6 Tips For Getting Started in Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Author: Nathan Doverspike

After almost a dozen hours in the breathtakingly beautiful world of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, I feel it is safe to say I’m definitely enjoying my time with it. The JRPG, which is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, caps of a brilliant first year for the versatile new console. While the story isn’t as engaging as I anticipated, I can’t help but praise the art style, wonderful world, satisfying and sometimes challenging combat, and intricate systems. So without further ado, I present six tips and hints for starting your journey through Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

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1. The Map is Your Best Friend

This one seems obvious, and it should be. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a massive world, with countless side quests which combined together can understandably be overwhelming at first. I found it best to consult the map if I ever had trouble finding where certain side quests wanted me to go (indicated by blue diamond with white question mark inside). The main quest has been fairly simple to track, since it is denoted by magenta diamonds with white exclamations marks inside, but even then I have gotten turned around once or twice. Just keep in mind that you CAN navigate over large roots to trees in the left part of the map where the gold person is found on the image above. I found that out after an hour of wandering around and then getting slaughtered by a level 75 King Kong-looking monster.

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2. Spend Time Exploring the Menus

Like many JRPG’s, this game has A LOT of systems working simultaneously during battles. Whether it is upgrading your Arts, Affinity grid, or unlocking new Blades, there is always something that can be improved in your party if you know where to look.  The Affinity Chart above is a great example of all the upgrades available for completing certain tasks explained for each bubble. One might require you to revive a companion a single time in order to receive 20% extra health from potions dropped from enemies, while another may require you to enter 10 battles in order to get a permanent boost to physical defense. These may not seem like much, but you will appreciate that extra defense and health from potions when the battle lasts 10+ minutes and you have a skill that specifically drops health from enemies.

3. Don’t Expect Too Much From the Story

This one comes off as negative, but it isn’t meant to be. Setting your expectations appropriately for this game will help you enjoy it much more. After the great story from the original, I had high hopes for this one to continue that trait. It might fall flat on its face at times, and the lip syncing during cut-scenes might be laughably bad at times, but the game play and intricate systems make up for it. It won’t win any awards for the story it appears to be telling, but if you can get past that it will reward you with everything else it has to offer.

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4. Grinding Isn’t Just Necessary, It’s Also Fun

Games like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 usually feature some form a grinding, whether it’s White Knight Chronicles, FFXV, games from the Tales series. Grinding is something that is expected and can even be relaxing if you do what I do and throw on a podcast to listen to while you go through the motions for an hour or so each night, chipping away bit by bit at your slowing increasing experience bar. I haven’t found the grind to be too cumbersome at this point, and hope it doesn’t become frustrating come late game content. The enemies have interesting designs, and rounding a couple up can result in fantastically engaging battles that leave you nearly out of breath and HP by the end. A dozen hours in, and I look forward to spending some more time fighting the denizens of Alrest.

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5. Timing is Everything

Whether you are scavenging the clouds for treasure or fighting a plethora of monsters all at once, timing is everything. Whenever you choose to scavenge for treasure, you will be presented with button prompts. Hitting the corresponding button on screen while it is inside the inner circle in every prompt will result in better rewards from the dive, and can get interesting once you progress farther into the game and encounter enemies that are over 20 levels above you when you arrive on land.

Button prompts are also a key element of battles. While using your special attacks, depending on which ones you use with different weapons, you’ll have the opportunity to hit the correct buttons to do exponentially more damage. Timing your abilities just after landing a hit (auto-attack or Art) will increase the damage even further, so it is entirely possible to turn the tide of a lopsided battle in seconds once you begin to master the system.

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6. Tackle Named Monsters of Equal Level

During my time, I encountered a few named enemies that may look like normal enemies, but are denoted by a special symbol and are much more difficult to bring down. I attempted to bring a level 12 beast down when I was level 15, and after 10 minutes of intense button pressing and frantically running to pick up dropped potions, I felled the beast and received numerous rewards for their defeat. I highly recommend trying to tackle some of these once you gain three characters simultaneously in your party. The monster I took down wasn’t overwhelmingly challenging, and I felt great afterwards! They even have a little gravestone where they were that allows you to fight them again should that be something you wish to do.

Overall, I’ve had a great experience with Xenoblade Chronicles 2, despite a few frame rate stutters and the occasional annoying character. It is a JRPG after all, and I can’t stop looking ahead and getting excited about what awesome Blades I will be able to unlock or wonder how this connects to the original game.

Have you picked it up yet? If you have, are you enjoying it so far? Let me know in the comments!

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My Time with the Nintendo Switch

Author: AJ

Nintendo’s attempt to make a stunning platform, both console and handheld-hybrid was a quite impressive and bold move in today’s gaming industry.

I bought my Switch day one, without pre-ordering it, without any intention on buying one in the first place. I stood there in my place of employment, I said “I’m not going to buy one. I’m not going to buy one…” so I bought one. Complete impulse and hype of the moment, seeing customers flood in the doors to buy one.

Now that I’ve owned it for a little over a month, I’m ready to give my review.

