Went back and read your other post and I wish I could hit like more than once, I agree so much (I wanted to see more of the world, I love exploration not just of the world but the world building itself)
Same here! And the thing that bothers me most about the fact that the setting is so accessory in Xillia 2 is that it is absolutely a thing that did not have to happen. The first game handed you an opportunity to present a radically altered world, both socially and environmentally, on a silver platter with a pretty little bow on top.
The thing about Rieze Maxia is because of the Spirit Climes, they’ve so effectively adapted their lives to fit their constant environments. When everything is in balance, that’s spectacular and allows each town to function in ways that are unique and best suited to their particular location and climate. However, the towns’ biggest strength is also their largest weakness, because the moment those eternally stable environments are removed (a.k.a. the spirit climes being eliminated at the end of the first game), people won’t know what to do; an NPC in the first game even blatantly states that the fact that they build their buildings out of naturally grown trees in Fennmont would be impossible if the Night Clime were to dissapear.
*GESTURES WILDLY AT WHAT THAT IMPLIES*
If they had actually let the spirit climes disappear as they said they did in the first game, everything in Rieze Maxia would have been forced to change. People would have to change SO MUCH about the way they live; the geography would have to change SO MUCH because the climates aren’t constant any more. On top of that, for the people of Fendel, they have a new king (who was, you know, the king of their sworn enemy) and for the whole of Rieze Maxia, they have Elympios to contend with. At the end of the first game, both sides were ready to go to war with the other; they both view the other side as monsters. If you tell me that’s a problem that could be realistically and peacefully solved (especially when Elympios is so much more technologically advanced than Rieze Maxia - you’re really telling me that now that they’ve been handed the mana they wanted absolutely free of charge they’re just going to go into peace talks with the technologically inferior country? Yeah, okay.) in the one year gap between games, especially with all the turmoil that would be happening on Rieze Maxia’s side with the spirit climes disappearing, then I’ll show you a miracle.
But no, no, instead, let’s hand wave it with a ‘it takes time for the spirit climes to disappear’ and a ‘yeah peace talks totally went that smoothly somehow’. Let’s tell a story that lets you leave over half of the world unexplored. Let’s tell a story where exploration is not encouraged because, inexplicably, nothing has changed.
Let’s leave that perfect opportunity on its silver platter to rot.
Partially, but there’s also quite a few irreconcilable complaints I have with Lobster Dad that make me dislike it more than Zesty and have nothing to do with it being a sequel.
For example: the game very obviously expects that you play as Ludger and punishes you for not doing so; Ludger himself who feels like a complete waste of a character; the debt system which is nothing more than obvious padding; any character development is shunted over into character episodes (yet because we can choose not to do them, any development that happens there can’t be carried over into the main plot); characters are largely limited to interacting with one other character and Ludger; the game doesn’t even try for a cohesive theme across the character episodes and the main plot; murdering millions of innocent people is seen as a-okay, never given any sort of weight, and never even questioned (while Zesty reached a conclusion on death that I don’t agree with, they at least showed their MC having significant struggles with the concept of it - can’t say that for Lobster Dad…although that may just stem from the fact that Ludger is limited in how he’s allowed to emote ‘cause of the silent protag thing); you can elect not to explore over half the world if you’re only trying to complete the main plot; it pulls the drama for the sake of drama BS constantly which doesn’t allow for previous drama to have any weight ‘cause it just gets to the point of ridiculousness; set parties for a huge chunk of the game, even major boss fights where I might want to try out a different party combination and see if that fares better; the whole of how the Fractured Milla situation was handled (which, a similar thing happened in Zesty with Dezel and Zaveid, but I feel like that was handled marginally better); choice is pushed as such a strong theme, but your choices don’t really lend into one another to influence the plot in any way - you will always have the same two choices no matter what any of your previous choices were; the emotional impetus on which the game is supposed to be centered involves a character that we don’t really get to know; dimension hopping minimizes the issues that are happening in the real world which are, once again, sent to character episodes instead that, once again, have no influence or carry-over in the main plot; on a personal level, I have a problem with us dragging an 8 year old into dangerous situations over and over again, yeah she would complain if we left her behind, but 8 year olds do not know what’s best for them and you as the adult have to sometimes do things they don’t like or agree with; whatever the heck happened with the two pocket watches at the beginning of the game is confusing as all get-out and yet integral to the set-up for the rest of the story; and at this point I’m just going to stop talking ‘cause this was just supposed to be a few examples of my most glaring issues but it got away from me…
I feel like Xillia 2’s Western audience pre-release marketing is all nothing but blatant lies piled on top of deliberate misrepresentation piled on top of “Look at our shiny new ~*silent*~ protagonist! Isn’t he so awesome?!?!?!?!?”.
