Nintendo held a Direct presentation today, focusing on the upcoming release of Monolith Soft's Xenoblade Chronicles 2. The presentation began with a quick overview of the game's setting of the world of Alrest. In the middle of Alrest lies the world tree and supposedly the lost paradise of Elysium. Long ago people were cast out of Elsyium, and now live on giant being known as Titans that float around the cloud sea.
This was followed by a new character trailer. The trailer is in Japanese with English subtitles, highlighting the free launch day DLC that will add a Japanese voiceover option. The video introduces main character Rex, who is saved by a girl named Pyra giving him some of her life force. In return, Pyra asks Rex to take her to Elysium. The video then shows many characters, including those of Torna, who seem intent on stopping him.
After this, the presentation focused on various gameplay elements, beginning with Blades. Blades like Pyra are artificial life forms that resonate with Drivers like Rex, granting them powers and weapons in battle. Drivers can resonate with many Blades by touching their core crystals. Blades have varying designs, weapons, and abilities, as well as elemental affinities.
Like previous Xenoblade titles, the world is filled with numerous creatures exhibiting different behaviours depending on their species. Some will not attack the player unless directly threatened, while others actively will go after them. Some species will appear at different times and in different weather conditions. Various uniquely-named, powerful monsters can be found and will leave a tombstone where they were beaten by the party, and by examining the tombstone players can fight them again.
Details were given about the relationship between Drivers and Blades. Drivers are frontline fighters, while Blades act as support. While adventuring, players can come across special points on the map. Certain Blades can provides bonuses here, increasing the items that come from these collection points, opening new paths, etc. During combat, Blades can use Blade Arts to protect their Driver by providing various boosts such as higher accuracy.
There are three ways to strengthen Blades. Aux Cores work as accessories providing bonuses, while Core Chips change the Blade's weapon, altering its appearance giving it higher stats. Each Blade also has an Affinity Chart. Affinity rises as a Blade and Driver spend time together, unlocking new abilities. By visiting special locations, players can also trigger Heart-to-Heart conversations that further boost trust between companions. As players collect more and more Blades, they will end up with an over-abundance of them. Players can team their extra Blades up into Merc Groups and send them on missions. After a certain amount of time, the group will return, gaining experience points, rewards, and affinity.
While exploring the Alrest, the cloudsea ebbs and flows, changing which areas and potential secrets are accessible. Shining spots can be found throughout the world and come in a few different forms. Collection points provide items that are used to complete quests, unlock Blade abilities, or power Aux Cores. There are also salvage points that let players dive into the cloudsea to collect treasure. However, sometimes players may end up pulling up monsters in addition to the items. Though the Titans are very large, they are full of various landmarks, which players can freely teleport to after they have been found. Players can also freely change the time of day, and undertake various quests offered by NPCs throughout the world.
The Argentum Trade Guild is a huge skyfaring vessel that serves as a commerce hub. Here players can buy accessories and equip party members with them, providing a bit of customisation. Players can also place items in party members' pouches, which can grant boosts for a certain length of time. By playing a mini-game called Tiger! Tiger! and collecting treasure in it, players can also customise a special artificial Blade called Poppi. Players can upgrade her abilities and even change her element type.
Moving onto the combat system, there are three Drivers in the party (one controlled by the player, the others by the AI), and each Driver can equip three Blades, with one Blade being active. Party members will auto-attack, which powers up their Driver Arts. If a gauge becomes completely filled, players can also unleash a Special attack. There are multiple Special levels to fill up, with the highest being a level four Special. Allies controlled by the AI will wait for the player's instruction before unleashing their Specials.
Blades comes in three types: Attackers, Tanks, and Healers. The combination of Blades that are equipped to each Driver will determine their class and any bonuses that they earn in combat. Each weapon class — determined by the active Blade — comes with four Driver Arts, three of which are equipped for use, granting a maximum of nine Arts for each Driver. By gaining levels, players can unlock new skills and enhance Driver Arts.
Combat features three types of combos: Driver Combos, Blade Combos, and Fusion Combos. Driver Combos are performed by chaining Arts, inflicting status effects on enemies. Blade Combos are performed by chaining together Specials depending upon the Specials' elements, and can prevent enemies from using certain abilities, also placing an elemental orb circling them. Finally Fusion Combos are done by starting a Blade Combo while a Driver Combo is in effect. There is also a special technique that is available when the party gauge in the top-left is completely filled. This unleashes a Chain Attack, where the Blades will unleash their specials one after another. This usually stops after the third attack, but by matching the elemental orbs from the Blade Combos, further Specials can be added on.
Finally, the presentation unveiled an Expansion Pass for Xenoblade Chronicles 2. The pass is available to pre-purchase now for $29.99/£26.99/€29.99, along with the game itself on the eShop, and will contain access to the following DLC:
Various support items (starting December 2017)
New quests (starting January 2018)
New rare Blade (spring 2018)
New challenge battle mode (summer 2018)
New story/adventure (fall 2018)
The third game in the Xenoblade series, the titles of which are all standalone, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is scheduled for release exclusively for Nintendo Switch worldwide on December 1, 2017.