Xenoblade Chronicles 2 – 34 Hours and 134 More Questions

Warning: Some light spoilers ahead but nothing story-centric.

Ahh, Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I’ve already written how I’ve had some trouble getting started. At this point in time, I am about 34 hours into the game – although that is a bit of a guesstimate because the “docked mode save timer bug” struck me bad, adding insult to injury and between 8-10 hours of fake game time, rendering my save file time completely useless. For someone like myself who lives and dies by the in-game playtime clock, this is nothing short of a tragedy. But the show must go on!

I recently finished Chapter 4 and I have.. so many questions. Not anything specific about the story – to be honest, I play Xenoblade primarily for the gameplay, with the bits of story for each quest “bite-sized” portions of storytelling. Consider it like reading chapters in a book, but quickly forgetting the chapters you’ve already read. Maybe that’s blasphemy to some of you, but my attention span has been slowly worn down over the years to that of an aging goldfish, so bear with me.

Today, I want to speak about one thing: Customization. I’ll come right out and say it – there is far too much customization in Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

So many things in this game are customizable that I have become sucked up in a vortex of confusion. As a result, I’m playing it completely unlike the original Xenoblade Chronicles. In that game, and as I mentioned in a love letter-esque post mere days before Xenoblade 2 released, I switched characters constantly, as I loved experimenting with the different play styles. I’d tank with Reyn, then switch it up with Sharla and heal a bit while still ripping damage and Toppling enemies from afar, then go back to Shulk and unleash DPS with the Monado.

Yet, here I am in Xenoblade 2 and I played 99.9% of the time with Rex, the main character. I’m so fixated on trying to figure out the optimal way to battle, that complicating things even further by taking on an entirely new character would just serve to frustrate me more than the rest of the game already has.

Now, the customization in Xenoblade 2 comes in the form of two main options – the playable characters themselves, and the Blades that each of them wields.

Each Blade has a weapon type, and each weapon type has a choice of four different moves. Each of those attacks can be individually leveled up with points earned from using that weapon type. With me so far?

Now – here’s why you can’t really mess around with your Blade setup as much as you’d like to. Simply put, if you aim to follow the battle pattern of Break-Topple-Launch-Smash, there are only so many ways to set that up with capable Blades.

For example, Nia is a healer in the group, and with the Blade I have her set to use, she will always use Break as soon as the battle begins. Great, right!? Using Rex’s main Blade, Pyra, I can then use Topple. But, then there is no way for me to use Launch. I actually cannot figure out how to get these combos working and it’s been 34 hours in this game.

When I press L2 to change my active Blade to anyone but Pyra, I lose that ability to Topple Nia’s Break, since none of Rex’s other Blades have the Topple ability, so using any Blade but Pyra puts me at a huge disadvantage right off the bat, because only select weapon types can Topple. If this sounds confusing, it’s because it doesn’t make sense.

Pyra/Mythra are the only Blades I have for Rex that can Topple, so why would I ever run around with any other Blade?

The illusion that I keep trying to make sense of is that you can customize your characters with Blades, and each Blade has their own attack types and specials. However, not every weapon type can  it goes against what is to me the primary goal of battle – to work with your two other characters in perfect synchronicity to continuously handicap the enemy.

The other issue with trying to maneuver with all of these active Blades is that changing targets is extraordinarily clumsy. In Xenoblade Chronicles 1, you could take on multiple stronger enemies and continuously juggle Break, Topple, and Daze while switching back and forth. This doesn’t seem to be intuitive in Xenoblade 2, and it’s very frustrating.

What about making Geddy cry with this nonsensical Blade system? 😥

Of course, that’s scraping the surface of what I am finding difficult with the battle system. The other part is, as I mentioned, the fact that I never change from Rex – I feel like I’m constantly guessing what my next move should be. It’s never a conscious decision, “I will use a Water attack so that next I can trigger Fire, then Stone, then Fire!” – I just pick something and choose as I go along. Point being, how can I change characters to Nia or the Nopon when I don’t even know how to play as Rex yet? And after 34 hours?

This is a good time to mention that I have yet to bond a new Blade who is classed with Lightning, which is, naturally, the weakness of every enemy I come across.

Let’s talk about Blades. While the “bonding” process in which you roll the dice whilst simultaneously praying to RNJeesus has absolutely no method of scoring rare Blades outside of pure bloody chance, I still managed to snag some decent Blades. Not a lot, mind you, but some.