I was just struck with a really random idea for how to better work the silent protagonist angle in Xillia 2.
So let’s run on the assumption that we’re using the exact same system for Ludger’s speech as a first run of the game. Wouldn’t it be interesting if at the beginning of the game Ludger had tons of opportunities for dialogue choices, was actively (as actively as he can) participating in conversations, and was just generally a more forthcoming person. Then, as all this tragedy and heartache is piled on top of him, we see him withdraw into himself more - there becomes fewer and fewer opportunities for you to select an option and even when you do have a choice, it’s only at the prodding of other members of the party. In this scenario, instead of making Ludger’s ability to choose things unchanged throughout the game, it is evolving with him and reflecting how he as a person is being impacted.
Furthermore, while the game stresses the importance of choice, really you have very little control of what you’re doing. Wouldn’t it be more interesting if Ludger as a character realizes this as time goes on and so reacts accordingly? Before he was so willing to push against his destiny, so willing to fight, but now he simply no longer sees the purpose and just allows himself to be dragged along without any kicking or screaming. In this scenario, while he’s been technically silent the whole time, it isn’t until the end of the game that he truly is. The player realizes just how heavy that silence is and what this means for his character. In my opinion, this would have been a great means of creating a tragic through-line throughout the course of the story rather than just using moments of tragic punch.
Of course I don’t think this would ever be likely to happen - after all, you’re trading away a core game mechanic and players are going to make a fuss as well as squirm. However, that’s the great thing - control of the situation has been wretched from the player, much like it has been wretched from Ludger; sure they may not realize it at the time and they may be aggravated by it, but it’s presenting a scenario that video games can present like no other sort of media. By handing the player what they expect (control and participation) and slowly stripping it away, they begin to realize just how little control they had of this situation the entire time. Those decisions that they made at the beginning of the game? Pointless.
Now if the developers wanted to tack a happy ending onto this and not have their ultimate message be that you have no control of your destiny, you could certainly do that too. Just think how much more impact there would be if at the final battle you suddenly have choices again after a long period of nothing. At first they’re quiet choices, maybe even two choices that are both nothing more than ellipses. But someone says something or does something that sets Ludger off and suddenly that fight that we saw so clearly at the beginning of the game comes hobbling back until it’s ragging full force; here is a man who had given up on choice and yet now he is reverting back to it, now he is saying to the universe “Screw all those times you showed me how pointless it is! I’m still going to fight! I’m still going to make choices for myself!”.
I’m sure if this idea were used there would be some people that would complain that they simply forgot about the choice mechanic halfway through the game only to have it resurface in the end, but in my opinion, this system can really be worked to uniquely showcase a form of character development.
And in a character driven series like the Tales series, I really, really wish they had taken advantage of it.
I think part of the reason that the tragedy in Xillia 2 doesn’t work for me, especially in the latter part of the game (a.k.a. ep. 11 and on), is that it comes at you so rapid fire. Before I even have time to absorb and potentially be impacted by a sad event, they’re throwing another one at me. It happens so fast it seriously gives me whiplash.There’s no sense of poignancy, just the inexplicable urge to keep hurtling me towards that next oh so sad event that I have no control over ‘cause hahaha this is a game about choice guys! 110%!
i enjoy xillia 2 but yeah this is honestly my biggest problem with it
You have such a beautifully detailed world with such well-established lore and instead of taking advantage of that, you tell a story that can so easily be removed from the Xillia context and it impacts next to nothing. The reason we spend so much time dimension hopping is because the world of Xillia is accessory to whatever is going on - the whole of the Rieze Maxian map of the main dimension can be left unexplored and you can still complete the main plot; 85% of the world in which your game is set doesn’t even need to exist.
