“Ys VIII” vs. “Xenoblade Chronicles 2”

In December*, we gonna get this two jRPGs. From gamey-game perspective, I know pretty much everything I would like to know, minus the actual reviews. But from content side of view (racist story, sexist characters, you know, that “fun” stuff), I’m in the dark. Some of you know about those series more than I do, some of you maybe already played “Ys VIII” – from 0 to gross, should I be worried?

(* – I would rather have “Ys” on PC, so, for me it is in December, or maybe even later than that.)

But, I don’t want to hug all the spotlight: what upcoming game(s) you are worried about? Like, you pretty sure that it is gonna be a good game, but with problematic content? You can worry for a good reason, or simply because there is a spotty history somewhere near it.

I would add “Red Dead Redemption 2” here. They did decent job with the first one (well, “decent” in comparison to GTAs), but, oh, boy, they gonna drop the ball here, I’m afraid/pretty sure.

The only one of these games I’m interested in (or know anything about) is Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

A little background on the series's past sexualisation

Xenoblade Chronicles 1 includes revealing outfits including swimsuit costumes which you could choose to equip to characters (pieces are in parts: Head, Torso, Legs, Feet). Examples include the Swimming Top, and the Bottoms. They’re not overtly sexual, but they were there. The main characters were also pretty tame when it comes to proportions (for JRPG’s).

Xenoblade Chronicles X, on the other hand, took the sexualisation of characters to another level. First there was somewhat of an uproar over changes made during Western Localising. XCX includes customisable player-avatars which the Western Localisation removed the ability to change the breast size for female avatars. Furthermore, the touted age of the character Lin was changed from 13 to 15 (although I don’t remember it ever being mentioned in-game) and her available costumes were altered to be less revealing. Patrick even wrote about it for Kotaku back in 2015 (WARNING: This article pivots to talk about “censorship” in games in general and features very sexual content)

The result, however, is that the sexualised clothing of the adult characters were unchanged. While Xenoblade Chronicles X does feature similar swimsuit costumes which aren’t significantly worse than in XC1, XCX also includes outfits that are ridiculously sexualised. XCX added “Fashion Armor” which overrules the look of the stat-armor equipped. It also added armor sets which change the entire appearance and cannot be changed piece-meal. The one that I feel is the absolute worst is the bunny suit. (I never found this in the game though).

So there are some bad costumes. However, they are all optional, and Xenoblade Chronicles X’s addition of the “Fashion Armor” option means you don’t get into an issue where a revealing set (or other outfit you dislike) has specific stats that make them the best item you could wear, while also having to look at them. Even if your best piece of armor happened to disgust you, you could always override the appearance with something else. Also, while XCX has reached full-on anime designs, the proportions of characters aren’t very extreme.

Flash forward to Xenoblade Chronicles 2, though, and they have definitely passed the anime-event-horizon. There’s a clear disparity between the proportions of the two lead characters:
[Edit: I refreshed the page and the image here is no longer appearing. Tried editing twice and it didn’t fix it (unsure why). If there isn’t an image here, it’s supposed to be this one of Pyra and Rex].

I originally thought Pyra’s design (the red-haired girl) wasn’t so bad. I still think that the official art of her is fine. But the more angles I’ve seen of her in-game, the less her proportions fit. Also, they put a glowing story marker on her chest just to make it obvious where you should be looking. Similarly, while we haven’t seen much of her in trailers, the character Hikari looks to be even worse. It should also be noted that gear/armor customisation (like the previous games) hasn’t been outight confirmed yet so it remains unclear what you could change about character appearance if you wanted to.

Now a little bit on Plot that ties into this. One of my favourite things about the original Xenoblade Chronicles is how it subverts the “save the girl” trope by bringing her back part-way through the game (and turning her into a killing machine). While the game isn’t the most original, and certainly falls foul of tired cliches, I appreciated the amount of agency given to the female characters. Not only do they push away from the idea of the “chosen hero” being Shulk (even though his unique power to see the future makes him so) by adding a sense of destiny to other characters (especially Melia), they also had the mechanical angle of allowing you to spend most of the game playing as other party members (including forced changes-in-perspective). I got the sense that the women were as much a part of the story as anyone else.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2, however, has a significant plot-point over “Special Blades”. Pyra (girl above) is one of these “Special Blades” and has the ability to bestow the power of her sword to another known as a “Driver”. She seems connected to the main character, Rex (boy above), who she allows to weild her blade in order to go on some quest to bring her to a magical tree (Just in case you were missing magical world-trees and space whales, this game has got you covered). While there are multiple blade-characters to customise your party with (i.e. they aren’t like Xenoblade Chonicles 1’s Monado which only Shulk can use), I can’t help getting the feeling that they are using the exaggerated-looking young women as things for the hero rather than as characters themselves.
Look at the Special Edition art for instance:

Overall, I’m still excited for this game, however I’m waiting for reviews and more information before deciding on it. I’ve loved the previous games so much that I’m hopeful (I genuinely think Xenoblade Chronicles 1 has a fantastic story with a range of interesting fleshed out characters)… but the closer we get to release, the more sceptical I’ve become.


