Truly definitive.
June 3, 2020 10:08 AM   Subscribe

Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition [Game Trailer] “First released in 2010 for the Nintendo Wii, Xenoblade Chronicles was a smash hit in Japan that was heralded as a breakthrough innovation for the JRPG genre - and then took a year to release in PAL format and another year after that to arrive in North America. [...] Ten years after its initial release, Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition comes to Nintendo Switch and brings with it an overhaul of the original's now-dated graphics. The title goes well beyond that description though, providing fans with new content, additional features, and a preservation of the series' appealing storytelling.” [via: ScreenRant]

• Unquestionably the greatest way to experience this gaming classic [Nintendo Life]
“Xenoblade Chronicles has a rather unique premise in how the majority of its story takes place on the massive bodies of two titans who fought each other to the death in long-forgotten times. And though that battle may be long since concluded, the primary race living on the sinister Mechonis titan – fittingly named “Mechon” – are still hellbent on wiping out as many of the humanlike Homs as they possibly can over on the body of the Bionis. The story picks up in the middle of a decisive battle between the Homs and Mechon which leads to a shaky stalemate between the two sides, but one that’s doomed to kick loose at any moment. Our main character, Shulk, is a bright, young Homs researcher who wiles away his days in Colony 9 during this fragile peace studying the mysterious Monado sword, which was somehow wielded by the Bionis itself in the battle that led to its demise. Shulk’s research is soon interrupted, however, when the Mechon return and completely decimate his colony, initiating a personal quest for revenge that sees him taking the Monado for himself to hopefully finish the war once and for all. Shulk is initially joined by his best friend, Reyn, on this journey, but the two slowly amass a small group of friends and allies along the way who have each been affected by the war with the Mechon and share the desire for the violence to end.”
• Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition Makes An Excellent Third Impression [Kotaku]
“The Wii and New Nintendo 3DS versions of Xenoblade Chronicles did the best they could within the limitations of Nintendo’s hardware. They managed to capture the sweeping grandeur of a vast world built on the backs of dormant warring gods. When Shulk and his childhood friend Reyn step onto the rolling grassland of the Guar Plain, the game’s first massive open area, it’s a powerful moment on any platform. [...] A fresh coat of paint isn’t going to solve all of a game’s problems, and Xenoblade Chronicles still has its fair share. Just because the characters are prettier doesn’t make their personalities and constant catchphrases any less irritating. And the game is still padded with a seemingly endless assortment of inane side quests. Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition looks much better than the original game, but that’s not what makes it the “definitive edition.” It’s a combination of the graphical upgrade and countless little quality-of-life improvements that breath new life into this modern classic.”
• Gently re-touched, thoughtfully expanded take on a modern classic [Eurogamer]
“What's special about this Definitive Edition is how it's made that much easier to discover, for newcomers and veterans alike. The UI has been stripped back, quest markers and locations made more explicit while the path to your next objective is neatly marked on your mini-map. Exploration of a world as rich as this is its own reward, but it's certainly been helped along by the more generous XP bonuses that are granted upon coming across a new location or completing one of the countless side quests. Which brings me to perhaps the best addition made in this Definitive Edition, though it might not be for you. A casual mode's been introduced that reduces even the toughest of boss fights to a mere inconvenience, while normal encounters are rushed through in the blink of an eye. For new players who wouldn't mind condensing Xenoblade Chronicles' sizeable length, it's an agreeable way to cut the run time without impacting the scope and scale - and for returning players like myself, it makes what could be a slog into a pleasant stroll. Golf is a good walk spoiled, so the well-worn saying goes, and I often think you could say the same for a fair few RPGs.”
• One of the most memorable JRPGs of the last decade. [Gamespot]
“Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is just as vast and fantastical as it was in 2010. While not every aspect has aged gracefully, Monolith Soft's lengthy role-playing game has withstood the test of time and further cements itself as one of the most memorable JRPGs of the last decade. Although Xenoblade Chronicles' opening hours may seem standard fare for JRPGs story-wise, what sets it apart right from the get-go is its setting. Years before the events of the game, two massive titans, Bionis and Mechonis, were locked in a devastating battle of unfathomable proportions. One day, the titans froze, and life started to pop up on the backs of these enormous figures. To put things into perspective, Colony 9--where protagonist Shulk lives--and the sprawling plains and lake surrounding it are located near the Bionis' ankle. Despite Xenoblade Chronicles's age, its sense of scale is still impressive. Throughout your journey you explore wide-open plains, dense forests, snow-capped mountains, and vast lakes. All the while, Mechonis looms over you as you explore every corner of Bionis.”
• We're all Homs now [The Guardian]
“We seem predisposed to find themes and ideas in our stories that relate to our immediate circumstances. The teenager experiencing the first blush of infatuation; the divorcee newly mistrustful of love; the life-wearied octogenarian… each will see something of their own life refracted through the prism of a story, often with equal intensity. Even so, Xenoblade Chronicles speaks with peculiar force to the discombobulating times in which we all now exist, with a premise to which, arguably, an entire species can relate. Humanity – the Homs, as they’re known in the game’s nomenclature – is at war with a deadly invading force, newly arrived on the planet. The Mechon, as the attackers are known, are impervious to existing weapons, vulnerable only to a mysterious blade known as the Monado – the sole vaccine, as it were, with the potential to destroy the invaders. An applicable (if bluntly unsubtle) story is just one of a clutch of reasons why this re-release of Xenoblade Chronicles, a game first released for the Nintendo Wii in 2009, is well-timed. The adventure also takes place on a pair of 20-mile-high, moss-covered stone giants surrounded by an endless sea. In a medium often accused, not unfairly, of presenting identikit post-apocalyptic vistas – all mud, smoke and various shades of brown – here is a world of vivid, colourful brilliance.”
posted by Fizz (27 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The new interface is pretty good. Looks nicer than the original Wii. I'm a huge fan of the graphical updates but I'm kind of sad it limits the game to lower resolutions and 30fps max like XC2. That being said, the environments are GORGEOUS just like the original.

