Xenoblade Chronicles 2 director on development, inspiration for the world and setting, upcoming DLC, more
Around the launch of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Japanese outlet 4Gamer caught up with director Tetsuya Takahashi for a lengthy conversation. The two sides discussed all sorts of different aspects regarding the game’s creation, including a return to numbered entries, the inspiration for the world as well as Drivers and Blades, and more. There was also talk about the Expansion Pass and future DLC.
We’ve prepared a lengthy summary of the new interview featuring Takahashi’s various comments. You can read it in full below.
4Gamer first wonders why Monolith Soft went from Xenoblade Chronicles 1 to Xenoblade Chronicles X, and then moved back to numbers with Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Takahashi explains that X was a title with an axis of quests and exploration based on an open world, which resulted in it having a different direction from 1. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has the same story-driven axis as 1, which is why they used numbers again. Maps in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 are not open world and are segregated by areas, but players can explore freely, so they can enjoy both the storyline and game systems.
The Titans in Xenoblade 2 look similar to the Mechonis and Bionis from the first entry. Takahashi has been always thinking that if he were to have an adventure, it would be more interesting to have areas that you can’t normally see in real life.
4Gamer then asks about the division of characters between the player-controlled Driver and the Blade partners. Takahashi answers that he thought of the gameplay system first before the world setting. Xenoblade Chronicles X had Battle Arts which use d-pad buttons to unleash techniques, but it would prove difficult to control these actions while moving. So to remedy that, considering the Switch has the Joy-Con that can be split in two, he assigned the buttons in a way so that players can feel like they have more direct control. But just simply doing that wouldn’t make it interesting, so when he thought about adding more personality to the characters, he came up with the relationship between Drivers and Blades.
Blades take their energy from Ether in the atmosphere, and send it to their weapons. Drivers use the said weapons to fight, but when a Driver is there with a Blade, the Driver’s physical strength and agility can be raised to superhuman levels; which is why the 15-year-old Rex can fight with such strength.
By having the Driver use their weapon, energy is filled inside the weapon. And giving it to the Blade will let them unleash the power to even stronger techniques, thus forming a cycle. Takahashi likens that to the protagonists of the Ultraman show where one who has power (Ultraman) gives some of the power to a human (Hayata) so that the latter can fight.
At first the team tried to make a type of story setting in which the Blade characters would look like Ultraman. But as they couldn’t put a 40m-tall giant on the screen, they ended up reducing their sizes to be around the same as humans. They also made the story that depicts a hero and heroine, thus connecting it to the keywords “Boy Meets Girl” and “Juvenile”.
4Gamer was surprised to learn that the team changed the setting from Ultraman to Boy Meets Girl. Takahashi says this could be due to him being a fan of Galaxy Express 999. Recently there have been too many titles with characters living in savage worlds, so Takahashi wanted to go back to his innocent, childhood-like mind and base the characters around his favorite series in the past.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 employs a real-time battle system. The biggest reason for this is that the team wants to avoid loading screens which would make people lose interest. However, Takahashi admits he still couldn’t eliminate loading screens completely, as the game still requires time to load such as when event scenes start.
Takahashi admits that they intentionally included an MMORPG element where there are extremely strong monsters loitering around in the beginning areas. Monolith Soft wanted to include an element that will make players interested in playing the game forever when creating the game world. Having such monsters provide motivation and players coming back after getting stronger to beat these monsters would have a different sense of accomplishment when compared to linear game design. They also wanted to make the monster algorithms more elaborate than the first Xenoblade.
4Gamer noticed that the party member amount is changed from Xenoblade Chronicles X’s four to three. When they wonder if the reason is because of the separation between Drivers and Blades (hence an actual total of six characters), Takahashi confirms this and also said that having eight characters in a battle would greatly affect resource management and processing speed.
There are about 40 Blades in the game, including the common ones. More Blades will be added with post-release updates, including in the Expansion Pass. However, Takahashi also says that not all Rare Blades are actually rare. The highest graded Common Blades (4 stars) are more powerful and difficult to obtain than some Rare Blades that are of low rank and more common to obtain.