Ys VIII is really tame as pretty much all Falcom games are. There’s only one real lolanime moment and it’s right at the beginning. You might also roll your eyes at Dana’s design but, and this isn’t to say you’re not allowed to not like it, it’s…a consistent aesthetic for all characters in a certain area of the game. I’m not gonna put a number on how “problematic” it is but I’ll just say I’m pretty sensitive to that stuff usually and there have been very few questionable moments.

Unless your idea of problematic content is cutting up dinosaurs with a dope sword. Do not play this game if you don’t want to destroy some ancient animals.


First, thanks, to both of you!

With XC2 my main problem is, that some people are not people (“Blades” thing). It can be done properly, sure – sci-fi deals with robots and similar stuff all the time. But that they are women (almost all “Blades” are women) in revealing costumes is making this that much worse.

In “Ys”, as I understand, you have main character that constantly crashes his ship somewhere and then goes to help local people. We don’t think about it that much, because it is as a default of a setup as it can be in games, but it can be problematic, for sure (“white savior” and stuff). “Ys VIII” is set on a (supposedly) barren island, though.

In the end, I would not say I’m optimistic, but I would wait for reviews anyway.

Oh, btw, @SabuhtoothAlex, if I want to get into “Ys” series, can you recommend a game to start with? I’m primarily a PC player, but feel free to recommend something on older consoles, too (I have, and barely use, PS3, Vita, Wii and 3DS). Again, something that’s not gonna make me facepalm myself constantly :­)


This isn’t really a thing? Most of the revealed blades have been dudes, and there isn’t anything that makes them “not people”. They’re party members who are tied to other party members. The fiction doesn’t suggest anything like that either, at least not from what I’ve seen. They just seem to be people with superpowers that involve giving other people superpowers, possibly from another dimension or some bollocks.

I can’t say I’ve ever seen the fuss about anime girls and the associated clothing though. Like, I’m sure there’s a conversation there or something, but generally I’d defer to women on the matter and most of the women I follow on twitter and the like are into that kind of thing.

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I’d agree with this which is why I’m still mostly positive on it. Parts of the design choices make me uncomfortable (quite significantly because I find the disparity in designs jarring). I hope my comment didn’t come across as saying things should make people uncomfortable. I just wanted to explain why they haven’t enthralled me. I’ll defer to those who take offense (especially women when it comes to female objectification) as to whether the result it demeaning. It’s why I linked so many pictures.

Thanks for the thorough explanation. I never played any of those games (unless you count Xenogears, which I’m still not even 100% sure whether or not it’s related in any way), so that was very helpful!


From Tetsuya Takahashi, emphasis mine:

“Then there are these things called Core Crystals. Throughout the game, you’ll collect many of them, and if a Driver touches that Core Crystal, a lifeform is created. That lifeform is what we call a Blade.

“The Blades endow the Driver that they’re linked with power and a weapon. Each Blade has different roles that it can play, so the concept is that, by attaching different Blades, the player can decide what kind of role they want to play in the game.”

In a game, maybe there gonna be a 50/50 gender split, but did you watched trailers? Game presented in a horribly misogynistic way. The only hope, is that actuall game is not like that, but we don’t know, and I’m not holding my breath.

And even if there is 50/50 gender split, then we simply dealing with dehumanization. Great.

And do we really gonna discuss clothes of virtual characters again? Really?!

Yeah, I did watch the trailers, and I don’t know what you’re on about. Like, you’re the first person I’ve heard mention it so far. And I’m still not getting this dehumanisation thing either, the blades are characters, with personalities, and involvement in the story, regardless of their mechanics. That’s even before you consider translation in regards to It and Them from japanese.

Guy uses girl as a tool. Girl that he created.

This Feminist Frequency video showed a bunch of examples of how this can go bad, and even a couple of good examples. If you, for some reason, believe that the XC2 gonna be closer to good, I don’t have that confidence at all.