Waiting for XCX Remastered now. It's like the forgotten child of the Wii U. Getting W101R gives me hope though.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 10:14 AM on June 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Now, Xenublade Chronicles would be a very different thing...
posted by doctornemo at 10:17 AM on June 3, 2020

The lower resolutions are certainly disappointing and it's not my favorite thing with XC2, but it's not a deal-breaker, at least not for me. XC2 can be a bit grainy at times but it's still a wonderful game that is larger than life and very entertaining.

I gave up on XC2 at like the 30% mark, and my copy of XC1DE just showed up this morning, so I plan on jumping into it, will report back some of my impressions later this evening or tomorrow. I'm pumped to dive into this massive world and battle monsters atop these two titans.
posted by Fizz at 10:20 AM on June 3, 2020

I'll be interested to see how it compares to XC2. I think i got about 20 hours into XC2 and at some point it was just too much. Of everything really. I remember playing a couple hours of XC1 way back in the day and thought it was much more chill. Hopefully it stands up.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:26 AM on June 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

I got to the point where you fight Metal Face in Colony 9 on the New 3DS version before I discovered they were re-releasing it on the Switch. Don't get me wrong, the 3DS version was technologically impressive, but between the uncomfortably low rez and the C-stick nub being low grip, I was happy to set it aside and play Xenoblade Chronicles 2 in the interim.

I liked XC2 well enough (single player MMO-style game? sure OK), but I found it hard to get too invested in all the side quests that had wildly varying level or field skill requirements. Once I got to Morytha, I just went straight to the ending. I'm occasionally poking around at the of the blade quests just because they're better fleshed out than some of the other quests, but it doesn't add a lot to the actual story, so eh? And sitting down and making a spreadsheet of which mobs I need to kill for which blade's affinity charts... Yeah OK thanks but no thanks.

I'm torn on seeing whether I could make back what I paid for it on the 3DS - let some other collector eat the cost to have it on their shelf versus keeping it around as an oddity.
posted by Kyol at 10:26 AM on June 3, 2020

I wish I liked JRPGs. I've given so many of them a chance, but I just can't vibe with the gameplay even if I like the aesthetics.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:26 AM on June 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

I think i got about 20 hours into XC2 and at some point it was just too much. Of everything really.

