Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country Game Poster Image
Experience Alrest's past in large, combat-focused prequel.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Game's plot revolves around usual good vs. evil story, but also features themes of friendship, teamwork.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters run the spectrum from truly heroic and innocent to more roguish, darker. Because it's a prequel, players get to see how certain characters wound up meeting their fates, including how Jin became a villain in Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

Ease of Play

Main gameplay is similar to Xenoblade Chronicles 2, including need to navigate a maze of menus in the user interface. Combat has been changed up a bit, though, with Blades now able to participate directly in fights, ability to switch moves faster during combos.

Violence

Combat is central, so lots of fantasy violence against monsters, human soldiers. Characters use magic and melee attacks, with lots of colorful flair but no blood. Cutscenes show more intense scenes of violence, including groups of people getting killed by laser blasts.

Sex

Some female characters are shown in revealing outfits, with some suggestive dialogue and actions occasionally popping up.

Language

Occasional profanity in dialogue, including "s--t."

Consumerism

This additional prequel adventure for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 expands on overall Xenoblade saga, is available as either a standalone purchase or additional downloadable content for Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Although story is self-contained, players are expected to have played main game, to have some familiarity with plot and mechanics. Both physical and digital versions of expansion include a code for additional content available only to owners of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, encouraging purchase of that title.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country is an expansion to Nintendo's role-playing game, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for the Nintendo Switch. The game is available both as a standalone purchase and as downloadable content for Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Torna ~ The Golden Country features similar gameplay to the original game, though with some changes meant to streamline and add new strategy to the combat system. Violence is central to the gameplay, with characters using a variety of weapons against enemies. But combat is more fantasy than realistic in tone, with colorful flourishes but no blood or gore shown. Many female characters are presented in a sexualized manner, and the dialogue does include occasional use of profanity, including "s--t."

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What's it about?

XENOBLADE CHRONICLES 2: TORNA ~ THE GOLDEN COUNTRY is a prequel expansion set 500 years prior to Rex first discovering Pyra during the epic adventure laid out in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. This story focuses on Jin, one of the antagonists from the main game. It spans his evolution from the loyal Blade bound to an innocent girl to his role in the defeat of Malos in the Aegis War and then to his final fate as the immortal Flesh Eater with a vendetta against humankind. Players will get the opportunity to live out the legends they only heard about in the main game, to explore the vast Kingdom of Torna before it was lost to the Cloud Sea, and to see firsthand how the foundation was laid for the ultimate fate of Alrest.

Is it any good?

This prequel expansion to last year's large-scale adventure might be a bit smaller than the original game, but it packs just enough content to keep fans hooked on the story. Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country is a standalone prequel that answers some lingering questions but generally serves up events of the main game by giving players a chance to be active participants in the legends they only heard about. But being a prequel puts the game in a strange position. If you're a newcomer playing this content before completing (or even starting) Xenoblade Chronicles 2, you open yourself up to a lot of spoilers. But if you've already played and beaten the main game, you can't help but feel like you already know how everything's going to turn out. That's not to say the story isn't compelling, because it certainly is and knows how to tug at the heartstrings. It's just that there are very few surprises, because everything is meant to telegraph what's to come.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country follows the idea that "if it was good enough last time, it'll be good enough here." Little has changed in the expansion, short of a slight visual upgrade. The menus and user interface still take a while to get used to and are still frustrating to navigate through. You can still expect to spend a fair amount of time on foot as you explore the vast open world. But with the expansion's focus on one area, Torna, there's much less ground to cover. In fact, the entire campaign is only a third the size of the main game. It doesn't ever feel small, though, just more compact, which is a nice change of pace. One big change in the expansion is in the combat. The Golden Country adds a few new tricks, such as swapping quickly between the Blade and the Driver weapons. Having one out allows the other to rest, and swapping can initiate powerful combo moves, giving the action an almost fighting game feel. It's not an overly dramatic change, so fans should still feel familiar with the overall controls. But it adds an extra bit of excitement and keeps the game from feeling like more of the same.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country affected by the fantasy nature of the combat? Would it be intensified if the violence was more realistic?

  • How can working as a team help when dealing with obstacles? How can working together lead to building new friendships, and how can friendship make stronger teams?

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