One of the very few times I got a sweet Blade.

Each Blade is classed to be either a Healer, Attacker, or Tank. So here’s a question – I have yet to roll a Healer for Nia, and she is a Healer. What am I officially losing by giving her, say, an Attacker? I have great tank Blades, but I can’t assign them to my Tank! Because the Nopon fellow can only use artificial blades. Well, uh, ok then. Do you see what I’m saying?

Of course, each Blade has about a dozen customization features, of which none do I truly understand the consequences of changing.

By 30 hours in on the original Xenoblade Chronicles, I knew what tweaks to make, what buffs each character needed, what specs were important to whom, who was executing each part of the attack pattern (which was Break, Topple, Daze) – I had mastered the game at this stage. By 50 hours in I had figured out how to play expertly as all seven playable characters, who for the record all played entirely different.

By the time I finished at around 80 hours, I had taken down almost a dozen increasingly difficult bosses, failing dozens of times at each one. But here’s the thing – I knew what I was doing. I was trying different strategies, trying to control different characters to improve the synergy, and finally, I took down each boss one at a time. It was so freaken epic. My heart raced for a week straight when I finally beat it a year ago, almost to the day.

In Xenoblade 2, I have yet to discover any real strategy in combat whatsoever. Sometimes it works, yeah, but I constantly feel as if I need to be in a menu screen, checking on a Blade to see if it leveled up for some arbitrary reason, or upgrading a skill that I didn’t even know I had. Or putting food in a pouch which to this day I have no idea what the hell it’s doing.

It’s frustrating.

I’m not done with this game yet. In fact, I’m determined to master it like I did Xenoblade Chronicles 1. But for now, I’m officially taking a break from Xenoblade 2. It’s been 4 chapters and I have no idea what these cutscenes mean anymore, because it’s hard enough to figure out what I’m doing in gameplay, let alone in story. I just recently got another ability (whoopee) to switch between Pyra and Mythra at will, and I’m not sure I even get what the benefit of that would be, so that’s great I suppose.

That’s it for the rant, folks. Needed to get this off my chest!

Do you have answers to any of these questions? Please send help, right to the comment section below.



  1. You got further than me. I gave up on the game around chapter three. The combat was hard to understand and I got fed up of high level creatures swooping down from nowhere to kill me. Such a shame because I loved the characters and the game was the main reason I bought a Switch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was definitely a misstep to include the massive beasts in the beginner area… not sure what the intentions of that were, other than to yell in the players face “YOU ARE WEAK. JUST LOOK HOW WEAK YOU ARE” as a giant gorilla storms out of nowhere and rips you in half. That happened to me too, but I may have just been used to that happening in XC1!

      I am planning on getting back into it – I took a similar break with XC1, I just ended up playing too many giant games at the same time…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with pretty much everything you’ve written here, menus on menus on menus. I always felt like I was lagging behind and would have moments where I would need to stop and take 30 minutes to re outfit my people.

    That being said I wouldn’t attempt to fight monsters and splitting out your attention, get one, have everyone focus with left on the directional pad, and pull off driver combos to end them quick.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Menus on menus on menus” – amen to that. Whenever I’d get a notification that one of my blades learned a new trait, it’d be like 15 button presses to “enable” it by opening the screen. Come on! And why not a hot-key to get to your quest log? So many quality of life changes, but in all honesty it just feels like there’s 100 pounds of shit shoved into a 50 pound bag.

      And of course the constant feeling of “I need to revisit all five dozen customization screens to make sure I’m not missing anything”. Ah! I am loving other games at the moment and will not return to this one until I have knocked out some shorter titles!


  3. I know the last time you wrote about xenoblade I said it was becoming one of my favorite games, though this hasn’t changed too much, the honeymoon phase is starting to ware off.

    I am starting to loose some interest and it’s starting to feel like a chore. I have spent the better part of 6 hours trying to do side quests and level up my blades. Some of them are easy, but most are just time wasters. I find that the only time that I am really enjoying the game is when I’m playing through the main story.

    Honestly, I might just say screw it and beat the game this weekend. I don’t want the endless pursuit for 100% completion take away the fun of the game.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ohh yeah, you’re not gonna want to try and 100% a Xenoblade game. The game doesn’t really intend for you to do that at all. That’d be burnout city!

      One of the first sidequests I came upon was “Fixing the Crane” and I could not figure out for the life of me how to find all the things I needed. I finished it just recently. Then decided I wasn’t doing anymore sidequests unless they really seemed interesting!


