I never played Xenoblade Chronicles when it first released on the Nintendo Wii back in 2010. My memories of the Wii are overrun with Zelda, Mario and numerous sports and fitness games and definitely not this hugely ambitious RPG by Monolith. Playing this game now, 10 years later, I found myself questioning how on earth they even managed some of the things back at the original time of release. This game is ambitious, massive, and full of character. It has been an absolute joy to play and I am very thankful they remastered this game. There will be no spoilers in here, so you can read this Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition Review safely, friends.
The land in which this story takes place is certainly unique. It is set upon the bodies of 2 humongous titans that, many years ago, were locked in unending combat. The Bionis, the home of organic life such as the Homs, Nopon and High Entia. And the Mechonis, the home of machine-based life such as the Mechon and the Machina. After these 2 titans ceased to function, life began to bloom on the bodies of these beings, and Colony 9 of the Bionis is where our story kicks-off.
As soon as you gain control you’ll notice just how huge each area of the world is, alongside the ability to do whatever you want. You have the freedom to go and grab all of the sidequests (of which there are a lot) and do all of those if you so wish, or you can follow the quest marker and dive straight into the story. Maybe you want to go explore, go right on ahead.
Each area is an improvement on the one before it and I’m not just talking about the size of these maps. Incredible skyboxes and a huge depth of vision allowing you to see different areas on the Bionis you may not have thought possible, considering the Switch’s performance capabilities, incredible scenery and environments sprawling with life. There is no empty space either. Throughout out these areas are villages, travelling merchants, quest givers, enemies, superbosses, collectables and more. If you want a game with a lot of meat on the bone, this is one of them.
Combat is definitely one of the most unique traits when it comes to the Xenoblade games. From a newer players perspective, it may look boring where all the player needs to do is move around and wait for their character to auto-attack. However, in Xenoblade movement is king.
For example, Shulk’s main 2 damaging abilities require specific placement in order to gain the benefits. His Slit Edge attack, when hitting from the side of the enemy, will do damage, generate affinity gauge, and inflict a debuff to the enemy reducing their physical defences by 50%. Now with the enemy in a debuffed state, following up with Backslash will deal double damage when hitting the back of the enemy, on top of the 50% defence reduction that was previously applied. Shulk isn’t the only character with abilities like this either, the whole party is filled with abilities that have specific requirements in order to pull the absolute most out of them and this is what makes the combat of Xenoblade extremely fun, and extremely active as you progress further into the game.
There are skills which put the enemy into different states, such as Break, which can be followed up by Topple, and lastly Daze. These are skills which can essentially incapacitate the enemy for varying amounts of time. Against normal enemies you may find that the topple duration alone is quite long, whereas boss fights will be completely different. Some bosses may even have immunities to certain status effects and will require some preparation from the player in order to expose those weaknesses.
The combat is all topped off with the chain attack system. Once the affinity gauge has been filled, you will have the option of performing a chain attack. These sequences are an excellent way to both secure a fight and also swing the momentum back in your favour if the fight is becoming hard to control. During a chain attack, you will be able to perform an ability from each of your party members which will attack one after another. For example, Shulk uses Stream Edge to Break the enemy, Reyn follows up with Wild Down to Topple, and Sharla finishes with Head Shaker to Daze them. There is also a chance that the chain attack will extend allowing for even more attacks to be performed without the risk of the enemy fighting back.
The affinity gauge is a meter that should be carefully managed, as chain attacks are not the only benefit that comes from filling it up. This adds a whole new layer of depth to the combat which just makes it all the more fun!
Performance and Quality of Life
This is a Switch game, so that always comes with the thought that it may not be the best looking game in the world, or there may be performance issues as a result of graphical fidelity. I can’t say I ever experienced even a single frame drop in this game, even in some of the largest areas with a lot of particle effects and other such processes going on.
The game looks great docked, which is how I played it, but it also looks fantastic when being played in handheld mode. Thanks to the adaptive resolution of the Switch, playing handheld even hides some of the imperfections that the game is bound to have.
The game has taken on an art style much more reminiscent of Xenoblade 2, where it has a more typical anime-style to it. There was some controversy from die-hard fans of the original when it comes to this aspect of the remaster, but we need to remember that this aesthetic was the original intention of the creators. In no way does the characters having a hugely upgraded art-style affect the quality of the game.
Lastly the quality of life changes, specifically with regards to the side content. As players of the original and those who have played the Definitive Edition now know, this game is filled to the brim with side quests. Every time you see a quest giver, I can guarantee they have around 3 quests to give you before you move onto the next quest giver. Thankfully, there is a quest tracker in the game which allows you to track a specific side quest from your log and you will be given a location on the map, as well as a dotted path that leads you there. From my understanding this wasn’t a feature in the original game, which must have been a nightmare considering just how many side quests there are.
You can get the game on Switch now!
Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition Review Verdict
This game is faithful to the original, lives up to the title of Definitive Edition, and is an all around fantastic remaster of a much loved classic of it’s time. Monolith have really outdone themselves and the extended story, Future Connected, is a fantastic addition that ties up some loose ends nicely. As an RPG fan, this game is a MUST. Despite pulling my hair out on a certain boss towards the end of the game, this game is brilliant.