Developer: Monolith Soft Publisher: Nintendo Released: May 29, 2020 MSRP: $59.99
Link to Purchase: https://amzn.to/2ZJm74r
*Review Code Provided By Nintendo*
Tetsuya Takahashi is a name you should know if you are an RPG fan as he has played an important role in the Final Fantasy series as well as being the founder of Monolith Soft and creator of the XenoVerse or Xeno series of games starting with XenoGears in 1998 up to this current updated entry of 2010’s Xenoblade Chronicles. Takahashi-san and his wife Soraya Saga have created timeless works and narratives that I highly recommend anyone experience. After 2006’s Xenosaga, it seemed as if Tetsuya Takahashi and Monolith Soft were no longer going to make any more titles in the Xeno series and then on 2008 we were made aware of a new title called Monado: Beginning of the World which went on to become the timeless classic of Xenoblade Chronicles for the Nintendo Wii and then was rereleased in 2015 for the Nintendo 3DS.
If not for Operation Rainfail which was a push to get Nintendo to localize three titles including Xenoblade, then we never would’ve had the chance to play this game in America. Now here we are in 2020 with a 3rd release of this classic in the modern era with a from the ground up remake with a question many fans have been asking and that’s if the game will live up to the legacy of the original and will new fans be brought in to the series with Xenoblade Chronicles 2 find a love for the original entry? Let’s find out!
The story of Xenoblade Chronicles is set on a world of 2 titans known as the Mechonis and the Bionis that are engaged in an eons ongoing battle that ends with them landing death blows on one other causing them to cease functioning. On the remaining bodies of the 2 titans flourished life with Mechonis giving life to beings known as the Mechon and the Bionis being the home of the human like Homs, the High Entia, the Furry like Nopons, and more. Following the introduction, we are introduced to the war hero Dunban and his companies Mumkhar and Dickson as the wage war against the Mechons on Sword Valley which is the remains of the Sword used by the Mechonis to slash the Bionis. After the Battle of Sword Valley, we are then introduced to young scientist and researcher Shulk and his best friend Rayn as they are hanging out in the fields and on their way back to Colony 9 to meet up with their friend Fiora (younger sister of Dunban). Little do they know that destiny has a lot in store for them all and life on Colony 9 will never be the same again.
If you’ve played the original then you’ll be right at home here as this is basically the same combat system akin to an MMO in that your characters auto-attacks the targeted enemy while being able to select actions that allow you to select things such as use abilities like Back Slash and Wild Down, use buffs and debuffs, heal yourself and allies, and more all in real time with your party of 3 with you being able to cycle through your abilities manually based on who you are controlling.
Each of your characters fit an archetype with Shulk being your all-rounder that is good for all situations especially early on against Mechon with Reyn being your tank and heavy hitter and Melia being your mage/healer and so on. Your party of 3 can be customized to have so many different combinations depending on who is in it allowing you to have a party and play style of your choosing. An ability worth speaking on that will save your bacon more than once is how Shulk has the ability to see the future in battles just as he does in cutscenes and that foresight will allow you to see when an enemy will kill off one of your characters and give you ample time to react to this with an attack that will interrupt them from this such as afflicting the Topple state on the enemy.
Equipping weapons and armor in Xenoblade Chronicles changes the look of your characters with items such as weapons, armor pieces, headwear, eyewear, and more which gives you control of how your character will look both in battle, on the field, and in cutscenes.
Quests have always been a huge part of Xeno games and in Xenoblade Chronicles it is truly a fun aspect of the game with your doing various quests for NPCs from fetch quests to kill specific monsters and more. What I enjoy about doing quests in this game is that it allows you the opportunity to raise the relationship levels you have with the various NPCs in the different colonies which will allow you to not only open up more quests but also get the chance to gain better equipment down the line that you may not be able to obtain otherwise.
Of note, one aspect of the game I highly recommend you take the time to understand and learn and ultimately invest in is the gem system as in my original run of the game back in 2010 had me getting to the end of the game and struggling to beat common enemies let alone bosses and it’s an aspect that the original game did not take much effort to explain and yet this edition of the game does a much better job of showcasing.
So you may be asking whats changed between this and the 2 previous releases and the answer is that this version has tightened up some of the issues with the original with letting you know if certain moves and abilities are more effective from the side, back, or front as your placement in relation to your foe is pivotal in getting the max amount of damage done and vice versa the enemy to you. When you are facing an enemy and you are using someone like Shulk and are on the side of an enemy and intend to use an Arte like Slit Edge; then you will see an exclamation point next to the Arte that will allow you to see if your Artes are more effective based on where you are positioned.
