I’m finally getting a chance to play this renowned RPG from Monolith Soft, originally released in the US on the Nintendo Wii in 2012. Not sure why I never played it back then. Maybe I was too busy playing Wii bowling. Or maybe, it was a little known niche JRPG that I simply wasn’t aware of. By the time I was finally privy to just how fantastic this game was, all copies of the Wii game were astronomically high, like $200 high on EBAY and similar outlets. It was just such a stellar game, and so difficult to find, that the price just kept skyrocketing. Now at a reasonably priced $60, I have finally been able to indulge in the joy of Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, and doing so for the first time with enhanced graphics and quality of life improvements thanks to the remaster.
The best way I can think to describe Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is to call it a single-player MMO. Which to some, may be off putting. To me, it’s just what the doctor ordered! Part of what I always loved about an MMO was the promise of a never ending game, and tons to explore and do. Xenoblade Chronicles: DE offers that in spades. With literally hundreds of side quests to take on, I was never lacking for something to do. Some lament this aspect of the game, but not me. I still love grouping up to take down RAID bosses in traditional MMO’s, but the older I get, with a wife and kids, I don’t get the time to indulge in those type of games as much as I’d like. With Xenoblade Chronicles: DE though, I can play as much or as little as I have time for.
The exploration is an exception component of the game. The world of Xenoblade Chronicles: DE takes place on the back of two titans, the Bionis and the Mechonis. The Bionis being a more organic matter locale and the Mechonis being that of machines. So the entirety of the game is set atop these two titans, and the scope of things is unbelievably expansive and magnificent. Just taking in the sights as I ran from place to place was truly exciting and felt like I was immersed in this world. Scattered across the landscapes are little glowing blue collectable materials that are used for improving relationships with your companions, completing collection books, and crafting. This made traversing the enormous areas worth while and provided more incentive to branch of the direct path.
Battles take place in real-time with your characters being able to move freely throughout the battlefield. Your combat “Arts” or skills, are on cool-downs, and are position dependent. When you move into the correct position near an enemy a blue “!” pops up to indicate the Art is effective here. You have up to two more AI controlled companions that fight with you and together you can pull off chain attacks. The general idea, especially against tougher opponents, is to have your main character “Break” attack the enemy, then have your next ally “Topple” the foe, and lastly your third party member can use “Daze”, buying you some much needed extra time to deal damage. Of course there are plenty of other combos and chain attacks as well, say buffs and debuff chains, but I haven’t used those much as of yet.
Each character in your party can have up to 8 Arts active at a time. The main character Shulk, is a fairly well rounded fighter, with the ability to Break, deal med-heavy damage, and do some light heals. Reyn on the other hand is more of your tank character. He’s got a large HP pool, really high defense, and doesn’t do a ton of damage on his own, but he can hold aggro for you. Currently, my third party member is Sharla. She’s a big breasted sniper with the power to heal and buff/debuff a little.
To make combat even more interesting, you can freely switch between any party member you want to control. Now, you can’t switch mid battle, but you can outside of battles. Playing as one of the many different characters can really change up the feel of the game. If you get worn out using the same combos and patterns with one party member, change to another and it’s a whole new experience. Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition seems to really excel at offering you a wealth of variety in terms of what you can do, and how you can do it.
In another aspect of how it feels like this was a game developed to be a single-player MMO, your armor, weapons, and look are all completely customizable. I always hate games that have you buying new gear at regular intervals, and your characters look never changes. In Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition each component changes the look of your character. Head, chest, arms, legs, feet. And best of all, it has two sections in the Equip menu, one for your active stat-enhancing gear, and one for your appearance! So you can spec your character out anyway you want, while also being able to affect the physical appearance without impeding on your precious stats.
Aside from the superficial appearances of your characters, you can also customize your team. I believe there’s something like 7 or 8 different characters you’ll gain access to throughout the game, each bringing their own skill set to the table. This means you can build a team of straight damage dealers and plow through things, or you can balance with a Tank, DD, and Healer crew, your standard party fair. I do love the options, but being the completionist that I am, it’s a bit of a nightmare thinking about all those combinations. The best part….all reserve characters level up the same as your main party, even while not active. So at the very least, you don’t have to go back and re-level your bench team.
An RPG Not To Be Missed
It saddens me to think I completely missed out on this jewel almost a decade ago. But, better late than never. From what I understand, several quality of life improvements have been made to Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition like side quest tracking. With the sheer quantity of quests to undertake, I couldn’t imagine having to hunt them all down without the help of any kind of quest tracker. Additionally the graphics overhaul is pretty impressive as well; faces, armors, and vistas all boast upgraded visuals.
I’ve logged about 15-20 hours in Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition and so far it seems like it actually has it all. Engaging combat, inspiring exploration, characters I care about, customization and crafting a-plenty, and a solid story, as is central to any outstanding RPG experience. Now I know I didn’t talk about the story aspect much and that’s mainly because I’ve been doing so many side quests, that I’m not actually all that far into the story yet.
Xenoblade Chronicles has always been hailed as a meaty game. The completion time for this game is estimated at around 100+ hours, depending on if you entertain side-quests, which I do. I’m playing on the Nintendo Switch, and while the graphics are slightly better while docked, the visuals are fine in handheld mode as well. Plus, I love when a family members comes to take over the TV, I can continue the adventure, uninterrupted, via handheld. Truly, an incredibly fun game, and if you get the chance, you really should experience it for yourself.
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