On November 14th 2017, the official website of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was updated in Japan, adding a new section: Production Notes. It’s a blog-like section, where members of the development team will come discuss various aspects of the game.
- Production Notes #1: Drivers and Blades
- Production Notes #2: Script
- Production Notes #3: Character Design (Part 1)
- Production Notes #4: Music
- Production Notes #5: Introduction to Xenoblade Chronicles 2
- Production Notes #6 (Ver. 1.1.1 update)
- Production Notes #7 (Pyra figure)
- Production Notes #8 (Issue with “disappearing Blades” in Ver. 1.2.0)
- Production Notes #9 (Ver. 1.3.0 and New Game+)
- Production Notes #10: Original Soundtrack
- Production Notes #11: Issues with Ver. 1.3.0, to be fixed in Ver. 1.3.1
- Production Notes #12: Ver. 1.4.0 and first two additional Rare Blades dated
- Production Notes #13: More details about Challenge Battle Mode
- Production Notes #14: Torna ~The Golden Country
- Production Notes #15: Issue with some Quests after updating to Ver. 1.5.2
- Production Notes #16: Bonus Items to celebrate the release of Torna ~ The Golden Country
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 – Production Notes #17: Torna ~ The Golden Country released
Today, Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country is finally available for download for owners of the Expansion Pass (stand-alone release is coming next week). In the latest Production Notes blog post for the game, Tetsuya Takahashi explains that while the game is “just” a story expansion to the main game, it makes some pretty big changes and offers a large amount of new features.
First, from the technical side: we learn that Torna ~ The Golden Country uses a new graphics engine. Of course, the development team is currently in a transitional period, already looking ahead to their next game, so it’s not like you will see dramatic improvements over the main game. Still, according to Tetsuya Takashi, the story expansion does look quite “cleaner” than the main game, and he singles out the grass.
Here’s an example (first pic shows grass from Gormott, and the second one shows grass from Torna):
Various changes were also made regarding the UI, and tutorials. Tetsuya Takahashi gives one example: in this story expansion, you can control up to 9 characters in battle, and selecting which one you’re controlling is now easier than ever. Now, you can switch characters and teams simply by pressing a button: no need to go to the menu anymore. Also, items found in the field are now grouped in categories.
Finally, a Tips section was added, allowing you to review tutorials after you’ve already seen them once:
Of course, one of the biggest changes in Torna ~ The Golden Country is the battle system. This time, we have Team Battles: each team has 3 members, and you can have up to 3 different teams, so up to 9 characters can take part in battle at the same time. Naturally, you only get to control one directly: the other two are managed by the AI.
Unlike in the main game, you can switch which character is fighting at the front, and even better: the character at the back also plays an important role by supporting their partner. What’s more, the Switch Arts have Break, Topple, Launch, and Smash effects, which means you really have to think about when to switch characters in battle. Connecting Driver Combos with Switch Arts is a key element of the battle system.
Finally, the way Chain Attacks work has also been changed.
As for Quests, they also received some improvements. For starters, the way you get them, as well as the way you clear them, have been changed. A new feature was also implemented: the Community, which is more or less the same thing as the Affinity Chart in Xenoblade Chronicles and Xenoblade Chronicles X (albeit in a simplified form). On the Community screen, you can easily see characters who have quests for you thanks to handy icons displayed right next to them.
The Community also allows you to see the relationship between the various characters in the story expansion.
Another new element of Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country… Camps!
This new features brings together several that were separate in the main game: crafting, inkeepers, Heart to Hearts, and more. It’s now easier than ever to use those features. Regarding crafting, each character has their own specialty, and what they’re good at is directly related to their personality. You can craft Pouch items that have effects on the field and in battles.
Finally, the most important element of Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country is quite obviously the story… it is a Story Expansion, after all!
As you probably alrteady know by now, the story is about the events that took place 500 years before those of the main game, and is centered around two key characters: Jin and Lora. In the initial draft (see this post for more details!), those events were to take place between Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 of the main story.
Naturally, in order to be able to release the Story Expansion as a stand-alone game, they went and added things such as quests, and they also increased the scope of the whole thing. What was Jin thinking about at that time? What abot Lora? Mythra? Finally, players will be able to piece together the various fragments they could get in the main game, and get to see the whole picture.
For Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country, no less than 11 new songs were composed (though that number includes arrangements of tracks from the main game). They were all produced by Yasunori Mitsuda (just like the main game), though he didn’t compose them all. This time, the composers went with a jazzy and acoustic direction, which is quite noticeable in the main battle theme… it is quite groovy (to say the least)!
There’s also a new ending song, by Jennifer Bird. Overall, the music gives the Story Expansion a much more “grown-up” atmosphere than the main game.
Finally, Tetsuya Takashi concludes by pointing out that Torna ~ The Golden Country comes out roughly 9 months after the main game. Fans who are planning to buy the stand-alone release (at retail or on the Nintendo eShop) have to wait another week, though!
To celebrate this release, which also marks the end of the Expansion Pass, Masatsugu Saito (the main character designer) drew a special illustration. In this illustration, all the character that he designed himself appear, and we can see parts that you usually cannot see (or not very well) in-game.
Here’s the illustration (be careful: it does contain some major spoilers):
For more details about the Expansion Pass for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, make sure to check out this post!