Review | Xenoblade Chronicles DE
"Xeno start project and the best in the series is here, again! JRPG giant and one of the best you can get on Nintendo and considering this is by far the best version of the game out there - think no more if you want to buy in the first place."
by Foggy, 14-06-2020, Edited by: Jim
I think I’ve played more remasters this year than the new titles. I just can’t help myself. In this case, it was about Xenoblade Chronicles and its perfect timing. Considering this is still one of my favorite and best JRPG’s in the last 10 years or so, there was not a doubt in my mind whether to go on this journey yet again.
First encounter with the Xenoblade Chronicles was during the Wii era (almost 10 years ago!), following the WiiU and 3DS “ports”. Not many played it for sure. Remember Monolith Studio, they know their stuff, you might know them from some of the earlier work, like Xenosaga franchise, Baten Kaitos, some NDS and 3DS titles, plus the whole Xenoblade franchize.
Wii – down, Switch – up. The differences are clearly visible, but have in mind the fact that not everything looks as good, big part of the game still looks somewhat ugly
The positive fact is that Monolith finally appreciates all regions; Xenoblade 2 was the result of their good sales numbers and hopefully they will now aim outside of the Japan with whatever they publish in the future.
We have a remaster/mini-remake in front of ourselves. The textures received upgraded treatment, especially characters. Still, comparing to current graphics they are still far from being relevant in that area, add the fact that the game runs in 720p. You can smell "Wii" in the air.
Added content consist of a brand-new epilogue named “Future Connected”, which follows the events after the main game. It is 10-15h long, features protagonist and some minor changes.
This is, by far (maybe not so far), the best version of this game out there. Nothing to think about if you plan to buy.
Shulk and Fiora are friendly, love and fighting duo.
When it comes to the story, we can say it got its ups and downs. The world they’ve created here is one of the best ones presented; it’s simply brilliant. It’s the world created on the remains of the Titans – big creatures opposed during the war. One is Bionis – home of the Homs, human-like inhabitants, while the second one represents the home to Mechons – metal/human-like machines. Mechonis is more advanced, but they all have one thing in common: they want to exterminate one another. I prefer Bionis as it’s full of greenery and beautiful landscapes to explore.
Shulk is a Hom, part of the Bionis. Completely normal at first, shortly comes in possession of the Monado – special Bionis weapon which is really the only mean necessary to win against the Mechons. Those terminators will try to eradicate all that breads and moves on Bionis, including the titan itself. Monado plus Shulk produce a mighty combination. He will acquire visions of the future by holding that sword. The sword is also capable of enchanting regular weapons in aid against those metal faces. The problem is, not everyone can hold it and use it, so it also means it can be lethal. Only those with pure heart and strong mind can wield it and unlock its full and hidden potential.
The first part of the story revolves around you, the sword and the “talking” Mechons.
I could go on and on in regards to the story, but that part is on you, my dear readers. Even though the story is a typical cookbook JRPG anime one, the whole implementation and the idea presented is unique enough to respect it. The weird part is British accent in English voice dub, so you might want to try out the Japanese one instead.
Shulk, the protagonist will be accompanied by Reyn, his best friend. Add dozens of magic and shooting, weird beings like Nopons (which I hate), half-humans, half-machines…It’s on you to choose who to bring and how to develop your strategy.
This title is more serious than its successor which can be a big plus for those not in favor of waifu-anime style. Expect some, but in smaller numbers.
Running is slow. Auto-run is more a drag than a good thing, even with that button it takes half of the eternity to reach end of some maps.
The world is maybe the best thing in this game. Starting point will be the Colony 9, a small settlement on the foot of the Bionis. This world is full of greenery and nature which makes it the loveliest part of the whole experience. Be careful though, across the vast fields strong monsters roam. Don’t be surprised when you meet lv.70 bunny rabbit with a hammer. Maps are huge and full of surprises, random loot, strong mini-boss enemies…
The point is to accept some quests, gather needed ingredients, kill what you have to and return back for your rewards. This method will grant good amount of experience, decent equipment and raising money. You need money to buy stronger equipment and weapons. For JRPG quest lovers, this will be heaven. There is more than 50 quests just in the first village. Even though they lack strong story segment, the fact that they will point you in discovering secret areas and help you explore maps is fun on its own.
Quest marks are shown on the map and it makes them accessible and easy to find.
I must repeat that the whole point of this adventure is its exploration factor. Not a bad thing at all. Side content is a part of the fun you just don’t want to miss. I feel sorry for Switch and Monolith because they would shine even brighter on PS4 and stronger consoles, this game deserves it.
This journey will take you to the top of the titan(s), throw many NPC and their stories while following somewhat long story. I must admit, the Mechonis part of the game is just not pretty, it’s too metal-alike and I will always prefer nature. Funny thing is that the story shines thrice as much later, so this minus will be decently covered with those plus factors. Just expect some grinding, especially when it comes to side-content, it’s 4 times bigger and wider than the games main story.
First titan holds some gorgeous views. Shame that 720p is a standard here.
When you feel like not walking, you can teleport on revealed teleport points on the map. Loading times are short, so it makes the constant shifting a pleasure. Don’t worry about leaving some high-level quest for later, they are meant to be done when you are stronger. Some town parts will be changed due to some later game events and you will have to return anyway.
While they’re blue – they will follow. It’s a smart move to attack from behind with Backslash to deal massive damage (combine with first attack plus gem for even stronger effect).
