - as do blades. Heroes you don't control are controlled by the AI but you can swap to them at any time.

- It looks like the depth of combat is as strong as ever overall and quite complex but without menu diving, which is nice.

 

Overall it's looking promising - the creative director said they want to use the good stuff from Chronicles X (and the game engine), but they want to bring in the more story and character led direction from the first game. Fingers crossed that the story is good and the tighter focus makes this a better game. The combat did seem a bit overwhelming in complexity but I remember the first game being the same - once you learned it, it was great. The addition of the blades - all of whom have character models in the world, did make things pretty messy as there are at least 6 characters on screen as part of your party. It was hard to see what's going on. I don't know if there is an advantage to seeing your blade, in my opinion they just get in the way - make them invisible!

 

The game also showed that it still has continuous loading - I didn't see a loading screen and they crossed into many different areas. To me it looked a lot like the first game but with more depth to the combat. Curious to see how much control you have over your AI buddies behaviour, that was a nice aspect of the original.

 

 

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Based on the presentation demo I hope to god you can have Japanese voices, as the main character would drive me insane.

 

Rest of it looked lovely though. 

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Some of the voice acting in Chronicles 1 was good, some of it awful. X though from the videos I saw had absolutely appalling voice acting. Maybe we should just go Japanese for once. It sucks though having to read drama instead of hearing it.

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What were really the main problems with XCX? I just got the impression the story wasn't that good, the characters weak (you played as a blank slate for instance) and the game was too big and spread out.

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8 hours ago, Alan Stock said:

What were really the main problems with XCX? I just got the impression the story wasn't that good, the characters weak (you played as a blank slate for instance) and the game was too big and spread out.

 

The main problems were that the main plot went virtually nowhere until the final segment of the game (where everything happens), and that the developers were strangely compelled to fill this enormous world they'd created with the very worst box-ticking sidequests I've ever seen. Endgame content was locked away behind hundreds of hours of rote collection and hunting missions. A completionist would have an absolute nightmare, not just from the slog of boring pointless content shoehorned in, but from the requirement to engage in the unpopular multiplayer missions to obtain certain items.

 

The character design was weird, lacking any kind of consistency or flair, resulting in a strange bunch of doll-like misfits. The music was on the whole, pretty awful, with vocal segments which would play over cutscenes awkwardly. The player characters had little to no personality, and less background. Half the game is spent mastering ground-based combat, then you get mechs and ground-based combat becomes largely pointless.

 

I still played it for over a hundred hours though.

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For me Xenoblade X brought the mech stuff to the table but the original was pretty much better in every way. That said the first time you get the mech, the first time you fight with the mech, and the first time you fly a mech, all priceless.

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Holy shit at the voice acting. Absolutely shocking stuff. In a time where voice actors can and do win BAFTAs and simarly prestigious awards for their work, stuff like this shouldn't exist, there's just no excuse for it. 

 

Oh, and the top of the trailer says, quite specifically, English Dub only. 

 

It also looks pretty awful, with washed out, Wii/Wii u level graphics. 

 

 

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13 hours ago, nakamura said:

 why?

 

Because, despite all its myriad flaws, there was a lot I enjoyed about the game. The size of the world was a blessing and a curse, there was always something to do, somewhere to go, something new to see, even if a lot of the missions and tasks lacked substance. Characters aside, it was pretty good-looking, for a Wii U game, with towering behemoths roaming the alien landscape. Soaring over it all in your mech never got boring for me, and the lack of any loading screens once you got into the game was technically impressive, and really helped with the immersion. It was challenging in places, with plenty of encounters which required you to actually use the combat system creatively, rather than just grind to overcome.

 

I felt incredibly conflicted about Chronicles X. It attempted so many things, but actually accomplished little. The first Xenoblade was one of my favourite RPGs of all time, so I was willing to cut XCX a lot of slack. Perhaps I am too forgiving, but I have a high tolerance for bullshit in games, especially RPGs. 

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This is the only thing in Nintendo's Switch lineup for this year that I'm not quite sure about. I enjoyed my time with the Wii original, but can't recall finishing it, and the character design is pretty gross in this one. 

 

Voice acting is hilarious, though.

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Character design looks fine to me... a bit anime than the Wii original (which I completed on 3DS). Monolith are the best in the world at imaginative world environments (the helped with BOTW). The only reason I never finished XCX was because it needed too much time commitment tethered to the home.

 

PUMPED

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Yeah. I'm still in. Not a huge fan of the visual design but I enjoyed the previous 2 games (And especially the first one) so I'm definitely in for this one.

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19 hours ago, nakamura said:

 why?

 

I played it for almost double that, despite holding the same thoughts:

 

There's a load on that page from me that covers how and why it was making so many missteps, ultimately the draw was the gameworld, along with a few tantalising bits that you assume must be revealed or fleshed out at some point. Which then go utterly ignored and are never mentioned again for the entire game. There's so much about it that screams "fuck it, it's playable so let's just leave it like this". I've still not done my promised big writeup either, I note. One day, one day...

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IGN had a hands on the demo at Gamescom:

 

Quote

Standing with my party at the end of the demo, I was able to look around and survey just how far I had traveled. Not since Breath of the Wild have I seen a setting this vast on my Nintendo Switch. I’ve adored playing the dozens of quirky and interesting indie games filling out the library on Nintendo’s new hybrid console/handheld device since it launched, but Xenoblade’s scope and scale is on a whole other level. 

I walked to the cliffside, leaped off, and landed on a mile long ramp-shaped waterslide that launched me into a lake and brought me back near where the demo started. There I landed with a splash and watched giant bird-like enemies soar over me and terrifying fish swirl around me, all of which were more than 50 levels ahead of my party’s current stats. It’s going to be really satisfying to come back and kick all of their asses when I’m finally strong enough, but for now, I got out of there before they could tear me apart.
I left Xenoblade’s world a little bit bewildered, a little bit overwhelmed, but ultimately completely absorbed in its wonder and promise. I’ve got much to learn about the combat system and mastering the rhythm of its battles, and while it all feels a little daunting, the world here is a beautiful one and I’m excited to train my party (and myself) to be strong enough and smart enough to conquer it. If Monolith Soft sticks to their promise of launching the game by the end of 2017, we’ll all get to explore it soon.
 

http://m.uk.ign.com/articles/2017/08/25/gamescom-2017-xenoblade-chronicles-2-is-beautiful-confusing-and-captivating

 

As much as I'm looking forward to Mario Odyssey, this is easily my most anticipated game this year. :wub:

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