SPOILERS ARE UNMARKED, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
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"Rex. You're the driver of the Aegis. The whole world's gonna try and scalp you, you realize that?"
- Azurda's death at the start of Chapter 2. Despite him getting better, Rex's breakdown at losing his grandfather-figure and only real companion for nearly five years is genuine.
- The final scene of Chapter 3 dishes several of these out.
- Sever launching Tora and Poppi into a wall, causing the latter to malfunction. The distress in Tora's voice as he calls her name sounds completely genuine.
- Dromarch takes a slash meant for Nia from Akhos. She looks like she's about to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge until Obrona strikes her down.
- Vandham dying at the hands of Malos, all while urging Rex to take Pyra and run away. Rex simply doesn't want to do this, wishing to aid Vandham instead. Nia briefly considers revealing herself as a Flesh Eater in order to bypass Obrona jamming the other blade's ether connection and heal Vandham but can't bring herself to do it.
- Heck, even the destruction of Obrona is surprisingly sad instead of satisfying or happy. Akhos sounds distraught as she vapourises, weakly calling his name in the process. Then there's the shot of him lamenting at the sight of her broken core crystal on the ground. There are no happy or victorious audio cues as this happens, just melancholy piano music.
- Rex crying over Vandham's death after the villains retreat. Rex's English voice actor, Al Weaver, may get criticism for his shouting, but he portrays those dry-heaving sobs that you can't hold back without feeling dizzy and making your jaw numb absolutely perfectly.
- Iona's Survivor Guilt afterwards as she not only feels completely responsible for Vandham dying, but talking to her and Cole later reveals that she's been suffering from nightmares since and all he's been able to do is give her books to read as a means of doing anything to take her mind off it. Cole knowing he doesn't have much longer to live makes it even worse for the poor girl. On a positive note there is an side quest you can take to improve his health and extend his life to a degree.
- Fan La Norne's death. While she didn't have the chance to be in the story for long, it becomes a Harsher in Hindsight moment if you play the DLC and get to know her better. Poor Haze spent centuries being used by someone she never wanted to be bonded to, and Jin believed giving her a Mercy Kill was justified. He immediately regrets it as in a final moment of familiarity Haze caresses his face, though this is not enough for him to not try to kill the rest of the party right after.
- Talking with the NPCs around Indol after her death shows that even in her new identity, Fan meant a lot to the people of Indol and did a lot of good for them. Spending 500 years forcibly bonded to Amalthus, having her Core Crystal mutilated and her memories as Haze erased even more thoroughly than most Blades when they reset, all that did nothing to change her inherent kindness.
- After Jin delivers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to the party at the end of Chapter 6, Pyra bargains for the life of her friends by offering to go with Torna or she'll order Siren to destroy her. After Torna concedes, Jin delivers a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Rex by calling him a fool for failing to realize the kind of pain Pyra was in.
- Rex's English voice actor, Al Weaver, once again deserves mention. From right after the No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to the very end of the scene, he's able to convey Rex's emotions very well, adding to the weight of the scene. Special mention goes to the end, where he genuinely sounds in pain with his voice audibly shaking before he cries out Pyra's name, followed by him audibly collapsing after the title card appears.
- At the start of Chapter 7, Rex wakes up to realize that he's lost Pyra and cries out of despair (Pictured above). He tells his friends that he was an idiot for thinking he could be a driver and intends to return to Argentum. Fortunately, Nia, Brighid and Poppi are able to get him out of his depression. Even so, the scene is still very heart-tugging for the points the three make, especially Brighidnote and Poppi.note
- All of them even go as far as to physically scold Rex. Nia smashes into Rex hard enough to make him fall, and when that's not enough, Brighid slaps Rex. The lone exception is Poppi, while about to punch Rex, can't bring herself to do so. Only lightly patting his face. Bonus points for a robot of all things sounding like she's on the verge of tears.
- The opening of Chapter 9. It is a flashback to Amalthus' days as a Quaestor, showing him helping out refugees of war. However, Amalthus then comes across one of the refugees whose life he saved killing and stealing from an innocent family. Amalthus then kills the refugee before he can kill the family's baby, before taking said baby and is implied to have killed it in what he sees as a Mercy Kill. He then looks up at the World Tree before asking "O' Architect! Is this the world that you intended?"
- Mikhail's Heroic Sacrifice in Chapter 9. Up until this point Mikhail has been an outright Jerkass with shades of having a Hidden Heart of Gold yet despite that he sacrifices himself to save the heroes. He even makes it clear that he hates the world and humans most of all but due to having an existential crisis, chooses to save Rex and allow him to try and stop Jin as Mikhail attempts to buy time in his fight against Amalthus. What makes it even worse is his final moments as he remembers surviving Amalthus' attempt at killing the refugees and the time when Jin and Lora took him under their wing.
