Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Tetsuya Takahashi interviews with TIME

MomoQca

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Few selected quotes below. Click on the link above to read the entire interview.

TIME: I've been replaying Xenogears [a 1998 PlayStation game and Takahashi's first full directorial debut] and noticed that the memory cube icon for saving the game looks a bit like the Monado from Xenoblade Chronicles. It got me wondering if there's a visual motif you're carrying through these games.


Tetsuya Takahashi: In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, there are what we call core crystals, the blue crystals you might have seen in the trailer, and these act as the game's version of the memory cube or Monado. I think you'll notice that the female character also has a mysterious, interesting-shaped crystal on her chest. As you play the game, you'll come to understand why it's shaped that way.
When we spoke about your last game, Xenoblade Chronicles X, you told me you'd distanced yourself from philosophical themes in that game's core story. Where do your interests along those lines lie these days?

In terms of a theme in Xenoblade Chronicles 2, there are all of these Titans, and their lifespan is about to end. The people living on these Titans now have to find a way to continue their lives, because the land they've lived on is about to die. So it's about these people's quest to find where to live.

Also, there are these lifeforms called Blades. They're not human, as the title indicates — the "Xeno" part of the title, which means they're not human. They're unique lifeforms, and there's this theme of how humans and Blades can coexist and learn to live with each other, and learn to not only coexist, but protect the world that they live in.
I noticed artist Tetsuya Nomura's name in the trailer credits [as the designer of a character named "Toma"]. He's obviously a longtime Square Enix fixture [he's currently directing Kingdom Hearts III and the Final Fantasy VII remake], so I'm wondering how that happened?

Good question. This story goes back 20 years. Back when I was about to start on a new game, and the name "Xenogears" wasn't set yet, for that new title I needed a designer. And at the time there was someone who was directing the Final Fantasy series, Mr. [Yoshinori] Kitase. And then Mr. Nomura and I were in the team together doing character design. At the time, Mr. Kitase was handling Final Fantasy and I was doing this new title, and I wanted to work with Mr. Nomura.

So I was waiting for the final call to be made, whether he was going to be working on the Final Fantasy series or on this new title of mine. And then Mr. [Hironobu] Sakaguchi [the creator of the Final Fantasy series] came and said 'Tetsu is going to do Final Fantasy.' So I thought 'Okay, I've got to find myself a new designer.'

But I've always wanted to work with him. And this idea of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 came up, and I thought I'd love to work with him again. After our discussion with Nintendo went through and this project was a go, I went directly to Square Enix, thinking that I'd be denied, asking if I could work with Tetsu. To my surprise, it was approved, and that's how it happened.
Lastly, I thought Xenoblade Chronicles X was a wonderful game, and also wonderfully different from Xenoblade Chronicles. But it feels like Mario Kart 8, in that it was constrained by the Wii U's limited audience. Any chance we might see it come to the Switch?

Thank you for that feedback. I think we're currently completely focused on creating Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and even after I go back to Japan, I have a mountain of tasks that I need to overcome. But I would love to think about it, after the development for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is completed.
 

Eolz

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It's nice that they asked about XCX (
should have asked about a sequel too considering the ending
).

I really want to like XC2, but I can't stand the new character art. Interesting that they wanted it early in the console's life. Helps to build an audience for sure.
 

Ridley327

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It's nice that they asked about XCX (
should have asked about a sequel too considering the ending
).

I really want to like XC2, but I can't stand the new character art. Interesting that they wanted it early in the console's life. Helps to build an audience for sure.
I think that has been something that has been limiting the audience for the series, as they've all come out so late in the life cycle of each system. This will easily be the most exposure any game has gotten thus far.
 

Deku89

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Interesting interview. A port of XCX would be good. More large scale RPGs the better.
 

Lilo_D

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It's nice that they asked about XCX (
should have asked about a sequel too considering the ending
).

I really want to like XC2, but I can't stand the new character art. Interesting that they wanted it early in the console's life. Helps to build an audience for sure.
I do think people focus too much on the character design but whatever
 

koutoru

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I think that has been something that has been limiting the audience for the series, as they've all come out so late in the life cycle of each system. This will easily be the most exposure any game has gotten thus far.
Yeah, he mentioned having to build entirely new tech for XCX and having to deal with 2 screens for the wii u as challenges.

Glad that they could just build off of what they already had for this game to get it out faster.
 

jj984jj

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Honestly I don't think I need an X port, but if a sequel is coming it'll be necessary. And I'd love a sequel.

