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Xenoblade 2 Interviews with Tetsuya Takahashi

TheGreatLugia

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Two interviews with Xenoblade 2's executive director, Tetsuya Takahashi, were published recently. I'm posting the questions and answers I found the most interesting, but there's much more in both of the interviews.

The first interview is from Gamespot and can be found here. The second one is a reddit translation of a Gamekult interview. The translation can be found here and the original interview can be found here.

Some highlights from the Gamespot interview:
During the Nintendo Treehouse presentation at E3, you mentioned the idea of the drama that exists in real life between people, and how that's the key focus for what you want to deliver in Chronicles 2. I'm curious if you could speak to that a little bit more.

In terms of the drama between humans and previous games, this game has the name "Xeno." Like I mentioned, it's about differences or something out of the ordinary. Just take for example all of us in this room, we're all from different places, and we are different personalities, and the way we think is different. To gather all of those people into one place, I think there is both positive and negative that can come out of that...Looking at a bigger scale, it can be survival of the fittest or things on a country-based scale, like invasion, something like that.

In this game world that we're trying to create, there are these enormous beings called Titans that people live on and, that's their land. But their land, the Titans, are dying. Once they die, they sink into the cloud sea, so all these people are going to lose their land. They're not going to be able to survive, and I think when you look at it in the real world, I think something like that, something similar happens where there is a lot of competition for resources in the world we live in right now.

Relatively speaking, the United States or Japan are wealthy countries where people live comfortably, but on the other side there are countries that are very poor where people are struggling and suffering. Trying to think about what can we do for all of us to live together well and how can we do that is something that I think about when I'm trying to create games like this.
You definitely have a very distinguished career and a history of making games that mean something to a lot of people. I'm curious if you can pick one--what is the game from your past that means the most to you?

I think for me, all of them. The reason I say that is when I'm creating games, and once we complete a game, there's always this phase of post-mortem where I think to myself, "I could have done this better, or I could have changed that." It's not limited to just what I think of it. I also take in some of the players' feedback and other people's thoughts and think about, "Maybe if I do this next, people will enjoy it more. Maybe if I do that or change this, it would turn out better."

It's the cycle I go through for every game that I am a part of. If we started with Xenogears, there is a post-mortem that happened there that I put to use in Xenosaga. Then we went into a different title and then to Xenoblade and to X. It's just a reiterative cycle. To me, every single game is an opportunity to learn, and it's also an opportunity to challenge myself.

What step in the cycle does Xenoblade Chronicles 2 represent?

I think in terms of Xenoblade 2, there's always--like I mentioned--things that I wished I could have done or thought I should have done differently. I feel like Xenoblade 2 is my opportunity and my way to put all of that into reality. I say all of that, but I probably can't do everything in that title, and I'm sure that when this game is done, I'll have more post-mortem things to think about and more changes and different things that I'd like to do. That'll be carried out to the next title, whatever it is that I work on. It's this cycle that really keeps me going, but obviously if you're stuck on one point, you can't move forward, and the game will never be made, so there's certain times where you have to kind of draw the line and say, "This is how far I'm going to go this time. Whatever is left, I'll carry it on to the next game." That's kind of how I see it, but Xenoblade 2 is kind of like a culmination of all the things that I have done--and would like to have done--from my past.

Some highlights from the translation of the Gamekult interview:
Was Xenoblade 2 in developpement for Wii U before moving to Switch ? And what lessons did you learn with the developpement of XCX ?

It was a Switch exclusive from the beginning. As you know, XCX was made to be an open world game, and we mostly learned the cost of this kind of projects (laughs). By applying the acquired knowledge to a more linear experience, we had a better idea when it came to ressource management but also for optimization, and all the little details that allow us to better understand the magnitude of this world.
Did you also alter the UI, particularly bloated in the previous episode ?

Since the Switch has four face buttons on each Joy Con, we sought to made the control system more accessible and intuitive, so that you could realize actions without having to think about it. At least, that's what we're striving for. We also haven't planned to include touchscreen elements.
Judging by the trailers, Xenoblade 2 comes back to a more childish visual style. Is your goal to target a wider audience, or can we assume the game will still adress mature themes ?

