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Xenoblade Chronicles 2 – Torna: The Golden Country

Posted by GG Goblin On October - 8 - 2018

Let’s go back in time.

The concept of DLC and expansions is still fairly new to Nintendo gamers. Sure, handing over cash for more of your favourite game has been pretty standard for a while on other platforms, but it’s not really something that was possible until the launch of the Nintendo Switch. So now, amidst season passes and DLC  for games like Breath of the Wild and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, we get a rather substantial expansion for the already epic Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Whether you are for or against the idea of DLC, more of a good thing is always good. Right?

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Just as a heads up, Torna is an expansion, despite what Nintendo call it. It is also a stand alone, meaning that players can pick it up without having to own the original. It’s massive and packed with enough content to put many stand alone games to shame. Monolith Soft have set this expansion some 500 years before Xenoblade Chronicles 2, making it a prequel, and the appearance of known characters from the main game ensure that it ties together well. However, despite the links to the main game, Torna: The Golden Country is perfectly capable of standing by itself and while knowing what will become of certain characters down the line will give the expansion a more familiar feeling, there is no real reason why a player shouldn’t pick up the expansion before even dipping their toes into the main game. Sure, having that extra knowledge would be handy when it comes to making sense of this world, but it is in no way essential.

The developers obviously wanted Torna: The Golden Country to be seen this way, and even included a loss risk tutorial area to start the game off. Here, the players will be able to learn, or brush up for the returning players, the basics of the game and then start exploring the hefty sized world. With as much as 20 hours of gameplay for the main story, there is no shortage of exploration to be had.

So, the story is set 500 years before the core game, and basically tells the tale of Lora and Jin, who players of the main game will already know of. Lora is a mercenary who sets off on an epic quest, along with Jin, who is a weapon in Human form known as a Blade. The basic quest is to stop the evil Malos from destroying the world, but returning players will already know at least part of the fate of the two heroes here and how things work out. That aside, the two main characters are great and easy to invest in. The expanded cast are equally well fleshed out and the voice work in the game makes it much easier to enjoy the host of characters. There are also plenty of NPCs around to build a nicely populated game world.

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Which will include a mass of monsters to fight. The basics of combat are explained in the tutorial part of the game, but players returning will be pleased to know that not a whole lot has changed. Combat still kicks off as soon as the player gets close to an enemy, and the fighting is taken care of semi-automatically, by which I mean that the characters will go and get stuck in by themselves, leaving the player to decide when to use special moves known as Arts. This hands off approach may seem a little simplistic, but it is all about timing the use of the Arts to create epic combos and turn the tide of battle against often much more powerful enemies. For this expansion, players are able to swap between controlling the hero (or driver as they are known) and the Blade to give access to some even more powerful combos, and mastering the timing of when to change will be essential for many encounters as the game progresses.

That being said, the player could always choose to grind instead. Torna will require a fair amount of grinding for even the most capable combat experts, so players that are not fans of grinding would probably do best to look elsewhere.

So players will wander this wide open, very nice looking world, picking fights with monsters as they progress in the story. The Inns of old are gone in this expansion, replaced by campfires that allow the team to rest, level up and craft. There are also plentiful NPCs that the player will come across, and following each of their side quests will lead to the NPC joining the players community, which is another new feature of the expansion.

Anyone who played the full game will already know how the expansion will perform. For the most part, everything runs great. However, there is a slight softness to the visuals when played in handheld mode on the Switch, making the big screen a far better way to play when possible.

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Xenoblade Chronicles 2 – Torna: The Golden Country is a massive expansion for a massive game. It feels more streamlined than the main game, making it seem more aimed at the new players than those returning for more. However, the appeal of filling in a little history for returning players should be more than enough reason to grab the expansion. Whether returning or new, Torna: The Golden Country is worth picking up.




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