Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition – First Impressions

After having played roughly 15 hours of the Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition on the Nintendo Switch, I want to provide some of my first impressions of the game so far. I really loved Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and it remains one of my favourite games on the Switch, however, it definitely had its issues, such as the monotonous side quests. I kept hearing the original game was the better experience, and while that is true in some areas, I’ve found other issues more pronounced so far in this game.

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Story and Characters

The game takes place on the dormant bodies of large, god-like beings, called titans. The two in question are the Bionis and the Mechonis. Civilisations have flourished on these beings, where a machine type race called the Mechon on the latter and the human race, the Homs on the former. This became instantly familiar to me having played the 2 and it remains a really interesting dynamic that is quite unique. The main protagonist is Shulk, who after an attack on his hometown of Colony 9, finds out he is able to wield a legendary blade called the Monado, which is able to harm the Mechon. He then sets out and gains allies in his fight for revenge against the machines. I’m really enjoying the story so far, which is clearly the games strongest aspect. The only negative I have so far is how dull Shulk is as a protagonist. Compared to the other characters like Sharla and Dunban, he lacks an engaging personality to carry the narrative. In some ways it’s a bit like Vaan from Final Fantasy XII who, despite being the main character, feels overshadowed by the others to me. Hopefully my opinion changes over the course of the game.

Gameplay

Here is where many more cracks start to appear in my time so far. Starting off positive, the combat is such a strong system, albeit a bit daunting at first. There are a variety of different mechanics that you need to learn and master if you want to get through this game, where it is easily much more difficult than 2 was, requiring much more strategy and thought here. Without going into too much detail before I write my proper review, making use of character placement, combo’s and utilising the more limited support and healing abilities make for more engaging combat. Also, there is plenty of customisation options for the characters, giving the player more freedom that 2 did.

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The biggest issue Xenoblade Chronicles has is the badly designed side quests. While it was a main issue in 2, it’s an even bigger problem here. It is clear that very little effort went into creating them, where they pretty much all boil down to incredibly dull fetch quests. They have next to no real narrative attached to them and require you to “defeat x amount of monsters,” or “collect x amount of items.” They offer hardly any enjoyment to complete and are often just frustrating wastes of time, requiring you to farm the same enemy countless times to obtain just 1 of the many items those quests need. Furthermore, you will be spending a lot of time backtracking in these quests over the same areas due to the much more conservative fast travel points. If there were interesting narratives present, then they would be somewhat redeemed, but I’ve yet to encounter a single memorable one so far and they mostly end so abruptly, with the only payoff being money and less frequent experience points.

Presentation and Audio

What is clear right from the opening cutscene, is just how good this game looks. It’s a definite step-up from 2, which suffered from a very blurry presentation. While the resolution remains similar, it appears much cleaner and the variety of environments look so good this time around. It’s definitely not perfect and the maximum 720p docked resolution is disappointing, it doesn’t stop Xenoblade from being one of the best looking games on the Nintendo Switch. What has also been improved is the performance, which maintains its 30fps much more regularly, with a few exceptions. I absolutely love the music in this game so far, from the fast-paced songs that play in combat, to the more sombre melodies that elevate emotional scenes, it all makes the overall experience all the more better.

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Thank you so much for reading and let me know in the comments what you think of the game so far. I look forward to writing my full, proper review once I’ve finished this expansive game. For all things gaming, stay tuned to Honest Gamer. 

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