Targeting a wider audience was one of our goals but we also wanted to make it so that characters had more facial expressions. Masatsugu Saito's character design is a way to make the protagonists more expressive. As for the story, we wanted to highlight the values of friendship in the first game, as well as Shulk's revenge, which was the driving force behind the plot. In this game, it's more about an initiatory journey and Rex's coming-of-age story.
Speaking of Rex, what can you tell us about him ?

He's clearly hot-blooded (nekketsu) like a character in a shônen manga but he's also older than he looks. When the story begins, he's been a Salvager for many years, helping the lost souls in the universe of Arst. He also lives in a world of adults, meaning he's a lot more mature than his apparence makes you think. The objective of Rex and his party is to go to Elysium, a sort of paradise. Those who live there know it is a legendary land, where everything seems to be perfect. Of course, the discovery of this place will be the driving force behind the main quest.
Exploration was always one of the most important parts of the Xenoblade series, especially in XCX. Can we expect an even larger world on Switch ?

Exploration will be even more important in Xenoblade 2. About the amount of places you will be able to discover and explore, I think we will go far beyond what Xenoblade X proposed. As you have been able to see in the trailer, you can expect to traverse a lot of varied environnements, some natural, some artificial, created by humans.

Does that mean the game will allow us to go wherever we want, or will the exploration be more guided, like in the first game ?

In the trailer, you've been able to see gigantic entities : the Titans. The player will traverse entire regions, towns and dungeons on the back of those gigantic monsters. The exploration on those creatures will be seamless. We could have made it so that going from one titan to another was seamless too, but going through the sea of clouds probably wouldn't have been fun, so we chose to make cuts for those transitions. In the game, as you've been able to see in the Treehouse Live, it's also possible to associate with Blades, beings that also are living weapons, and traverse those vast lands on their backs, even if they're not mounts in the traditionnal sense.
What can you say about the combat system ?

The main interest of the combat system is the association between Blades and Drivers, like Rex for exemple, and all the different builds that stem from all the different combinations possible. As we already mentionned, you can count on a lot of Blades, and all have their own skill tree, their own traits and even their own personality which makes them unique. As a result, it's possible to customize your character to adapt to various situations and various playstyles, which will be motivating for players.
Is any multiplayer planned ?

No, nothing planned there.
Will we see the return of the affinity system to unlock various skills and sidequests ?

There is of course the relationship between Blades and Drivers that is the main point of gameplay, as by nourishing them you will become stronger, unlock new skills, and so on. The game obviously has numerous sidequests, some dedicaced to developping characters, some dedicaced to developping the relationships between characters and their Blades, and some that will rely on NPCs that you will meet in town. Completing those particular missions will allow you to develop the town, to unlock new gear to buy, that kind of bonuses. Quest validation should be automatic in most cases, like in previous episodes : you don't have to go back to the quest giver to get the rewards. However, everything will depend of what kind of quest it is and the context in which you received it.
What game made the strongest impression during your career ?

It might not be the best moment, but I think the creation of the first Xenosaga was an especially difficult moment because it was done at the same time as the creation of Monolith Software. We had to handle the developpement and create a structure to handle employees, a multifaceted challenge. Xenogears is another game that comes to mind, as everyone on the team was a beginner. We all gained experience and matured together. Today, I think I can say our team is made of seniors, and everything seems easier.

Xenosaga was planned to be 6 chapters long. Would you like to come back to the series to finish it one day if the opportunity presented itself ?

If someone financed it, certainly (laughs).
 

DecoReturns

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sounds like XCX was expensive to make.

But they learned about time management and whatnot so must have been a good experience
 

mrmickfran

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Exploration was always one of the most important parts of the Xenoblade series, especially in XCX. Can we expect an even larger world on Switch ?

Exploration will be even more important in Xenoblade 2. About the amount of places you will be able to discover and explore, I think we will go far beyond what Xenoblade X proposed.
omg what
 

TheGreatLugia

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That's insane if true.

