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Tylwyth Teg

Just finished XC2: Torna the Golden Country

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Hello everyone!

I just finished my first playthrough of Xenoblade Chronicle 2's Torna DLC, and was wondering if any of you have played it and what you thought!

Overall I was very impressed by it. I loved that it really felt like a fleshed out game, and I was really hooked by the community system. Seeing those little stories intertwine was really satisfying. I've got just a few more to do in the post-game, with hunting down all the named monsters a particularly big task I'm looking forward to.

As for plot stuff:

Spoiler

I ADORED the final boss fight against Malos. I think more so than the fight in the main game. There was something about fighting him whilst the mechs clashed above us. Their battle was particularly impactful as they crashed into the ground around us, and I felt it captured the sense of scale.

Of course, we all knew the death of Torna was to follow this, and I was surprised at how heartbroken I was despite its inevitability. Seeing the events play out added a whole new layer to the main game, providing and fleshing out character motivations that feel really necessary now.

I now see Jin, in particular, in a completely different light. In the main game I felt that he kinda fell a little short of what they were trying to achieve. Though his flashbacks to Lora's death attempt to explain his motivation, I didn't feel emotionally compelled to empathise with him. Now I've played Torna, however, and have seen just how close the bond between he and Lora was, it is all so much more effective. I just rewatched her death scene from the main game, and I found it genuinely difficult to watch.

All that said, I'm pretty sure this might be some of the best DLC content I've ever played. Perhaps only rivaled by BOTW. If any of you all have played it, what did you think? I'd love to discuss!

 

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I was very impressed with it too. Its very difficult to get the audience to the edge of their seat despite already them already knowing what will happen. Torna was a really good example of a bittersweet, if not downright dark ending. Torna's destruction felt more meaningful since you get to know most NPC's through a sidequest system not unlike Majora. You know the people that all end up dying or just lost their home. 

I'm not sure if I should use spoiler tags since its already two years and I don't think many would click on the topic without having played it. Just to be safe I guess. 

Spoiler

 

Hugo's death was something of a surprise. If anything I always imagined him as the only character to escape the adventure unscathed. The reactions to his death were pretty touching with the whole party being very shaken and even the NPC everyone thinks was a vulture out on Hugo's death is noticeably saddened when he takes the stones. 

The only thing I'm a teensy bit iffy on is the death of Milton. Him and Mik have a very close friendship so Malos being the one who kills him reflects rather badly on Mik. The way he completely discards his sullen personality and takes Milton's advice to heart implies his death weighed very heavily on him yet he still joined Milton's killer. Milton dying due to Amalthus experiments would have worked better. 

I suppose Amalthus himself was the weak link of Torna. In the original game his greatest strength was that he appeared very reasonable. We all knew he was evil due to being a pope in a jrpg but he got points for at least trying not to be obviously evil. But in Torna just about every character in the world already knows he's up to no good and he doesn't do anything until the ending. 

 

 

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14 minutes ago, Etrurian emperor said:

Torna's destruction felt more meaningful since you get to know most NPC's through a sidequest system not unlike Majora. You know the people that all end up dying or just lost their home.

The Majora comparison is very appropriate! I felt very driven to help these people, knowing what was coming. A part of me hoped that by helping them in quests, like the one in which you build a shelter in the city, they would stand a better chance of survival in the end...

(I'm also opting for the spoiler tag, just in case!)

Spoiler

...Of course, I was forgetting that Amalthus makes short work of them in the end.

I agree with you on Hugo's death. The way the camera panned down to the core crystals as Addam held him was really a gut-punch moment!

Mik's motivations in the main game following this are a bit weird. Like... I assume they are wanting us to think he blames Mythra for this? Which is kind of fair enough, but it makes very little sense that he'd team up with Malos.

I'd be curious to know what someone's experience was playing the entire experience in chronological order - Torna, then XC2. Sure, certain villainous ambiguities would be ruined, but any scenes involving these characters (Jin in particular) would be so much more interesting having seen their past. If the game weren't so dang long, I'd be tempted to play it again just to get a feel. Maybe someday... 😜

 

Edited by Tylwyth Teg

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Regarding Jin, I loathed him a lot in the original due to the game treating him with a reverence and sympathy he did not deserve. As far as his plans, backstory  and motivations are concerned he's actually identical to Amalthus, so the game drawing a rather arbitrary line and saying Jin is a pure soul while Amalthus is a monster actually made me sympathize with Jin a whole lot less. About the only thing I liked was that he and Malos really did have a strong bond. In Torna Jin was fine. He didn't bug me the wrong way and he had good chemistry with Mythra and Lora. I found him fine in Torna but he didn't end up redeeming his Xenoblade II version for me. 

Malos was a lot less interesting but that had the strange effect of retroactively making him more interesting. In Torna Malos is a big kid who thinks the world is a big toy box for him to smash to pieces. He pretends to have a philosophy but he's just a big bully. In contrast his Xenoblade II version is a lot calmer, empathetic and somber. While the two versions of Malos have the same goal its clear he did some soul searching and that his reasons for wanting to destroy the world are very different in each game. In one game its due to that quest being imprinted on him as well as just for fun, but in the other the quest is his own and he's driven to it by very personal disgust about the world. 

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I'm guilty of just finding Malos to be pretty boring overall. He's super powerful, which lends his fights at least some bombastic drama. But, like you say, he really just came across as a big bully to me.

As for Jin, I feel like I can see the glimmer of an interesting idea that the writers wanted to explore. The struggle of being a blade is explored the most through his character, and feels akin to the classic "Vampire who lives forever and sees the world dying around him" trope. I don't think they explored it to its full potential, but I did enjoy it. I'm hopeful that in future Xeno titles they'll feel confident to go head first into exploring more philosophical things again. It adds a lot of flavour!!

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2 hours ago, Tylwyth Teg said:

I'd be curious to know what someone's experience was playing the entire experience in chronological order - Torna, then XC2.

That'd be me. I got XC2 the Christmas after its release, but sat on the game for a year. After asking if it was fine, I began with Torna first.

Here is a large collection of Torna commentary logs I made, they're better than my memory for what my actual firsthand impressions were:

Spoiler

I've started to play this game now. It sounds like I'm about to leave the second place, I have what I assume is all three teams now. Although the absence of anyone with this Mining Field Ability I see I need for some instances, suggests perhaps another Blade for Addam coming in the future. 

So far, I'm enjoying the game. 

  • Everything but combat:
    • Music light and jazzy, not as good as XC1 so far, but good. 
    • The two places visited so far look nice, if a little basic and in need of more creativity.
    • Not being able to jump and climb
    • Run speed even before the little crafting bonuses is fairly fast. XCX had slow running, but that was because sprinting and Skells existed. The problem with sprinting (and Skell drive mode) though was it being assigned, with no ability to change it, to pressing down on the left control stick. I think the constant need to sprint was what ultimately forced me to buy a replacement control stick because the left one began having issues of moving left far too easily and right too resistantly due to becoming loose or something. If XCX gets ported, they best change that.
    • Too much of the clock seems to be hours of darkness, but that is only because I haven't toyed with time changing really right now. Used to it a lot in XC1, but XCX restrained that to specific locations, so I got used to not unless I really wanted to.
    • It feels like the map could use a few extra landmarks, and maybe I just need to spend more time adjusting to this one, but I think the old XC1 map system was better. The XCX one was interesting with it being on the Gamepad and being able to set probes and fill in every hex, but as a map for actually trying to read and navigate the terrain? It was bad and needed more place labels on it.
    • Collectibles now have a use as crafting materials and not just collectibles you fill a compendium with. Not like I'm doing much crafting though, don't want to waste materials I might need/better use elsewhere later.
    • Related to the above, the consolidation of collectibles into fewer spots that give multiple items was a good idea. Even if these are as plentiful as there are clouds in the sky, although it seems like you need a lot to get the rare mats for crafting.
    • Perhaps owed to the fact this is just a little prequel story to a bigger game where everything I imagine gets fleshed out more, and which normally a person would have played first, I feel the plot doesn't give much in the way of expose for the world. Although I am getting an idea of things, I'm not wholly lost. Blue evil religionists, humans, artificial intelligent constructs, multicolored mascot potatoes, and beastfolk. Not hard.
    • Although this plot seems to deal with something which upfront seems a like a world catastrophe from the opening sequence foretelling the coming conclusion of events- the lost of a floating continent. Yet the plot isn't getting too serious or focused besides the backroom villain scenes so far. The MaloMart menace is spoken of, but not felt yet. All the little things with the children feels filler to ease into the more serious stuff, which I hope is starting soon.
    • The characters seem likable enough so far. They all look okay to me (why'd they get Nomura though for Jin? Did he ask? What does having his name on here do for the game?). None has really shined as a character yet, and I question why they killed off Lora's mother right at the beginning and don't even show what she looks like in flashbacks, but this is just a nitpick.

 

  • Combat:
    • I do like the tag team setup, allows for a lot of characters on the field without it being too many attackers at once.
    • The replacement of temporal cooldowns with auto attack ones, effectively turning everything into XC1 Talent Arts, works for me. Hope there are auto attack accelerator accessories/cores eventually, even if they're rare.
    • Speaking of equipment, I like that it appears to be more horizontal (expansion of options/variety- no/minimal power increase) in some ways than vertical (increase in power, no/minimal increase of options/variety). Accessories and chips do get stronger, but there are a good deal of options for the limited accessory slots, and Driver weapons appear to be purely horizontal so far.
    • The passives learning of Blades is different, I like it. I can tell this system was tailored for a shorter game, as were those skill trees for the Drivers, but I don't mind.
    • Only having three arts per character while in the Vanguard, excluding the Talent Art and Specials, at first sounds quite small. THREE ATTACKS?! That is going to get so samey! -Except it isn't! 
      • The weaknesses of some other games with more:
        • Sure I might get like 30 spells/attacks for a Final Fantasy character in a given game, but is it really better? A bunch of those spells are just going to be vertical improvements on the old ones, which then I'll never use. Like Fira replacing Fire. Or Haste with Hastega. Even Tales can have this issue, not so much among the physical artes in those games, as among the spells.
        • Similarly, some of those spells are just going to be the same thing in power and cost, but targeting a different weakness. And provided a character gets both of those, like a Black Mage getting Fire, Blizzard, and Thunder, in practice they might as well be one spell.
        • Status ailments? Pffff! How useful are they? In a lot of RPGs, they just clutter the skills list.
        • I'm not denigrating these games too much. Bravely for instance does have real skill variety, I'm simply pointing out what may be an unnoticed fault of them.
      • The strengths of the XC2: TtGC system:
        • With the tag team system, you get effectively nine arts under your control at any time. Rearguard arts expand this somewhat (I wouldn't call it an outright addition of nine, since in a way they're "passive" with their significantly longer cooldowns), as does the Switch Arts, Talent Arts, and Specials.
        • Being real time, as opposed to turn-based, things are faster paced. Keeping track of the timing for when to pull off certain arts is tricky, for me at least, but the strategic benefits are good. In a sense, I see simple movesets more tolerable in a realtime JRPG as opposed to a turn-based one, since the addition of timing can make the simple less simple, or at least justifiable due to the need to also pay attention to timing, and more engaging.

This said, the combat is being a bit overwhelming to me, but I'm growing into it. I don't think I'll ever truly master the system due to the chaotic elements of it- the BTLS sequence will only rarely and with good fortune be executed in full.

