This is my follow up to my Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition first impression, my full review. For this Xenoblade Chronicles review I will probably be bringing up a few things that were in that first impression. A lot of the points were present from the start of the game.
I have to confess that I’ve not played the original Xenoblade Chronicles, or any other Xenoblade game at all. So I won’t be making any comparisons and just giving my honest opinion of this stand alone game.
The original Xenoblade Chronicles was released for the Nintendo Wii in 2010. This isn’t the first time it has moved to a new platform. This seems to be a full remaster of the original, with seriously overhauled visuals.
Gameplay? 8/10 – Good gameplay and engaging combat is brought down slightly by too much menial tasks.
There is a lot to go through here. With many different areas within the gameplay to discuss, this will have to be a little structured. Well I say structured. I mean as close to structured as I can manage anyway.
I think it’s best to split this into 3 main sections: relationships, quests, and combat. There are many sub categories that can fit into these as well.
So let’s start with relationships. This is a big part of Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition.
First let’s talk about your companions. Throughout the game you will meet many different friends and they will travel with you. Each of these companions will have an affinity level with each other member of your team. As they fight and interact with each other this affinity level will increase.
This gives you access to 2 things. The first is a very nice feature, if not completely perfect, which is the heart to hearts. These are little scenes that involve just 2 team members. They share a personal conversation where there will be dialogue choices that can affect the relationship further. The main issue with this is that the locations for these are spread around all of the massive maps. You can’t tell what each one is unless you go find it and click on it specifically. It’s just quite tiresome is all.
Before I mention the second point it is worth bringing up briefly here, the skills. Skills are a selection of unlockable passive abilities, like increasing your defence or allowing you to use better armour. On top of this each team member can get access to skills from each of their team members. The higher your affinity the more skills that you can have access to.
Other than your team members you also have a reputation with each town, and it’s residents. By talking to the named residents and completing tasks for them you can improve your reputation. By improving this relationship you can make better trades with residents and also more quests can become available to you in that town.
Ok that does it for relationships, moving on to quests.
Let me start off by saying that there are too many quests. That’s just a fact. There are too many and a lot of them are pretty simple and boring. Go here and kill this, go here and pick this up, and then go here and talk to this person. That just about sums up all nearly 500 quests in the game. It’s good to get access to extra tasks to do, and it’s good to get money and some experience. I’m just not sure it’s worth it.
There are some pretty glaring problems with the questing in Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition. At least for me anyway.
Now there are some boring quests as I mentioned above and some of them don’t even give experience. This is annoying because even though you aren’t doing much for the quest, experience in an RPG is the biggest currency and you get none.
Also on the map, when you’re trying to travel to a new area. Even when you have a quest selected it won’t show the marker. So you must travel to a random fast travel point and then when it loads check the map for the correct location. The load times are pretty fast but it is quite annoying.
This is the final questing issue, the clock. Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition has a time system, it works on a day/night cycle. This isn’t too much of an issue in and of itself but NPCs and monsters spawn at different times. So there are many, many times where you have to change the time just so that an NPC spawns.
Then move to the quest location, then change the time to complete the quest. Then go back to the NPC and change the time again so they spawn again. It’s just a bore, and it happens quite a lot. It’s needless and annoying.
Well that’s all the complaints about the quests done. Now finally to move on to the combat. This is probably the most complex part. There’s quite a lot to go over here so let’s just start.
Let’s start at the beginning, basically you can fight monsters. Simple enough right? Good. All done. Just kidding, there’s a little more to it. You can engage in battles with monsters, and yes, the base combat uses an auto attack system.
This leads into arts. Arts are basically combat abilities. These come in many forms, there are different types of attack variants, auras, and support.
Support abilities include, but are not limited to, healing abilities. Side note for this, the main healer on the team uses a gun as her weapon. What’s awesome about this is that her healing abilities involve her gun. So to heal you she has to shoot you. Which I love. It’s very unique.
Aura’s are temporary buffs, and they can give you access to other abilities too. To give an example that a team member uses – they can remove debuffs and give you the haste effect. Haste increases the speed at which you get auto attacks.
The attacking arts are my favorite, and are the most useful. They come in many colours, and each colour can give a different status effect. Using these in combination is the secret to success in combat. After each use, these arts will have a cooldown timer start.
Red – these are just plain attacks, they deal damage.
Pink – applies the break effect. This makes them susceptible to topple.
Green – when used on an enemy with break, they fall to the ground and can’t move.
Yellow – When used on an enemy with the topple effect, they become dazed.
There is also a True Art ability for each character, it changes between each team member. They are bigger attacks that cool down differently, for every auto attack that hits, the cooldown left is reduced.
There are plenty more status effects but let’s stop there or we’ll be here all day. Basically you need to make use of all of these to get through some of the tougher fights in the game.
As you fight a meter will fill blue, filling this allows you to interact with your team. This will include reviving and warning them of attacks. If you let all 3 bars fill up fully you can use a chain attack. A chain attack lets all current team members attack once each. All of their basic arts are cooled down and you can get access to a chain multiplier.
