Developer: MONOLITH SOFT
Reviewed On: Switch
Release Date: 29/05/2020
Reviewed By: Keith Lavelle
Review Rush was kindly supplied with a review code.
So back in early 2020 I was given the code for Xenoblades Chronicles from the lovely people over at Nintendo. However, because of many reasons I I was on hiatus from review writing. As I got the review code weeks before, I honored it with a twitter review (very short and concise. So I figured I would now give it a full-blown review, and also any excuse to talk about one of the best JRPGs ever made.
Xenoblades Chronicles Definitive Edition is the release of the same game from the Wii console. The story follows Shulk our hero and his quest for revenge.
The story starts with colony 9 hero Dunban, who a year past protected the colony from the Mechon with the use of the Monado. At a cost; his right arm is paralysed. The Monado is a sword that can defeat these Mechon. A year on from that fateful fight the Mechon attack again this timelead by the Face Mechon. Dunban once again takes up the Monado to defend the Colony, this time to no avail they almost killed him. This pushed Shulk to use the Monado to protect both the colony and Dunban. Shulk can wield the Monado with no side effects, he even gets glimpses of the future helping him push back the Machon. Face Machon however seems to be immune to the Monado and in return kills Shulk’s childhood friend Fiora before fleeing. Shulk vows to take down the face Machon and sets off for one hell of an adventure.
The story in Xenoblades Chronicles will take you to impossible heights and lows as Shulk and the gang travel across this beautiful world in order to kill te Face Machon. With twists and turns galore. For me, it is a fantastic story that spans around 70 hours for the main game.
There is also an extra chapter that revolved around a party member Melia, who is trying to figure out what happened to her hometown of Alcamoth in this 20-30 hour addition Future Connected.
Let’s move on to the gameplay of Xenoblades Chronicles. There is a lot to unpack and cover, so I will only cover the key points and skim over a few elements. Well, if I didn’t this review would be MASSIVE.
So I have heard a lot of folk who have started Xenoblades Chronicles and given up after not fully understanding the battle system.. So I going to break it down as its fairly simple once you understand how it works and how all the elements work together. The battle system is one reason the game is so good, with all the elements working together and being deep but simple at the same time.
At its most basic of forms, the game uses a real time action battle system. In short, it is a turn-based system where attacks are on a cool down and the player can freely move the controlled character in a battle. manual inputted attacks are called ‘Arts’ that are on a cool down after use, giving the turn based style feel, while ‘TalentArts’ basically special attacks are available after enough attacks have landed. All party members will auto attack when an enemy is in range. That’s the basics now we move on to the more advanced stuff.
So now we have a grip on the basis lets tackle the more advanced tactics. This is the fundamentals of taking out most enemies. First of all, some arts work like an MMO, where you need to be positioned in the correct side of the enemy to be effective; front, side and back. Some Arts also have statues attached to them, being Brake and Topple. A brake art will effectively allow the enemy to be knocked over, think of it as braking their defences. After the enemy is broken, if a topple art is used, we will knock it out, allowing for critical hits to be at 100% chance of happening. Bigger damage quicker it dies.
Critical attacks will help the trinity gauge fill. This gauge has two uses. The gauge is split in to three sections, if a party member is knocked out using one of these sections will revive said member. If the gauge is full, then a Chain Attack can be used. Doing so will slow down time, allowing for each party member to use one Art at a time. By matching the same type of Art as the last, the chain will carry on up to 15 times. (As long as affinity is high enough. I cover that soon). These attacks can be devastating.
Get all this down and you will be dispatching enemies as you feel like it. Last bit of battle advice, the Xenoblades Chronicles Definitive Edition allows for some fine tuning of the battles. with casual and expert. Casual is what it says makes everything easier. Expert mode does things a little different; the battles are not any harder than normal, instead it allows for manual leveling and de-leveling of characters. Why, you ask? Well, if you want a challenge in late game than you can lower the party level making things a bit harder or at least a challenge. As if you are like myself, you go out and do everything; I was well over leveled for most fights. This allowed you the player to scale the difficulty.
As I mentioned before, Affinity is how well party members will work together and increase the Chain Attack length. However, affinity does not stop with just the party. It is linked to every named NPC in the game. As Shulks affinity grows with in each area, so does his renown.
What does Affinity do and how to raise it?
Affinity is raised by talking to named NPCs, trading with them and completing quests for them. This will in turn open up new sidequests and better trading items. This section can be fully ignored if you like, with no real ramifications. However, for party members you need to increase it to unlock new Arts and increase chain attacks.
Xenoblades Chronicles Definitive Edition looks amazing with its new over haul and is simply massive. It is possible to jump from the top of the map to the bottom with no loading screens or slow down. To make it more impressive, this was on the Wii to start with. Everything looks stunning, there are lots happening on the screen all at once it is a joy to behold.
I feel that Xenoblades Chronicles Definitive Edition is by far one of the best JRPGs on the Switch, if not of modern times. The game is beautiful, the story and characters are great, with a great battle system. There is nothing not to love about the game.
If you like JRPGs then you have to go out and play this.