This is my own interpretation, I'm guessing "About the amount of places you will be able to discover and explore, I think we will go far beyond what Xenoblade X proposed." could refer to the location variety. I'm guessing the titans in Xenoblade 2 will be smaller than the continents in Xenoblade X, but the number of titans in Xenoblade 2 will be larger than the number of continents in Xenoblade X, with each titan still having its own unique theme.
 

jj984jj

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I'm glad Rex is older than he looks given his voice, but it's too bad he's still going to fall into that typical coming of age category. Oh well, it was obvious from the start Takahashi was doubling down on the shounen for this one. But this:
Exploration will be even more important in Xenoblade 2. About the amount of places you will be able to discover and explore, I think we will go far beyond what Xenoblade X proposed. As you have been able to see in the trailer, you can expect to traverse a lot of varied environnements, some natural, some artificial, created by humans.

Has me more excited than anything else so far. More varied than even Xenoblade would be amazing, and topping what Xenoblade X proposed? Man.
 

rhandino

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there are these enormous beings called Titans that people live on and, that's their land. But their land, the Titans, are dying. Once they die, they sink into the cloud sea, so all these people are going to lose their land. They're not going to be able to survive, and I think when you look at it in the real world, I think something like that, something similar happens where there is a lot of competition for resources in the world we live in right now.
The concept of this world is just too cool and actually reminded me that while I was playing Xenoblade Chronicles I was wondering if the other colonies ever thought what could happen if they digged too much into Bionis.

Xenoblade X had about 4 main areas excluding the one town. I would be worried if thats not the case.
There were 5 areas and like 2 of them were so dense that you could very well divide them into 2 areas (Noctilum and Cauldros)

If this game promises more areas that are as dense as Noctilum... my heart.

sounds like XCX was expensive to make.

But they learned about time management and whatnot so must have been a good experience
While it was more expensive that Xenoblade Chronicles, Takahashi also stated on other interviews that XenoX was not as expensive as other modern AAA games... and it kind of shows a lot of the time =P
 

asagami_

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Xenosaga was planned to be 6 chapters long. Would you like to come back to the series to finish it one day if the opportunity presented itself ?

If someone financed it, certainly (laughs).

lol

Do it Bamco and Nintendo!

Or a remaster please.
 

SatoAilDarko

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I've always wondered how much having discrete zones (titan) to load into makes a technical difference compared to how in XBX had narrow connections between distinct continents like the bridges in some GTA's between cities or those passages between areas in Tony Hawk's Wasteland.

Interesting he states greater exploration than XBC while also talking about how XB2 is more linear.

I wonder if with his team's added experience they can continue to release new games roughly every 2 and a half years?
 

Buzzi

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but Xenoblade 2 is kind of like a culmination of all the things that I have done--and would like to have done--from my past.

When did I hear that before...
 

HeeHo

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Looking forward to the game quite a bit but...

In this game, it's more about an initiatory journey and Rex's coming-of-age story

... this totally sounds like Rex is going to have some super obvious revelation that is supposed to be mind blowing but falls flat. Like, he'll learn not to judge a book by its cover 3/4 of the way through or something.

Although, I guess later in the interview it says he is supposed to be more mature than most kids. Not holding my breath though.
 

Waji

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Amazing. As I thought. Still, they always manage to give me more than what I expect.

Xenosaga was planned to be 6 chapters long. Would you like to come back to the series to finish it one day if the opportunity presented itself ?

If someone financed it, certainly (laughs).
There has to be someone !
 

TDLink

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So what's the over/under on Elysium not being a paradise at all and instead being something dark and fucked up?
 

whyamihere

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Do you know what happened to the Baten Kaitos DS project, that appeared briefly on Bandai Namco's plannings when the handheld was announced ?

A DS project ? I'm not sure... At least, I would like to play Baten Kaitos again, but for that you should speak to M. Honne (Baten Kaitos creator) at Monolith and ask him directly (laughs).

Someone convince Namco to give us another Baten Kaitos

:( :( :(
 
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sounds like XCX was expensive to make.

But they learned about time management and whatnot so must have been a good experience

BOTW paid for XCX, itself, and then some. I think XB2 will do well but BOTW will have probably paid for that too if it doesn't. Also, Monolith Soft is quite profitable actually. Not sure how that works considering they are owned entirely by Nintendo, though.
 

Scum

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About the amount of places you will be able to discover and explore, I think we will go far beyond what Xenoblade X proposed.

