A golden opportunity to re-live the past.
Just over nine months ago, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was released on Nintendo Switch, and with it was sold an expansion pass that promised new blades, quests, and story content. The last part of that promise is about to be fulfilled. We are just over a week away from being able to play Torna ~ The Golden Country (September 14 digitally if you bought the expansion pass; the physical version releases on September 21), and the small slice of this new content that I played made me eager to return to a world I had already spent over a hundred hours exploring.
Torna ~ The Golden Country is such a sizable piece of content that it is receiving its own standalone, physical release and comes with the rest of the expansion pass content on a separate code inside the game case. While I didn’t play enough to see first-hand the full scope and size of the Torna expansion, I was introduced to new gameplay mechanics that change the experience in meaningful ways. For example, during combat, drivers can bring two blades into battle and switch between them; drivers can even switch places with the blades themselves, which means the player is controlling the blade directly. When a driver tags a blade into the fight or vice versa, the incoming character does an attack that can help set up a combo, which adds another wrinkle to combat. One final change is that rather than needing specific elemental special attacks to create a blade combo, you only need to perform a sequence of specials from level 1 to 3 to pull off the combo; the elements you use don’t seem to matter.
Because the combat in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is already so complex, and I hadn’t played the game since January, it took me a few minutes to get my bearings, and even then I felt like I needed more time to grasp the way combat had evolved in Torna ~ The Golden Country. The environment, however, was just as colourful and vivid as I remembered. The demo segment I played through took me around the titan Torna, with mountain and desert sections, and to the capital city of Auresco, which has a distinctly Japanese look to it. The series has always had a wonderful art style, and despite some rough graphical edges, the music and aesthetic of the game are as enthralling as ever.
In the Accessories tab of the menu screen, there is now a weapon slot that can be used to change a weapon’s elemental affinity. The Blades and Merc Group tabs of the menu screen have been replaced with a Community tab, and inside the Community tab is where you see all the people you have met who have given you side quests. Just as you could increase the development level of certain areas in Xenoblade Chronicles 2, you can add more supporters to your community to increase its level, leading to upgrades, cooking recipes, and other bonuses.
Rather than a simple piece of story DLC, Torna ~ The Golden Country appears massive and makes enough changes to keep the experience fresh for those who have already completed Xenoblade Chronicles 2. The fact that Torna is getting its own physical release is a clear sign of just how much content is on offer here. I am excited to learn more about the story of Torna and the new and familiar characters, but one question remains: Do I go digital or physical?