Day one: I was so excited and hated myself for dropping almost $400 un-budgeted dollars on this thing, but there was a part of me that wondered if this was going the path of the Wii U. But, I unboxed it, set it all up, popped in my Breath of the Wild cartridge and let it do its thing.

The Joy-Cons: Unwrapping the controllers, and snapping them into the console for the first time was actually really satisfying. Then popping them out and putting them in the controller grip was also very satisfying, the noise was on par with some ASMR, like, unexplainable. It was very strange holding a controller that felt like a box, but I got used to it after about an hour. I didn’t realize initially how much technology Nintendo put into these little things– the red one having the home button and IR blaster, the blue having the capture button, each with their own motion control accelerometers, vibration motors, individual or synced pairing, and a plethora of other things, I was impressed from a technological aspect, however once complaints starting rolling in with connectivity issues, and button and joystick wear, I thought to myself “Oh no, I just bought the biggest blunder of 2017…” but, to this day, it’s been fine with no issues.

The System itself and the Dock: It was oddly small the first time I saw it out of the box, almost as big as some phones I’ve had it the past. I looked around the system, saw the nicely laser printed logos, and federal regulations, A KICKSTAND! and a decent machine for gaming, from a tablet perspective. Then I noticed a heat sink on the top, granted I knew this thing was going to probably heat up, but that worried me. “What if I’m taking it somewhere and it overheats because the vent is blocked? God forbid I keep that in sleep mode in my bag.” But I haven’t had any issue with that, either. Granted my thought process with it was a little extreme, but I consider all angles when I buy a new thing. But it was fun to slide down into the dock for the first time just like you saw in the commercials, that smooth decent into the dock, then they effortlessly took the Joy-Cons off the system while docked to play 1-2 Switch, that was not the case for me. I almost barbarically ripped the system out of the dock the first time I tried that. But I’ve changed my methods.

Performance: I was quite surprised at the Switches performance. Small, but pretty powerful. Granted it’s rocking a custom Nvidia chip, 8-core processor and 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, which after I read this, I fully understood the need for a vent. Booting up The Legend of Zelda for the first time made this evident that this machine was no slouch. Grass-filled plains, volcanic rock valleys, enemies, shrines, towers, enemies, a full desert region, ENEMIES EVERYWHERE, and the happy people of Goron, all in a seamless open-world to explore, I didn’t have too many issues in this department. It did have some FPS drops, but not as many as Just Cause 3 or any other game to that effect. So, all-in-all I was pretty satisfied with that.

Software: Okay, now this is where I find fault with the console, granted its only been out for a month, I wanted more launch titles than just Breath of the Wild. Now, you can’t always get what you want, but I found myself a little burnt out at the 23rd hour I spent in the game. The Nintendo E-Shop is a little lackluster, and the salvation of my time with the system is going to be Mario Kart 8: Deluxe Edition, for the time being. Although the Binding of Issac and Fast RMX seemed like good alternatives I didn’t really feel like investing in. I almost broke down to buy Lego City Undercover but couldn’t bring myself to do so. And when Nintendo said “Virtual Console” I was expecting more like GBC, N64, NES, SNES, GBA, and the like, but instead found myself looking at NEOGEO games with some disappointment. And as far as the system firmware goes, its snappy, simple, and easy to navigate with no complaints.

Overall, it’s too early for me to give a hard review on Nintendo’s newest system, but I’ve been mostly pleased up to this point. It’s only a matter of time before I’m playing it more than my Xbox or PS4, when more third-party development starts to kick in and I’ll be playing Skyrim in a remote location, even though I already bought the Special Edition for my Xbox One. Now, when they’re able to make the Witcher 3 portable, THAT is when my Switch will need to prepare itself for maximum use! I give the system my personal score of 7/10.

Thanks for reading! I will try to stay current and relevant on my articles and try to release them in a consistent manner. But until next time, Stay Golden and thank you for sticking with us on this journey into being a great gaming site!!

Best Games to Play When The Real World is Too Real

Author: Nathan Doverspike          

With all the protests, debates, angry social media posts, and just general unease, I figured now would be a good time to make a list of games that I feel help me deal with the real world (when it becomes too real).  So, without further ado, let’s dig in!

de Blob 2

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de Blob 2

Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS

Released: Feb. 2011

While the first title, de Blob, was released exclusively for the Wii, the sequel graced the current generation of consoles in 2011.  The game follows a colorless blob as he brings color back to the world and defeats the evil INKT Corporation.  The art style is awesome, but the catchy music is just as good and will have you bobbing your head in no time at all.  With giant levels, the ability to mix colors, fun power-ups, and overall beautiful aesthetics, this game will get you into a joyful mood and groove instantly.