My other major combat issue so far is Chain Attacks. Nothing lives long enough for the full assaults, and what does, and the few chances I've had to try, have typically ended with somebody dying just before I can really pull off the Chain's third stage.

Also, what are these 16 critical paths for Chain Attacks the game speaks of? It says one of them, but doesn't inform me of any other. Is it just expecting me to mash Specials together and hope for the best? Could I at least have a little log keeping track of which ones I have pulled off?

And the game speaks of elemental strengths and weaknesses. Are they fixed relationships? Or does it vary on an enemy by enemy basis? Is Earth always effective on Wind, or can one enemy that uses Wind be weak to Earth, and a different Wind enemy weak to Thunder?

 

---

  • The one sparring scene was cool; in the main game I heard before the Blades just kinda chill and give over their power to the Driver to use? Sounds a little boring by comparison (I should enjoy it anyhow). And assigning such random, innocent roots to so massive a changeover is well... funny I guess. If in its own way realistic. IRL, not all of human progress has come from intelligent examination and refinement, more than a few developments in all sorts of fields have derived from big happy accidents and little realizations.
  • There is one little thing I don't yet have an answer to, but will find out later once I play the main game. Hugo's two Blades sounded like they were passed down through the generations, which would mean these Blades are hundreds if not thousands of years old. Are Blades immortal to age? Or does being inactive for a long enough time cause memory loss? Or maybe they have a reset function? At least three of these Blades appear in the main game right? Leaves me wondering.
  • Liked the music for the Chain Attack tutorial boss battle, and getting Addam’s other Blade. Finally all introductions are past and I have the entire set of heroes. 
  • Could’ve done without the lighthearted anime joke scenes they’ve tossed in here. They’re the epitome of cliched, if still much better than the Lin and Tatsu schticks, into the gut of the Telethia for the both of them.
  • At first I thought the new guy (haven’t had him long enough to remember his name) was Darkness, but then noticed it was Gravity. I didn’t think Gravity would be an element in this game, and I sorta assumed I wouldn’t be getting a Dark Blade, since the cutscenes make it kinda clear that it Malos is Dark, in contrast to Mythra’s Light I imagine. Wonder how the main game’s Pyrrha- who is Mythra’s “sister” from little I’m aware, ties into this elemental arrangement, if at all. Brings to mind Arc Rise Fantasia, where Light and Dark were composite elements, made of two of the primary elements. Light was Fire + Wind, Dark was Fire + Earth, making the two strangely not total opposites- Ice (Water + Earth) was the opposite of Light, and Lightning (Water + Wind) was the opposite of Dark.
  • This said, Mr. Gravity is welcome to me. While the GBA SRW games introduced me to the sci-fi concept of weaponized gravity, there is came off as in a way cheap, since Original Generations 2 made gravity come off as the common mass-producible ultimate weapon power source. For some reason in XCX though, when I chose instead of Melee, Ranged, or Potential build, to go for an Attribute build, I fell in love with the concept of weaponized gravity and chose that to be the Attribute of my focus.
  • As for his fighting style, the Flesh Eater seems to be a remix of the Winged Viper/Full Metal Jaguar of XCX- dual guns and dual daggers/small swords. In gameplay, he is no blatant Elma/Phog/Murderess/Celica copy, if still leaning on offense with some support like the XCX class. The Spanish art names are neat touch, insinuating a little flair into his abilities.
  • About the guy’s background, the concept of Flesh Eater works I guess, although a prior cutscene in this game suggested to me there shouldn’t be, in theory, instability issues reconciling Blade-ness and humanity in one being. “In theory” being the key words here.
  • The personal Lora enemy- the Mumbkar inspiration is apparent. Lora’s sparing of him recalled to mind immediately the “ugh” call of Shulk to get Dunban to spare the dirtbag. Here though, it sounded as if Lora had an actual unstated reason for sparing him. Hopefully it will be stated eventually, and that it will actually be good. Although he is in a sense also your lowly brigand baddie in how crude he is.
  • And okay, the game clarified a misunderstanding of mine- assuming I’m not misunderstanding again. Thought that the new game startup exposition was saying Tourna would eventually sink, didn’t realize Malice+Chaos (unless informed otherwise, I’m going to think this is where the guy’s name came from) dropped a different Titan at the start. RIP continent I never got to know nor see. (And on the naming note, Mythra is certainly based on Mitra/Mithra the Zorastrian yazata (“angel”) of light.)
  • That blue guy Quaestor Amarthus(?) doesn’t look particular intimidating for a villain, about as intimidating as the Gazel Ministry, but it seems like the game is setting him up as a major misanthrope, with a bit of a sympathetic side so far. Haven’t gotten a real good sense of why he despairs yet, glum from reading the scriptures and general generic criticism of humanity isn’t quite enough, nothing personally despairing has arisen yet for him. 
  • Malos, to mention him once more, seems to be more a simple beast and less a nuanced human in terms of villainy. Power wishing to be exercised, smug, wanting of nothing but to see strength unleashed, ideally with him triumphing over it and perhaps adding it to his own if it opposes him. Doesn’t seem like a villain who’ll get that fleshed out, not that he has to be if Amarthus works out in the end. Or if this game is ultimately cast as just a little sidestory in reference to XC2 maingame.

 

--

…And the very next scene I get when playing pretty much says Blades don’t retain their memories. Thanks for the info to clarify why this is. 

A user-initialization memory wipe be darned. But…

(Just putting possibly wrong speculation for the sake of speculation, not so much my vague predictions of what the main plot may involve, tucked away in its own space. Some spoilers included to this little game, not like it really matters here. Plus some XCX, which I flipped the sentence and its individual words of, on top of shrinking them down.)

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…it’d make sense for keeping this story self-contained, and doesn't sound like it'd be a BS move here, finding a good place within the world's logic. Blades sound like they have a lot of DNA, why can't they store the memories in their introns? Or put the Driver in cryostasis and send their consciousnesses into mimeosomes? .emag taht ni yrtsinim eht lla er'yeht taht dezilaer tsuj ev'I dnA Not like XG invented the sci-fi concept, it’s been around long. On the plus side, it means there can't really be too much of referencing the then-under-development prequel in the main game, and for a normal player no nagging sense of "I wish I knew what they were referring to in more detail".

It also keeps Brighid from becoming the ultimate powerful pseudo-dowager empress, able to be the puppet master of every heir to the throne for as the long as the empire exists (and nobody successfully coups her). A foundation for some kind of fanfic here. And Jin from being edgy about the past. Although how did he end up with Lora then?

Although now that I think about it more, maybe resetting the memories is good for humankind. Sure Blades are forced into being pawns of intelligent naturally-derived lifeforms, and this background stuff some of these NPCs are saying of Blade treatment in Uraya amounts to abuse it sounds like. But I can see it now “for so long I have been tied to incompetent humans” says a disgruntled Blade. “I can’t stand it anymore! I WILL GET MY FREEDOM!” Letting Blades retain their memories would in a way make them more powerful than humans, for they could live much longer and gain much more wisdom, power, and experience as a result. And yet as strong as they are, they have no choice but to serve (Malos seems so far to be a semi-case of rebellion within the shackle though- Amalthus’s intentions being presently a little blurry to me). 

Although I can see avenues for escaping the shackle whilst remaining bound to an organic lifeform. Given what is said in the one scene in Blades being Mews (or are they Mewtwos? or is the DNA not theirs’ even if it is in them?), they use the DNA with and create a human form for themselves which they could then bind to. Was this the point of the Flesh Eater concept? Or they could try “evolving” from Blade to something else using that internal DNA, a more natural shift not involving a standard Blade-Driver bond at all. Or perhaps they could make an identical clone of their present Driver, and somehow a transfer of connection from the undesirable original Blade to their pliable clone, wouldn’t trigger the memory reset (I doubt it though). Since the clone would have none of the memories of the original, and would essentially at creation be a newborn baby who needs to be cared for and learn everything, the Blade could easily manipulate the clone into subservience. Again the cyrostasis idea would be viable for Blade dominance over the Driver- the Driver would be asleep in a form of imprisonment that once they’re in, they can’t escape, while still being alive and better yet, preserved for thousands of years to come.

 

…And now I’ve seen the Torna Womb scene (all of the above was typed before I saw it). Blades becoming Titans and making more Blades. Well that explains the one question I had concerning the quantity of Titans- they are infinite and can spawn more, albeit only very slowly I would think, and judging from Azurda, they rarely even then can achieve continental size. So they’re still a major loss if a giant one dies, even if in the very very long term they’re replaceable. 

The Titan evolution also frees a Blade from the Driver shackle for good, but they still get memory wiped. If they could overcome that, then they could truly rage against the world absolutely unrestrained and unstoppable. Or they don’t even need that, if they could retain just their angry will through the rebirth process, they could become basically FE’s Grima, except bigger. I can see Malos doing this, and or creating a new world.

 

--

I’ve gone up to the Torna Womb scene. My next prior is completing all the sidequests due to your prior suggestion @Armagon, the game also seems to drop a hint that I should. Haven’t done the knighting scene yet, and after that I’d hazard it’s one quick yes or no question and it’s off to the final battle. I’m missing two locations (and one secret area), despite having all the landmarks found. I assume I just missed something and that the final battle doesn’t count as a location- since that’d make the skill behind the lock quite useless.

The Torna king looks cool, why do they need the evil uncle though? I’m fine with Addam being illegitimate, but for a game so short, why throw in the archetypal bitter, incompetent throne rival? At least Lora’s personal enemy could reappear in the main game as this Blade Eater thing.

I was prepared for chaos in the capital before speaking to the guard at the castle gates, despite dying once to a Gargoyle, Malos didn’t KO out everyone a single time, quite the surprise. He is smug, but in a good way for a villain. He is Light elemental- that I did not expect, I thought he and Mythra would be opposites. Although to be fair, violet is as much light as is green and white. 

I did notice the names of his attacks, which is a good thing since XCX’s name labels for enemy attacks were too small and unnoticeable from what I remember. I recall hearing, how despite developer statements to the contrary, this game wasn’t connected to XC1, and I recall Armagon mentioning in the SSBU topic that somebody in XC2 used a Monado, so I was less surprised, and more entertained in a way. Seeing all of Shulk’s techniques flipped against me was interesting; the only time I ever fought Zanza was when I was severely overleveled b/c optional stuff, so he was no fun. But does this mean Mythra is also packing an unnamed Monado in her big green photon saber as an Aegis? Or is it an uneven split of power? -Not looking for an answer to this.

 

 

To speak of something else, Lora’s age. 27? When I first read in the game she and Jin met 17 years ago, I was wondering how old she could have been in those flashbacks, she certainly looked at first to be older than like 4, which I would have assumed had to be the case, since this is Japanese popular entertainment, where protags are supposed to be no older than like 21 at most. Although being more precise, I loosely interpret ages 17 = the standard, 19-18 are the older standard deviations, 16-15 are the younger standard deviations.  20-25 is mature and “adult”, but not old. 26-29 is getting old, and 30+ is OLD!. 14 and below are unusually young/kids. 

Don’t get me wrong, I actually like Lora’s age! A person’s appearances, or so I think at least, admittedly I haven’t done a detailed check for this assertion, don’t really change that much between the late teens and the late 20s. Nor do I necessarily see too much of change in aspirations, sure the 20s are less idealistic than the late teens, but they’ve still potentials not being fully realized, college with an MA can go on to like 25 (longer for med students no doubt), and even once you have it, you certainly still haven’t realized your workplace aspirations yet. So Japan can go ahead and expand the age range a bit, whilst still being able to keep a lot of the usual character tropes.

