A young woman with a tragic history, a hero treading on a dark path, and a kingdom destined to fall at the hands of a rogue driver. Discover the dark history of Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country, set 500 years prior to Xenoblade 2.
Is Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country really feeling it, or is it not so golden after all? Find out in our review after the break!
Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country
Developed by Monolith Soft
Published by Nintendo
Released: 14th September 2018 (Digital) 21st September (Retail)
Review copy provided by Nintendo
I’ll be first to admit, I never got the time to delve into the world of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 when it released last year, though my exam grades are probably thankful for that in all honesty. Originally, I was hesitant on trying the Torna expansion, I wanted to, but I was afraid that I would be missing out not having played the original. I do not regret my choice for a moment.
Though there are some references to Xenoblade Chronicles 2, such as returning characters and themes, the game does a great job filling you in on the mechanics of play. The game doesn’t even need to fill you in on any plot details because, well, it hasn’t happened yet… it’s a funny thing being set in the past. I would go as far as saying Torna ~ The Golden Country (TTGC) is actually a great place to start for newcomers and veterans alike.
The story revolves around a group of drivers and blades whose duty it is to thwart the plans of Malos, a powerful blade who is adamant on destroying humanity. As with most RPGs it’s never that simple, but where’s the fun in a basic plot when you are likely going to spend a good 30 or so hours just on the main story.
Those who need a little refresher (or who are an XC2 newb), your party is made up of upto three teams, consisting of one driver and put to two blades (think living weapons that share a bond with their driver). During combat, drivers will play offensively as vanguards, while blades will play defensively as rear guards. Both the vanguard and rear guard will perform attacks/buff automatically, but they can also perform vanguard or rear guard arts respectively once they charge up.
Contrary to Xenoblade Chronicles 2, the expansion actually allows you to switch the guard roles between the driver and the blade, allowing for even more variety with your attacks and vanguard arts. In addition to this, whenever you switch between a driver and a blade (or vice vera), you also perform a special switch art. It’s a bit of a shame that you are unable to ‘recruit’ optional blades like you are able to in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. It would’ve definitely been interesting to mix and match a range of blades for an even more varied attack style.
There are a few other mechanics you can utilise in combat. Drivers and blades can cooperate together to perform special arts. The more arts you perform, the quicker your special art meter will fill, you can even perform stronger specials the more you fill the meter up.
Whenever a team performs a special art, a blade combo begins. Once this happens, another team will need to perform a level two special, and then someone needs to perform a level three special. Not only do these specials deal more damage than usual, but this is amplified further if you use specific element combinations.
Performing blade combos will also summon elemental orbs. When the party meter has been filled, you can start a chain attack to try and destroy the orbs. Doing so will cause detrimental damage to the enemy, this is key for thwarting those pesky bosses.
The best thing about these techniques is that they are all pretty simple to perform, mastering them however, takes practice. In all honestly though, there’s nothing better than the sense of gratification knowing you’ve made all that effort to perform an insane amount of damage. It’s really nice having a lot of different options in battle, it allows you to easily change your play style for every battle, strategising which attacks to do when. What’s also great, is the fact that you can access all previously viewed tutorials from the options menu, perfect if you want a refresher of how a specific mechanic works.
There’s also a lot to do on the field. There are many quests and side quests to complete, some of them will even offer some insight to the many residents of Torna and beyond. You could also choose to defeat unique monsters, more powerful versions of other monsters with special abilities.
TTGC introduces a new field mechanic called camping. Camping allows players to access services like crafting and heart to heart talks. Before you had to go to specific buildings for specific services, now all you have to do is just set up camp at a range of designated areas to access them all. This greatly streamlines this aspect of gameplay.
Transversing the world is quite the sight, the entire world looks beautiful whether you are playing on a big screen at home, or in handheld mode on the tube. It also performs well without any noticeable frame rate dips. I often find that I just want a little peaceful stroll for a bit… too bad there isn’t a mode to get rid of all the monsters.
Monolith Soft has really shown a lot of love to Xenoblade Chronicles 2 with Torna ~ The Golden Country. Not only is the story very engaging, but there are a bunch of new improvement to the gameplay, such as being able to swap between driver and blade in battle, and streamlining field services. The expansion is also very accessible for newbies to the series. The only minor disappointment is that there are no longer optional blades to look for, other than that, Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country is a wonderful game!
Final Rating – 5 out of 5
Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country is out now for Nintendo Switch