Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition Preview

May 13, 2020

There’s still a couple more weeks to go until Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition releases for real, but thanks to Nintendo I’ve had the game in my hot little hands for about a week and a half now, getting ready to tell you all about my early impressions of it. Later I’ll tell you all about my longer impressions of the game, of course, but for now read on for my impressions of the opening hours of the Switch remaster of Xenoblade Chronicles.

Upon booting up the game for the first time I was presented with the option of jumping into the original game or going straight to the brand-new content Future Connected. Wanting to get the best comparison point for my early impressions I went with the original story, which will be the sole focus for this preview, but being given that option upfront is fantastic. Especially, for returning players that want to initially focus on the brand-new content.

Starting the game, I was once again regaled with the tale of the Mechonis and Bionis; two gargantuan Titans locked in an eternal battle with each other. As time progressed and their battle continued, they eventually killed each other, their bodies frozen in place and connected by the blades they had suck into the other. An eternity later and the life that has sprung up across the Mechonis and Bionis are locked in war. Here is where we enter the scene, as war-hero Dunban and his party enter the fray to take the fight to the Mechon.

The visual upgrades to the game are blatantly apparent from the moment Dunban appears on the screen with a significantly more detailed model and a face that no longer looks like a blurred mess. The style has changed, being much closed to the anime stylings of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but it hasn’t lost any of the charm or feel of the original. As that first cutscene ends it’s clear that the models are where the majority of graphical improvements lie. This impression has continued throughout my time with the game so far, as while the environmental textures and props have gotten an upgrade, they’re definitely not up to the quality of other Switch game. The early music, on the other hand, has been utterly amazing and is a massive step up on the original game.

Much of my early time with Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition has been slowly making my way through the story while spending the majority of my time completing side quests and delving deep into the combat systems. Combat is where the game has truly shone so far, with the mix of action and the tactical selection and execution of skills sucking me right in. I’ve already died a handful of times while stretching myself a little too far in encounters, but the lack of punishment for these indiscretions has motivated me to take risks in a way that many other RPGs don’t. I’m still unlocking characters, skills and mechanics, so the scope for advancement and expansion has me excited to continue playing.

Unlike Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which was relatively light in tone early on, Xenoblade Chronicles threw me almost immediately into the realities of war. The story quickly shifts from Dunban to Shulk, an idyllic youth who has a penchant for investigation and science. After spending a short time learning about his friends and home, his life is thrown into disarray and he is set on a path of revenge and retribution. The darker tone is something that doesn’t seem as common in RPGs today, at least this early in a game, so it’s got me hooked in and hungry for more.

I’ve still got quite a way to go with Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, both with it’s original content and the new Future Connected content, but my early hours with the game have left me eager to continue. My final thoughts might change as I progress, but right now it’s definitely shaping up to be fantastic game just like its sequel.

Rocket Chainsaw previewed Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition on Nintendo Switch with a copy provided by Nintendo.