And I’ll say I like Lora’s personality, fighting style, and appearance as well. Zilch fanservice, all practical, confident, no damsel moments; and are those shoulderplates of East Asian design?

 

I’m not sure what the “golden” aspect of Torna describes though. Golden sands? There is a lot of desert. Farming? The lands don’t look particularly fertile at a first glance. Technology? Nothing truly great has been shown yet. Military might? Sounds like that is Mor Ardain’s deal. Societal bliss? Perhaps, going by what is said in Auresco of Blade and human harmony. …Wait! Auresco. “Aure/Aurum/Aurelis” is Latin for “gold”, Au on the periodic table represents gold. So it’s all in the capital. 

Although calling Torna “The Golden Kingdom” instead of “The Golden Country” would perhaps be for the descriptive better, given the name is all in the capital. “Country” to me is taking on shades of its rural adjectival meaning, of countryside, which does admittedly sound better to me than “Golden Kingdom”. Golden Kingdom can come off as a little too… strict? A little too covered in gold leaf and gold bars, but heartless beneath the metallic exterior. Of course, “golden” doesn’t have to be that way, a “heart of gold” is a “soft” use of the word; and through contrast with the word “empire”, “kingdom” can become a humbler, gentle word. A big expansionary empire can make a kingdom seem little, modest, and tightly knit by comparison.

 

In the main game, Mor Ardain is an enemy right? When I heard something about muting very vocal enemy soldiers via an update, I thought I read the soldiers were Ardainian. The generic NPC soldiers don’t look heroic, and being militant certainly doesn’t equate to friendly oftentimes. Although I doubt they’re an enemy forever, only for a time before somebody defects or the realization of some shared interests come about. Still, Hugo, whose hair at moments I’ve mistaken for a dark shade of blue (thanks FE!), I like him, and that Malos is being viewed as an international threat in need of cooperation to defeat, but assuming he isn’t by magic still alive in the main game, what was the point of including this friendly emperor, when he isn’t Tornan? Is a good Mor Ardain so lacking in the main game that merely having this guy around is enough to be cool/make some fans smile? Uraya sounds presently like it’d too be an antagonist nation, but there is nothing to say you can’t have two evil countries of fighting each other, besides hounding the heroes, and possibly being manipulated by a greater evil.

To go back the capital of Auresco, a Japanese design was unexpected. Yet there is nothing wrong with it, this is a fictional world where Japan doesn’t exist, in such a world, it is wholly feasible that European-looking people could make Japanese aesthetics. There is no immutable reason why Japan invented Japanese aesthetics IRL (ignoring resources available to them- Europe can’t make tatami mats without bamboo) and Europe did European. It just worked out that way IRL. Of course, it would not exactly surprise me if Japanese people felt Lora and Addam were Japanese, owing to anime, manga, and like popular entertainment making “white” people “Europanese” as I see it. Able to be both Japanese and European at the same time, to be familiar to Japan allowing for personal connections to be establish, and yet exotically foreign. When it comes to Japanese games aboard, one may be able to argue that Europanese makes the familiar, foreign, and the foreign, familiar, rather ironically.

 

Gameplay-wise, I’m only now totally getting the elements. Water and Fire are opposites, Light and Dark, Earth and Lightning, and Wind and Ice, correct? The last pairing seems weird, but oh well! I’ve done only a single Full Burst, as deadly and cool as it was, they seem tricky to pull off. To make sure I’m not mistaken, I can’t stack multiple orbs of the same element? 

And having the QTEs set to automatic, in Torna or the main game, won’t present any hindrances, will they? Besides losing a little face of course.

I currently have them set to manual, because they add interactivity to battles and it seems cheap to go automatic. I’ve rarely risked going for an “excellent”, I’ve generally stuck to “goods”, I am getting better though. And I’m thinking that for the most difficult of fights I might set things to automatic, since a number of my failed QTEs (thankfully they only seem to boost damage in this game as opposed to stopping the attack outright a certain point) it seems have come from the fragile wireless connection between the Switch and the Joycons being broken. Even having one of my legs crossed in front of the Joycons can block the signal.

 

I’ve noticed enemy icons are no longer color coded for level. And I try not to pick fights high above my level, but does the old level advantage making higher leveled enemies impossible to fight (without heavy preparations) remain? 

I say this because for Mythra I was trying to kill two of the snakes in the desert. IIRC, my teams were 33-34, and the first snake I slew was 38, it went down sans difficulty. But then I got to kill more snakes, at level 40, and they dealt over 2000 damage to everyone with their AoE tail attack or something. Did I just luck out and not get whiplashed by the first serpent, or did the couple extra levels on the snake result in me getting destroyed by a level curve?

A shift to big damage from the foe instead of you going “miss miss miss” sounds better than XC1 though. And unique monsters (why not reuse the XCX label of “Tyrant”? It is shorter and sounds a little cool.) like in XC1 I concluded after fighting one have significantly greater HP vis a vis standard enemies of their level. I don’t mind, they don’t feel bloated, and increasing HP reserves on standard enemies would be a questionable move given their quantity.

 

Another question, do Blade chips, when they show they boost auto-attack damage, boost Arts and Specials damage as well? Or is it strictly auto-attacks? I admittedly haven’t upgraded my weapons in a while, mostly so enemies can live longer and I’ll have more chances of Blade Comboing them to help fill in the Affinity Charts.

 

One little modification I would like- if when crafting something, provided I have access to its location, I could read the little blurb on materials I have zero presently of. Given their benefits, I’ve been trying to make all of Hugo’s and Addam’s items, and have found most of them so far, but this “Geometric Gear” is evading me. I wish I knew where to look.

Another small change- make the various types of gathering points have different icons! Not really needed with how frequent they are, but it’d make mapping the points worthwhile instead of uselessly overwhelming.

On the plus side, I’ll say I do like the field skills, a small creative evolution from XCX. That game had three field skills as well, but they almost entirely did nothing but unlock “chests”- be they White Whale remnants, xeno tech, or indigen dung. The one exception being for the Mechanical skill, which was also necessary for laying probes at the various Frontier Nav sites- rather important. Although they aren’t interactive or complex or anything, I do like the greater variety in effect that field skills have in this game. Probably my favorite little instance was the water purification, and the sequence of Jin’s Swordplay to make a tree into a bridge, and then two uses of Aegaeon’s Command Water, once to fill a lake to be able to reach a geyser, which you then shoot yourself up.

 

 

I briefly glimpsed new guide on GFAQs and saw to complete the Community I need to fight some really super superbosses. How much if any grind and how much preparation would I need to defeat them?

Related to that question, does unlocking Mythra's Girls' Talk skill require that I fight the superbosses? Or does the Community have more than 88 members? And, although it suggests it is useless, does Girls' Talk do anything at all? In particular, anything affecting the ending? Please don't tell me "Girls' Talk" just trigger chats about bust sizes.

I'm just asking these questions, because while I'm going to fill out as much of the community as I reasonably can before I fight the final battle, I don't want to have to burn hours solely on being able to fight some overpowered enemy. I want to get things over with without excessive tedium filling my time beforehand.

 

Another little change I'd like to comment on- the removal of defense stats. Everyone has fixed damaged reduction percentages now instead of solid defense numbers, plus adjustable guard rates.

I've played RPGs without defensive stats before, so this isn't odd to me, and I consider it a progression within the Xenoblade franchise.

  1. XC1 had Def and Ether Def stats, and, IHRC, it was -1 damage per point of Def/Eth Def. Stripped of all armor, Def and Eth Def on everyone was 0 at all levels. Agility and dodgetanking was very useful too.
  2. XCX kept a Def stat, just one since there is no physical-ethereal divide there. Once again, I believe it was a 1-1 points to damage reduction ratio. Def was largely useless, since all attacks have an Attribute, and you'd reduce damage far more by retooling your armor according to whatever Attributes the enemies that were giving you trouble were using. Muster adequate resistances, and you could take as low as 1 damage per hit. You also had Reflect and Decoys for alternative or supplemental defenses. Dodgetanking was nerfed. 
  3. XC2: TtGC it seems has kept the idea of percentage-based defense, but significantly toned it down with what appears to be no ability to improve them. And from what I can also see, XC2 has made evasion more viable again.

 

I was amazed that I got all the barrels without a guide. The last ones I smashed for Red Pollen Orbs were in Saint's Practice Grounds, behind the UM there. (I tried fighting that thing once, lost, came back a while later (no nearby Landmark makes losing bite if you don't save first) with few levels later and won, albeit not without some near losing moments. That big energy blast, so deadly.) Turns out there are extra green barrels even- you can miss a few and still complete it.

The last sidequest's ending was unexpected.

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Addam has an unseen pregnant wife? Well good for him and the writing, this is unusual for a game. And here I was lowkey trying to get myself into him. Won't try to steal this one.

My one criticism of this is Mythra. I'm sorry, but I just couldn't quite get past her in her skimpy clothing with Addam all the time. What I had expected the entire game in line with the oh-so-expectable is that he and her would become romantic, not helped by Jin and Lora. 

I get that Addam and Mythra, much like his relationship to Minoth, is purely one of the task at hand, coworkers one must work closely with. But I would've liked just a statement from him earlier to the effect of "I'm not into her" or even "she's more of a sister". This wouldn't have been the case though had I actually see the second Stepan Inn scene first, where it is made clear somebody a gentle shounen in the future is her perfect husband partner.

And actually, this is something to be said for the three playable teams. Addam's is coworkers, Hugo has the theme of lord and lieges. And just as in gameplay where they are the mixed group, Team Lora has two themes- a sister figure in Haze, and a lover in Jin. I like this, because it means that despite being souls bound together, Blades and their Drivers don't have to be lovers, and Mythra-Addam bring this home. Good because MinothxAddam/Amalthus sounds ohhh *shudders*.

I don't mind Jin and Lora as a couple by the way, and I was fine with them musing about running an orphanage together. Great way to get past their inability to procreate together. Kinda leaves Haze out of the matter, but I'm sure she'd willingly go along with it. Shame it doesn't get to happen.

 

I also like that Jin wasn't the only Blade who was keeping a diary as a way of pseudo-memory carryover (I'll need to play the main game though to see why he burns everything at the end- hopefully a good reason and not just edgelord). Giving one to Brighid was a nice move. Of course falsifying diaries sounds like a great way to manipulate a Blade.

Missing one of the slates though, and 2 of the Unique Monsters.

 

---

Who thought that was a good idea? Without Specials, fights feel less intense, and will end up taking more time since they pack so much damage. There would've been better ways around this. Like I don't know, give them anti-orbs that require you use the opposite or same element to shatter them before you can apply your own to the baddie? Actually, maybe that'd be good with Elemental Awakening- dispel it via powerup orb smashing. Turns the Chain Attack into a technique for defense and not just offense.

 

Overall, I think the sidequests are good in this game. Maybe not extraordinary, but good as most mass sidequests can reasonably come in games. I liked the cooking contest, went with the cake- how does the tartare play out? Does Jin win also or does it go to the NPC girl?

