Yeah, I've heard a lot of people dog on the second game for a myriad of reasons from redesigns, budget constraints, Jr. being the main character etc. There are also people that have hated on XC2 for the past five years, and it's my favorite game of all time, so I don't trust anyone else's opinions on video games.I'll have to revisit the Xenosaga games at some point, especially now that feeling that Takahashi has certainly left an impression with Nihon Falcom on the Trails games. Though that'll also mean I'll have to replay Xenosaga 2 and that sucked for a myriad of reasons.
I haven't played Coldsteel, but from what I've heard there is more mech stuff involved than just Pater-Mater. Also from what I've seen from Kuro it seems like XC3 might've taken a few cues from Falcom in terms of XC3s' Ouroboros forms, but how much of that was designed and already in place by the time Kuro came out is questionable. Probably most of it with the way that Takahashi constructs his narratives over several games.