The true meaning of Xenoblade 2’s « Elysium »

My thoughts on Xenoblade Chronicles 2 are very… complicated to say the least, but I can’t deny that the emotional aspects and the themes of the game are some of my favorites from any form of media I’ve ever encountered. Speaking of those themes, Xenoblade 2’s environmental message is one of the strongest parts of the game, as it mimics the way we humans treat the earth with its own unique spin on the world and our land. 

For context, in the game, everyone lives on the backs of giant living animals named Titans swimming through an endless sea. These Titans, the population’s only living space, are nearing extinction so Rex, the story’s main character, is to find Elysium, a supposed mythical nature-filled world for everyone to live in.  

A vision of Elysium Rex sees in a dream at the start of the game, (My photo)

Even if the topography of the world is imaginative, the same environmental issues tackled in Xenoblade 2 are very much real to the players. Just like in our society, each Titan is treated as its own country which adds a political aspect to the environment. Instead of working together on solving the imminent land problem they had, each government ignores or avoids coming to an agreement with the others. The people of each country suffer from a different environmental problem that accelerated the death of their Titans. 

Mor Ardain, a giraffe looking Titan, had all of its natural resources used up by its people and is left looking like a barren wasteland riddled with holes from mining experiments. Gormott and Tantal are two smaller, less developed countries that need to sell their Titan’s resources and parts of the titan itself to keep its people afloat. Torna, Speccia and Judicium are all dead Titans caused by human conflicts, and this loss of crucial living space was only considered a problem after they were lost. Comparing this with even only what we’ve seen in class to up until now and there are already parallels between the two with the most glaringly obvious one being that in both situations, we need our environment much more they it needs us. 

The death of the Tornan Titan, (My Photo)

Still, none of what I mentioned was as impactful to me while playing Xenoblade 2 as its ending. HEAVY SPOILERS AHEAD…. but I genuinely can’t bring myself to recommend this game to literally anyone, so feel free to read this section or skip it entirely. 

At the end of the game, Rex ends up finding Elysium all the way up in space (Don’t question it, it’s complicated). However, the paradise we awaited was far from reality. Elysium was a barren desert, filled with remains of destroyed houses and old relics instead of plants and wildlife. Elysium was a vision of what their world would become shortly, due to the population killing their only land. I often hear discussions about colonizing Mars or venturing into space for our survival, when finding real solutions to problems we face is still a possibility. Elysium doesn’t exist, both in Xenoblade 2 and in our world. Yet unlike in Xenoblade, we haven’t reached a stage where such a « plan B » is our only option. Protecting our earth is still possible and very much doable today, and our “plan A” needs to be to prevent a scenario like the one in Xenoblade 2 to ever become our reality.  

The real Elysium, 10 Sep. 2019.

This game’s message to treat our environment like it’s living often gets overshadowed by other themes of the game. Yet the grim way they share said message has been constantly bouncing around in my mind for about a year now.

3 réflexions au sujet de “The true meaning of Xenoblade 2’s « Elysium »”

  1. Hi Didier,
    I really enjoyed reading this blog of yours, even though I have never played the game, I always heard great things about it from you. And now with this blog, I can tell that this game is much deeper and way more interesting than I thought before. Your blog summarizes the main plot of the game extremely well and helps me understand what the story is about. I think the links you made between the game and real-life are really good yet intriguing at the same time. I really loved the way you described Elysium and explained how in our reality it is still possible to save our earth thus bringing back everything we had previously lost. What I would ask you is whether you think that Elysium is a representation of the current future of our planet if we continue down this path, do you think this was intended by the developers?
    Also, why did they make Elysium seem so dream-like and perfect in the first place?

  2. I gotta be honest, I’m disappointed that they moved on from the whole « people living on 2 giant robots clashing their swords together » thing, that was just so epic. All I’ve ever heard from the series was from you, and yet you manage to explain most of the concepts here comprehensively enough for me to be able to feel familiar with this title’s main theme. Although this post is mostly a story recap with real-life comparisons, your passion for the series came through with your writing style and made the overall thing quite fun to read! I have to say, « Rex ends up finding Elysium all the way up in space (Don’t question it, it’s complicated), » has to be one of my favorite sentences ever written by man, can’t count how many times you gotta say this kinda thing when explaining RPGs to clueless people.

    My only gripes with your text include:
    -« Comparing this with even only what we’ve seen in class to up until now, » is a bit of a loaded phrase and, unless I’m reading it wrong, I think the « to » is a typo.
    -I don’t think you made it quite clear enough whether or not Elysium was canonically a vision of humanity’s future, or if that was your interpretation or a metaphor.

    Other than that, the text was a fun read and an interesting analysis of the game. One thing I found especially interesting was the eerily human habits present in the game such as poor people being forced to sell their Titan’s resources and parts, that’s just messed up and too real. I’m thinking we could make a connection between Elysium and false promises. Often times the government and corporations tell us about one thing being environmentally friendly just to sell products, or accomplish some shady goal. Here, we see Elysium being held on a pedestal as some sort of pure land, even though none of the game’s characters are even certain of what it actually looks like, given how it’s mythological. Do you think we could link that with governments and corporations attempting to convince us that everything will turn out good if we follow the rules, despite the fact that our future as a planet is very uncertain? Some food for thought, good job with the text!

  3. I know very little about Xenoblade. Like Remy, most of what I know comes from you. However unlike him, I have literally only heard about the very very weird parts (drivable transformers and such). This blog post regarding Elysium though seems, contrary to drivable transformers, very thought provoking. Its almost scary that the last hope of humanity isn’t really a solution in the first place, Elysium is a promise that could never be fulfilled. Its even scarier knowing that Elysium is just a mirror of the world they are a trying to escape, a world that is simply a worse version of their current one. That also connects to what you had mentioned prior, that we should treat the earth as if its alive. Failure to do so will simply lead to the grim future that is Elysium. Your writing is very personal and it very much feels as if I’m talking with you directly. This blog was very interesting and this is also a videogame so extra points too. If we continued on this path, how soon do you believe we have before Elysium becomes our reality?

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