One of the greatest video games of all time is back so let's revisit Shulk and his chums in the Definitive Edition of their epic journey.
I've been a huge fan of all things Xeno ever since I played Xenogears when I was a teenager back in the late '90s. Since then, I've played every game as soon as they released. Xenosaga blew me away with its sci-fi universe but the game that really elevated the franchise to new heights was Xenoblade Chronicles which surprisingly released as a Wii exclusive. As soon as I started playing it, I was completely captivated by its game world which takes place on 2 inconceivably enormous titans who were frozen in place after an epic battle waged between them. The Bionis is home to a few races of beings such as humans (or Homs) and the adorably plump Nopon while the Machina live on Mechonis. It's such an incredibly inventive premise for a game world and it still impresses me to this day.
Another aspect of Xenoblade Chronicles that blows my mind is its use of the Monado which is a sword that allows its wielder to see the future. This is brilliantly adapted to the gameplay as well as the story. During battle, you'll often see flashes of enemies defeating your party members so you can then intervene in order to prevent a catastrophe and even while you're running around the field, you may pick up items then see that they'll actually become useful later so don't sell those! Anyway, as a plot device, the Monado consistently shows you visions of what's to come and although they often don't make sense at the time, it encourages you to keep playing so you can put all the pieces together and meet all of the characters that you saw in the visions. It's nothing short of ingenious.
Playing Xenoblade Chronicles is an absolute treat for anyone who's even remotely interested in RPGs. As with most RPGs, the gameplay loop involves exploration, combat, setting up your party, and side-quests. With that being said, all of these aspects are handled distinctly well in the sense that everything is supremely engaging, enjoyable, and rewarding. Whether you're picking up items off the ground to add to your Collectopaedia, challenging a gang of monsters that are above your level, or searching for someone's lost jewelry; it's hard not to enjoy every moment of gameplay. The battles are especially fun as your 3 party members automatically attack while you command the leader to perform arts and assist their teammates which can put the odds in your favour even in the trickiest of scenarios.
Speaking of party members, Xenoblade Chronicles' cast is full of unique personalities that are voiced by talented English actors who breathe a lot of life into each character. There's a ton of dialogue so it's great that the voice acting is as fantastic as it is. However, there are times when characters say the same lines a bit too often which can get annoying. I wish there was an in-game timer that ensured you wouldn't hear the same mid-battle conversations within the same hour. That minor complaint aside, the characters also stand out with their appearances which are a lot more appealing in this Definitive Edition and they change as you equip new gear. Very few RPGs feature this and it really amazes me how different you can make each party member look after upgrading their equipment.
Making your party stronger is an exceptionally rewarding endeavour in Xenoblade Chronicles. For starters, you're rewarded with EXP by defeating enemies, completing side-quests, or merely discovering new areas and on top of that, you'll consistently acquire gold and AP (which is used to level up arts) as well as unlock passive skills that you can actually link between party members in order to gain mutual boosts. Of course, there's equipment as well that you can often assign gems to which gives them boosts. When you factor in an Affinity Chart and party members' morale, you're looking at one complexly multifaceted yet completely manageable party system.
Simply progressing through Xenoblade Chronicles' story by following the dotted line to your next destination offers a rewarding adventure as you'll come across many unique areas and monsters; many of which resemble dinosaurs. However, the world really shines when you go off the beaten path to explore. Considering each environment is absolutely massive and that there are oodles of nooks and crannies which are fun to discover, you'll gladly spend a lot of time searching high and low for new challenges, treasures, and quests. With that being said, you'll often be anxious to see where the story goes next, especially after seeing a vision of the future but you may hit a difficulty wall and have to grind a lot in order to progress. Although doing so is highly enjoyable, it can feel frustrating at times as the story's momentum may lose some steam (chiefly during its more exciting moments) as you aimlessly explore and battle monsters.
Future Connected Extra Story
Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition is not only a more streamlined and better-looking version of the classic Wii RPG; it also features a brand new side-game in the form of Future Connected that you can select at any time from the main menu via the Extra Story option. In my opinion, this content is similar to Xenoblade Chronicles 2's Torna - The Golden Country as it's its own mini-adventure that features unique gameplay elements although Future Connected isn't quite as long. Anyway, it's set 1 year after the main story and stars Melia, Shulk, and a couple of Nopon named Nene and Kino who are all on a journey to visit Alcamoth when disaster rears its ugly head.
Future Connected takes place in an entirely new environment and it features some distinct mechanics. The most notable of which is the new Ponspector system where you can find up to 12 Nopon who are scattered across the world then solve their quests to recruit them. Each one belongs to 1 of 3 teams and once you acquire 1 from every team, you can perform a powerful Union Strike by expending your entire Party Gauge. Finding these cuties is a great deal of fun and watching them run behind you and participate in battles is simply adorable. Overall, I was very impressed with Future Connected as it acts as a wonderful piece of supplementary content.
Xenoblade Chronicles is one of the greatest video games ever created and this Definitive Edition manages to make it even better. Plus, the lovely bonus chapter acts as a delightful cherry on top.
- + Incredible game world that's massive, diverse, and filled with wonderful characters
- + Outstanding gameplay and progression
- + Future Connected is a great addition
- - Hitting walls then having to grind can take away from the story's momentum
- - Voice clips repeat too often