As whole, the franchise has done well in the sidequest department. XC1 had issues mostly of changing NPC locations and times, EXP gain from sidequests easily giving you too many levels with that awful curve to kill the challenge, and tucking away the 4th and 5th skill trees behind high levels of regional affinity. Yet XC1 was still good, and XCX makes sidequests the crux of its good writing, it certainly was lacking in the main plot. Affinity Missions were a mixed bag, some highs, some lows.

 

One little annoyance with this game, remind me if I am wrong, but didn't XC1 give you 30 seconds if you got KO'ed for your allies to revive you before losing the fight? Or did XCX? I thought one or both of the games did. This game makes you lose if you don't have a minimum of 1 Party Gauge bar filled. And I don't think allies will resurrect the other non-player ally. I'm guessing this is because Mythra and Aegaeon need to be incapacitated/incapacitated allies to activate their Talent Arts.

 

And now after all that, I just want to say I finished the game! Comments in the spoilers:

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First, the interior of the Torna Titan was of no surprise like the Bionis, but by toning down the light and using totally different enemies, it was distinctive enough.

 

The final battle, Xenogears vs. Alpha Weltall (or whatev' Gundams Takahashi was referencing, I thought I remember hearing was watching Unicorn during XCX's development). Malos's Siren never got an attack off, good for me! He wasn't too bad, although I was 56 levelwise. The mecha cinematics were good, flashy, time well spent using XCX to learn how to work in HD.

 

Ending- well it was a whole mix of emotions, now wasn't it? And so very long. 

Not fond of people, male or female, going insane by grief and or anger or people forcing them into some trance or a transformation. For girls, it has the extra stigma attached of the ancient stereotype that girls are more vulnerable /emotional/hysterical. Although perhaps it is good thing that I don't like it, since it is a good guy in severe distress. As an actual plot device? More questionable and less clear cut whether it is good or bad. Mythra might the person I'll miss the least though actually, not that I hate her, I just preferred the other 8 more I think. Doesn't help I know she'll have it good in the future.

 

Now sadness- well at least one of the kids had a purpose in existing, and then dying; Mikhail didn't have any purpose besides giving Other Kid (his name escape me at the moment) a partner. More RIP for Hugo though than anyone else, they did foreshadow things with that Vill Ethelmar NPC, but I hadn't seriously thought he was certain to die. Not to say I ruled out the possibility either.

So Torna sank, I thought before I even bought the game that Torna would sink, and I mistook the game's opening as foreshadowing this. Not sure where I got the idea from, I barely read anything about this game before buying it. The game was also foreshadowing this with the "in case we need to evacuate" bit. Tragic, and it keeps Torna out of the main game I guess and self-contained. Also made the Community stuff a bit more relevant.

 

Now for the evil stuff. Creepy describes Mr. Blade Eater, the head in mouth thing got me. And fighting him alone made his fight more of a risk of me losing than Malos was. It was clearly foreshadowed he would return, I just expected it'd be in the main game, not after the "final" battle. I also thought from the way he said "my arms" that Jin had severed both after the earlier encounter. He could've been handled much better- points off here.

And using every trick in the coup book, Amalthus seized power of the Church of Scientology. And then immediately unleashed mass production Blade Eaters on Lora- that was fast going from successful prototype to final product (not sure what happened to her and Haze). Malos was probably retrieved two minutes later, or will be however long from now the main game is. Nothing was said of Minoth- either went maverick inasmuch as he could, and or was scrapped by Amalthus, for good, to the junkyard, or forever, probably not the last I'd think.

Zettar lived. Off to have Addam drawn and quartered? Or Addam lives but some public dispute or secret struggle endures that lingers into the main game hundreds of years later? Wonder if Hugo's death before reproducing also starts a power vacuum, the effects of which linger hundreds of years later?

Jin's crystal turned red- guess he is off to help the villains for the next couple hundred years until he finally set everything right. Or maybe he found a self-sustaining existence as a Flesh Eater or something and no longer needs Lora to be alive? Minoth's comments that Jin should give some thought to becoming one after a particular sidequest would be foreshadowing? Doubt that thought, since it wouldn't explain why he had to burn everything- he is clearly going to lose his memories again.

 

The light- Mythra had visions of Rex, using her Foresight for once in TtGC. Not sure where Pyrrha came from and why she was with Addam. But my guess is that she emerged as the residue of Mythra- what remained after the emotional and power breakdown. A separate person outright, but who did not exist prior to the trauma, probably not actually weaker than her though for the sake of the main game. The title screen even changes to reflect on the ending and the future hope.

For me not having played the main game though, the ending was more sad than hopeful. On the plus side, for those who had played this second, they're stuck on this sad note, even if they know the future happiness. I will end on the happy note having played this first.

 

...And that is about it. I spent ~35 hours with the game. It was very good, certainly the best DLC gameplay ever offered by 14.8 trillion lightyears. Nearly large enough to be its own independent game, but I do think that narratively, it is just a little too lacking for that. This was no lousy moneymaker DLC, that was a labor of love with heart and soul in it indeed, justifying by itself the $40 cost, never mind whatever main game bonuses I got from the season pass (and I will delight in having Elma- although I doubt whatever gives her will be battle-free and be devoid of me having to reach at least the midgame to tackle level-wise first, if not access in the first place). The gameplay was very solid, the soundtrack good, the world up to the series's standards, the plot worked, the characters were likable. I don't like to give number ratings, but a good game, no regrets at all about this buy. 

 

And here is a lot of my XC2 maingame commentary:

Spoiler

[Taken from after Chapter 2]

So far, I'm liking it. A little long on cutscenes (to the point my Switch activated it's auto-dimmer from lack of controls movement a few times), but this is the beginning- RPGs tend to start slowly. But plenty o' flashiness as well, and done differently from XC1 (a duel vs. a big bad compared to Sword Valley and the C9 attack). And already they've used two of the most infamous Unique Monster (why didn't they stick with the XCX term for them- Tyrants?) names, with an NPC mentioning one of them.

Coming from Torna first, it is an interesting perspective. Some thoughts:

  • I refused to use Malos during the brief time he is usable the beginning because of that. Clearly his memories and general powers endure, but his Gnostic ether-bending blade is missing. Him being able to use a Blade is not too hard to imagine, being the exception called Aegis.
  • History it also seems to have forgotten Malos was an Aegis since the use of the word "the" when describing Pyra makes it sound like they mean singular, as in only one Aegis. A plot twist when Malos says "I am Aegis" I predict?
  • While I was not so judgmental on Jin, he certainly is putting in some effort to act like he actually sat on his katana pointing straight up one time.Though  I'm still not judging him yet. What happened after Torna's final battles and before his little Azurda talk where he clearly joined the dark side, that is the crucial bit I'm missing with him. Only then can I determine whether Masked Yelv (to reference an XCX PC with similar hair color, albeit shorter length) is well, anything really. I look forward to hearing what he has to say on that at some crucial moment much later down the line.
    • The Nia being rescued by Jin in the one moment of her memories in the battleship in Torigoth was I guess referenced in Torna by Lora's being saved by him? And is the harpoon attack of Rex, the inspiration for Lora's rope attacks? 
  • By virtue of having played Torna first, Azurda seems culpable so far for not explaining stuff he knows that the heroes should be told. But I'll overlook it. 
  • Not getting to Mor Ardain yet, I have no idea why Brighid is not the Emperor's. Or whatever has happened to Aegaeon. Although my one guess that isn't "corruption of Imperial policy" right now is Hugo's death led to a change in Imperial policy. What is the point to giving both of the Empire's finest Blades to the monarch when it means the monarch must fight and therefore endanger themselves, the leader of the Empire? 
    • The corruption guess is that Hugo's brother, mentioned offhand a few times, seized control after he died and then for his own benefit rewrote the laws of succession to remove the Blade resonance requirement.
  • Gormott is nice so far, although I've only seen the part Torna features. I do prefer the Torna rendition of the area theme, but it could be the bias of having heard it first. It feels a little more chaotic in enemy layout, likely because Torna being much shorter needed this one bit of Gormott to be more defined.

 

Can I say the petty Consul guy and the choice to make Gormott the first Titan reminded me of Sadal Suud in Baten Kaitos? -But I'll stop there. Beyond a simple and certainly never to be fulfilled wish that Monolith could revisit the games in open world format. In the world of pre-rendered backgrounds though, they are some of the finest if not THE finest for me- however, going open world would make the islands feel so much bigger.

I can't help but make a couple parallels here and there. Sorry.

 

More commentary. A record for myself, and in case it interests you.

Uraya is interesting, a fleshed out blend of the Bionis's Interior, Tephra Cave, Satorl Marsh, and I'd a little of the upper half of Noctilum (some of the vibrant flora reminded me of a subregion of it), coming after what is effectively Colony G. The grand broken staircase reminded me of Satorl's High Entia ruins, yet the castle town, with curving roofs which I think is indicative of snowbound European areas (since a flatter roof could collapse from snow accumulation- the curves/slopes let it slide off) is a genuinely unique flourish and I don't recall it being found at all in XC1, nor X obviously.

I haven't completed Uraya yet, I've stopped at the Malos battle (I would guess such a thing would make for a fine chapter ending?), I think I'm a little underleveled, 22 to be precise. I lost once, and the boss duo seems fairly strong. Overall, I think I've been underleveled throughout this chapter- I don't use the EXP built up and stored at inns admittedly. Using Custom difficulty to drop enemy HP to speed up a little grinding before reverting to Normal should help out.

From the additional story impressions, well now I meet the other Vandham (not to belittle the XC2 cast in the slightest, the BLADE Commander just came first for me, and I'm aware of the Van-something archetype that has carried over from XG and XS), after a bad first impression, he's decent enough. Although I haven't been using him at all actually, owing to Rex-Nia-Tora being a pretty balanced team already, although ditching Rex for Vandham (yet I find it off he can't progress any further with Garuda) I have loosely considered.

Akhos I immediately started referring to with another XCX moniker- Evil H.B., both wear glasses, and act smart and confident. Him fighting Vandham in the village makes sense, H.B. did express a want to take over BLADE from him, although I don't get where he found the bat girl.

The theatre first brought to mind the most recent prior game I encountered a theatre in- Octopath Traveler, the endpoint of Primrose's journey, and a rather bizarre and weak final chapter at that, not good. The play itself did not gander any love from me, I looked largely away from it waiting for it to end, not wanting to see the distorted history of things (I've a History MA, this is particularly insulting to me), knowing well the honorable truth of the subject.

At first, I pondered who could have distorted this so, if Jin had a role in doing so. But then lo, to my surprise, Minoth is still alive, if more human and sadly frail it seems than he used to be. Given the way he referred to himself as an abject failure in the past, I'm amazed he lived 500 years. Shame I won't be seeing any more Crucetas and the like from him, although seeing the sheathed Gunknife was nostalgic. And him being responsible for the distortions and clearly a good guy still made it not so bad.

Malos sounded a little strange in him saying he now exists for Jin, still a mad dog he is, but I never thought he'd wear a leash.

When it was mentioned that Malos and Pyra went to the place where where she was first awakened, I thought "so we're leaving Uraya for that ship or the remnants of the Tornan titan?". And then there is the vaguely familiar staircase, and then they show Pyra at what I quickly recognized as the final battle site of Torna. Clever Monolith, using the same place twice and totally differently, I thought Torna had sunk entirely. Although contradictorily, I strangely recall a Torna NPC saying Uraya specifically treats Blades terribly or something, which would have to mean they had a different Titan 500 years ago. Do I recall wrong?