      • There are some cool ones that pertain to the rare blades that you find, but most of them require you to grind until your blades are strong enough in different areas in order to complete.

        One of my favorite side quests happened when I was walking down an alley. It never told me that a side quest was in the area, I was just wondering and then a cut scene appeared. That was kinda cool.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ah, I see what you mean. Some of them that have come up have been pretty interesting. One of them involved a murder mystery but I haven’t had the Blade skill to make any progress on it yet…


  4. I’ve figured out some pretty awesome combos in Xenoblade 2. My primary attribute is earth and if you start the fight with a earth move, followed by another earth move, and finish with an electric move you’ll do thousands of damage on your target and everything around the target. It’s not hard to do either. I picked up the combat system in this pretty fast and once I learned how combos work I started wrecking crap around me. I’m a bit over-leveled since the last boss I fought was level 32 and my entire party is level 40. I have about the same amount of time as you do in the game. Maybe a little more. The topple thing doesn’t really become a problem if you don’t put so much thought into it. Some enemies are completely resistant to be toppled and trying to topple them will only waste valuable time to get a proper combo going. I use Rex’s grapple hook primarily to heal when my party is getting low on hp.

    As far as the customization goes I think it’s weak compared to the previous game. I’m referring to X here not the first Xenoblade game. Lets start with something simple. Each blade has their own weapon class. Spears, swords, etc. The chips you find around the world or in shops increases their attack power, critical rate, and blocking chance. For a tank character you always want to have the chip that increases the block rate the most since their primary use is for soaking up damage. For your dps unit give them as much attack as you can and for the healer do the same thing. The aux cores are another important feature that shouldn’t be ignored. They give passive bonuses to your blade. 30% attack boost against bugs, 15% resistance against light based damage, and 10% bonus to your overall defense are a few of the ways aux cores can be used. Since Rex is pretty squishy I gave him a an aux core that increased his defense by 20%.

    The RNG with the blades can be pretty bad some times, but I’ve managed to get some fantastic blades. I have a blade of each type now. Rex is using two attack blades and a healer one. Nia is using two healers and a tank and the Nopon is using a tank and damage dealer. Having more than one character be able to heal the group and soak up damage has helped me win many fights against 7+ opponents. My favorite blade is probably that puppet thing I got… and that demon looking one.

    Sleeping at inns is also important. You level up when you sleep so do that regularly.

    This is all I can think of off the top of my head :).

    Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Man – thank you SO much for typing all of this out. I really appreciate it. Just hearing some confirmation that what I was doing was right is amazing.

      The stats that each character needs is super helpful as well. I’m wondering about increasing the Auto-attack for a healer – does that translate to bigger heals? Some games take the attack trait and apply it to healing as well, despite not changing what the stat is called for the healers.

      My whole party is around level 38 right now and I sleep at Inns pretty much whenever I encounter a boss that I have a lot of trouble with. Then I’ll go “sleep it off” as I call it, take a break, and go back and kick his (or her) ass 🙂

      Maybe you’re right – I need to not worry so much about the break/topple/launch/smash pattern. I’d much rather have the ability to heal with Rex at times, and there _are_ a lot of enemies who you can’t topple anyway.

      Honestly I think a big part of my problem is I approached the combat in this game exactly like XC1.

      But I am figuring it out though – the other day I nailed a massive chain attack that did over 300K damage and took down the final 25% of a boss’ health. It was awesome.

      Again — can’t thank you enough Drakulus!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • No problem dude :). I’m glad I could help a fellow gamer out. If you want to increase your healing done by your healer wear a Harvest Necklace. It increases the healing done by 14%. I’m sure there are better items to use, but that’s the best one that I’ve found so far. When Nia heals me I get thousands of hp back. Read the descriptions of your accessories. You want aggro accessories on Tora (I remembered his name!) and I gave my Rex more hp because I got tired of dying so much with him. Another great accessory is anything that increases your luck. Equip those before you bond with new blades because it increases your chances of getting a rare one.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ah yes, I have been stacking aggro on Tora (like I did with Reyn in XC1) and I was using anti-aggro accessories on Rex since I pump out a ton of damage. Then I was going increased healing on Nia.

          I will try messing around more with the accessories.

          You rock man, just reading this actually got me pumped to play again. Still taking a short break but it has re-entered my good graces 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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