It's interesting that he brought up the lifespan of the Titans again. Seems like that'll be a driving point of XB2.

Also this might be the first confirmation that the blades aren't human? We knew it wasn't just humanoids, but I don't think it was confirmed that Pyra wasn't human before now?
 

MicH

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Oh, so that's why they want to go to Elysium. I don't think I ever knew the Titans were dying so that's nice to finally get some form of a motive
 

Flarin

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Managed to nab a Switch yesterday and played the hell out of XCX on Wii U. Looking forward to blasting through this during Christmas time ^__^
 

Peltz

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I think the troubled development shows in the final product of XCX. It's not well paced at all. I'm much more hopeful about XC2
 

DiipuSurotu

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Interesting tidbit about Tetsuya Nomura! We also know from Soraya Saga that Nomura came up with the idea for Citan Uzuki before he ultimately left the Xenogears development team.
 

Fireblend

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I think the stuff with the titans dying is a clever twist on the "our world is dying" trope. We knew about it already from other interviews but I really like the places it could go.

Absolutely can't wait for this. Hope it really does come out in time for the holidays.
 

Sammy Samusu

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Why? You needing something doesn't equate to Nintendo needing something. You already made that mistake with fucking Donkey Kong.
Nintendo doesn't have many mature looking games. They are all cartoonish. XCX being the exception.

And thanks for reminding us of DKC. That's further proof of Nintendo moving studios from mature to kid looking games.

Let's hope Monolith has a better fate than Retro.

More XCX. Less XC.

Peace ✌
 

SatoAilDarko

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Correct me if I'm wrong but the symbol on her chest is also the same shape as the Lifehold from XBX and the Zohar Emulators from Xenosaga?

Also two things you can get in physical form:

Not a fan of the two main character's design but I'll definitely enjoy it and his description of the game sounds fun.

Takahashi said:
"A young adult story with a taste of boy-meets-girl. Lately it feels like all I’ve been doing are games full of devastation, like where your hometown burns down at the start, or the spaceship you’re riding crashes(oh wait, that is all I ever do). Sometimes I just wanna try something different!
Takahashi focusing on a coming-of-age, boy-meets-girl story will be interesting. Elements of that have been in the series before but the focus on it should male something different.

Though I really love a follow-up to X. I'm very much into full sci-fu and there are barely any JRPG's in general that have a full sci-fi setting.

Takahashi said:
“The way I see it,” says Takahashi, “I feel as though Xenoblade 1 and 2 are connected and linked in the sense that they're linear and story-driven games, whereas Xenoblade Chronicles X was more focused on open world and exploration, and maybe an online aspect. I feel like I'd like to continue to create games separating those two aspects out.”
The above quote leads me to be have hope. XBX actually did pretty well for a Wii U game sales-wise.
 

DemWalls

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'Tetsu is going to do Final Fantasy.'
Among all the 'Mr', I like to think of the Gooch as the extremely friendly guy who doesn't use honorifics and has a nickname for everyone.
 

MomoQca

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I think the troubled development shows in the final product of XCX. It's not well paced at all. I'm much more hopeful about XC2
This is not entirely accurate. Rather than saying "troubled development", it would be better to say they had more challenges to overcome considering it was their first HD title. They clearly overcame their goal(s)--that goal being a true open-world. They knew they couldn't implement a fully-realized story on top of their first HD title, so they purposefully withheld from including heavy philosophical themes typically found in earlier Xeno titles. The pacing is deliberate due to the open-world structure.
 

Fireblend

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You'll be looking at this characters for 50+ hours on a game like this, of course people care about their designs.
Well, we already learned you can unequip blades and use others (there's actually a Pokémon like component to the game with how blades are managed) so you don't really have to have her in the party at all and only have her show up during cutscenes I guess, if your complaints are purely on an aesthetic level.
 

Ridley327

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This is not entirely accurate. Rather than saying "troubled development", it would be better to say they had more challenges to overcome considering it was their first HD title. They clearly overcame their goal(s)--that goal being a true open-world. They knew they couldn't implement a fully-realized story on top of their first HD title, so they purposefully withheld from including heavy philosophical themes typically found in earlier Xeno titles. The pacing is deliberate due to the open-world structure.
It's funny to see people consider XCX lacking in the big questions, as a lot of the interactions with the various alien races not named Nopon lead to some really interesting quandaries. The Orphe, in particular, goes into a direction seldom seen in fiction as it is, and while the game doesn't explicitly go out of its way to raise the question of what eventually happens to their race, it nevertheless has it hanging in there for people to interpret for themselves. It's a very thought provoking game, though I'll admit it could have done a bit better of integrating the side quest material into the main plot, rather than just allowing for people to do whatever was the bare minimum to progress through it.
 