As the Eurogamer article mentions up above, there is now a casual mode that streamlines the combat and reduces the amount of grind.
posted by Fizz at 10:33 AM on June 3, 2020

30 FPS needs to be a thing of the past. It's ludicrous. Even on the PS4 Pro, they're still releasing games "locked" at 30 FPS and it's a complete joke at this point.

I'm a big fan of the PS4, but looking at the news for PS5, I am amazed by the lack of attention to marketing the fact that games will play at 60 FPS in the next generation. We have enough pixels. You can barely appreciate more pixel density in many games with fast gameplay, but you sure as hell can tell the difference between 30 and 60 FPS.

The salespeople keep pushing pixels, and apparently the audience in general keeps wanting more. You can show HDR screenshots and people will "get" it, but playing games with 60 FPS is a far greater thing for an overall better experience. And "unlocked" FPS games need to go away as well. Having the gameplay spike to 60 FPS and then stutter down to 45 or 30 at times is probably even worse than just a 30 FPS all the time.

Sorry for the derail. This looks like a great game, though I'll never get to play it. The mention of FPS in the post set me off. Just sharing my (mild) dismay at what I'm seeing in the next generation.

Gotta stay distracted somehow with all the real-world dismay 24/7 these days.
posted by SoberHighland at 10:35 AM on June 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, I turned off random battles in XC2 and had no difficulty beating the game. Admittedly, on Easy, but since I'm just in it for the story, eh?
posted by Kyol at 10:37 AM on June 3, 2020

I cleared XC2 (but not the DLC) and yes, the middle of the game was a slog. I played XC for a bit on the 3DS, and picked up the Switch one.

I'm missing the auto-battle immensely, as that's how I handled all the XC2 non-boss combat: running around, pulling aggro and then letting the characters do their shouty bits. Made it very chill for real-time RPG. XC2 also let you dial down wildlife aggro so you weren't battling hundreds of times to get anywhere.

There's an interesting leveling limiter system here that fills in where XC2 had inn XP I might try abusing as well...
posted by Anonymous Function at 10:41 AM on June 3, 2020

Every time I see "Xenoblade" I just think of "gramma" ProZD: "That's Shulk from Xenoblade Chronicles for the Nintendo Wii...there was also a 3DS port..."
posted by praemunire at 10:43 AM on June 3, 2020 [5 favorites]

For anyone wondering what praemunire is referencing, here you go, enjoy. :-D
posted by Fizz at 10:45 AM on June 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

XC2 is why I gave away my Switch. I loved that game. I was so intrigued with the battle system. The "tutorial" portion was many hours long, and it just kept introducing more and more cool complexities to the system. Truly an original and well-designed concept the way it all worked. Instead of getting turned off by the trickiness of it all, I wanted to master what the game was showing me. I was fascinated.

But man, that's just too much game for the Switch's little screen and flimsy controls. It just became frustrating that they poured so much heads-up info on that tiny screen.

Also gotta say, the robot-girl part (a pretty big part) was pretty creepy and sexist like many JRPGs. I'm surprised stuff like that mostly seems to get a pass here at Metafilter.
posted by SoberHighland at 10:50 AM on June 3, 2020

SoberHighland, you're right, it's the most fucked up and creepy part of XC2. So much male-gaze and creepy POV camera shots that objectify all of the female characters (including all of blades). This part of the JRPG genre has always been problematic and there has been some previous discussion of this in various gaming threads but you're right, it does seem to kind of float by. There's probably a post that can and should be made about how JRPG culture continues to perpetuate these portrayals in their games.
posted by Fizz at 11:06 AM on June 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've been watching my partner play XC2 occasionally and yeah, the whole Poppi thing is a fucking nightmare. The game is not for me at all (way too much grinding, way too many upgrades and fight X many whatevers with only these characters, etc.), but even if that weren't the case, the boobs! boobs! boobs! and sex robot would keep me far away.