Ultimately speaking, if you are used to playing Xenoblade Chronicles 2 then you will somewhat understand this battle system although this game does have a flow that is much different from 2 and I feel that only if you ‘ve played X, Final Fantasy 12 or 14, or other MMOs then this game may not click with the audience of 2 from the get go but stick with and don’t whine about the battle system the way that Kotaku has for some reason as it’s honestly not that hard to learn.
Also, there are no BLADES in this game; so if you are coming from 2 then that’s also something you will need to get used to.
Graphically speaking this is a SUBSTANTIAL upgrade over what was released back in 2010 on the Wii as the changes in both graphics and artstyle are very substantial. The original game had a more realistic look with no real emphasis on an anime aesthetic the way that other JRPGs did with proportions on characters that looked believable in contrast to games such as Arc Rise Fantasia and the like. Comparably, all the games from Operation Rain Fall came to look rather realistic with their character designs and not anime inspired of which the Xeno series would ultimately head back towards with Xenoblade Chronicles 2 after not using that style since both Xenogears and Xenosaga.
Shulk, Fiora, Reyn, Dunban, Melia, and Rikki all look incredible in full HD and animate very well. Seeing Shulk in Definitive Edition is awesome as his design here takes cues from both his HD designs from Smash 4 and Ultimate as well as his guest appearance in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 with a look that is in the middle way of his realistic look in the original and the more Shonen anime style of 2 fitting somewhere moreso with the style of Xenoblade Chronicles X.
If I’m being honest, I want to say this game is basically an asset upgrade in many ways because they took the core game and slap on significantly better graphics………although that wouldn’t be true as the game was rebuilt yet was made to respect the original game by not changing core aspects too dramatically. You’ll see cutscenes that are point for point remakes of the original with maybe 1 or 2 changes here and there but nothing too crazy.
When docked the game runs 1080p and is quite vibrant and at times more vibrant than even what 2 was. The game runs smooth as I never ran into any slowdown, hiccups, or framerate issues the way I did in 2. Undocked and on the Switch Lite the game has a variable resolution that floats around 720p and 540p and unless you’re trying, doesn’t look much different than docked.
What can I say about the audio other than IT SLAPS????!!! I love everything about this games sound from the voice acting to the OST and more. It is all just MAJESTIC in scope and scale.
The OST is just…..SO GOOD! My favorite track is honestly Engage The Enemy Oncemore which is a remake of the original releases’ Engage The Enemy. That track plays for the first time during a pivotal story plot and man does it hit you in the feels each and EVERY time you hear it as it is so melodic and if music could speak words then you could hear the story it tells with each string of the violin and viola and each piano key stroke and vocal acapella of the chorus and then serenades of the rock and electric fusion. This song is the embodiment of Xenoblade Chronicles. I could go on about the rest of the OST but honestly this alone tells you how great this OST is and there are no bad points of it at all.
The voice acting has been something of a point of contention to many as they don’t like the UK voice actors but to me I am a fan of Adam Howden as Shulk and the rest of the cast as well as every one plays their character so perfectly. Unlike 2 were I didn’t feel much connection with the characters until the end of the game, in 1 due to not only it having a substantially better plot but also due to it having voice acting that made me FEEL for these characters and their plights to save the Bionis. Adam Howden as Shulk was an incredible as you FELT his rage and hatred towards the Mechon and not only that but the banter and camaraderie between all the characters especially Shulk and Reyn felt 100 percent authentic and relatable.
……..Ummmm I’m bias towards this game so I don’t see this game having any downsides other than the fact that the bulk of the new generation of Xenofans started with Xenoblade 2 and because of that don’t realize how much of 2 spoiled the entire surprise reveal of 1 and so these fans wont understand why 1 is so important and honestly is a better game and ultimately is needed to be played before 2 in order to get the entire scope of the story and then followed up with Torna and then Future Connected.
So This game is not only a full on remake of the original game with enhancements but also has the benefit of having an extended epilogue called Future Connected which ties in many things beyond the original game but also 2, X, Xenosaga, and Xenogears. That’s all I’m saying as you need to play this for yourself. For the 8-10 hours that you will be playing this epilogue I will say that it is incredibly worth it as it sets up the next adventure in the series.
This game being remade 10 years after I last played it is truly amazing as I love this game. The Story is timeless and is one I consider to be one of the greatest of this generation, the gameplay is insanely deep and strategic rewarding smart gameplay, the graphics are simply stunning to see especially from what it used to look like a decade ago, and the audio and OST are as majestic as they were all those years ago and still stand the test of time. If everything I’ve said here hasn’t convinced you that this is a game that is worth your time, then I will say it in layman’s terms; Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is a game YOU NEED in your collection.