I’ll freely admit – I wasn’t the biggest fan of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on Switch.
It’s a testament to the updates and re-release the game had, I think, that it took a while to really land with some players.
The difference with Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, however, is huge. I immediately fell hard for the franchise this time around and a lot of that has to do with side quests.
I cannot stop wandering around, asking for jobs on top of jobs. Sometimes citizens will give me one, sometimes three. And sometimes they’ll sheepishly ask if they can borrow me a fourth and I’m like “OMGYESGIEFMENAOW”
I think a lot of that has to do with pacing. The side quests always seem to feel like they’re on the way, or worth pursuing so you can boost your level. That counts for so much and encourages a player to explore every nook and cranny of the location they’re settled in.
This isn’t the first time I’ve owned Xenoblade Chronicles. I had it on my New 3DS and while I sunk some hours into it, ultimately, the game really struggled to keep my attention.
That just shows what Nintendo have achieved with this Definitive Edition, I think. The game looks and sounds incredible, while also feeling like it was made for the Switch despite releasing on the Wii many years ago.
Just look at the facial expressions on Wii compared to what has been achieved now. Astonishing.
And while Xenoblade has been a relative success for Nintendo up to now, I think this re-release on Switch is going to see the franchise shoot for the stars in a big way.
The side quest structure feels like a cross between a massive MMORPG – kill x amount of enemy, collect x amount of things – before immediate hand-in, and a Monster Hunter game where you track down huge imposing creatures for rich rewards.
Couple that with a really very compelling storyline, some wonderful characters and dialogue, and now a very beautiful looking game.
I get it, these kinds of side quests are not going to be for everyone, but I’m an MMO head. I’m currently juggling between TESO and Final Fantasy XIV, so I know the drill, and I’m good with it.
I guess that’s why I took to these side quests like a duck to water and was happy to keep stacking them, especially since the game does present some mean challenges and is regularly keen to test the player’s mettle in battle.
It helps that Definitive Edition has modernised the whole process and made it much more seamless. You can now see where you need to go to fight relevant quest enemies or where to collect a particular item.
I can even auto-run to places I need to head to – just like in an MMO – except that you can only run in a straight line and any time you want to move it interrupts the flow. So it’s almost kind of pointless, to be honest.
But there’s so much to love in this Definitive Edition, even the automated combat. For instance, I happen to think that Xenoblade’s ‘future proofing in battles is such a smart idea that still feels a bit ahead of its time.
Basically, the Monado’s power – the mech killing sword that Shulk claims in the game – occasionally gives him a premonition of an upcoming devastating enemy attack. You get to view a future of it and can then warn your teammates in advance of it happening so they can pull off a move to protect or defend themselves.
Other neat features include using certain attacks to topple enemies before they can be struck and chaining attacks together for maximum effect.
Then there’s the different Art forms, combining arts so that characters can feel the beneficial effects of other party member’s abilities, and the opportunistic attacks that deal most damage.
Xenoblade Chronicles combat system is incredibly effective and absolutely still feels relevant in 2020. Which also helps when I’m doing lots of side quests and killing lots of stuff.
Honestly, I’m loving it, and am fully absorbed in this world, ravenous for more. I’ll have some more coverage of the definitive edition’s unique epilogue once I’m done, but yes. If you’re looking for a deep, rich RPG, and you didn’t play this the first time around, absolutely pick up Xenoblade Chronicles on Switch.
Best of all, there’s a sequel sat waiting for you as well. I am already planning to dive straight into Xenoblade Chronicles 2 once I’ve done with the game’s special epilogue and giving this game another shot to win me over.
I think a massive problem I had with XC 2 is the overabundance of explanation before I got to any action. The pacing also feels so off the boil compared to its predecessor.
I hope my experiences here have better prepared me for that. And I cannot wait to see what Nintendo do with Xenoblade next. This feels like the beginning of something special and the coronation of yet another cornerstone Nintendo franchise that is sure to sell systems in years to come.
Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition is now available on Switch
Tested on Switch
Code provided by Nintendo.