 

Voliko

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Definitely looking forward to it, can't wait for a more focused game than X. The quote about the scope of the exploration is hard to believe... I don't want this to be as huge as X. Xenoblade 1 size was great
 

TheGreatLugia

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Definitely looking forward to it, can't wait for a more focused game than X. The quote about the scope of the exploration is hard to believe... I don't want this to be as huge as X. Xenoblade 1 size was great

I'm getting the impression that the structure and scope is more in line with Xenoblade 1 than X. He specifies that "the amount of places you will be able to discover and explore" will exceed X, with X having 5 massive continents and New Los Angeles.

My guess is the number of titans in Xenoblade 2 will be larger than the number of continents in X, but each titan will be closer in size to a Xenoblade 1 location like Bionis' Leg or Satorl Marsh than a massive continent in X.
 

ika

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Cool interviews! I can't wait to play this game, I also think that the Elysium is not what it seems and our heroes will be shocked when they get there... :p

Takahashi is always humble and likes to challenge itself with each game, thats the reason he says similar things in all interviews.
 

Voliko

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I'm getting the impression that the structure and scope is more in line with Xenoblade 1 than X. He specifies that "the amount of places you will be able to discover and explore" will exceed X, with X having 5 massive continents and New Los Angeles.

My guess is the number of titans in Xenoblade 2 will be larger than the number of continents in X, but each titan will be closer in size to a Xenoblade 1 location like Bionis' Leg or Satorl Marsh than a massive continent in X.
Yeah I'm down for a bigger variety of locations rather than just bigger locations
 

whyreggielie

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I am so damn hyped for this game and that only happened recently. I want this to be Nintendo's FF and I really hope Xenoblade Chronicles 2 gets the sales needed to continue the franchise.

Now I am still playing both X and replaying chronicles kind of at the same time right now and I'm starting to notice what I loved and disliked about both games a little more. X drove me crazy with the static characters and sub-par voice acting in comparison to chronicles. However, it is forgiven mostly due to the sheer amount of content and complexity the game has to offer. Their is no way to touch every feature in this game within 100 hours and I really enjoy the freedom you are given in exploring all of these features. From what I've seen of Chronicles 2, the animations seem much more fluid with more expressive characters and no matter how much neogaf seems to despise anime, the character design here is much better than any in the franchise so far even though thats not saying much.

The route they are taking seems to be the proper culmination of the previous two games of more free than chronicles but more focus on characters and story than X and that is what is finally getting me hyped about this game. Being that this is using X's engine, I also really hope for environments to be as gorgeous as the last game. I have yet to experience any game as beautiful as Xenoblade X was and I really don't know how they accomplished that on the Wii U.

My guess is the number of titans in Xenoblade 2 will be larger than the number of continents in X, but each titan will be closer in size to a Xenoblade 1 location like Bionis' Leg or Satorl Marsh than a massive continent in X.

I think that is underplaying the titans size a little bit. I don't expect the to each be the size of a full bionis or mechonis, but I expect to total culmination of titans to be somewhere close to X's size since they are using the same engine. Satorl marsh and or Bionis' leg would be a little too small for individual titans and judging from the first titan we've seen so far their should be a whole lot more their.

I mean look at the neck of this titan, their should be a ton of veritcallity here and a whole lot more than any one zone in Chronicles to explore.
 

sublimit

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I always enjoy reading Takahashi's interviews.I still remember the Iwata Asks with Takahashi and Sakaguchi...that had made me so excited for both Xenoblade and The Last Story.

XC2 sounds incredible.This game and Dragon Quest XI are the two games i look forward to play the most (for now).
 
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Xenosaga was planned to be 6 chapters long. Would you like to come back to the series to finish it one day if the opportunity presented itself ?

If someone financed it, certainly (laughs).

Don't play with my emotions like this, Takahashi..... talking about my favourite series here.

KOS-MOS LIVES
 

MisterHero

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It's too much to hope for but I kind of want the Xenoblade series 'divorced' from Gears/Saga.

1) Nintendo/Xenoblade fans can't play them in a modern format

2) Let the Xenoblade series evolve into its own thing. I loved the art and character design in XB1 and wish they'd stuck with that for this game.