This multiple is increased when you use arts of the same colour, so if each team member uses a red art. You can exponentially increase the damage that you output. This is a literal must to beat some of the later bosses.
Something that follows on from the chain attacks is the vision tag. During combat Shulk will get a glimpse of the future, involving an enemy doing a big attack to one of the team members. This often results in the victim being downed.
If your meter has at least one bar, you can warn your team so that can act in the hopes of surviving the attack. You can also do certain things to stop the vision. Like using a shield from the Monada, or dazing the enemy in question.
For the most part, I really like basically all of the gameplay features in Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition. The combat is fun and engaging, the affinity mechanic is broad and interesting and there are some cool quests with valuable rewards.
My only real issue is that there is too much, a weird thing to say I know. It’s just the maps are too big, there are too many side quests, and too many possible relationships. It’s just both overwhelming quite often, and also can drag when you have to run across a map for 30 minutes for mediocre quests.
Visuals? 8/10 – Beautiful vistas throughout are mired by quite a few low res textures
This is a fantastically beautiful game for the most part. There are just quite a few places where the visuals take a large drop.
Sometimes the textures are a much lower resolution and just don’t look very good. This is an issue for much of the game really.
That being said, the actual character models and the over designs of the game are unreal. For me specifically I think that the Face Mechon, of which there are quite a few models, look incredible. They might be some of my favourite distinct enemies in gaming, their designs are honestly so fantastic.
Also most of the vistas that I stopped to look at look amazing as well. In stark contrast to the issues I mentioned about some textures. It’s clear that a lot of love went into crafting these scenes and some of them are breathtaking.
Audio? 10/10 – Pretty much perfect audio with striking set pieces
Let’s start with saying that I personally experienced no audio issues, no breaks or problems.
The music has plenty of beautiful tracks to lull you whilst you travel along the huge maps. It’s very JRPG, they seem kind of “standard” for the genre but it doesn’t change their appeal.
The battle music is also fantastic, it gives the right level of intensity and excitement that a game like this needs and deserves.
Also all of the actions that you take, different attacks and abilities give satisfying feedback too. You feel like your attacks are weighty and are actually doing damage, which is nice because some games don’t think about this.
So basically no issues, very happy with the final product.
Story? 10/10 – One of the best and genuinely unique stories on Switch
Let me just start off by saying that I love this story. From start to finish this is a fantastic story, it’s also very unique. The start has an interesting premise but as you go through the game and learn more, well it goes a bit mad. It feels like nothing that I’ve ever experienced before.
I’ll keep the spoilers to a minimum. I mean I’ll try not to add any but I make no promises.
Ok so the game starts with an intro cutscene with some exposition, this is a good way to start to be fair. It perfectly sets up the premise.
There are 2 beings, Bionis and Mechonis, that are giant humanoid structures. They are locked in a battle for some reason, then they both deal what seems like a deathblow and shut down. On the bodies of each of these structures different races have developed.
I’ll just name them here, they get introduced more gradually but it’s easier to do it now. There are the Homs – these are basically just humans. The Nopon – kind of small feather animal people. Finally the High Entia – who are humanoids with large angel wings coming from their heads. All of these live on the Bionis.
There is also the Mechon, these are basically killer robots from the Mechonis. They eat the life forms from the Bionis.
Back to the story.
You start the game as a young boy called Shulk. Shulk lives in a place called Colony 9, it is a settlement that is low down on the Bionis. You start off going about your business with your friends Fiora and Reyn, helping the people around Colony 9.
Early on the settlement comes under attack by the Mechon. The normal defences cannot handle them, nor can the soldiers stationed at colony 9. They break through the defences and start killing and eating the townsfolk. It should be said that the Mechon at this point are unbelievably brutal. Literally just eating everyone as you run through the colony.
Shulk, Fiora, and Reyn try to find a way to stop the attack and run around town but they are unable to stop the Mechon.
This is something worth bringing up here but normal weapons cannot harm the Mechon due to their metal bodies. There is only one known weapon that can harm them, the Monado. You see the Monado being used in the intro by a man named Dunban. He is Fiora’s brother and is currently hurt but is staying in Colony 9.
Shulk figures out that if he can get the Monado maybe he can fight back against the Mechon and save the Colony. There are obviously major challenges to doing this.
As the tide starts to turn, kind of in Shulk’s favour a special kind of Mechon arrives. It’s a larger and scarier Mechon that actually has a face. Just for reference the Faced Mechon designs are amazing, and I love them all. They name him Metalface.
Shulk, now in possession of the Monado, tries to fight Metalface but for some reason the Monado doesn’t work on it. During the fight Shulk is given a vision of Fiora dying. Shulk being unable to do anything has to watch Metalface kill Fiora.
Using this strange new power is able to damage Metalface’s face so it must retreat for now. Shulk and Reyn decide to leave Colony 9 to get revenge for Fiora.