(Edited for: sorry, was looking for that clip.)

By and large the armor design for women in the Xeno/X games is super embarrassing and terrible. It’s never really been justifiable IMO.

We don’t know enough about the blades concept in XC2 yet, at least with regards to their place narratively, to say for sure if it’s exploitative yet. I can absolutely see it going into creeptown real fast though. I’m intending to just use the cute animal blades and avoiding the super skimpy anime girls if I have the option.

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Ys VIII has some fanservicey designs (mostly limited to the characters @SabuhtoothAlex references, but the first playable female character also bares some cleavage and wears very short shorts for, like, no reason), but no overt racism or sexism. The developer does also tend to lean on gender essentialism, though.

As for games to start with, Oath In Felghana is often the go-to recommendation, since it’s both not deeply tied to other games and is arguably the best in the series. For problematic content, all I can think of is that it damsels its heroine near the end.
Memories Of Celceta (which has a PC port coming out at some point, I think) has a subtle connection to a previous game, but is overall very standalone. One playable character has a weirdly fanservicey outfit, though, and the one female antagonist easily falls into the “evil is sexy” trope.
And there’s VIII itself, which is very carefully designed to be a good starting point despite the references it has to other games.

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How healers tend to be female, and stuff like that? Yeah, that’s a jRPG thing for sure.

Thanks for recommendations!

As far as mechanics are concerned, maybe that would be significant if the gender was entrenched in the design, but it’s not. From a narrative point though, sure, maybe she falls into that trope, depending on how it goes in the game itself. Maybe Pyra will have more agency in the story, in which case cool, good for her, or maybe she won’t, in which case whatever, we’ll all live. Worth noting, sure, but the only way it’ll impact anyone’s enjoyment is through personal preferance.

Like, again, I’d probably be more inclined to think ill of this stuff if I knew women who did, but most women I know either just think it’s not for them or a hella into anime cute anime girls. Maybe Deep Weeb Gays Twitter just doesn’t have much overlap with where you’re at.

Actually, not like that! Falcom is generally really good about spreading roles out. Ys VIII for example has three playable women in your party and stats wise they’re all pretty much equal to or stronger than the main character. Ys is an action RPG that focuses on, well, action. Healers aren’t really a thing. All of your characters are fighters. The Trails games, which operate a lot more like traditional JRPGs, also give you a lot of variety to play with for both genders.

I think what @redsilversnake means is that Falcom tends to emphasize gender at times. They draw attention to gendered traits in ways that can be pretty basic. Not usually, I feel, intentionally gross or anything, just…basic. It’s weird because at times they subvert them too but it’s hard to tell if it’s really intentional or just a happy byproduct of creating enjoyable characters.

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And that’s a reason to dismiss my opinion? I don’t know what your intention is, but is sounds a lot like “I don’t a have problem with this, so shouldn’t you”. And also “some of my friends are women”.

@SabuhtoothAlex So, it is a story thing? Ok, good to know. Thanks again!

Naw, that’s no me dismissing your opinion, that was me tagging out of the discussion because I’m clearly not interested or needed here, by my own misjudgement. A polite doff of the hat as I walk out of the door into the embrace of like 4 bodypillows. Ta!

Yes, this. Falcom’s done pretty well when it comes to gender parity and variety in both personalities and roles for both men and women, but they also have random dialogue referring to supposedly immutable differences between them.

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I think Falcom does an ok job of exploring gender roles as relating to the historicity of its worlds, they sort of do the same thing with things like nobility/social class.

Not that this is evident in the Ys games tbh.

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Falcom earliest games are of that short-lived video game aesthetic of Charming Japanese Western Fantasy. It’s something they’ve actually regressed a bit on with some recent games. Memories of Celceta is a good example, it’s a remake of Ys IV: Dawn of Ys. One of the female characters was redesigned to be an agile archer kind of person with more direct familial ties to the good guy faction leadership, basically looping around into old D&D stereotypes to be more anime instead of just being a badass swordsperson who is Adol’s ally in the original. Another female character, admittedly didn’t have a huge rule in the game but she was cut entirely from Celceta.

It’s still better than their stuff like Sorcerian where female characters have default lower strength/etc. by default and all those other weird class limitations because it was based on first edition Dungeons and Dragons.

The Ys series (and many of Falcom’s other odd RPG and adventure games) are generally super charming and worth playing though, there’s a ton of them.

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