Yoshi’s Woolly World

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Yoshi’s Woolly World

Platforms: Wii U

Released: Oct. 2015

This game is wonderful!  Being able to play the whole game cooperatively on one tv is something few games feature anymore, and something on which Yoshi’s Woolly World thrives.  Everything in the game, from the enemies to Yoshi itself, is made of gorgeous yarn art.  I cannot stress enough how beautiful every character, background, enemy, and boss are in this masterpiece!  Numerous power-ups that change how you play the game (like being unable to die from falling into pits or magnetically attracting items to your character throughout a level) make completing the game enjoyable for kids and adults alike.  While some of the later levels do become challenging, the overall experience of finding all the secret areas and unlocking dozens of different Yoshi yarn characters is something I hope everyone with a Wii U is able to experience! (Note: the game is releasing in Feb. 2017 on 3DS as Poochi & Yoshi’s Woolly World with all the content of the previous game and new levels focused on the yarn dog Poochi).

Kirby’s Epic Yarn

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Kirby’s Epic Yarn

Platforms : Wii, Wii U on eShop

Released: Oct. 2010

Noticing a pattern here?  The Wii and Wii U have some amazing first party titles, and Kirby’s Epic Yarn is another great example of beautiful aesthetics combined with simple yet satisfying gameplay to warm any gamer’s heart.  Similar to Yoshi’s Woolly World, Kirby has been transformed into yarn and needs to save the day!  Instead of sucking up enemies, Kirby now uses a whip (like in Kirby’s Dream Land) to defeat his foes.  It’s cute (oh my goodness is it!), has precise controls, and is fully cooperative throughout the charming adventure.  Did I mention it’s adorable, ‘cause it rivals Yoshi’s Woolly World as one of the most stunningly beautiful games I have ever played.

 Little Big Planet 2

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Little Big Planet 2

Platforms: Playstation 3

Released Jan. 2011

Ok, so I don’t know what it is about yarn characters, but I think I have an unhealthy obsession with them in video games.  Released in 2011, Little Big Planet 2 is a creative platformer that expanded on everything offered in the original, while giving players new ways to play.  You are able to create levels (not just platforming levels) that are so cool that you have to check them out!  I won’t spoil some of surprises in store, but let’s just say you can face off versus zombies and also go back to the future!  Also fully cooperative on a single system, this game allows you to play community levels from creators around the world, as well as create your own masterpieces.  Even if you aren’t into creating levels, a lengthy campaign with cute dialogue and interesting level design will hold your interest for quite some time.

Now it’s time for you to tell me, have you played any of these titles?  Are there ones that you feel I missed?  Comment and email us to let us know!

Five Things I Like About the Nintendo Switch

Author: Nathan Doverspike

As I raised my fists in victory, glowing as I watched the Nintendo Live Press Conference for the Switch last night, I realized just how excited I am for this ambitious device.  While the design is sleek, the controllers look comfortable (if slightly diminutive), and it looks easy enough to handle, I can’t express enough how encouraging their initial first year lineup appears on paper (and via the streamed video).  Below are the five things that excite me the most about the Nintendo Switch.

  1. The Design

This one is an obvious first choice.  While initially skeptical of a design that closely mirrors the failed Wii U controller, the tablet itself appears thin and comfortable to hold (per recent sources).  While the Wii U had a good concept, I never quite understood the weight to the device, or the fact that it felt like my hands were always too far apart for it to feel like an actual controller.  Hopefully this one gets it right.

  1. The Detachable Joy-Cons

While most knew about the detachable Joy-Cons since the initial design was leaked, no one was able to report on how they felt or looked for sure.  Now, we know that there are “shoulder” buttons built in to the side for use when apart from the main console.  Also, you can hold them apart just like you could with the nunchuk and Wii remote.  The freedom that gives your hands is something no other console can offer, and that’s always a plus.

  1. The Launch Lineup

It was speculated that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would miss the initial launch window.  Thankfully, our doubts were vanquished when Nintendo confirmed that it would, in fact, be released alongside the Switch (and this awesome collector’s edition is something to swing a sword at).

Also, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe looks beautiful and will release within two months of the console being available.  Breath of the Wild alone should be enough to satisfy the hardcore fans long enough for other promising titles to reach our anxious paws.

  1. All of the Unique Games Announced

Now, I know that not all of the titles announced will be out anytime soon, let alone this year.  However, that doesn’t mean that a brand-new Shin Megami Tensei game on console or Fire Emblem Heroes isn’t enough to get me all fired up.  In particular, Super Mario Odyssy looks like a blast (minus the lifelike people in that trailer, boy they looked rough) and the super interesting Project Octopath Traveler have me licking my gaming chops.

  1. The Possibilities Ahead for the Switch

This is my last point, and as such is somewhat ambiguous. Instead of focusing on a singular topic, I want to expand it to all the possibilities for this new console.  I know they haven’t announced or even mentioned Metroid yet, but how cool would it be to play a brand new Metroid game on a portable system that isn’t as limited as the 3DS?  To be able to take a console quality Metroid game on the go would be a dream come true!  Plus, with the added power,  the Switch could serve as a great return to form for a legitimate 2D Castlevania game that rivals SotN.

Those are my thoughts for now.  Feel free to comment or email us with any questions: officialgoldenagegamers@gmail.com