Rex might be one of the least informed people around, but him suggesting that since Pyra maintained her humanoid form this entire time might mean Addam is still around raises an eyebrow for me. I'd rather chalk it up to her being Aegis and thus different. If Addam does happen to be still extant, then why didn't he protect Pyra more? Is he off doing something else important? Unless he has had a sip of poisoned gin and is now another hero-cum-villain, that wouldn't be wholly impossible, the name Torna being taken by M&J's band would have some meaning to it if he was.

Although then I have to wonder why Torna the game emphasized Jin so much more than Addam, starting with Jin, ending with Jin, and using his mask as the loading icon; a sinned Addam I'd think would garner as much attention. If Jin was really worth the Torna focus, he better show this when the time comes, although your likings for Malos as an Xeno villain suggests that at the least, Jin has somebody on his machinations level, albeit a pure evil somebody and not tragically evil like him.

 

On the battle system, well now I can topple and have Chain Attacks, the full combat arsenal is mine. Although I find Orbs generating only on completed Blade Combos, and only a single Orb at that, to be quite limiting on Chain Attack potency. That will likely change when the third Blade slot opens, and I've just spent for the ability to cancel Arts into each other on Nia and Rex, but it is slower than Torna's system IRRC.

I do think that so far, I prefer the Torna system, but I can't really judge it, since I've only played what is at best I guess 20% at most. (Looking at the DLC items, it suggests at least 10 Chapters, which if evenly distributed in length would put me near 30%, but I'd deduct some from that and assume later chapters to be longer, with optional content further reducing my completion rate so far.) I think I can say I prefer the Torna standard battle theme, the light jazzy goodness stands out more.

Also, I don't recall playing Torna undocked, but I've been playing the main game some of the time undocked. I know such open world majesty demands a big screen at least some of the time, but I do like freeing up the big screen for other things I need as many stimuli as possible to combat depression sometimes. And fortunately, XC2 plays wonderfully undocked, no hiccups of any kind. Thank Monolith for that.

 

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Again, thanks. I guess the battle architecture was chosen (again, IIRC on what the final battle of Torna looked like) to match for purely symbolic reasons. I rationalized that the Titan lost its long head and grew another, shorter one. Made little sense in geopolitical context (no need to abandon Torna if you can just live inside it at a lower altitude), but I wasn't thinking that much.:XD:

Still, a little weird they'd choose to have Mythra/Pyra awaken in Uraya, given Torna I thought showed her Aegis crystal in Auresco Palace when the scummy uncle got injured from it, or I'd guess that Indol place. Prequels tend to have at least a few inconsistencies or other oddities from the game it is set before, and this barely registers as an inconsistency, a very very very slight scratch at most.

 

And I'm fine with a slow introduction to gameplay mechanics, better more explanation than none at all. And I've seen much worse, namely Eternal Sonata- the maximum Party Level there doesn't unlock until you enter the postgame bonus dungeon unlocked just before the final boss. The only way to play the game with its full combat system, which is far from being complicated, is on NG+ (which at least doubles as a Hard Mode)

 

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Fighting Malos and Akhos took a few tries, and then I looked up elsewhere that I just needed to deplete half of Akhos health to win. I had actually given up on Akhos first since Malos just kept taunting, and I nearly got him to half HP. Subsequent battles haven't been too hard though, yet I've noticed being ganged up on = easy defeat in this game, I tried passing through the Ardainian pipe of Vangs a couple times thinking it how I got to , not a good idea.

Vandham's death isn't wholly unexpected given the oddity of not being able get more Blades for him and being limited with Garuda to the first tier. Not to mention "old man sacrifice" is fairly common in RPGs, and other forms of popular entertainment. Not bad, but I assumed when I saw him overloading himself with power he was going to give a hug of suicidal exploding death. It was a little unspectacular, and thus a bit unnecessary.

Mythra fortunately provided plenty of explosions, if being why Vandham's death wasn't so needed. Why a sacrifice and a reawakening in one scene? Her showing up again was cool, and it took me only a few seconds to see the Torna parallel. A boy's death is the straw that breaks her psyche and causes Pyra's creation, the expectation of a boy's death (Rex) is what causes her return (and also happens to coincide with the end of Pyra's slumber, if not what actually woke her). And then the comic perv scene was also directly copied in Torna, (and Pyra is Mythra's opposite at cooking as a side realization I came upon earlier).

 

Jin is now a misanthrope? Well I can't say I dislike the archetype, but I need to see where it goes.

Plenty of explanation of things- good to see they got it out of the way. Not everything, Jin being a hero those ages ago was not said I think, but I appreciate the exposition sooner than later.

 

Now I get to see this Emperor Niall, and I discover Hugo was cheaply done. He looks exactly like his descendant, barring the clothing. What game am I playing Monolith?! The very first First Emblem with its use of Gordin's sprite three times besides himself? Would the truth being he is Hugo resurrected 485 years later with no memories and greatly slowed aging be better or worse?

On the other hand, for those who played the main game first (everyone but me), this might have been a good thing. Since Morag is playable I guess Nial isn't, and if by any chance he had a few fans, I guess they were happy with Torna. Seeing he has Aegaeon and him being Morag's sister means the divide of the Ardainian royal Blades makes sense to me. Although why do I have a hunch this disagreeable Senate or Malos/Jin is going to kill the Emperor, leave Morag ruler of the Empire in her brother's stead, and thus give her use of Aegaeon? Or maybe this Brionac group an NPC mentioned and who has a base enemies in their 80s will kill them instead, or perhaps they're in league with the evil Senate.

 

So yeah, still enjoying things. I just want Brighid again. Mor Ardain looks nice, a good contrast with Uraya. Uraya was indoors, dark, wet, with civilization restricted to one small village and a capital city. Mor Ardain is open, light, dry, with civilization throughout it and wilderness being restrained to pockets between civilization.

--

 

As for the following battle, although I didn't remember him from name alone seeing the Other Kid again (he barely existed in Torna) registered when I saw his hair. How is he alive 500 years later without visual signs of physiological enhancement- Gasparian-Karelian nanomachines? And if Jin has been raising him this whole time, well he failed as a guardian with letting him denigrate into a lady charmer, besides joining him in his evil. 

On the plus side, Morag at last, yayyyyyyy!

 

Haze's return was at first a sight of joy for me. It lasted the three seconds before Mikhail said she works for Indol. Great, the religious establishment I know to be evil has taken control of poor Haze and rebranded her into their goddess of some sort. Now her ether suppression powers are going to be turned against me for sure, ouch to that as well. What can counter them? Who will do it and how? That is more good speculation.

Then they cut to Jin, talking to a cryostasis Lora not aged a day. Quite the dramatic end for me! Probably more so than someone who did the main game first, since like a lot of other stuff, I know, while a player of XC2 first is left wondering "just who is this?". Of course, Torna is probably very bittersweet for someone who has done the main game first, since they're playing knowing things will end badly, even if they start good.

It sounded like Lora was still alive during the Jin-Azurda talk ending Torna IIRC. This makes the impression she is either lacking her soul, or has suffered some other injury by that point and was already being preserved by Jin. My present guess is that when Indol continued to go after Team Lora in the ending of Torna, Haze was defeated and her core taken, and Lora was injured however she was. Jin alone surviving, he was able to retain his memories due to Lora not physically dying, thus set out on a radical course of revenge after putting Lora in cyrostasis. Thus, I've connected a whole bunch of dots, or so I think. Doesn't explain why Jin would seemingly become a Flesh Eater though (assuming he did- I'm not 100% sure on that, but I do recall a Minoth convo sounding like foreshadowing), he wouldn't have done that without Lora's suffering.

So a flashback Torna copypasted, makes the scene feel a little cheaper to me, even if it really isn't. It does a good job of getting the player to know and care about those two. Why is Addam staying strangely cloaked though compared to everybody else? He must be alive somewhere and they're going to show him later. That abundance of Cores in a wall reminds me of the Torna Blade-to-Titan incubator, might be part of the plan- making either Titans or some super monstrosities who will be the ultimate lifeforms then.

 

Haze remains pitiable with her wanting of knowing her past. Although now I'm not sure if she'll be a boss, or if she'll die fighting Jin's Judicium, the latter makes me think she'll never get to talk with Mythra. Pyra and Brighid's memory chat was elegant and delightful too.

Indol is a nice not-Vatican. The refugee camps is a good touch on modern issues, and living in refugee camps for 10 years is sadly not unlike reality, if you ask say the Palestinians, I'm sure they can say the reality is much worse. Indol is shady, but it's an interesting shady- evil beyond a shadow of a doubt, but still doing a hint of good and not actively opposing the heroes- yet. No shops selling things not buyable elsewhere nor a development level suggests to me this place is going to become a war zone and or sunk sooner or later.

The former Quaestor looks positively more evil now with a goatee that doubles as a an emergency spear and papal vestments. Hasn't changed much from his Torna self, with a slight hint of empathy still bestowable on him- climbing the World Tree could not have been a feat anyone without determination could have achieved.

The Malos phasing in was creepy, and delightfully memorable. Now is the tail wagging the dog, the dog and tail were always on the same page, or is the tail wagging the dog and the dog is fine with it? Which of these explains Amalthus the dog and Malos his tail? I have hard time believing the second possibility, since Malos and Jin seem opposed to Indol. Although I like the idea of usual master-servant relationship of Driver-Blade being potentially upended by Malos becoming to some degree the master.

And then Zeke joined up, completing the band of heroes. And right before he joins, he says he has a problem with a group calling itself Torna. Immediately, upon hearing that and opening the main menu and looking at his art, something clicked in my head. Oversized sword, messy hair, significant arm muscles, emphasis on offense..."MY ARCHITECT THIS GUY IS ADDAM!"

-I kid you not that I thought that. But then a cooler mind soon prevailed, he can't be Addam and the crown prince of an extant kingdom which Morag can contest to. It'd be really weird if a prince just showed up one day in Tantal with the public having no idea he existed for the first 20-30 or so years of his life. He'd have to been born royalty, his birth, childhood, and all else witnessed by thousands of others, therefore he can't be Addam with an eyepatch and some hair dye.

I then remembered somewhere in Torna it was stated that black hair and green eyes were the usual marks of Tornan royalty. Addam the bastard child was the exception here. I immediately reconnected the dots. I couldn't tell from his menu art what color eyes Zeke had, but he has black hair. And this explains the point to that envious uncle of Addam's- provide a Tornan line not Addam for Zeke to descend from. He did survive and go to Indol after Torna's destruction in the ending, he must have then somehow established himself in Tantal. Zeke's dislike for Torna the organization derives from the place being his lost ancestral homeland.

This revelation alone is making me like the guy more already. :^_^:

Once he has a third Rare Blade, Rex is retiring for a while and Zeke the sable of hair is taking over. Or I could use them both- and Morag or Tora; I don't need Nia for normal enemies, even if her dedicated healing is useful for UMs and bosses. XC1's biggest noob mistake was thinking Sharla was always needed being the lone healer, more offense (which Nia has more of than Sharla) can make dedicated healers unneeded.

The one revelation I don't understand that I've now seen is what Lora was saying to Jin in the new-to-me flashback. Must have been after the Blade Eater battle in Torna, at or just around the crucial moment that marked Jin's turn to evil.

