Not many RPGs are instant classics yet 2017 was home to at least 2 of them so let's see which of these grand adventures is superior.
NieR: Automata and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 each have distinct and complex plots that span a large period of fictional history within their respective unique worlds. It's going to be difficult to discuss either without spoiling their plots since they're so rich in reality-altering twists and turns. NieR: Automata's futuristic story of androids and robots experimenting with what it's like to be human while humankind is nowhere to be found is a phenomenal premise for a story while Xenoblade Chronicles 2's large cast of strong personalities get wrapped up in a plot that's much larger than life. Although I love the cast of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, I'm going to give this category to NieR: Automata as it still seeps into my brain quite regularly. Oh, and its post-game narrative is nothing short of sublime.
Aside from complex stories, each of these amazing RPGs takes place within its own memorable world. NieR: Automata's is gorgeous with its subtle environments while Alrest in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is much more colourful and lively. Traversing the post-apocalyptic wastelands as the agile 2B feels fantastic yet exploring massive open areas as Rex is undeniably enjoyable. However, the fact that NieR: Automata is so much smaller and less varied makes Xenoblade Chronicles 2 win here. Alrest is such an awe-inspiring world complete with dozens of stand-out locales that feature an impressive amount of verticality. Just thinking about it makes me want to dive back in.
One aspect that helps define an RPG is its soundtrack. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 features plenty of wonderful orchestral pieces that always fit the current situation and help elevate the immersion of its world and battles. Yasunori Mitsuda (who composed the score for Xenogears which is one of the best soundtracks of all time) did an excellent job with fellow composers Kenji Hiramatsu, ACE, and Manami Kiyota. However, the Monaca team with Keiichi Okabe did something truly special with their music for NieR: Automata. The layered and evolving tracks with vocals from Emi Evans and Nami Nakagawa still send shivers down my spine. It's possibly the greatest soundtrack ever recorded and the fact that the music adapts seamlessly as you play is jaw-dropping. So, NieR: Automata wins here!
NieR: Automata and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 could not be more different gameplay-wise. The former is action-intense while the latter features a real-time command-based battle system. I thoroughly enjoyed hacking and slashing robots in NieR: Automata and its shoot 'em up segments provide some top-notch fun. That being said, the battle system in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is extremely underrated. There are many intricacies of combat yet not everyone who played it seems to have truly mastered them. The battle system focuses on working together as a team and unleashing everything you have to destroy your opponent. Watching elemental orbs gather around your foe only to commence a strategically timed chain attack that makes them burst in order to cause devastating damage is so satisfying. Although there's a lot more to these games than fighting, I'll keep this brief and choose Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
I've been writing increasingly difficult Versus pieces for weeks and this one is the toughest decision so far but the winner is...
Winner Xenoblade Chronicles 2
NieR: Automata's top-notch story and soundtrack are quite possibly the best in all of gaming and it remains one of the most memorable games that I've ever played. However, Xenoblade Chronicles 2's unbelievably massive game world, extremely rewarding battle system, large cast of delightful and sinister characters, and epic narrative that actually ties in with the first game in a surprising way make it stand out to me as the better of these 2 amazing RPGs.
That's just my opinion. Agree? Disagree? Vote now!