A few years ago I reviewed Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I hadn’t had a chance to experience any of the Xenoblade games previously as I wasn’t into RPGs. I was more into Pokemon or Legend of Zelda at the time and didn’t really want to expand my horizons. Recently, I have fallen in love with everything to do with the Nintendo Switch. It’s becoming my favorite console of all time. This love has led me to new games, and the Xenoblade series is one of those new discoveries.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is a whirlwind. From discovering the Monado, to defeating the final boss and a new world revealed to players. I was nervous at first. I knew the sequel better than I knew this game, so some gameplay features seemed weird and confusing. But I cast those thoughts aside shortly after getting into the game.
Players meet Shulk, the hero of the game. He is a nerdy kid who tinkers with machines to make the lives of those in Colony 9 better. A year prior to the start of the game was a great battle. The people of Colony 9 and Colony 6 had to defend themselves against the Mechon, human-eating robots. The Mechon are bent on destroying the Homs, the human characters. Unfortunately, the battle which was to end the fighting sees a resurgence of the Mechon. They return and destroy Colony 9. Driven by anger and a need for revenge, Shulk joins up with his best friend Reyn venture out past their colony to seek help against the Mechon. And they meet several other characters along the way.
There’s Sharla and Juju, Homs from Colony 6. Riki the nopon, which are bulbous creatures with small arms and legs and long wing like structures on top of their head that are used as extra hands for weapons or to make themselves look bigger. Then there is Melia, princess of the High Entia. The High Entia are Homs with bird wings that come out of their head and are thought to be only a myth. This group plus more form the ragtag team that players can switch between controlling and find themselves going on a long adventure together.
Each member of the team has their own fighting styles with pros and cons. The base combat for all characters works on an active time battle system. Characters have a standard attack they use unless commanded to use special attacks. After using a special attack, there is a global cool down system in place so the special move must recharge before being used again. This keeps players from exploiting the stronger hitting moves and breaking the game. For characters like Shulk and Reyn, their attacks are strength based and do a lot of damage up close and on certain sides of an enemy.
Sharla and Melia on the other hand are healers and do better further from the center of the battle and support those in the thick of it. There are moments where the battle will slow down and a quick time event will pop up for the player to hit. These events occur when another character misses a move or does barely any damage and the main character can boost their morale and gain a sort of friendship meter. When that meter is full, the three characters on the battle field will do combo attacks together. This creates more damage and knocks an enemy out, gaining extra experience points for the party as a whole.
Over the course of about 45 hours, I learned about Shulk, his crazy friends, and how they wanted to save the Bionis – the land mass they live on – from complete ruin. I honestly struggled through the first part of the game. Getting from Colony 9 on the Bionis knee all the way to the fabled Alcamoth at the top of the Bionis’ head was time-consuming. The fact that the pacing wasn’t well-done didn’t help. Many times I found myself wanting to quit and not bother with the game again. Players had to do several fetch quests in order to progress to the next quest to have the process repeat. It became tedious. But I had heard so much positive feedback about this game and I remember the sequel being a fun adventure. So what drew people in?
Once the second act starts, the game really takes off. Fetch quests are still the main facet, but they have meaning now. People at Colony 6 need medicine because the Mechons have attacked and run them out of supplies. Or the High Entia need ether charges to regain their strength. A few of the characters, such as Reyn and Sharla, grow and develop into more interesting characters. Once I got into the second part of the game, I understood why so many people love this game.
However, that does not mean that this game was without its faults. First of all, the camera was a nightmare. It had a mind of its own and would move around in the middle of battle, or even when I was exploring the world, to be in places where I couldn’t see what was in front of me. Suddenly I was looking through Shulk with the camera in the ground and all I could see was the ground and the Monado.
Another issue was the Monado itself. It’s the only weapon rendered in HD. Seeing the Monado in action was smooth and perfect. Seeing the other weapons the other characters used was sort of a joke. Why only update the Monado instead of the other weapons?
Players can also pick other characters to play as. I often found myself playing as Sharla and Melia, both healers. But they never looked as smooth or beautifully done as Shulk with the Monado. At the end of the day, I stuck to Shulk just to watch the beauty of the game unfold.
Beyond a few complaints here and there, this was a solid game. But since this is the definitive edition of Xenoblade Chronicles, there are tons of extra goodies to enjoy. First, if the Switch you are playing on has save data for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on it, players instantly get one hundred thousand gold to start their adventure. This is amazing. I got all the upgrades immediately and without worrying about money.
Another cool upgrade is an additional ten-hour story called Future Connected. You can play right off the bat if you know know the story of Xenoblade Chronicles. As a new player, it was better to have gone through the main story before jumping into this new adventure. It takes place one year after the game and involves Shulk, Melia, and two wonderful little Nopon named Nene and Kino. They bring a lot of fun dialogue and mayhem to the group.
In Future Connected, it’s about rebuilding the home of the High Entia, Alcamoth, which was destroyed in the battle to save the people of Bionis. Unfortunately, it seemed more of a let down than anything else. I didn’t necessarily want to finish. But I somehow completed it by finishing all side quests and all upgrades. The story is simple and doesn’t necessarily explain how Xenoblade Chronicles goes from the first to the second game.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition was a fun adventure. Though the story takes a little bit to get interesting, it’s still good at the end of the day. But I found that I enjoyed playing Xenoblade Chronicles 2 more than this adventure. For those who know nothing about the series, I would jump into Xenoblade Chronicles 2 before picking up this original. The sequel is much more interesting. I found myself more invested in that gang of characters than this one. But that is not to say that this adventure should be ignored. I would still play this game if you know the sequel and want to know where this series got its start.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition was purchased by the reviewer for review purposes. All images in this article captured in game.