Review: Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition
The year is 2004. The (MMO)RPG genre is in full bloom and players will have to deal with immense landscapes and pursuits for the coming years. The worlds are filled with more unique characters than your number of friends on Facebook. The RPG genre doesn't get any better than this, does it?
It is the year 2011 and the answer to the previous question is: Yes! Xenoblade Chronicles comes to the world and the revolutionary RPG for the Nintendo Wii amazes everyone with its immense presence. Disbelief, but in a very positive sense. However, there is one downside to Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii. And that's this: It could have been even better. The Nintendo Wii was a huge success, but technically the device left a lot to be desired. Due to the limited power of the console, Xenoblade Chronicles had to slow down in many areas. Especially in terms of presentation.
With the Nintendo Switch in mind, surely this minor flaw should be ironed out to make the glorious RPG from 9 years ago perfect, right? Yes, quite well, but what about that? You can read it back in this review!
Xenoblade Chronicles on Nintendo Switch is truly the best version of the game yet. I'm not going to beat around the bush, but if you have a Nintendo Switch then this title is a must have if you are even remotely interested in the RPG genre. Even if you've played the second part and it wasn't quite your thing, part 1 is generally considered the better of the two.
Are you familiar with the game on the Wii or 3DS even then there are still surprises in store for you in the Nintendo Switch version. You can think of the re-re-release as a bit of a mix between a remake and a remaster. Essentially, it's still the old game, but all polished up and tweaked to make it even better. Not only are the textures of higher resolution, but certain textures have been completely remade for the Definitive Edition. This makes it really look like a Switch game and not a Wii remaster.
The characters in particular have improved a lot. And seem to have been completely rebuilt, with of course the source material as a guideline. Environments are mainly provided with higher resolution, although adjustments have been made here and there to give the game a more modern look.
! marks the spot
Pleasant changes to the game mainly have to do with quality improvements. For example, a system has now been built in which makes it many times easier to follow your quests. Enemies and stuff are marked on the map so you always know where to go to continue your quests. The common thread through the game is literally mapped out for you on the minimap so that you know exactly where to go to follow the overarching story.
The world of Xenoblade Chronicles is immense and the above mentioned adjustment is therefore very welcome to make it a bit easier for the player. Despite the simplification, it does not take away the fun of discovering. Even if no exclamation mark or line goes through a certain area, it can be very rewarding to take a side road to explore. Who knows, you might find some useful items or strong monsters that will leave you a reward. The balance seems to be well formed with this system and I embrace it wholeheartedly.
Unique combat system
The combat system in Xenoblade Chronicles is very unique. As soon as you come close to an enemy or a group of enemies you can start the fight after which your character will attack automatically. Your role in the fight is to position yourself correctly and to deploy 'doctor'. Arts is simply the name for attacks in Xenoblade Chronicles. A '!' will appear in the Definitive Edition. in the attack if it can be used effectively. For example, there is a backslash attack that does extra damage if you are behind your enemy. In the original game you sometimes had to gamble a bit whether you were right behind it. In the Definitive Edition you know exactly if you are in the right place by means of this subtle adjustment.
Xenoblade Chronicles gives the player more than enough freedom to experiment with the combat system. You get just enough explanation to know how everything works. Figuring out the best strategies is completely in your hands and this freedom is immensely satisfying. Defeating a strong enemy feels really good once you've figured out a compelling strategy. Sometimes it's a bit puzzling with gear and attacks, but once it finally works, it feels so good!
The combat system also goes very deep. From defensive attacks to attacks that weaken enemies, strengthen teammates or temporarily knock enemies unconscious. In addition, there are different systems during combat that ensure that you can inflict a lot of damage in a short time by having teammates work together in a chain attack. Care is extremely important during such a chain attack as it can turn a fight completely upside down. Unfortunately for you as a player, the enemy also has an occasional trump up his sleeve that you must quickly block before it becomes fatal. All in all, the combat alone makes for an unforgettable RPG experience.
Xenoblade Chronicles is now almost 10 years old, but you wouldn't say this while playing. Especially with the adjustments in the Definitive Edition, this is a game that can move forward for the next 10 years. It's a thoroughbred RPG that can still be crowned as one of the best even today. From the first moment, the game knows how to take you along in the incredibly cool story that keeps surprising you again and again.
If there's one thing you could fall for these days, it's the sidequests. These are mainly fetch quests where you have to kill an x number of items or an x number of enemies. Fortunately, these are almost always on your path, so you don't have to walk around too much to grab them.
If you've already played the original story, there's a brand new chapter: Future Connected. This one is playable from the beginning, so you don't have to play through the main story before starting this new chapter. Of course it is advisable to do this first if it is your first time playing the game.
Future Connected adds about 20 hours of extra content. But can also be completed within 10 hours if you only focus on the story. The same is still true for the base game. You can do this for about 100 hours, if you only focus on the story, it can also be done in 60 hours, although this is not recommended. Want to see everything the game has to offer? Then it can even cost you more than 150 hours. Like I said, a true RPG.
Xenoblade Chronciles Definitive Edition is truly a gem on the Nintendo Switch. It's a brilliant and near-perfect RPG with memorable characters and events. The game has improved itself in crucial areas to optimize the gameplay experience in such a way that it gives you enough clues, but doesn't lecture you. The combat system is vast and therefore it feels very satisfying when you have discovered a working strategy to tackle battles with strong creatures.
Despite the game being essentially almost 10 years old, it still feels nice and modern. It looks great on the Nintendo Switch and the game manages to keep you on the edge of your seat for hours. The minimal minuses disappear in the big picture like snow in the burning sun. 2020 is a fantastic year for the (J)RPG enthusiast and Xenoblade Chronciles Definitive Edition alone makes this statement more than true.
All in all, this very unique Switch RPG has everything an RPG enthusiast could wish for and melts it all together in a beautiful world. Hence the well deserved rating!
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