When your game is supposed to be a ‘sequel’ but you can do that no problem, then I have got a serious bone to pick with you.
It makes me wanna go ‘No. No it’s not Xillia. It’s not even Xillia 2. It’s a dumb game that just happens to take place in the Xillia-verse while simultaneously disrespecting that world and lore in so many ways.’
Couldn’t agree with you more on this. Especially the part about the game disrespecting Xillia’s world and lore. Glad to hear I’m not the only person that feels this way.
Oh trust me, I could spend weeks talking about how Xillia 2 is not, in fact, Xillia 2 and instead simply uses the Xillia-verse when convenient and money saving.
Instead of building on what came before it in a believable way, having the world change in a believable way, facing conflicts that make sense going by how the first game ended, having the characters from the first game react in believable ways, Lobster Dad chooses to contradict, rewrite, and flat out ignore a good chunk of what happened in Xillia in exchange for a contrived, forced, poorly written melodrama with a cast that I cannot empathize with because the game doesn’t allow me to know them as people instead of plot devices.
The main plot had zero reason why it needed to be set in the Xillia-verse and that is a goddamn crying shame because the first game set up the possibility of a lot of interesting conflict (bad blood still between Rashugal and Au Joule, the exposure of both of these nations to Elympios for the first time, the removal of the spirit climes and the far-reaching consequences that can have, Jude’s research into Spyrix, the Other World Reactor Plan which probably still exists - the list goes on) that a sequel could have taken advantage of. However, instead of making any of those issues central to the plot, they shove them into character episodes where, due to the way the game structures character episodes, only two characters are allowed to face and commentate on the issue. This makes most of these issues painfully shallow and uninteresting.
The game doesn’t respect the characters, the setting, the world building, or the story of the first game, so I don’t see why I should respect and recognize it as Xillia 2 when that’s not what it is.
You know, Tales of Symphonia had more of a ‘your choices spin the future’ system than Xillia 2 ever did.
At least in Symphonia the choices I made throughout the course of the game had significant consequences in the long-run; at least in Symphonia affection I have with characters influences key scenes and changes them depending on who has the highest; at least in Symphonia the choices I make change select scenes significantly enough that I feel it warrants another playthrough just to see how it’s different; at least in Symphonia the choices I make matter beyond 5 to 10 minutes into the future.
It seems like a lot of Xillia fans weren’t happy with Xillia 2…
From what I’ve personally seen, I actually think there’s a pretty even split in the fandom.
There are some people who really enjoy the opportunity to re-visit the world we traversed in the first game, catch up with the characters we know, and accompany Ludger on his new journey. To them I say more power to you - you have found fun and enjoyment where I could not and that’s lovely.
However, for me, a good chunk of my dislike for Xillia 2 stems from the very fact that I was such a fan of the first game (particularly its world and lore as well as [most] characters). From the way I see things, Xillia 2 is not Xillia 2 - it does nothing to take advantage of the fact that it’s a sequel to the first game, instead seeming to be almost burdened by the fact that it has to recognize the first game existed at all.
The game doesn’t respect the story and established world building that came before it, instead choosing to retcon elements as it pleases; the game makes every character from the first game accessory to the main plot to the point where none of them needed to be there for the plot to progress as it did; the game has characters act completely contrary to their personality in the first game, simply so they can make their plot work; the game doesn’t develop the world as it realistically would develop in the one year gap, instead having Rieze Maxia not change at all and Elympios change too rapidly. To put it bluntly, this game does not respect what came before it.
That’s not to say that all my issues with Xillia 2 stem from the fact that it’s supposed to be a sequel to Xillia - oh trust me, there’s a laundry list of issues I have with it that have nothing to do with it being Xillia’s sequel. However, when your ‘sequel’ picks and chooses what it wants to actually pay attention to from the first game and simply disregard the rest, then you have already set yourself up for failure in my eyes.