On the one hand, Xenoblade grabbed me really hard. I have fond memories of playing through it in 2012 — in Seattle for the first time — and being blown away, though ultimately I drifted away a little and never finished it. I was blown away by the scale and scope of the game — an MMO, but as a JRPG!

When the remaster came out for Switch, I was excited to finish it, and I'm glad I did. The quality of life improvements are dramatic, and propelled me through the first half of the game handily: "listen to podcast, grind and handle a bunch of simple quests" might sound bad, but it's a very nice gaming mode for me to be in, so I loved that.

I really faded in the last third or so, though, even though I thought the aesthetics and environment were at their peak. I'm not a big RPG completionist but I sped through the ending pretty much as quickly as possible, and after some self-examination I think the reason is simple.

There's no point to doing pretty much anything in the game. The most important variable in battle is your level: if you want to do better, level up. This is so drastically less interesting than a game with parallel grinds (crafting! exploration! arts!) etc, and as soon as you shatter the illusion that all these subsystems actually matter you're left sighing, finding the optimal party to one-hit things with combos, and rushing through the cutscenes.


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