He didn't finish XC1, but said it wasn't nearly as bad. Can anyone confirm?
posted by minsies at 11:17 AM on June 3, 2020

Honestly just the fact that the UI now tells you when your position-based attack bonuses would be enough to make this the definitive way to play the game. Definitely pick this up over the Wii version.

This is far and away my favorite RPG series, the crunchy battle mechanics and the UI refinement and the world design with those gorgeous vistas and music...yeah. At the time XC1was released you could see them pulling in MMO style elements to a single player rpg that was fresh and new at the time and have since become industry standards to an extent.

I sunk over 200 hours on Xenoblade X, the mech battle and ground battle combined system is quite diverting and the feeling of facing off some huge boss as this track kicks in..essentially it has many of the same qualities of XC1, with the added bonus of freely flying around a seamless world in a mech.

Pharsis, the Everqueen is my favorite boss in any game, ever. Just for the aesthetics of the creature, the arena, and the soundtrack.
posted by StarkRoads at 11:19 AM on June 3, 2020

He didn't finish XC1, but said it wasn't nearly as bad. Can anyone confirm?
Oof. From least to most problematic it's probably like, XC1 > Torna > XCX > XC2.

I was fairly gushing in my other post but there is some objectifying stuff which is kinda bad tbh.
posted by StarkRoads at 11:31 AM on June 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'll take less problematic, definitely. Thanks, StarkRoads!
posted by minsies at 11:41 AM on June 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

My only exposure to the series was XCX on the WiiU and that was a really fun game although I didn't get far enough to actually use the mechs - I'd like to see that re-mastered for the Switch. I've been keeping my eyes open for XC2 to go on sale but that hasn't happened yet. Maybe with XC1 being re-released there'll be a sale for XC2.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:26 PM on June 3, 2020

Maybe with XC1 being re-released there'll be a sale for XC2.

I think I've only ever seen this go on sale digitally once, so it's not too common a thing (likely because its such a tentpole game for Nintendo). That being said, I'd check online for used copies as you'll likely find a fair number of them there, XC2 has been out for a long while now.
posted by Fizz at 12:39 PM on June 3, 2020

I’m currently playing the original on Wii U and it’s great. I don’t have a Switch and I don’t think I’ll ever give it a try on the newer console (you can reasonably go through all these side quests only once). The Wii U is flawed, but it had some strong ideas, like making available some late era Wii games on eShop.
posted by papineau at 12:44 PM on June 3, 2020

Also, regarding the lower resolution and locked 30fps, this digital foundry review fully explores that and compares it with the previous versions.
posted by Fizz at 12:44 PM on June 3, 2020

Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition Review”—Electric Playground, 27 May 2020
posted by ob1quixote at 2:39 PM on June 3, 2020

I played about an hour and a half yesterday and the game runs smoothly and while I wish it had a bit more graphic fidelity with regards to its resolution and fps, it's not ugly or distracting. It's a massive JRPG and it has a fun story. I'm liking it quite a bit and while the battle system is different than XC2, it is still interesting and I can see how complex this will become further down the road.
posted by Fizz at 9:12 AM on June 4, 2020

I'm not familiar with Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition other it was a JRPG and the intro trailer but it's been 3 hours and I'm wondering if I fell for the hype.

There's a lot of problematic female armor sets and their entire characterization is pretty dull compared to Shulk. Like each moment I'm thinking it could get better and then I realize they're not so much as people but cardboard cutouts. Yes, I know it's an old game.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 5:50 PM on June 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yeah, this is what I mean. JRPGs always looking like a cracking bit of fun from the trailers and then you start playing them and it's like, "Oh, god this is the same paper-thin plot and stereotypical characters as the last ten of these I was tricked into playing."
posted by tobascodagama at 6:41 PM on June 4, 2020

I think I probably have more tolerance for what my wife likes to call "anime bullshit" than most. I tend to lean into the corny stereotypes and for me it's the battle system and the sense of wonder that entertains me.

But you both raise fair points, I can see why this genre/game is not for everyone. It is lazy in a number of ways with how it portrays its characters. I have been told that the story goes into some interesting and unexpected ways, but it takes a bit for that part of the story to start.
posted by Fizz at 2:38 PM on June 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

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