Your journey will evolve during the day-night periods. Some quests and enemies can be done/defeated only during the night, or perhaps during the storm. You can shift those easily, so you don’t have to wait for the timer to pass.
The flow of how to do it bothered me a bit. It doesn’t seem natural and it always feel like you must do some additional steps and clicks. For example, shortcut for centering the map is used like, never. Better that they’ve set some often-used menu items instead.
Backtracking will be present, but it’s not tedious and you can always fast travel (on those butt plug icons).
Finally, we are ready for the meat! Battles. Well, we have FF12 type of battle system mashed with some MMO. Either you or enemy can initiate the battle. Stronger enemies will do it every time, while weaker just respect their lives too much to bother you.
When you do fight, it’s time for…button mash? Yeah, in general you are auto-attacking while waiting for skill bars to fill. That is the whole point. You can move around the enemy to inflict critical hits based on some skill requirements and the rest is just clicking the commands in real time. Nothing spectacular I must say. The variety comes from how much skills you have and combination of characters you bring along.
Combo burst; break, topple, daze. While toppled or dazed, they will not attack and they will be more vulnerable to your attacks.
Bring Shulk and some healer, especially at the beginning. The Mechons are only vulnerable when they are toppled, or if you enchant weapons with the Monado. The Monado is always the best way to damage them even without the enchantment and it has special skills only linked to it, which will be your biggest advantage.
Prepare for some irritating shouts every time your partners performs a skill ("Finally it’s Reyn time!!!"). I was fed up with those after 2 hours.
Arts – setting them up and leveling with Shulk is the biggest minus; he owns small number of different ones. Even upgrading past some levels takes certain conditions to be met; like buying or farming skill books.
That’s about it. The preparation is the most important factor here, alongside with the skill management where you can also upgrade those to deal more damage and shorten the cooldown time.
I would like to mention the combo burst which you can activate by gathering three global combo bars. This is your best opportunity for a chain break, topple and daze effects. It can also grow to a big combo, dealing massive damage along the way.
As the Monado is also the prophet, it will grant you a small insight into the future when enemy is about to use a special skill on you or your teammates. This way you can react properly and maybe break that opportunity while saving potential death. I hate the fact that you cannot skip those slow motion cut scenes. That just makes it irritating after a while.
Passive skills are important and they can even raise EXP and grant some good perks.
Your HP replenishes after each fight. If you do die during or by some nasty fall, the game will return you to the last teleportable landscape. There is a casual mode and an expert mode if you really want to enjoy/not to enjoy. Casual mode will just soften enemies and you will be able to pass easier, while expert mode brings the opposite to the table. Maybe some will aim for the casual mode as it tends to be less grindy overall.
The AI of your teammates is not the best. Usually when you are trying to topple an enemy, they will spam wrong skills and almost never get it right. That will require you to use that big combo attack and spend all your combo points. Just be aware that you can also revive your friends by spending that one bar on them. No items in this game (for healing and such), so be careful what your next move is.
The default costumes are an ugly joke. Some sets are cool, the rest - not so much.
The weapons and the rest of the gear can come with gem slots where you can buff some stats. This can be a good benefit when raising your HP, weapon power or something else. By equipping something from different set you will also change visually. Overall, I expected much more on this area. All weapons are mostly ugly and not versatile enough. Although, you can always visually equip some set you already have on top of what you actually wear.
As for the skill trees, the come for each character differently. Those are good and can further buff some good stats, like more EXP in quests and such. You unlock new trees by leveling the certain regions. There is even an option to cross-equip skills, but for that you need high affinity with teammates and that can take a while.
A lot of blood sweat and tears to raise colonies to level 5. Even harder to raise that for your party members.
From the rest of the stuff in this game, you can collect random loot on maps and turn those into rewards. There is a collectopaedia under menu options and rewards for completing an area or parts of the area.
One thing I really don’t understand; why the hell you don’t reward you with any EXP by doing the main story quests?! The money is good and if you have Xeno 2 save file you can get extra 100k at the start. Not too shabby eh?
I really miss more variety when it comes to character skills, in fight in general and I miss the more tactic needs. It’s an 200h JRPG if you go all the way and mashing the same thing over and over again can become repetitive fast.
Good luck with completing the collectopaedia.
Even though we have some negative sides here, as a package I dig it. I think you will too. This is a great JRPG, massive and full of good content to explore and find. You will do all that behind the great soundtrack which will take you to nostalgia trip for sure. It feels nice and relaxing.
Count for something like 50-60h of the main story, add another 150 or even more for completing everything this game offers. If you don’t mind somewhat repetitive battles, a lot of running around – I think you are in for a big treat. There is even a colony which you can make your own and nurture life inside of it. I love it.
The epilogue is not so great unfortunately. It lasts for around 10-15 hours and it just doesn’t hold to the story as the main game does (in a sense it’s not as good). Some minor changes are present (combo movesets in fights are very different).
You can also try the trials on each map – that is in the main game. Nothing spectacular, but nice addition to grind and to farm some items.
Of course, Xeno has the space parts. It’s imports as well.
Finally, the technical side of the game is better and in docked mode you will not experience many frame drops. I had one game crash, but there was soon a patch so I guess they’ve fixed that as well. The game has troubles with loading the textures a bit. You will notice that in bigger areas.
One thing I’m not in favor off – full price for the 10 year old game. It’s all nice and peachy, but c’mon dude. PS3 graphics (at best), mild extra content, I dunno…Don’t take all of our money for upscaled graphics.
Also, what the hell is with the floppy jump? Don’t put that in our JRPG’s please.