Jun 18, 2015
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Nintendo doesn't have many mature looking games. They are all cartoonish. XCX being the exception.

And thanks for reminding us of DKC. That's further proof of Nintendo moving studios from mature to kid looking games.

Let's hope Monolith has a better fate than Retro.

More XCX. Less XC.

Peace ✌
So because it has a cartoony art style it can't be mature for some people. The plat forming is pretty difficult and mature to begin with.
 

Seik

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Nintendo doesn't have many mature looking games. They are all cartoonish. XCX being the exception.

And thanks for reminding us of DKC. That's further proof of Nintendo moving studios from mature to kid looking games.

Let's hope Monolith has a better fate than Retro.

More XCX. Less XC.

Peace ✌
This post makes no sense.

Anyways, can't wait to discover the world of XC2 and especially thay soundtrack!
 

Jim_Cacher

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I do think people focus too much on the character design but whatever
On one hand, I do agree with you, but on the other hand, people are easy to focus on the appearance at first glance. While I don't think the character design is bad (as I love Japanese aesthetics), I understand why some people would be upset by it.

On topic, I want to know about XCX too. I have put over 150 hours into that game, but dropped it due to the launch of another game. I would love to play it anywhere on Switch.
I also wonder if Monolith can remake Xenogears and Xenosaga...
 

James Scott

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It's nice that they asked about XCX (
should have asked about a sequel too considering the ending
).

I really want to like XC2, but I can't stand the new character art. Interesting that they wanted it early in the console's life. Helps to build an audience for sure.
The character designs were probably a good way for the hardware to work well with the character models.
XCX had nice 2D art but it translated poorly. They should be more expressive as is.

Feels a bit bad that what is probably the most talented AAA/large scope JRPG studio is being dismissed for not even faces, but Pants...or lack there of, i guess. lol
This is not entirely accurate. Rather than saying "troubled development", it would be better to say they had more challenges to overcome considering it was their first HD title. They clearly overcame their goal(s)--that goal being a true open-world. They knew they couldn't implement a fully-realized story on top of their first HD title, so they purposefully withheld from including heavy philosophical themes typically found in earlier Xeno titles. The pacing is deliberate due to the open-world structure.
I think I remember them saying they had to choose between World and story.
It's super ambitious and a massive upgrade from a traversal standpoint from the first but a fairly big let down story wise.
The structure of the game just doesn't work
 

NeonZ

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It's funny to see people consider XCX lacking in the big questions, as a lot of the interactions with the various alien races not named Nopon lead to some really interesting quandaries. The Orphe, in particular, goes into a direction seldom seen in fiction as it is, and while the game doesn't explicitly go out of its way to raise the question of what eventually happens to their race, it nevertheless has it hanging in there for people to interpret for themselves. It's a very thought provoking game, though I'll admit it could have done a bit better of integrating the side quest material into the main plot, rather than just allowing for people to do whatever was the bare minimum to progress through it.
Based on an old interview about X, the sidequests were written by various staff members, rather than just the main story writer, which is likely why there's such a division between them. Personally though, I didn't care about X's main plot much, outside of the cliff hanger mysteries they suddenly threw in the final chapter, but I loved a lot of the material in the sidequests, so I don't think tying them to the main plot more would actually improve them.
 

SatoAilDarko

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Based on an old interview about X, the sidequests were written by various staff members, rather than just the main story writer, which is likely why there's such a division between them.
The main story writer for XBX was the same for the original Xenoblade right?

Is he also writing XB2?
 

takriel

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There better be a serious mind fuck when we make it to that "Tree".
You and your party members were semen all along. You're the first to arrive at the tree, which makes you eligible to be carried out as a newborn by the Tree Mother. You will be reborn in a new world. Your team members will be left behind and die.
 

Mister Wolf

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You and your party members were semen all along. You're the first to arrive at the tree, which makes you eligible to be carried out as a newborn by the Tree Mother. You will be reborn in a new world. Your team members will be left behind and die.
I was thinking maybe the Blades are lifeforce vampires that feed off other beings and the tree is where they originate with a false fairy tale that its a paradise to draw more victims.
 

Lilo_D

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On one hand, I do agree with you, but on the other hand, people are easy to focus on the appearance at first glance. While I don't think the character design is bad (as I love Japanese aesthetics), I understand why some people would be upset by it.

