It is crazy to think that Xenoblade Chronicles wouldn’t have been that popular today if not for a fan movement that led to its official English localization, and subsequently, popularity in the West. Thanks to it, the game has been widely recognized as one of the best JRPGs to release the last generation and with a full remaster that has been released for it on the Nintendo Switch, fans of the series, or JRPGs in general, can experience it in the definitive way possible.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is a remaster that comes with some major changes. First, it improves all of the visuals from the original game by updating it to a new game engine. This engine is the same as Xenoblade Chronicles 2 offering a slightly anime-looking art style that seems to complement the overall look of the game. Secondly, it has made several quality-of-life changes, especially concerning its cluttered user interface, which has helped to make the gameplay experience more seamless and streamlined clumsy controls.
The remaster for Xenoblade Chronicles makes the Nintendo Switch version the definitive way to experience this classic JRPG. You have updated visuals, on one hand, quality-of-life changes on the other hand, and finally, there is some additional incentive for those who have already finished the game with new content. This extra content is present in the form of a new story scenario called Future Connected. It takes place after the ending of the first game but most of the content feels like a filler. There is a new explorable area and some of the party members return so it is good fanservice if you want to play more of the original Xenoblade Chronicles.
Getting the visual upgrades out first, the game runs at a dynamic resolution that scales up to 720p when playing it docked, and up to 540p when playing it in handheld mode. This is not an optimal result for a game of this caliber, however, taking a look at it as a remaster that updates the image quality, it does provide a big leap over the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo 3DS version which ran at a far lower resolution. The dynamic resolution scaling means it is not guaranteed to run at HD resolution all time but this doesn’t distract from the gameplay. Going from the original Wii release to the remaster shows a worthy upgrade where the textures have been greatly improved while the art style has made it look more like an anime.
If the new visual style and the upgrade done to the image quality are not enough of an incentive to get this definitive edition, some additional features are part of this release. Future Connected is a lengthy epilogue playable from the start of the game so even if you have already finished Xenoblade Chronicles on Nintendo Wii or 3DS, you can continue the story with this new content. The game also features a remastered soundtrack that manages to surpass the original. Combat was rather chaotic in the original Xenoblade and with gameplay now greatly refined, it has been tuned to improve the flow of the battles.
The world in Xenoblade Chronicles is interesting to witness as it entirely takes place on the frozen bodies of two giant titans: Bionis and the Mechonis. The humans of this world are called Homs and live on Bionis. On the opposite side, they have creatures that look like machines who live on Mechonis. Both sides are in a never-ending war but with the hope of peace. The key to winning this war is Monda, a blade that only existed in old legends and was said to be wielded by Bionis. Shulk is the main protagonist of the story who figures out a way to wield the Monado blade. This puts him on course for a journey offering many twists and turns along the way.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is not an easy game for newcomers due to the complexity of the combat system. This is why Monolith has added a new Casual mode that helps to progress through the story at a quicker pace while enjoying the combat experience. As a massive open-world game, there is a lot to explore and undertake in Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. There are hundreds of sidequests to attempt and while most of them are fetch quests, it doesn’t undermine the amount of content that is available to play in the game. It is also possible to get lost when exploring the world map and encounter enemies that are higher than the player’s level, which is where the Casual mode can help overcome the difficulty. However, if you want to add some more challenge to a replay, there is also a slightly more technical Expert mode which is recommended for those who have already played the game.
The combat system resembles some of the mechanics seen in Final Fantasy XII. It feels like an offline-MMO RPG where the party is controlled automatically while special commands and attacks can be executed with the ability to move the character. It is more tactical and with the newly revamped UI, it is much easier to execute attacks as there is less waiting time between movement. The tutorials, in the beginning, do a great job of explaining the basics of the combat system but there is still a steep learning curve.
Nintendo could have easily made a simple remaster to bring the original Wii classic to the Nintendo Switch but they have gone through a lot of effort to add new content. The improved visuals, the revamped gameplay mechanics, and quality-of-life changes, in addition to the remastered soundtrack, have made this version the definitive way to experience one of the all-time greatest JRPGs. The new story content is not perfect but it is clear that the main focus was on improving the existing product. If you are a fan of Shulk and friends then it can provide some additional entertainment on top of an already excellent JRPG.