The Blade Eaters themselves aren't anywhere to be seen, despite Indol mobilizing an army of them in the dismal turn of the ending after things seemed to be going in a sweeter direction after much bitterness. And I find the absence of the Blade Eaters ironic, since the anti-Blade protesters would on paper be very happy to hear Indol has something whose name suggests they can make hash browns out of Blades. 

 

RIP Haze, as I feared. What Indol did to her Core though, not sure. Well this makes Torna good regarding Haze, her time in the main game being so limited, any additional time really helped. And I like the NPCs lamenting her death, and the formal funeral.

Jin explains himself now. Destroy humanity, destroy the Architect, liberate Blades from the shackles of both for their own beneficial evolution. The inability of Blades to retain memories, a problem talked of earlier with Brighid and Haze, he now stands adamantly against. And of course, Lora's demise has something to with it.

I stand corrected it seems, no Flesh Eater Jin. The use of the word "blood" to describe the forehead crystal's color, combined with the new Lora dying flashback, and most tellingly- Jin fought for a time and then had to flee due to exhaustion. Lora tried to save Jin as she seemed to perish, -and now I postulate did so via stone of her own blood/essence.

The result is Jin is effectively a Face Mechon- which were reliant on human blood flowing through them to stay invincible to the Monado. But for some reason, Egil couldn't keep the blood flow everlasting, eventually a Face had to return to base to restore the blood. Likewise, Jin it seems can only go so long without a recharge- provided he exhausts himself enough, which would be a rare thing to have happen, given he is one of the strongest Blades around.

No Ice Element as a foe, I guess the choice to make him one in Torna was combination of which elements were already repped- Mythra had Light, Brighid & Aegaeon Fire & Water, Minoth looked Dark from his Core Crystal. And him having Lora preserved in an ice block was another influence. Plus it pairs with making Haze Wind.

I'm not sure if the entire flashback included as Jin healed here was in Torna, I don't recall as much of the creepy Mumkhar-esque guy in Torna's flashbacks of that scene. I wonder why they didn't if they did shorten it there. 

Malos got a bit of development here. Here, the godly Aegis of destruction expresses doubt about whether he actually likes destroying everything or if that isn't actually his nature. He has an existential moment of doubt about the mere existence of himself and Jin, that is deep. And Mythra at Indol makes it apparent that she can't see this fault in Malos, he is but the monster he acts insofar as she can tell.

I'm happy to have an explanation why Malos hasn't been Monado Cycloning me, and why he uses a Blade himself. I'm happy to know that all the effort spent in Torna trying to kill him had some effect. Of course, he is going to get to Elysium and then return to being the Monado Man for a real challenge.

Once again, Amalthus is evil, he isn't explaining why he used Haze. But again, not without an inch of sympathy- through his calls for peace over war, and Mythra implying he lacks someone who is devoted to with him being affected by that statement.

Ophion being controlled by Tantal, okay. Sounds very macguffinish here, but sometimes such is needed to move things along. And I felt Ophion was even worse in Torna- it lasted for a half-minute tops before Malos busted out more Gargoyles and shot it down. Mythra would've been better off not fielding it at all, I think Torna messed this up. All Ophion's early shoot-down did was fuel despair in Mythra's heart- contributing to the final battle's agony which made her split. Speaking of the split, Pyra is getting rather irrelevant.

 

The battle at the bottom of Genbu was a joke, I was ~47 and they're 43, they died fast and without issues.

Nice to get an explanation how Mikhail lived this entire time- Flesh Eater. It also explains how they don't mind annihilating humanity nor Jin has any problems with them despite being seemingly human. But given so far the only point to him being in Torna so far was because he made a lone recognition of Haze, I'm feeling they could have just kept him out of that one flashback in the main game and deleted him from Torna completely. His connection to Torna has no real meaning to it.

The plot otherwise down in Genbu was still weak. Jin reveals his truer powers, taking on an angelic-ish form and revealing a scar which I guess came from when he almost died but Lora saved him with the blood crystal. I'd prefer he didn't mention the particle stuff, and just leave it to superhuman reflexes, it sounded a bit like just "oh you're good? My shirt was hiding a hard counter to that all along!". Can't say I like Pyra and Mythra leaving either, but eh.

Very start of the next chapter wasn't exactly good either. Rex went through a fairly generic moment when they neglect their duties due to powerlessness. Amalthus is clearly no longer so happy with the kiddo and is now planning some evil ceremony of sorts.

Meanwhile, Zeke's father did do so some interesting explanation of Indol blackmail leading to Tantal's poverty and creating the global Blade arms race. Sorta helps the weak setup of Tantal earlier, at the price of definitely shifting Indol from the hint of niceness camp to a purer evil, which is a negative. While I didn't like Pyra's sacrifice earlier, Malos's explanation of Pyra's logic behind it was good.

 

So I was wondering about how long it'd be before P&M rejoined- I don't like the idea of roaming around with a weakened Rex and hoped it would be done fast. And then they revealed the third Aegis blade for Rex to have instead. An Aegis Sword of Good +1, perhaps the Monado of Good in contrast to Malos's Monado of Evil? A Monado certainly can have the powers to overcome Jin's new trick- I mean manipulating the flow of Ether is particles, but timespace isn't so much.

And thanks for hiding it Azurda, although admittedly, sometimes you have to fool your allies as well as enemies. Otherwise, Rex could have grabbed it earlier and just gone and lost it too. By the way, I don't think Torna ever mentioned this third Aegis Blade, it did mention Addam going to the Leftherian Archipelago, but I don't think this blade. Was it too part of Mythra's post-Torna destruction schism? Shift the bulk of her power into a physically separate Aegis Blade, and then use Pyra to block out most of her remainder of power kept in herself?

Is it possible I'll actually find Addam protecting the blade? It'd give me finally a reason for why he wore the hood all this time- perhaps that wrinkled guy in a hood they were just showing now was him? Hopefully not too much Torna disconnect if this is the case. Though to be fair, Addam exists solely to be legend in XC2 main-game, Torna exists I guess in part to make him human in the absence of any humanity in XC2 main-game.

 

Addam despite saying he was dead, still kept that hood up for some reason. The battle with his phantasms took a while, I thought the clones were infinite, but they never truly posed a threat with how quickly they filled the Party Gauge more than compensating for any needed revives.

 

Malos got his Monado back, excellent. The fight with him was good, the fight afterwards I decided to nerf to Easy this one time, just so I could get Pyra and Mythra to return. I'm not fond of their new Ascended form, it doesn't look truly ultimate to me, though Rex's new outfit works fairly well. And why couldn't Mythra draw on that kind of power back in Torna? Was it simply Rex hadn't existed so there wasn't a Driver able to draw it out? Not liking the chosen one schtick if that is it.

I thought the crew was restored, only to lose everyone and be reduced to Rex and temporarily Jin, who although I've reason to more dislike now, was still likable enough that I chose to control him. The zombie fights were a bit of a chore, and so I chose to turn off aggression until I was through the place.

Jin finally explained that crucial moment when Lora perished. That was good. Although did he literally eat her? I can imagine putting her physical heart in him, but eating her? Was that just playing with the term Flesh Eater? It doesn't explain his instabilities either- was it because it was a spur of the moment thing that he is unstable as a Flesh Eater?

And I don't get what was meant by Amalthus destroying Torna. It looked Malos and Mythra did that. Did he mean the nation of people, not the physical Titan?

 

Well it was done out of sheer love, I wonder what Jin spoke to her and what she thought of it. Although some things are probably best left to the imagination. (And I forgot to say earlier I liked seeing Jin actually use his ice powers, and I recall Absolute Zero being the name of his 3rd Special.)

I'd imagine Minoth, although a failure, did not undergo such a brutal process. The mad scientist Indol guy in Torna did turn not-Mumkhar into a monster, but I'd think things would have been less raw for Minoth's creation. Not that he probably ever told anyone how he was created, still too nightmarish.

 

Now I've gone through the very short Chapter 9 (I think splitting it from Chapter 8 works, but maybe they should've done the split a little sooner- before you get to the open air and blue skies). I've only the last to go.

Climbing the World Tree, I like the sci-fi interior. In case you didn't get the references, the area names are of stars in the Big Dipper. I think they're going in order from scoop itself to the handle.

The Nia Blade life conversation was good. As was Jin stating what he is doing is not what Lora would have wanted- he is not that delusional. A reminder on the objectives of the opposing villains was appreciated for me: Jin= destroy all including the Architect for Blade liberation, Malos agrees with this but think it his Father's will. Amalthus = destroy all to render all dependent on him, Architect is spared, but really it is Amalthus who thinks himself the scion of the Architect who matters most to him.

Then seeing the villains slit each other's throats was fun. Good to see there was a point to that whole Artificial Blade project, which being neither Titan nor Flesh Eater nor natural Blade nor Artifice, remain firmly out of Amalthus's control. The summoning of the Titans and Mikhail turning his warship into a mech reminded me of the Mechonis-Bionis clash before and after Mechonis Core.

 

And Amalthus had gone full villain there at last, to meet his end at the end of a good two-three hours of intense action.

His mother's death flashback failed almost entirely to elicit empathy given everything else he is doing, if in itself decent. It's an act of random violence, which is a little lacking since we don't see any any Indolese beyond Amalthus and his generic priests. I'm a little surprised his mad scientist pal from Torna has no main game role. Although a random act of violence could perhaps say as much as a planned genocide philosophically speaking, random acts are too rooted in human nature, genocides require effort and are easier to prevent -or so one might be able to argue.

The later scene with saving the refugee only to kill him later when they turned out to be not so nice, was better. And IIRC- that was the scene Minoth later walked in on in a Torna flashback which he mentions as filling him with disgust, although I think Amalthus lied about the child's death as having already happened- I can't remember exactly maybe he didn't, but the main game implies he smothered the child dead. 

Really, Amalthus is fairly unusual to me. Few leaders of evil organized religions get so much effort when it comes to fleshing them out.

In the end, none of it is able to make Amalthus truly sympathetic, and only to an extent empathetic, evilness is still what defines him the most. Without Amalthus, Malos wouldn't be so convinced of destruction, Torna would not have been destroyed, Lora would have never died, Haze never manipulated, Jin gone radical, and Tantal would not have suffered either. -Even though they try to end Amalthus on a tragic note with him being dying and seeing his mother again, and his choice to save Zeke rooted in his own mother's death. 

Nonetheless, Monolith did not have to do any of this, it would have been much easier and requiring less effort to just reduce his backstory to a few lines of dialogue, no flashback. That Monolith did not says they wanted to do more than the terrible archetypal norm, and the effort certainly counts for something.

 

...And so that is what happened to the rest Haze's Core, more pity for her and rage for Amalthus- although I think Rex was being a little too nice to him still. I mean I get he is trying to negotiate with Amalthus because Malos and Jin are the more pressing threat, but he could've expressed a greater deal of disobedience and wanting to stop him as well. Ending Chapter 8 not on a boss fight and instead having him command the Ardainian Titan to attack was a dynamic way to end this chapter, which certainly could have continued on otherwise. And it's only because of the Titan attack that Rex changes his plans.

Speaking of the Ardainian Titan, since they couldn't possibly get rid of an entire region of the game loaded with important stuff and monsters in their 80s beyond what I should be at this point, I knew they're not going to destroy it. However, the Niall scene indicated it is in a near-terminal state. Like Monado: The Beginning of the World- to use XC1's original and weirdly ending-foreshadowing name, XC2 is probably going to end during and after the final battle with all Titans tragically sunk/sinking, but the world will be reborn a happier place without that worry.