On topic, I want to know about XCX too. I have put over 150 hours into that game, but dropped it due to the launch of another game. I would love to play it anywhere on Switch.
I also wonder if Monolith can remake Xenogears and Xenosaga...
When I hear the name Xenoblade, It's like the world design > plot twist > battle system > character design
 

Dark Cloud

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God I can't wait! I love this series so much.

I like hearing him talk about the past with Square (and Nomura lol). I wish someone would ask if we can fly around in those airships or not.
 

Humdinger

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Originally Posted by Takahashi
”The way I see it," says Takahashi, ”I feel as though Xenoblade 1 and 2 are connected and linked in the sense that they're linear and story-driven games, whereas Xenoblade Chronicles X was more focused on open world and exploration, and maybe an online aspect. I feel like I'd like to continue to create games separating those two aspects out."
Does that mean XBC2 will be a linear and story-driven game, rather than open world/exploration-focused?

I ask as someone not having played any of these games, just trying to get a general sense of it.
 

Sub Boss

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Does that mean XBC2 will be a linear and story-driven game, rather than open world/exploration-focused?

I ask as someone not having played any of these games, just trying to get a general sense of it.
Yes, X2 will be like shonen story driven like the first one

X focuses on the world .
 

Neoleo2143

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Does that mean XBC2 will be a linear and story-driven game, rather than open world/exploration-focused?

I ask as someone not having played any of these games, just trying to get a general sense of it.
Xenoblade 1 was a very linear game with huge areas and some pretty fun level design from time to time. Xenoblade X was a straight out open world where you could go anywhere from the start of the game and it had one of my favorite open world areas in quite awhile. Xenoblade 2 returns to the structure of the first game probably with some improvements from X.
 

W. L. Saga

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Lastly, I thought Xenoblade Chronicles X was a wonderful game, and also wonderfully different from Xenoblade Chronicles. But it feels like Mario Kart 8, in that it was constrained by the Wii U's limited audience. Any chance we might see it come to the Switch?

Thank you for that feedback. I think we're currently completely focused on creating Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and even after I go back to Japan, I have a mountain of tasks that I need to overcome. But I would love to think about it, after the development for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is completed.
Nice! Now more people will be able to bash the game for not being exactly like the first!
/s

It's nice to hear someone asking this directly to the man. Any XCX related news make me way more hyped than XC2, tbh.
I need my sequel
 
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The idea of these Titans as being lifeforms and that once they die, it results on uninhabitable land is pretty interesting. It's the opposite of XC in that the gods that fought and "died" resulted in the creation of that universe.
 

Dark Cloud

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Does that mean XBC2 will be a linear and story-driven game, rather than open world/exploration-focused?

I ask as someone not having played any of these games, just trying to get a general sense of it.
It's more linear and story driven like XC, but he said it'll be more open like XCX also compared to XC

He also said

Exploration has always been at the heart of the Xenoblade saga, especially in Xenoblade Chronicles X. Can we expect the world to be even more vast on Switch?

Exploration will have an even more decisive role in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. With regard to the number of places to explore and visit, I think we’re going far beyond what Xenoblade Chronicles X was able to offer. As you could see in the trailer, you can expect to discover a large number of diverse environments, some natural, some built by men.
http://nintendoeverything.com/takahashi-on-xenoblade-2-visual-style-more-exploration-than-x-no-multiplayer-side-quests-more/
 

Mister Wolf

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X was a prototype so he could make this game. They honed their skills in HD development and now its on to better things.
 
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Will there be a scene where the hero and the blade girl accidentally see each other naked, and as a result, realize that they are more than just friends?

One of the most cherished JRPG traditions is "escaping the friend zone", so of course we know that's what the audience loves. Please play Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and see for yourself!
The answer is yes.
Oh man I can't wait for this game.
 

freeofgreed

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In terms of a theme in Xenoblade Chronicles 2, there are all of these Titans, and their lifespan is about to end. The people living on these Titans now have to find a way to continue their lives, because the land they've lived on is about to die. So it's about these people's quest to find where to live.
Oh wow that's super cool
 

LordKano

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I find it really, really hard to believe that this game is supposed to be bigger in scale than Xenoblade X. Everything we've seen seems to indicate they reduced the scope to offer a less risky product and something that could release in Switch's first year.
 

Neoleo2143

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I find it really, really hard to believe that this game is supposed to be bigger in scale than Xenoblade X. Everything we've seen seems to indicate they reduced the scope to offer a less risky product and something that could release in Switch's first year.
It's not the scale of locations, it's the variety of locations.