That’ll do it for the start of the game, but what follows is a rollercoaster if ever I’ve experienced one. Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition has everything. Literally.
It has romances, tragedy, betrayal, drama, conflict, twists, turns, and gods. It goes everywhere, it’s a very surprising story that takes you all over and never gets boring. It’s honestly one of the best JRPG stories I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.
I could find no fault with the actual story for Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition.
Acting? 7/10 – Poor voice acting lets down some otherwise decent performances
The acting…hmmm… It’s not good. There are some redeeming points for sure. Overall though, it’s just not good. Now I will say that I played with English voice actors, I always play games in English if I can. Why do more work than you need to in a game?
The 2 biggest offenders in my mind are Reyn and *shudder* Riki. *sigh* Riki.
Riki is a Nopon. Nopons are small, feathery, egg things. They have kind of long, wing-ey arms that go around their whole body. Riki specifically is one that joins your team, I do not like him at all.
Think of Riki like this. Think of a feathery Yoda, that is orange, higher pitched, and has none of the wisdom or appeal. I can’t stand him, what can I say?
Writing? 8/10 – Decent writing of an incredible story, drops off for convenience
I said above about the story itself being incredible, this is obviously strongly influenced by the writing. This is very true, but that being said, the writing has some genuine flaws.
My biggest issue is the names. The names of pretty much everything irk me. I know this is probably just my own problem, and I get that, but I can’t get past it. My engagement drops ever so lightly when there are names like this. I will say that the voice acting doesn’t help with this issue either.
Other than that though, there are some plot holes. Mostly it’s classic Anime troupes. The biggest one I noticed, quite a few times, is everyone just standing still whilst a bad guy spits out exposition instead of just fighting them. This happens a lot, it’s like, just hit ‘em! Then this solves your problem! It’s annoying but it’s not game breaking.
The other flaw that I find is with Shulk. Shulk has visions of the future and all of his companions know about it. They also accept and believe that he has this power. Yet frequently he still withholds information from the rest of the group for no reason. There’s no guarantee that telling them would solve anything but why wouldn’t he just tell them?
Also there are different times where you clearly see people die, like NPCs. Even though you see them being killed or eaten by Mechon it doesn’t affect the reset of the townsfolk. By that I mean that no one seems to talk about different things, or does anything different. There also doesn’t seem to be any real changes to the affinity chart.
Other than that, the story and the ideas that are presented are unique and interesting. I genuinely think it’s one of the more interesting stories that I’ve played.
Performance? 8/10 – Good loading but low resolutions in places let it down
As referenced in the visuals section, overall they are excellent. There are some issues mind, there are quite a lot of low res textures in places. Most of the vistas however look amazing and picture perfect.
Sometimes enemies will just teleport around which is odd, and disconcerting. That’s the closest thing to an actual bug that I experienced in all of my play time.
The performance otherwise is perfect, no bugs or glitches came up for me. Along with some really quick load times, with fast travel and the like. They may be some of the fastest load times I’ve had on the Switch so far.
Fun Factor? 9/10 – Incredibly fun gameplay and an epic story
Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition is a fun game, if you like Anime and RGPs that is. It’s a big, gorgeous open world, with one of the most engaging stories I’ve played on Switch.
I don’t think there’s much to discuss here for the positives, I just found every part delightful. It should be mentioned though that there are a couple of issues with quality of life.
There is a lot going on right from the start, with all of the different mechanics like the affinity chart. Then there’s the ridiculous scale of the maps. Traveling around each map can be a genuine slog.
Other than those small issues, it’s a joy the entire ride. I would also definitely be willing to play this game again.
Value? 10/10 – Very good value for money. Plenty of replayability built in.
I would say that without a doubt Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition is really good value for money. It’s a new release so going for a standard £50, which is to be expected.
I have personally put in over 60 hours for a single playthrough. I’ve not completed every quest and there is a New Game + option as well, so there is still plenty to get through.
I checked how long to beat and the average of kinds of completions is around 57 hours.
With such a good story and the inclusion of NG+, it means that you could have multiple playthroughs. I don’t think you would get bored of subsequent playthroughs either, which is a big bonus for me.
How Much Did The Reviewer Enjoy It? 9/10 – Thoroughly enjoyed my time with Xenoblade, will definitely play again and maybe continue in the series
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition, it is one of the best stories for a JRPG. Full of interesting ideas and twists everywhere, never was I bored by it.
There are only a few areas that let this game down a bit, the main one being the voice acting. A lot of them are just bad 90’s performances and not in a charming way.
It also suffers from every area being just too large, this wouldn’t be such an issue but there’s no efficient way to travel. If there was a sprint option, or some kind of vehicle, even just an animal to ride. Just something to help you cross these maps quicker.
I think I will both play this game again some time, as well as look at starting to play the rest of the series.
Wholly recommended this game to any one who likes action JRPGs.
Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition Review.
Written by Kyle Munn.