REVIEW: Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

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Title Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
Developer Nintendo
Publisher Nintendo
Release Date May 29th, 2020
Genre RPG
Platform Switch
Age Rating Teen
Official Website

As many of you know, Xenoblade Chronicles is a very special series to us here at oprainfall. We were ecstatic when Nintendo announced Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. To see the series come that far and having earned the respect it rightly deserved from the start was a wonderful feeling. Next came the longest wait ever for the game to actually release! That day finally came and I was never more excited to dig into a title than I was at that moment. 120 hours later and I have completed the main game and the new Future Connected content, so it’s time to share my journey!

This world began with two Gods – the Bionis and Mechonis. The two Gods fought a long battle and have since fallen silent. Residents of each world now live on their massive bodies. The story here follows a young man named Shulk. He is a very handy young lad when it comes to machines. He helps with the defenses of his home in Colony 9, as the Homs (Humans) of this world are constantly on guard for attacks from the machines of the Mechonis. The Mechon have been temporarily driven back thanks to efforts of the defense forces and The Hero of the Homs, Dunban. He wields that mysterious sword, the Monado. This is the only weapon known to be very effective against the Mechon.

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One day after a slight mishap in the lab, Shulk picks up the Monado and has a vision. Little does he know at the time this is a vision of things to come. The colony is attacked by the Mechon soon after, resulting in the loss of many lives. Shulk then sets out with his best friend Ryen to defeat the Mechon once and for all. Their quest starts out as one for revenge, but will soon grow into something greater than they could ever imagine.

Most folks probably know the spoiler I left out of that little intro, but we’ll go with this for the benefit of those who do not. There is so much I could say about the story of Xenoblade Chronicles that it would fill several pages of me rambling on, but I will shorten this down to a few things I think are key points. The characters here are some of most well written you will ever find in a video game. Each of them has their own struggles to overcome and you will see each and every one one of them grow as the story progresses. My only real complaint was that I always felt Melia got a bit shortchanged by the end of the story, but the new Future Connected story remedies that very nicely. I was just as engaged in this playthrough as I was my first one many years ago, and I’d start a new game+ right now if I had the time to do so.

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Gameplay here has largely remained unchanged from the previous releases. The biggest difference are the many quality of life improvements added to Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. These improvements include: Combat Arts now have markers that show if you are in the right position for maximum effect; side quest markers have been added to the map; a casual mode; the entire UI has been revamped and is now easier to navigate. Time trials have been added here as well. These will allow players to take on challenges via the Nopon Sage and earn rewards. These are not only some awesome looking cosmetic items, but some of the harder to obtain quest items and gems as well. Other things have either been revamped or upgraded as well, but these are the ones that I felt really stuck out. This game felt so much more fluid and easier to play with just these few little tweaks.

Graphically Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition sports an entirely new look. Long gone are the muddy polygonal textures of old. They have been replaced with the more colorful and clean ones that Xenoblade 2 had to offer. Some folks would say the game looks more “Anime.” This is nonsense, since it looked very much anime to start with. This is just a much cleaner look. Something else I really loved was that I could customize the look of my characters without changing their equipment. You might love that stats that armor gives you, but when you mix and match the best sets your crew might look like a fashion disaster. This is something that was found in Xenoblade X and I was really glad to see it return here.

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While the character models look fantastic, the environments are some of the best you will find in any game out there. From the fog covered Satorl Marsh to the star showers of the Eryth Sea, each is well crafted and looks simply amazing. Huge open areas like the Guar Plains give a sense of just how big this world is, while also having some areas that provide fantastic scenic views. I caught myself taking a ton of screens of just the areas and creatures that inhabit them. While some would clamor that the game should run at a higher resolution, I personally think it looks fine the way it is. You will notice that graphics do take a hit when running in portable mode, but the smaller screen covers most of this up. If you played Xenoblade 2, then you know pretty much what you’re getting here as well.

It could be argued that Xenoblade Chronicles has one of the best soundtracks of all time. It returns here in all of its glory, and Nintendo has included a new reworked soundtrack as well. You can switch between these for the field and battle themes at any time via the options menu. Future Connected has some brand new tracks for our listening pleasure, and I have to say the main battle theme there is pure fire. They rubbed all the Funk they could find on it, and I absolutely love it! The game is voiced just like previous releases. You can choose between Japanese and the amazing English dub. This is one of the very few times I prefer the dub over subs.

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Before I close out this review, let’s discuss the all new content found in Future Connected. I don’t want to go into very many story details. This would contain spoilers for the main story, but let’s dig in a little bit. The story here takes place one year after the conclusion of the main story. Shulk and Melia are shot down while flying over the Bionis Shoulder. This is an area cut from the original game. They soon discover they had a couple stowaways – two of Riki’s little Pons, Nene and Kino. Nene really grew on me through this story. She is probably my favorite Nopon of the entire franchise now. This is in part due to the fantastic writing the localization team did here. They really nailed the Nopon personality to a tee! The group soon learns that a Fog Beast is ravaging the land and must be stopped! This epilogue isn’t extremely long, clocking in about 10 hours. You could spend around 20 if you decide to take on all the sidequests, but it certainly makes fans wonder where the series will head from here!

The combat is basically the same as the main game, but things like skills trees and chain attacks have been removed. Instead players have access to Union Strikes once they have located some of the Nopon Ponspectors scattered throughout the map. These Ponspectors help you battle outside of the Union Strikes as well, and the more you gather the better off you will be. While I think the combat in the main game is much better, this was still a very interesting take.

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Xenoblade Chronicles is one of my favorite games of all time and Nintendo has made it even better with the release of Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. The game looks amazing, the soundtrack is one of the best you will find, and the story is top tier. There really is no other franchise out there like this one, and that’s what makes it so special. While others may copy aspects of it, none can put together the whole package like Xenoblade does. At the $59.99 price tag, if you own a Switch, you should snag up a copy today. This is one journey that should not be missed by anyone!

Review Score

Game was purchased by the reviewer.

About Steve Baltimore

Steve started with oprainfall not long after the campaign moved from the IGN forums to Facebook. Ever since, he has been fighting to give all non-mainstream RPGs a fair voice. As the site admin, he will continue to do this and even show there is value in what some would deem "pure ecchi." He loves niche games and anime more than anything... well, except maybe Neptune.