Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition upscales the original 2010 Wii game perfectly, adding imperative quality of life changes that the original, in all its clunky glory, was crying out for.
The result? What was once a game of unintuitive systems is now strong enough to rival nearly every RPG that has come out in the past decade, giving the excellent story, characters and world the original already had a chance to shine brighter than ever before.
The best thing about Xenoblade Chronicles is the sublime story and presentation. The downright awful accents and campy dialogue almost make this game what it is, lending it an endlessly endearing charm.
If only the developers could have tightened up the overwhelming side content, the game would’ve been ‘right as Reyn…’ get it?
A lot of people might’ve missed this game on its first release, or were put off the unintuitive mechanics. Now that these issues have been addressed, this definitive edition is the only way to experience Xenoblade.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this is an MMORPG. It plays extremely similarly to Final Fantasy XI and takes beats from Final Fantasy XII with its combat, just utilising position-based combat instead of a more tactical ATB.
The subquests are crippling
The MMO comparisons don’t end there either, because nearly every NPC has a quest for you, with some offering multiple in one go. But herein lies the greatest problem with Xenoblade.
It’s a sign of how outdated the original game is when you consider that adding a proper quest tracker and minimap icons (like they have) is groundbreaking for this game.
While this is sure to be one of the biggest selling points for fans of the original, it is impossible to overstate just how many utterly pointless quests there are.
All the sidequests, bar a few, offer nothing but sub-par equipment (which you can just as easily buy or find) or some experience and money (which you can easily farm). Only the challenge battle quests are really worth your time.
All the inane quests are without a doubt the worst part about Xenoblade, throwing the pacing off completely and grinding everything great about the story to a halt. A lot of the time you’ll be pointlessly trudging back and forth, retracing your steps to grab one more item or kill one more enemy – and it is nearly always the same in every area.
There’s a lot of dialogue, which, with the incredibly exaggerated British accents, could be grating for some, but euphoria for others. I’m in the latter camp: I can do nothing but praise just how much dialogue is expressed while in combat, and how much this adds to every single battle.
Party chatter in combat makes this game
While it might seem a bit much to be screaming about how incredibly strong you are while bashing rabbits and krabbles to death, there’s something unendingly charming about the party banter of Shulk and co.
Fights can be clunky, and the game would have benefited greatly with a pause function to plan out attacks, but thanks to the chatter of announcing abilities verbatim to supporting each other with encouraging words of friendship, the combat flows wonderfully, creating gloriously satisfying moments.
A new addition, ‘Expert Mode’, allows you to gain experience but only allocate it when you see fit, meaning your characters won’t level up unless you let them. It is an excellent function that adds a dynamic challenge to the game, just like what Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age did with New Game Minus.
This helps add a much-needed challenge to the majority of boss fights, which are frequently trivial.
Exploring would mean nothing without a good soundtrack
Exploration in general always starts out extremely fun and entering these gigantic, detailed areas in all their upscaled glory is a treat for any returning fan while also being awe-inspiring for new players. Locations like the Gaur Plain and Satorl Marsh will stick with you once you see them.
It is just a shame that once you’ve spent a few hours in each area, thanks to the obscene volume of side quests, you’ll become sick of it. At least there’s plenty of fast travel posts and your march is mustered on by the god-tier music (bless you, Yoko Shimomura).
Just like in the original, the detailed affinity system is back, offering a unique way to interact with party members and NPCs, and it’s astonishing that other games seldom do this. These Fire Emblem-like support conversions work wonders in helping you feel like the party cares for each other, building bonds and exploring their nuanced backstories.
Modern RPG’s could learn a lot from Xenoblade
There’s no downside to unlocking these support conversations because they add tons of flavour and make the characters real. Add in the emotional story-telling beats and Xenoblade Chronicles is near perfect.
Despite how abysmal the side quests become, there’s so much that goes above and beyond many RPGs, to the point where modern ones could learn a thing or two. Even simple aspects like being able to control your character’s appearances and who you run around on the field as go a long way in making the game endlessly enjoyable.
This is the best Xenoblade has ever been, which to be fair isn’t difficult considering the sequel, but thanks to the compelling story, characters and, yes, the huge jump in graphics, you’ll be fondly thinking about this gorgeous game long after the credits roll.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is available now. Buy it here.