They can sidestep this by bringing those games to Switch, but I'm not going to dwell on port-begging. :p
 

KingSnake

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So more than 5 titans. The story still doesn't sound appealing to me. And if Rex is older than he looks, why draw him as a kid?
 

TheGreatLugia

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I think that is underplaying the titans size a little bit. I don't expect the to each be the size of a full bionis or mechonis, but I expect to total culmination of titans to be somewhere close to X's size since they are using the same engine. Satorl marsh and or Bionis' leg would be a little too small for individual titans and judging from the first titan we've seen so far their should be a whole lot more their.

I mean look at the neck of this titan, their should be a ton of veritcallity here and a whole lot more than any one zone in Chronicles to explore.

True, I could see the titans in Xenoblade 2 being larger than the zones in Xenoblade 1. But as far as comparisons go, I don't think any individual titan will be close to the size of a continent in Xenoblade X. I'm also not yet certain if every part of the first titan is traversable (like the neck). If the team wants to make everything fully explorable like in X, I could see every part of the titan being traversable. But it's worth pointing out that not every area you could see from a zone in Xenoblade 1 was traversible. For example, you could see the Bionis' head from Eryth Sea, but you could never actually go there.

Takahashi has said one of the reasons Mira was so large was because he wanted the world to keep its large sense of scope when the player is riding a Skell. As a result, Mira's world had to be designed to scale with both playing on-foot and playing in a Skell. Since there don't seem to be any hints of playable mechs in Xenoblade 2, on-foot scale might be the development team's sole focus this time in regards to world size.
 

ThatChairMan

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True, I could see the titans in Xenoblade 2 being larger than the zones in Xenoblade 1. But as far as comparisons go, I don't think any individual titan will be close to the size of a continent in Xenoblade X.

Takahashi has said one of the reasons Mira was so large was because he wanted the world to keep its large sense of scope when the player is riding a Skell. As a result, Mira's world had to be designed to scale with both playing on-foot and playing in a Skell. Since there don't seem to be any hints of playable mechs in Xenoblade 2, on-foot scale might be the development team's sole focus this time in regards to world size.

Takahashi does mention how they considered making movement between Titans a seamless travel through the cloud sea instead of a loading screen. Leads me to believe that movement won't be limited to just on-foot travel. Not necessarily mechs, but some sort of additional movement or transport method could allow scale to stay similar to X.
 

TheGreatLugia

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Takahashi does mention how they considered making movement between Titans a seamless travel through the cloud sea instead of a loading screen. Leads me to believe that movement won't be limited to just on-foot travel. Not necessarily mechs, but some sort of additional movement or transport method could allow scale to stay similar to X.

The party is shown riding an airship during one of the cutscenes in the E3 trailer. I'm guessing that's the way the party moves from titan to titan, but so far we haven't seen an indication that an airship can be directly controlled.
 

James Scott

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An improved art style was likely needed for the characters.
XCX had ok 2D designs that looked terrible in motion. These look pretty good even if Rex has dumb pants and Pyra has no pants.

I imagine he means the world has more continents/titans than XCX but maybe not as much land mass. A lot of it was made big to accommodate the Mechs.
Takahashi does mention how they considered making movement between Titans a seamless travel through the cloud sea instead of a loading screen. Leads me to believe that movement won't be limited to just on-foot travel. Not necessarily mechs, but some sort of additional movement or transport method could allow scale to stay similar to X.
Would be cool. So far there's no "hook" in the way XCX has with the Skells. Air ship travel could work

---------------

I believe they mentioned previously that they had to decide between a bigger world or more story which is why XCX ended up how it did.
Maybe that's what they mean by figuring out it was expensive
 

Servbot24

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During the Nintendo Treehouse presentation at E3, you mentioned the idea of the drama that exists in real life between people, and how that's the key focus for what you want to deliver in Chronicles 2. I'm curious if you could speak to that a little bit more.

In terms of the drama between humans and previous games, this game has the name "Xeno." Like I mentioned, it's about differences or something out of the ordinary. Just take for example all of us in this room, we're all from different places, and we are different personalities, and the way we think is different. To gather all of those people into one place, I think there is both positive and negative that can come out of that...Looking at a bigger scale, it can be survival of the fittest or things on a country-based scale, like invasion, something like that.

Isn't this pretty much every JRPG ever made?