 

To speak of the Torna members, I didn't quite remember Mikhail's first scene from Torna. It does explain why he would join Jin besides Lora, whose body he nobly sacrificed himself besides. That was touching. Helps redeem his main game self a bit after the philandering.

Akhos being sensitive and his flashback explaining his relationship to Patroka and how they met Jin worked for me. Not sure whether I'd consider him somewhat weaker than Mikhail (he shouldn't have been so quiet in Torna though- in that alone not having played the main game, I felt him unneeded). But Patroka is definitely the weakest Torna member, she exists to keep it from being 100% testosterone beyond Nia's brief stint, and nothing more.

Jin and Malos had one excellent broment together (and I did laugh at the just prior moment with the Rex x Zeke joke), which helps humanize the usually love-to-hate person Malos is.

Jin's death got rid of Dr. Octothus (sorta generic design), so good for him! His doubts and his arguing with Rex were okay. I'm honestly not quite sure what I think of Jin. Did they try too hard to make him sympathetic but fail? Was he just an emo prettyboy? Or is he is a good character? I can't honestly say one way or another- but I'm not calling him very complex either, since that would be praise. I mean I can parcel out the obvious that "Lora love & Malos bromance = good" and "Blade liberation ideology = bad", but taken as a whole, I can't make a call.

 

I'm not sure I'd ever return to Torna, to try to preserve my unique first impression, and because it's sad.

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2 hours ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

Here is a large collection of Torna commentary logs I made, they're better than my memory for what my actual firsthand impressions were:

That was indeed a large collection! I enjoyed reading through it and seeing such detailed thoughts. This must be cool for yourself to read through again in the future! Do you write commentaries on games like this often? Perhaps it's something I should consider someday.

Thank you for sharing! 🙂

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Torna is my favorite in the Xenoblade series for a good reason! The gameplay is amazing, and I love the cast! Overall amazing game!

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5 hours ago, Tylwyth Teg said:

That was indeed a large collection! I enjoyed reading through it and seeing such detailed thoughts. This must be cool for yourself to read through again in the future! Do you write commentaries on games like this often? Perhaps it's something I should consider someday.

I don't do it that often, but I did it to put out my thoughts for others interested to see, and for myself too. Memory not being perfect, writing my thoughts down shortly after playing preserves them better as they actually were, immune to revisionism with the passage of time. I can't delude myself and say "I always disliked Amalthus" if I have it on record that I did in some way originally appreciate him. Humility and the amateur historian in me spurred on the desire to record things as they were.

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Ah yes, the "let's make a time critical plot that's features nothing but sidequests for gameplay" game. It;s especially baffling in the context that they decided to put Gormotii in the game, which you travel back and forth to several, to many, times. If you're going to call the game Torna then set the entire thing on Torna. That aspect really leaned on my immersion, mostly because of how pointless it even was to have. 

Edited by Jotari

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10 hours ago, Jotari said:

It;s especially baffling in the context that they decided to put Gormotii in the game, which you travel back and forth to several, to many, times. If you're going to call the game Torna then set the entire thing on Torna.

I expect that perhaps the justification for having Gormott in the Torna DLC was to provide the players a common area between the two games to demonstrate the time difference. There was a small novelty in seeing what things were like previously, but not nearly enough to really sell it.

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1 hour ago, Tylwyth Teg said:

I expect that perhaps the justification for having Gormott in the Torna DLC was to provide the players a common area between the two games to demonstrate the time difference. There was a small novelty in seeing what things were like previously, but not nearly enough to really sell it.

If that's really the motive then I think Indol would have been a much better choice given that's where the villain is hanging out and is the more mobile of the titans, so could have been positioned near Torna with some level of reasonable justification for making travel so easy.

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Indol as is, is small though, not very much to explore. They'd have to retcon in a much bigger version for Torna for it to be a substantial second Titan.

Torna to me is not merely some superficial DLC story/gameplay content, it is much more than FE's DLC ventures, more than Breath of the Wild's probably too. Monolith's wants to portray Torna as an independent, fledged game and prequel, but I feel it doesn't live up to that either. If you want to see a Monolith Soft game that developmentally is a more independent prequel (which is not to say narratively), see Baten Kaitos: Origins.*

Torna is in limbo, its identity stuck between that of cash-grab story/gameplay DLC, and a finished, separate game. Torna's sudden turn to lots of mandatory (but quality) sidequests** I would want to say is a result of being short on resources to create more costly and substantial content. The reuse of Gormott over expanding Indol or making Torna even bigger, is partly I believe because it'd be cheaper to modify an existing environment than it would be to create more assets and locations out of nothing. Then there is the first Titan sinking by Malos going unseen and the second being brushed aside in the opening. The ending, although more might've been too bleak, was lacking for certain important scenes you'd expect too. 

This is not to say I dislike Torna, I really enjoyed it. But I do think if you removed it from XC2's DLC, gave it a longer development cycle, and raised the retail price on it, you wouldn't see the "faults" that it currently has. I do not discredit the many complete experiences available in gaming at a lower than $60 USD price point, experiences that are perfectly good games with 30 (or 15) hrs or less in length. But I feel Torna was worthy of $60 USD and 40-60 hrs of playtime, I think it might've wanted to be that. But it wasn't.

 

 

* To return to BKO, I admit it does recycle with modifications locations from Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean, it quantitatively recycles more even. But, it is a longer game (still shorter than the original) and does have more new areas too. Torna's problem is that Gormott exists alongside just 5 regions of Torna- one of which is a town, thats one-sixth of a geographically small game. While not entirely disconnected from EWatLO, if you picked Origins or Torna and didn't play the game it's a prequel to, Origins would make more sense. Torna existing as DLC for XC2 means it didn't feel compelled to show everything that it should've, because it could be assumed you played XC2 first and there was a benefit to saving resources in not reexplaining something. BKO definitely should've provided more content too I'd say in certain aspects, but the critical fault here is overambition, not Torna's cutting of corners that happened because its developmental mindset wasn't entirely dedicated to making it a fully independent game.

** Xenoblade Chronicles X relies heavily on quality writing in sidequests to world-build and create its experience. The difference between it and Torna is that Torna has a strong central narrative, or wanted to have one at least. XCX was made with the main story deemphasized, still dramatized and not entirely neglected, but the difference in priorities means the post-Malos-in-Auresco battle shift to Community completion is to Torna's unexpected detriment. In XCX, it's very expectable you'd do tens of quests between between the occasional story mission, it fit its game-beat a way Torna's Community does not. Again, not to overly criticize Torna, I still cherished it.

Edited by Interdimensional Observer

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1 hour ago, Jotari said:

If that's really the motive then I think Indol would have been a much better choice given that's where the villain is hanging out and is the more mobile of the titans, so could have been positioned near Torna with some level of reasonable justification for making travel so easy.

That's an interesting idea! It might have been much more interesting to see actual society 500 years earlier (or however long the time difference is). Though... I guess that's where budget and other restrictions come in. Also, I wonder what that would mean for the community system. For me it did a fantastic job of endearing me to the citizens of Torna, and making me genuinely care about the place. Since the community is so Torna focused, I wonder if it would have been too diluted if a much more populated titan (compared to Gormott) were to be used instead.

15 minutes ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

This is not to say I dislike Torna, I really enjoyed it. But I do think if you removed it from XC2's DLC, gave it a longer development cycle, and raised the retail price on it, you wouldn't see the "faults" that it currently has. I do not discredit the many complete experiences available in gaming at a lower than $60 USD price point, experiences that are perfectly good games with 30 (or 15) hrs or less in length. But I feel Torna was worthy of $60 USD and 40-60 hrs of playtime, I think it might've wanted to be that. But it wasn't.

Torna's shorter playtime is something I appreciated! In XC2 I didn't feel particularly compelled to do many of the side-quests at all (I'm sure I'm missing out on some good content), because I just felt like the core game itself had SO MUCH to offer. Meanwhile, Torna gives you a little more room to breathe. I've really enjoyed starting up the game each night for the past week or so and just exploring, completing side quests and unlocking abilities for my blades. The lack of constant forward momentum gave me opportunity to slow down and enjoy what the game had to offer.

If the game were to double in length, I wonder how far this kind of gameplay loop could have stretched, but for the length it is - I loved it!

Also, a factor that probably aided my enjoyment - I knew beforehand that there were some requirements for community level later in the game, and so I was never caught off-guard. I think this knowledge gave me the initial push I needed to clear a bunch of the quests, but as I cleared more and more I started to seek them out purely for the enjoyment of it. I imagine that if I hadn't known they were mandatory, I definitely would have hit a roadblock sooner or later.

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2 hours ago, Tylwyth Teg said:

Torna's shorter playtime is something I appreciated!

Thats fair, longer isn't always better and not everyone has the luxury of investing 60 hrs into a game, or wants to. And I didn't mind the mandatory quests myself.

Yet now when I look back at Torna, I can't help but envision if it had more, because I can see from the XC2 maingame what could've and perhaps should've been. It's a wanting born of love, not dislike. And I suppose it's accompanied by a tolerance for increased development time, price, and time investment on my part. Though to choose between Torna as is, and no Torna at all if it couldn't match it's loftiest potentials, I'd obviously chose to have what we have.

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4 hours ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

This is not to say I dislike Torna, I really enjoyed it. But I do think if you removed it from XC2's DLC, gave it a longer development cycle, and raised the retail price on it, you wouldn't see the "faults" that it currently has. I do not discredit the many complete experiences available in gaming at a lower than $60 USD price point, experiences that are perfectly good games with 30 (or 15) hrs or less in length. But I feel Torna was worthy of $60 USD and 40-60 hrs of playtime, I think it might've wanted to be that. But it wasn't.

I find the opposite. I don't think a longer development cycle would have helped as to me it felt like they were heavily faltering to even figure out how to provide enough content for what they had. Having a fully exposed world and seeing all the same maps for the main game centuries earlier (a bit like Final Fantasy X-2) would have been cool and help to make the conflict feel less like it's ridiculously small scale it currently has, but in terms of plot the result of the whole Malos conflict was already set in stone. Having more length shoved into it wouldn't really fixed any of the issues that are there. The only thing that would really serve from a longer development cycle would be a better game with the gameplay Torna has.

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6 hours ago, Jotari said:

I find the opposite. I don't think a longer development cycle would have helped as to me it felt like they were heavily faltering to even figure out how to provide enough content for what they had. Having a fully exposed world and seeing all the same maps for the main game centuries earlier (a bit like Final Fantasy X-2) would have been cool and help to make the conflict feel less like it's ridiculously small scale it currently has, but in terms of plot the result of the whole Malos conflict was already set in stone. Having more length shoved into it wouldn't really fixed any of the issues that are there. The only thing that would really serve from a longer development cycle would be a better game with the gameplay Torna has.

I operated under the assumption the turn to massive questing and cutting of scenes we should've gotten was for lack of budget to create more assets for more places, Torna as is isn't that big. And I would assume the largest investment of time, labor, and finances in modern games goes into creating good graphics.

