Montana features some of the most beautiful country in all of America, and Ubisoft has done an amazing job of capturing its rural glory. And the freedom to get credit for just f***** around in this gorgeous world, doing whatever feels most fun, is legitimately intoxicating.
Exploring ruins has gotten no less satisfying. Risking it all to secure a glowing item or a stash of souls still provokes baseline thrills. The basic back-and-forth of combat maintains its addictive rhythm. And the whole world is incredibly beautiful, especially the lush panoramas of the Ringed City itself.
[T]hrough it all, XCOM 2 never loses sight of the basic thrills that made its predecessor such a welcome surprise. The feeling of holding the line against seemingly impossible odds, of pulling a mission from the jaws of death with a timely rescue and a wounded comrade on your back, of watching an experienced squad slice its way through pod after pod of once-formidable foes—they're all still here, as satisfying as ever.
But even with its irritatingly slow cutscenes, its immature objectification of women, and its determination to keep players away from its best moments for as long as it can, it's hard to dismiss Xenoblade Chronicles X completely. There's just too much of it, for one thing. The simplest play-through will take at least 60 hours, and is likely to scratch only the barest portions of the game's stories and content, some of which, owning to the law of averages, will turn out to be both charming and fun. And there really is nothing quite like taking to the air for the first time, looking down at terrain that you've become intimately familiar with through hours upon hours of exploration of its lush, mesmerizingly beautiful world. It's just a shame that the game chooses to spend so much of its energy preempitively punishing you, before it lets you get to the business of actually enjoying it.
Walking in and out of it in frustration, desperately looking for the missing inventory object needed to advance a puzzle, is banal. And that's the fundamental paradox of Stasis: Its adventure-game components do not serve or enhance its horrific nature and instead act as roadblocks and impediments to the storytelling and tone. The disconnect isn't bad enough to make the game impossible to recommend