The moment Nintendo released the trailer for Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, my jaw dropped on how the visuals looked. The Switch version’s crisp characters, clean landscapes and updated textures are a far cry from the washed-out, muddy visuals of the original Wii version, granted it was a technical feat at the time for what console it was released on and given the size of the world. But not only are the graphics updated, the little quality-of-life adjustments to enhance this version make Monolith Soft’s open-world action RPG an enjoyable time to playthrough the first time or the third.
The original Wii and 3DS versions of Xenoblade Chronicles did what they can with the limitations of the platform they were on. They managed to capture the essence of the game, the vast landscapes you explore on top of the backs of dormant gods.
To be honest, I generally found the character models in the original game to be so muddy and ugly that it was such a distraction. I was continually being pulled out of the experience because I always kept noticing and looking at it. Now I find myself in “awe” when I see the faces of Shulk and friends’.
It looks even better when Shulk and Reyn are so crisp and clean instead of them looking smudged and blurry. Yes, I know there are plenty of players out there that prefer the original game’s art style to the generic anime style of the Definitive Edition. To me, I feel like there is a little bit of character lost between the older models and the newer, sharpers ones.
Just like with any other remakes or definitive editions, a fresh coat of paint isn’t going to solve all of the game’s other problems, and Xenoblade Chronicles sure has its fair share. Yes, sure, the characters look visually impressive compared to the original, but that doesn’t make their personalities and catchphrases any less annoying. Also, the game is still padded with a seemingly endless assortment of pointless side quests. The non-player characters who give the party at least four or five tasks to perform at once. Talk about overwhelming.
Although Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition doesn’t necessarily fix the game’s side quest issue, but it does make them much easier to complete. The improved maps and markers present players exactly where they need to go to check off their shopping list. Setting up a quest to ‘active’ displays a marker on the players’ mini-map, leading them directly to their objectives. It’s great for people who feel compelled to check every exclamation-pointed quest giver before moving on to the next part of the plot. This version has an enhanced quest system, which is one part of a menu system and user interface overhaul that makes this game live up to its name ‘Definitive Edition.’ The on-screen interface that is displayed during combat is so crisp, clear and more comfortable to read and understand, making the games unique action battle system much more enjoyable. The game still has you juggling to do, combining different characters’ skills to overthrow and weaken enemies, but with the improvements, it’s easier to focus on what needs to be done this time around.
The inventory system in Xenoblade Chronicles is still a mess of collectibles, items, equipment, and vendor trash. Nevertheless, this time around, it’s a little easier to paddle through with the updated menus. The same goes for managing your characters’ arts and skills, with the interface being much better. Xenoblade Chronicles is filled with many pieces of equipment. Each head, chest, leg, foot, and hand pieces changes the appearance of the character who equips it. The original game had you maintaining the best mix of stat-enhancing gear, this often led to the characters wearing mismatched parts. The definitive edition adds an “Appearance” section to the menu, meaning it will allow characters to equip cosmetic gear, which will not change no matter what equipment they are wearing.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition looks to be much better than the original game, but being better doesn’t make it the “definitive edition.” The combination of countless little quality-of-life improvements and the graphical upgrade gives new players the best way to play the game and returning players a reason to come back. Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition arrives on Nintendo Switch, May 29.