Plotwise, if "Torna the Golden Country" became "The Aegis War, and Torna" I would say this would lead to a shift in emphasis from Lora and Jin, to Addam and Mythra. And therein lay a writing flaw with Torna, although Mythra does take the stage she deserves in the end, the game wanted to bolster Jin's story, and Lora as a crucial part of that- they get the center position of game's boxart. This choice may have limited the Aegis War we got to see, because the Aegis War isn't about Jin, it's never even stated in XC2 proper that he fought in it, much less tried killing the Aegis of Darkness he would bromance with later

It wouldn't be impossible to keep Jin relevant in a rewritten Torna, I can sketch an outline of one. But if they shifted Jin to deuteragonist and made Addam and Mythra indisputably the central protagonists, then they could've done more more easily. They did a splendid job of breathing life into that soulless hooded figure called "Addam" in XC2 into an actual character, and Mythra's pre-trauma personality was handled well too. The issue would become taking the combat we currently have and expanding that for a longer game.

Edited by Interdimensional Observer

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I'm of the mindset Torna was way more enjoyable than the normal XC2. I thought the quality was amazing, and I loved every minute of it!

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3 hours ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

I operated under the assumption the turn to massive questing and cutting of scenes we should've gotten was for lack of budget to create more assets for more places, Torna as is isn't that big. And I would assume the largest investment of time, labor, and finances in modern games goes into creating good graphics.

Plotwise, if "Torna the Golden Country" became "The Aegis War, and Torna" I would say this would lead to a shift in emphasis from Lora and Jin, to Addam and Mythra. And therein lay a writing flaw with Torna, although Mythra does take the stage she deserves in the end, the game wanted to bolster Jin's story, and Lora as a crucial part of that- they get the center position of game's boxart. This choice may have limited the Aegis War we got to see, because the Aegis War isn't about Jin, it's never even stated in XC2 proper that he fought in it, much less tried killing the Aegis of Darkness he would bromance with later

It wouldn't be impossible to keep Jin relevant in a rewritten Torna, I can sketch an outline of one. But if they shifted Jin to deuteragonist and made Addam and Mythra indisputably the central protagonists, then they could've done more more easily. They did a splendid job of breathing life into that soulless hooded figure called "Addam" in XC2 into an actual character, and Mythra's pre-trauma personality was handled well too. The issue would become taking the combat we currently have and expanding that for a longer game.

We still face the problem that this is a conflict that has it's result very much etched in stone. Adam aside, the major players of the Aegis war are all alive for Xenoblade 2. The conflict can't be depicted without halting their development arcs half way through (and even Adam we get a good sense of where he ends up in the main game, the whole shrouded robe thing is actually more of a really bizzare ass design decision than anything emblematic of his character). It's not like Blazing Blade where you can just plop them down in the same world and have younger cameos for a prequel. If they wanted to depict the Aegis was properly the best result would be to shift away from the major characters entirely and create a new story.Even trying to depict one of the various backstory conflicts of a Fire Emblem game would be easier than turning the Aegis war into a story. Because they're enough of a broadstrokes thing that we could make an original narrative. But the Aegis War was very much designed as part of Xenoblade 2 and not a stand alone idea. It;s like wanting to see a Final Fantasy X prequel where you play Braska's pilgrimage. Sure it'd be cool for service readings, but the story has already been told, just not in a direct playable manner.

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7 hours ago, Jotari said:

The conflict can't be depicted without halting their development arcs half way through (and even Adam we get a good sense of where he ends up in the main game, the whole shrouded robe thing is actually more of a really bizzare ass design decision than anything emblematic of his character).

Minoth in the maingame is an old man, his development is over. And Old Man Minoth is a less direct case of "prequel-original contradiction" I'd say, he shows none of the disgust for Amalthus he does in Torna, if anything he's cheery towards him.

Hugo is likewise another less direct "prequel-original contradiction" I'd say. You'd think Mor Ardain would celebrate its young emperor who valiantly died fighting Malos and that Brighid would know about it. But, we get nothing. -Though prequel-original contradictions are almost inevitable in any set of stories.

As for Addam, where Addam ends up isn't the same as what happened to him during the journey that gets him there. He begins in Torna, he defeats Malos, he ends sealing Mythra and fleeing to Leftheria.

But here is the thing- knowing the beginning and ending does not make the road between these two points irrelevant. Shakespeare's tragedies all end in the hero dying, does knowing this make Hamlet worst than a cheap romance novel? No. The end is only the end, it's not the duel where everybody dies by itself that makes Hamlet a great work. The majesty of Hamlet includes the "Alas poor Yurick!", the "To be or not to be?", the "Doubt that stars are fire", the play within a play, the herbal insanity of Ophelia, and all of these are laced between the watch where a ghost appears and the death of the Prince of Denmark. 

So, knowing Malos is defeated but survives injured, Torna is destroyed, Jin turns Flesh Eater, Mythra is broken, Addam flees to the Archipelago, does not prevent everything before it from being great. It doesn't do anything directly for XC2 maingame, it merely adds to the characters and places themselves, which could include Jin and Mythra- the two characters by far most relevant to the maingame.

The rest of the cast really isn't stuck in stone b/c maingame. Addam outside of a few details they could've done anything with- he didn't have a personality in the XC2 maingame. Haze's personality aside, there wasn't much to her from the maingame, backstory was open to be whatever. Lora other than snippets of flashback showing she trained besides Addam, was a cadaver in ice, they had a lot of flexibility with her personality and backstory. Team Hugo exists in Torna because Mythra met Brighid in the past, but they were free to interpret that as they wanted to, and they could've done anything with Ardain trio. Brighid had a tweaked personality and Aegaeon's was very different in Torna to boot.

And even if we knew Mythra must split apart, Torna did a spectacular job of showing that split. The known can still be executed with great precision. Knowing Spartacus must die in the Spartacus ballet did not stop the final dance from being beautifully sad to me.

 

7 hours ago, Jotari said:

It;s like wanting to see a Final Fantasy X prequel where you play Braska's pilgrimage. Sure it'd be cool for service readings, but the story has already been told, just not in a direct playable manner.

Normally, I would be 100% in agreement with you, I toss aside "prequels based on the legends in the original game" that a few fans will always desire as a bad idea. Yet here, I'm in disagreement. Whether I should be or not I do not know.

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1 hour ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

Minoth in the maingame is an old man, his development is over. And Old Man Minoth is a less direct case of "prequel-original contradiction" I'd say, he shows none of the disgust for Amalthus he does in Torna, if anything he's cheery towards him.

Hugo is likewise another less direct "prequel-original contradiction" I'd say. You'd think Mor Ardain would celebrate its young emperor who valiantly died fighting Malos and that Brighid would know about it. But, we get nothing. -Though prequel-original contradictions are almost inevitable in any set of stories.

As for Addam, where Addam ends up isn't the same as what happened to him during the journey that gets him there. He begins in Torna, he defeats Malos, he ends sealing Mythra and fleeing to Leftheria.

But here is the thing- knowing the beginning and ending does not make the road between these two points irrelevant. Shakespeare's tragedies all end in the hero dying, does knowing this make Hamlet worst than a cheap romance novel? No. The end is only the end, it's not the duel where everybody dies by itself that makes Hamlet a great work. The majesty of Hamlet includes the "Alas poor Yurick!", the "To be or not to be?", the "Doubt that stars are fire", the play within a play, the herbal insanity of Ophelia, and all of these are laced between the watch where a ghost appears and the death of the Prince of Denmark. 

So, knowing Malos is defeated but survives injured, Torna is destroyed, Jin turns Flesh Eater, Mythra is broken, Addam flees to the Archipelago, does not prevent everything before it from being great. It doesn't do anything directly for XC2 maingame, it merely adds to the characters and places themselves, which could include Jin and Mythra- the two characters by far most relevant to the maingame.

The rest of the cast really isn't stuck in stone b/c maingame. Addam outside of a few details they could've done anything with- he didn't have a personality in the XC2 maingame. Haze's personality aside, there wasn't much to her from the maingame, backstory was open to be whatever. Lora other than snippets of flashback showing she trained besides Addam, was a cadaver in ice, they had a lot of flexibility with her personality and backstory. Team Hugo exists in Torna because Mythra met Brighid in the past, but they were free to interpret that as they wanted to, and they could've done anything with Ardain trio. Brighid had a tweaked personality and Aegaeon's was very different in Torna to boot.

And even if we knew Mythra must split apart, Torna did a spectacular job of showing that split. The known can still be executed with great precision. Knowing Spartacus must die in the Spartacus ballet did not stop the final dance from being beautifully sad to me.

 

Normally, I would be 100% in agreement with you, I toss aside "prequels based on the legends in the original game" that a few fans will always desire as a bad idea. Yet here, I'm in disagreement. Whether I should be or not I do not know.

The issue in question isn't that we know that happens, it's the the character development is set in stone. Mythra arc as a character finishes in Xenoblade II, along with Malos and Amalthus and Jin and (to a lesser extent) Adam. If these are the character's we're going to focus on, then it's going to be an incomplete story because all the resolution to the set up is done in the original game. That's why I said if we were to focus on the Aegis War it'd be better to make a shift to new characters entirely. I didn't just mean have new characters in it (because of course you're going to have to do that), but that original characters who have a narrative blank slate (or just characters uninvolved enough, Minoth could have actually made a decent enough protagonist) would serve better as the primary protagonist. That is to say the Aegis War story, as a story, has already been told in Xenoblade II, but it could work as a setting for an original story in the Xenoblade II universe.  We got the major plot beats and character developments already, seeing them as a longer story with more dialogue doesn't really provide anything. Unless you add in another villain or conflict that isn't Malos/Amalthus, but then  if you go too far off script it might as well be an original story.

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The passion in this thread is inspiring! (Just waiting until I have chance to respond in full! Thoroughly enjoying reading the discussion in the meantime)

Edited by Tylwyth Teg

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One thing about Torna is that I do think they could have done more with it. Great as the game is I do think there is something missing in the story. There are several plot points that are touched upon but never fully explored. The original evil pope is clearly up to no good and him trying to get his hands on Mythra could be a decent miniplot. There's also a conflict between Hugo and his brother which is briefly mentioned but never given the time it deserved. It could have given Hugo the spotlight he sadly never got. 

8 hours ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

 

Hugo is likewise another less direct "prequel-original contradiction" I'd say. You'd think Mor Ardain would celebrate its young emperor who valiantly died fighting Malos and that Brighid would know about it. But, we get nothing. -Though prequel-original contradictions are almost inevitable in any set of stories.

Personally I always found it amusing to imagine Morag having an adorable fangirl crush on Hugo as the ideal Ardanian Emperor. She'd picture an amazing and all powerful warrior king without realizing that Hugo is pretty much like her younger brother. Sort of how Lucina sees Marth.

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2 hours ago, Etrurian emperor said:

Personally I always found it amusing to imagine Morag having an adorable fangirl crush on Hugo as the ideal Ardanian Emperor. She'd picture an amazing and all powerful warrior king without realizing that Hugo is pretty much like her younger brother. Sort of how Lucina sees Marth.

Haha! That is a very endearing thought!! 

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Gamexplain has been streaming Torna and while checking it out I noticed something.

Adam and Hugo have a very tight friendship. We don't get much details but they do seem very close and their relation goes back a long way back. So why exactly doesn't Bridgid recognize Adam when she fights the party? Why doesn't she notice her master's buddy with a group she assumes to be bandits? Given how Hugo's Blades(mostly Ageon) fret over him like a bunch of parents its unlikely he got them just before the story. 

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