Getting Lost and Loving It, Part Two

The most engaging worlds are the ones that show you something new


Graphic: Alinna Boonklun/ SAC.Media

In part one, I discussed how there’s a difference between games that look great and games that have interesting worlds. To illustrate my point, I focused on two of the more impressive maps from “Monster Hunter World” and demonstrated how they depict environments unlike anything that can be found in the real world.

The next game I’ll be showcasing is “Xenoblade Chronicles 2.” All of the “Xenoblade Chronicles” games deserve to be discussed, but this is the only one I can get photos of.

“Xenoblade Chronicles 2” takes place in the world of Alrest, and it is one of the most fascinating worlds I’ve ever seen in all my years of gaming.

Screengrab by Chris Jones/SAC.Media.

In Alrest, the majority of life lives on, or in some cases inside, immense creatures called Titans. These beasts function as countries. For example, the Titan in the above picture plays host to the nation of Gormott. Life can take hold and prosper on a Titan thanks to “ether,” a substance that courses through Titans’ bodies, much like blood. Without it, everything living on the Titan, and the Titan itself, would die.

Screengrab by Chris Jones/SAC.Media.

This is an image of the residential area of the Gormott city of Torigoth; it shows the other reason all terrestrial beings must reside on Titans. As can be seen, this portion of the city is jutting out over a sea of clouds. All of Alrest is covered by this cloud sea. Just like our oceans, the cloud sea does contain a wealth of life, but it’s not a suitable habitat for non-marine organisms. Titans are essentially islands if islands were far, far cooler.

Screengrab by Chris Jones/SAC.Media.

I mentioned earlier that life sometimes exists inside Titans. This is what I was referring to. This is the Kingdom of Uraya, my personal favorite locale in the game. The area shown in this image is inside the body of a colossal, whale-like Titan. I chose this spot to take a picture because it shows exactly what I saw when I first rounded the corner to this awe-inspiring expanse. I had to stop and soak it all in. This image doesn’t just show a gorgeous environment drenched in mysticism; it also shows the scale of the playable areas in “Xenoblade Chronicles 2.” From those rocky steps to the right of the image to the arches on the left and even that staircase in the distance, all of it is open for the player to explore. I spent hours running around this place.

Screengrab by Chris Jones/SAC.Media.

Here we have the high-tech city of Alba Cavanich, the capital city of the Empire of Mor Ardain. As one can probably guess just from this image, the Ardainians are more militaristic and reliant on industry than any other nation. Whereas other countries have more benevolent relationships with their Titans, the Ardainians are more along the lines of parasites. They forcefully control Titans using machinery and drain them of resources.

Screengrab by Chris Jones/SAC.Media.

Which led them to this. The Ardainian Titan has a naturally hot climate, resulting in a desert environment. However, the Titan’s internal temperature is steadily increasing as it nears death, a process that has been sped up by the Ardainians’ parasitic methods. I find Mor Ardain to be one of the less pleasant places to look at, but it demonstrates the variety of “Xenoblade’s” maps, and I like that. I also appreciate that developer Monolithsoft took the time to consider an ecological and environmental perspective when designing this more industrial Titan and its respective inhabitants.

There’s much more to see in “Xenoblade Chronicles 2,” but I don’t want to give away the whole game. These images are just a taste of the marvelous sights this game has to offer. Though I forget the exact playtime, “Xenoblade Chronicles 2” holds the record for the longest single playthrough of any game I’ve played. That is due in no small part to Alrest just being too amazing and beautiful to simply breeze through it. I spent dozens upon dozens of hours roaming this world, and I have no regrets.