- Mixed with heartwarming, in the final chapter as he prepares for death, Klaus remarks that perhaps he will be able to face Galea again, likely aware that at this point she is dead.
- Klaus's entire situation. It is clear that the guilt of his experiment so long ago still weighs heavily, as even though he created the world of Xenoblade and created life in Xenoblade 2 he has become so despondent in seeing Amalthus continuing humanity's worst traits that he sees his atonement as doomed to fail, even allowing Malos to walk right past him to Aion.
- Klaus mentioning he can see his other halfs future demise and later hearing Shulks words during the final battle all but states that Klaus knows about and can see all the atrocities his other half commits as Zanza but can do nothing about it. It may even fuel his desire to atone for his sin as Zanza is him and only exists because of his mistake.
- Rex and everyone finally reaches Elysium, the promised land that will provide for all the people of Alrest, only to find that it is a barren ruin even worse off than Mor Ardain. All of Rex's hopes and dreams are dashed, leading into him believing that his friends all now hate him for having led them all on a wild-goose chase. Klaus projects this belief out towards him as angered ghosts of his friends for his Secret Test of Character, but from Rex's perspective, it felt like his friends really do hate him now, to the point of outright attacking him for a lie he didn't mean to make.
- The hallucination he has of Nia also implies that he knows she has actual romantic feelings for him and he is feeling immense guilt for breaking her heart because he only has eyes for Pyra.
Nia: This whole time, it was always about "Pyra, Pyra, Pyra"!
Nia: We came all this way...and for what?!
Nia: Why didn't you take more notice of me?!
- Morag and Brighid blame their inability to stop the deaths of Niall and the other people of Mor Ardain on Rex's "misleading".
Morag: Niall...my people...this is all your fault!
Brighid: Deceiving blades with your pipe dreams...inexcusable!
- Meanwhile, Tora bemoans his inability to be a real Driver alongside Poppi, who basically says that she never asked to be born. After Poppi had earlier confessed how Tora and her looked up to him, that must've hurt.
Tora: Tora try so hard, but it was impossible to become real driver!
Poppi: Driver of Aegis? That is total joke.
- Finally, Zeke demands that Rex hands over the Aegis' power to someone more worthy (i.e. him).
Zeke: Amalthus' plans were possible because of you! You put the whole world in danger!
Pandoria: You really think you were doing all this for Pyra, Rex?! You could never make ANYONE happy!
- Despite what should normally be a happy moment, Rex's anxiousness and self doubt, understandable given what he has been through, when having a meal with Pyra and Mythra in the last part of Klaus's Secret Test of Character can be hard to watch. It also ends up upsetting Pyra to the point of telling Klaus to just stop the whole test.
Pyra: I think...that's enough. Please, father?
- The first part of the ending, where Poppi upon request from Pyra/Mythra prevents Rex from trying to stop her Heroic Sacrifice. It is clear that the whole situation is causing Poppi considerable emotional pain as well. Thankfully those tears turn into happy tears post credits where Pyra/Mythra's core crystal restores itself, causing Poppi to immediately hug the both of them.
- It's easy to read Rex's attempt to Anchor Shot across as wanting to be Together in Death with Pyra and Mythra.
- Shortly after, the whole party encourages Rex to have the emotional strength to accept Pyra's Heroic Sacrifice, and Nia's encouragement consists solely of a silent, sympathetic look. It's possible to interpret Rex's expression as finally noticing how much he really means to Nia, which make her "Go on, be happy" nod in the game's closing moments even more heart-wrenching.
- Jin and Lora's story in its entirety. To recap: it all starts with Lora being nearly killed by her (presumably) father for accidentally awakening Jin from his core crystal. Even though the two share a few happy years together, it only goes downhill from there. Between Jin's identity issues, Lora's fear of him forgetting her, Indol's attack on Torna and Jin becoming a Flesh Eater, it's no wonder the poor guy just wants to disappear by the end of it. The shot of Jin sitting in a dark alley, in pouring rain, right before Malos finds him is quite possibly one of the saddest images in the entire game, and that's saying something.
- Malos' meeting with the Architect/Klaus. The former asks what he's wanted to know for a long time: did he ever have any free will when causing all the pain and destruction that has afflicted Alrest? While Klaus's answer is that Malos made the decisions alongside Amalthus, his brief silence and later explanation to Rex's group can be seen as implying that Malos didn't really make those choices. Throughout this meeting, it's made clear that Malos isn't happy with his role in the world despite him never saying it, and his voice is full of self-hatred at his own existence.
Torna: The Golden Country
"I made this for her myself...she kept it, all this time..."
