Internet access and online transactions, they’ve got the gaming landscape torn apart

Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna – The Golden Country (2018)

There I am scrolling through the game shop – I could have just said the PS Store but let’s face it, this is happening on the Nintendo eShop and the Microsoft Store as well – and there’s all kinds of deluxe editions and add-ons and all sorts that make it difficult to even find the game you’re shopping for anymore. So you dive into one such deluxe listing, to see what kind of game you’re getting for a cool €129.99. It must come with free fellatio, right? A paid trip to that dimly lit Asian massage parlour down the road?

But no, actually the game is supposedly worth that price because it “comes with all DLC”, which is often a misnomer as more DLC will often be on the way, which you shall need the season pass for… Christ, what next, do you want me to run fan-events and do coffee mornings to get these games paid for?

But anyway, this is the curse of downloadable content, something which in my predictably cynical manner I predicted would be the death knell of gaming. In reality, the likes of FIFA Ultimate Team and other predatory bollocks just made the margin numbers throb ever more vigorously. Well, it’s a good thing I don’t run my own business or do any kind of financial forecasting, isn’t it?!

With DLC, you may be able to buy the ability to paint your horse’s arse red. And I suppose there will be at least one deranged person out there who’ll want to do that, if only to lord it over the untouchable peons who cannot afford such an equine posterial luxury. But there’s something even more sinister than that at play here – how many times have you bought a game, only to find “rounds” of DLC being announced not a few months later?

And it’s stuff they could have easily put into the base game as well. on release. Sure, the game was already rushed as hell and there are deadlines to meet, but that only strengthens the argument of games being released intentionally half-baked. I will say that the Internet was the worst thing to happen to gaming. It’s a blanket statement, sure, but I’m not taking any argument on that.

I don’t care how much you enjoy online shooters or a bit of FIFA versus the world, because who are you playing against if not strangers? And if they ain’t strangers, then just go around to their house and play each other in the same room. And if you’ve moved far away from each other, then just use this as an excuse to get shut of these people from your life instead.

You hate me and my opinions now, but I suppose I can say that we all differ. Confession time actually, I’ve become part of the DLC problem, having picked up Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna – The Golden Country on Nintendo Switch. That’s right, I said Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna – The Golden Country on Nintendo Switch. See how ridiculously long and unnecessary a title that is?

Well, on that theme… actually, I’ve got better words to say about Torna than that. Far from being unnecessary, this title was a great addendum to Xenoblade Chronicles 2, a game that I put dozens upon dozens of hours into, and in a first for me for RPGs, I actually completed it and saw the credits and everything. I must say that I loved Xenoblade 2, loved it, although I perhaps didn’t convey that enough in my previous review of it. Actually, I may have called it embarrassing anime rubbish for weebs. Well, that’s just a bit of banter, innit?

God, my credibility is in smithereens now, although it’s in better shape than things at the end of Torna, this standalone DLC release of Xenoblade 2 that could give you another 30 hours of play if you dedicate yourself to it. That’s more than a lot of commercial full-price games give you, and in fact I’d probably say it’s slightly more than ideal.

I’m not joking on that, I’m a busy man these days, doing anything I can to avoid work and maximise my leisure. So, for a game to grab me for more than 50 hours in this day and age, it’s got to be something pretty special, like the aforementioned XC2. The base game might have got me for about 120 hours in the end, so what more was 30 hours on top?

Fans of this ever-growing series tend to be rabid and die-hard in the best possible way,  so they’ll already know what happens in the story here. But don’t worry: for the casual observer, there’s still boobs aplenty and you’ll spend plenty of time suckling and nuzzling up to ridiculously anime cutscenes. In among all that, there’s also some preamble to the events of the main game, and how things used to be oh so rosy before it all went to pot, ah well.

Rosy then pot, eh? So just like the days of gaming before DLC then? Yes, exactly, but if that metaphor isn’t to your taste then you can at least console yourself with a top-class, slightly jazzy soundtrack here, plus a revised combat system that is mercifully not as involved and convoluted as that of the base game.

The world itself is smaller, naturally, although things are more tightly contained and you won’t be getting lost in vast expanses. Perhaps most crucially of all, the Torna DLC pack is even accessible for those who know absolutely nothing about the Xenoblade lore, which, even after having dumped hundreds of hours into the entire series, I’d have to count myself among.

In true nerd fashion, I bagged a physical copy of this game near to release, before second-hand prices went a bit crazy. If I had true weeb fashion though, I would have picked up the special editions and shapely figurines as well for my own personal consumption. Still, never mind, you would have to imagine that the full Xenoblade 2 Definitive Edition with all DLC included will be released some day in the future, and who knows what the world of downloadable content will look like then?

You always reckon the bubble is about to burst or the fad will pass, that people will see sense and stop throwing their money at these sharp business practices. But then you consider the possibility of them adding a VR mode to examine all of the personified Blades that exist in Xenoblade 2, the majority being female and the majority of those being impossibly proportioned, and you begin to realise why these people get dollar signs in their eyes.

For now, enjoy this DLC side-story for Xenoblade 2, as it’s a great bit of fun to spin through and any fan would love it. Or, you could treat it with the same disdain or apathy as I usually do for spin-off titles, the likes of Rogue One and Frasier (maybe not so much Frasier), and just ignore it completely. It all come down to how much disposable cash you have for unnecessary video games, doesn’t it?

14 October 2022

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