Xenoblade Chronicles 2

The true sequel to the best-loved contemporary JRPG is unrestrained in its ambition, and the result is a chaotic kind of brilliance.

Key events

Xenoblade Chronicles 2's massive New Game Plus mode update is due next week

Nintendo has announced full details of its massive, free new update for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, due to arrive on Switch next week.

Update Ver. 1.3.0, as it's called, is primarily focussed on delivering a New Game Plus mode. However, according to Monolith Soft's Tetsuya Takahashi in the latest production notes, New Game Plus is "more than just a way for people who have cleared the game to play through it a second time" - it introduces a number of key new features too.

For instance (the lightest of spoilers ahead, incidentally), when you play Xenoblade Chronicles 2 in New Game Plus, the Blades encountered in the kingdom of Torna - namely, Obrona, Sever, Perdido, and Cressidus - will be to able to join your party as Blades. The same is true for their Drivers, Akhos, Patroka, and Mikhail.

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Xenoblade Chronicles 2's December update will aim to fix its awful map

Xenoblade Chronicles 2's December update will aim to fix its awful map

And a free New Game Plus mode is due next year.

Nintendo has announced that Monolith Soft's superb Switch J-RPG Xenoblade Chronicles 2 will receive a sizeable update on December 22nd. It aims to fix some of the game's more bothersome elements, including its utterly terrible map system.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2's map is genuinely impressive in its uselessness, proving too large and too lacking in information to function as a meaningful navigation tool. Its fast-travel features are equally trying, buried beneath an endless procession of sub-screens.

All improvements are welcome then, and Nintendo's December 22nd update will offer two initial upgrades; firstly, Xenoblade 2's mini-map overlay will gain a new 1:1 zoomed option that can be triggered by clicking the L stick. "This will allow improved visibility of your surroundings and make it easier to check quest locations," says Nintendo.

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Digital FoundryIs Xenoblade Chronicles 2 too ambitious for Switch's mobile mode?

Impressive when docked but portable play has issues.

It's been a remarkable year for Nintendo's Switch and Monolith Soft is ensuring a strong finish with Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Building on the technology that powered Xenoblade X on the Wii U, this new game expands upon its engine in numerous ways enabling cool new visual effects in the process, but this ambition is met with unexpected drawbacks that detract from its overall presentation, including the one of the lowest recorded rendering resolutions we've seen on record. Clearly, the developers have walked the tightrope here in terms of balancing new features with the hardware limits of the Nintendo hybrid and we're not entirely sure that it's fully paid off.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 review

Rex is a boy whose virtues are so gleamingly obvious and uncomplicated that they threaten to render him friendless. He spends his days industriously, niggling at sea beds in a Victorian diving costume - all brass and glass curves - salvaging trinkets from wrecks. Only the bare minimum of the profits Rex earns from this work are kept: he dutifully sends the rest home to support his distant, impoverished family. Together with his friend and father-figure, Azurda, a dragon-Muppet on whose back Rex rides (and, rather rudely, on which he has erected a rusty salvage crane) the pair tour the cloud sea without complaint or quarrel. Who can stand to be around that kind of blinding decency for long?

Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Developer: Monolith Soft

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FeatureThe Switch's special year is set to end as it began, with another 100 hour classic

Hands-on with the first two dozen hours of Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

Compare and contrast the lead-up to the launch of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 with developer Monolith Soft's last two Nintendo outings (or indeed its last effort, given how it lent a hand with Breath of the Wild) and you can't help but feel it's all been a little muted. Perhaps it's just circumstance; this is coming at the tail-end of a spectacularly busy year for the Switch, hot on the heels of a mainline Mario. But when the first Xenoblade Chronicles launched on the Wii it was the culmination of a long journey for creator Tetsuya Takahashi, and perhaps the first game capable of matching his grand ambition, and when spiritual successor Xenoblade Chronicles X arrived some five years later there wasn't much else for Wii U owners to cheer for.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has a final release date

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has a final release date

Coming before the end of the year - just about.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 finally has a release date, with the sequel to the epic 2010 RPG coming on December 1st.

Monolith Soft's adventure was one of the last pieces to fall in Nintendo's first-party plans for the remainder of 2017.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a spiritual successor to the original Wii game, though of course we've already had one of those in the equally brilliant Xenoblade Chronicles X back in 2015. Will this all-new game reach the same heights? Tom saw it recently and came away intrigued if a little bemused by the complexity of it all.

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Back at Gamescom, I got the chance to play around an hour of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Nintendo's big role-playing game exclusive pencilled in for launch on Switch this Christmas. I'm told I was the first person at the show - and apparently the first outside of Nintendo - to go hands-on. Surprisingly little has been seen so far, bearing in mind the game's impending launch, so I'm a little lost when I find myself dropped a dozen or so hours into the game's campaign. I'll be learning its many battle systems on the fly - and I do definitely spend my entire time with the game learning, as layer upon layer of gameplay unfurls itself and things slowly, mostly start to make sense.