Posted on Dec 15th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (GrayGhost81)
Posted under gaming, review

Xenoblade Chronicles: Future Connected - Listeners of the Playcast will be familiar with my very long history with playing Xenoblade Chronicles. In summation, I started the game in early 2019 on the 3DS. I got about eight hours into the game and decided to start the game over because I was enjoying it so much that I wanted to play in on a big screen. I fired it up on one of my modded WiiUs and got about thirty hours into it. I tried to tweak something related to the mod that I won't get into here and bricked the virtual Wii on this particular WiiU. I could not access the game or my save. I was more upset about that than I was about messing up this WiiU. I played other games for a few months but Xenoblade Chronicles never stopped calling me. Rather than starting again for a third time, I decided to go back to my 3DS save and continue the game. It took a very long time but I eventually beat the game. I absolutely loved every minute of the eighty hours it took me to roll the credits.

At some point during my 3DS playthrough, Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition was released on the Nintendo Switch. Despite my initial stance of not needing to buy it, a decent sale shortly after release forced my weak hand and I bought a physical copy. I had no intention of replaying the game, but I wanted it in my collection and I thought it would be fun to play the epilogue included with this version of the game, known as Future Connected. I am very grateful that the developers of the game made it so that you can go into Future Connected without having to beat the main game or unlock it in any way. The game takes place one year after the end of the main game and much to my delight it focuses on my favorite character from the main game, the magic centered empress, Melia Antiqua. Also in the party are Shulk and two new characters. At the time of this writing I am not completely done with this expansion but that is because I am actually savoring it. Some of the mechanics from the main game have been simplified, mostly for the better. For example, Shulk's visions during battle have been removed. I found these to be annoying and pace-breaking in the main game. Also, the mining mechanic has been simplified so you mine the actual gems that can be attached to equipment, rather than ore that has to be used in a confusing crafting mini-game as in the main game.

Even for a DLC, I'm in awe of the environments and overall presentation of what I am playing. I wasn't sure how I felt about the anime-style character models when the game was announced, but they are absolutely beautiful, especially my beloved Melia. Although it is significantly shorter than the main game, I am finding plenty to do as there are many side quests along with things to collect and places to explore. I wouldn't say it is an absolute must-play, but if you enjoyed the original Xenoblade Chronicles and especially if you like Melia and/or Shulk, you should go ahead and dive into this one.   

Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare - As a longtime Playstation Plus subscriber, I've had this kicking around in my download queue for a long time. It wasn't until the past few months, where my wife and I have been looking for couch multiplayer games to play together, that this actually caught her eye. "Ooh, Plants vs. Zombies, let's play that!" she said when she saw the icon. "It's not like the mobile game," I replied "it's a multiplayer shooter like Call of Duty." To my surprise, she didn't flinch and wanted to try it out.

PvZ:GW is a mostly online multiplayer shooter, but it does have a split screen waved based mode where you can only play as the plants. My wife and started out kind of skay in this mode but once we fell into a groove, we got pretty good at it. Our record at the time of this writing is getting to wave 17. My wife took it upon herself to start playing the online modes and she likes them a lot. There are microtransactions in this game but they are not obtrusive. You earn coins each time you play which can be used to buy card packs. The cards are used to set up defenses (think automatic turrets) and of course, coins to buy them can be purchased with real world currency. Luckily the in-game economy is pretty fair without the microtransactions from our experience.

I swear, gaming with my significant other has really bonded us in 2020. I love watching her learn the mechanics and master the controls in genres she is not familiar with, like online shooters and some of the Diablo-style games we have played in the past. The game is cute and colorful but as much as I enjoy it, I hope she and I can find a 3D shooter that has a start and finish, because I really like playing games with her but the endless horde mode gameplay of Garden Warfare is, in some aspect, unsatisfying. I have played a few other great games with her lately but perhaps I'll save them for a dedicated article in the future. Are you playing more couch co-op games in our work at home, pandemic life?

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I've been playing Xenoblade on the Switch and am probably a little over halfway through it. I like it a lot, but it isn't really grabbing me the way I thought it would based on all the hype. I am enjoying it though and I'm sure I'll finish it with an overall positive impression.

Totally agree about those in-battle visions being annoying though. Neat mechanic in theory, but pausing the gameplay just to show an upcoming enemy's attack was kind of a dumb idea, especially when it happens frequently in some battles. Glad to hear they were removed from the epilogue. I've also totally ignored gem crafting for the entire game which may have been a mistake...
You're reminding me that I really need to go back to Xenoblade Chronicles. I think I have somewhere around 20-30 hours into the Wii version, and seeing the screenshots you've been posting on Twitter is making me want to just grab the Switch version, and restart the game on that. I suspect I'd have a better experience with the updated mechanics on there, anyway, and a better understanding of the battle system.

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