- Due to the Foregone Conclusion of the game, several events and pieces of foreshadowing become this.
- Lora talking about what she'll do after the war with Jin and Haze. She wanted to have a family with them and take in war orphans like Mikhail. Minoth ended up taking that dream and fulfilling it for her...
- Lora discovering her mother is dead, the voice acting and music really enhancing the sense of grief (especially considering we don't really know her mother as a character). Jin comforts her in a Cry into Chest moment, which is pictured.
- Hugo, the emperor of Mor Ardain and Addam's best friend, shields Addam from a massive explosion caused by Mythra's final attack. When next we see them, Addam is cradling Hugo's body while sobbing, the black crystals that were once Brighid and Aegaeon lying beside him.
- The game's incredibly bleak Downer Ending. Malos uses an attack that blows up much of the capital city of Auresco, which is where most of the NPC's you've been going on side quests for live, as well the two Tagalong Kids the party left behind for their own protection. This instantly makes Mythra access Pneuma's sword and the true depths of powers, and after a short fight she enters her artifice for a airborne battle with Malos. But consumed by her pain and grief Mythra is out of control, and ends up killing the Tornan titan with her most powerful attack, while her actual target, Malos, falls into the depths of the Cloud Sea; his body half melted and Core Crystal damaged, but still very much alive.
- Adding to this is that the game requires you to complete enough side quests to gain a certain Level of Community before you can even attempt to fight Malos. Xenoblade has a reputation for creating interesting sidequests with fleshed out stories, so it's not hard to get attached to some of the NPC's if you bother to listen to their stories. After Torna sinks into the Cloud Sea, you're not given any indication of where all the people in your Community went. You have no idea if they sank with the Titan, got killed in Amalthus's attack on the refugee camp, or escaped to Tantal.
- And just to twist the knife further; Mythra doesn't find out for sure that Milton died from Malos' attack until later. Specifically, when she's on board Hugo's old warship, now housing the few survivors of Torna, watching in horror as the Titan and the country she was trying so hard to save sinks below the cloudsea in flames because of her. It's only then that she notices Mikhail on board — cradling Milton's corpse. This last revelation is the final straw that completely breaks poor Mythra, as she screams a Big "NO!" to the sky while radiating power that eventually completely obscures her.
- Making her feel all the worse, before she fully loses her composure, Mythra initially tries to reach out to touch Milton's body, still in disbelief that he is dead, only for Mikhail to angrily shield him from her, reinforcing Mythra's perception that its all her fault.
- In the very next scene, Pyra is there instead of Mythra, implying that moment is when a guilt-ridden Mythra sealed herself away.
- On top of that, Pyra surprisingly doesn't even speak in her only moment of screentime in this DLC, only giving a parting gesture before setting off with Addam. Given she share's Mythra's memories as the main game shows, this could possibly imply she's still processing everything that just happened.
- Sometimes after winning a battle, Brighid will ask Lora whether she's thought about keeping a diary. She replies that she's happier keeping her memories in her heart...which hits much Harsher in Hindsight when you consider where her heart ends up.
- Poor, poor Mikhail. Its jarring to see the flamboyant flirtatious Butt-Monkey as an emotionless and despondent child, and even more considering what changes him. He begins as a slave for a village that he was ultimately the sole survivor of when it was attacked and burned to the ground by pillagers. Hes taken in by Jin and Lora, who try their best to help him come out of his shell, and when they later join up with Addams team he meets Milton, a Gormotti boy that is determined to befriend him and make him smile. Over the course of the game Milton and Mikhail grow close, with Milton eventually succeeding in getting a small smile out of Mik, becoming arguably close as Shulk and Reyn. And then the final battle comes around, and Mythra convinces them to stay in Auresco, away from the battle and safe. Unfortunately, Malos targets the city, and we see the boys hugging as Malos attack surges towards them. When we next see them, Mikhail is cradling Milton's dying body on an Ardanian ship as they evacuate Torna. When the rest of party meet up with them, Milton is dead and Mikhail simply looks up with Dull Eyes of Unhappiness. The person who cared for him most is dead, and he blames Mythra. Whats worse, when it looks like the worst is over, Amalthus attacks the Tornan survivors, murdering Lora and Haze, and Jin disappearing. He is then kidnapped, experimented on, and then disposed of, only he is once again the sole survivor. 500 years later, when we meet Mikhail again, his actions seem a lot less funny knowing how dramatically he's changed and how much his present behavior is simply a front he puts on.
- Jin burning down Ornelia's house, which survived the destruction of Torna. Inside, he also burns the photo with Ornelia, the diary he wrote in, and the photo with Lora and the party. And throughout this, he laments about how he doesn't want "forever", he just wants to be with Lora again.