I did not expect Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, largely because my opinion on Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has spoiled so much since I played it.
The original Xenoblade Chronicles were released on Wii in 2010. This final edition for Switch will be released on May 29. This is the third time that I have launched the Japanese role-playing game. I made my first efforts on the Wii, then again with the 3DS port in 2015. But this is the first time that the adventure hooks me. I am currently about 15 hours deep without wanting to stop. I am not ready to review the experience, but there is something in my mind that I wanted to discuss.
Xenoblade Chronicles is much better than its sequel.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was released as one of the first major JRPGs for the Switch in 2017. Back in my opinion, I gave an 82 to the game. I mean, it’s a hundred hour game that I played until the end. So it’s not like I hate it. But, man, the further I get from this game, the less I think about Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
Depth and proportions
I’m just going to make it go away, but the character designs of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 just made it difficult to take it seriously. I know, JRPGs have had hyper-sexual characters for years. Believe me, I don’t usually mind. But, I mean, look at this.
I have no idea what this is supposed to make me feel. Happy? Not really. Is it supposed to be funny? It’s sort of, I guess. More than anything, it’s just weird.
At least Dahlia is just a minor character, essentially the equivalent of playing a member of the Pokémon style group. But even the main players have ridiculous proportions for anyone who has changed their standards beyond the original design of the Tomb Raider box. Watch Pyra, the main wife of Xenoblade Chronicle 2.
At least Pyra has a consistent character design. She looks almost modest next to this ice rabbit girl.
To be fair, the first Xenoblade Chronicles doesn’t exactly portray its characters as Quakers. You still see a lot of skin. Heck, you can even dress up your whole party in a swimsuit, if you want. But it’s not as far-fetched as what I saw in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I’m fine with the sexy characters. And before someone decides to yell at me, I have no problem with the developers making their games as sexual as they want. But if he seems stupid and complacent, he distracts from the game, and it’s so blatant in Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
But Xenoblade Chronicles 2 annoyed me with more than the looks of its characters. Each hero and villain is a single note trope to an extreme degree, an almost shocking achievement for a game that is so long. Let’s go back to Pyra. Her defining personality trait is that she is kind. All she does is support the main character, Rex. And don’t worry, she’s also a great cook! It’s as if the developers went out of their way to create the ultimate game “waifu”. And if you dare to do a little research on Google, you would see that they have probably succeeded.
When it comes to depth, Rex himself is no better. Again, his defining trait is that he is kind. How exciting.
Take it back
This is a big reason why I already like the Xenoblade times better than its sequel. This is taken more seriously. It is by no means Shakespeare, but at least the game does not make me roll my eyes at each cutscene.
Even beyond the characters, there are many reasons to prefer the original Xenoblade chronicles. Its combat system is much less convoluted. Almost three years after beating Xenoblade Chronicles 2, I can’t even remember how the fighting works. There was a lot going on. In the early parts of the game, it most often frustrated me. After tens of hours, I could understand and appreciate the fight. But fighting in the original feels good from the start, and it gets progressively more complicated and rewarding as you progress through the adventure.
I also don’t miss the Blades, the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Pokémon-like system. Unlocking the blades took forever, and you’d have dozens of worthless before your catch was worth using.
Even the aesthetics are better. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 wins on some points. It’s a much newer game, and even this remaster of the original can’t compete with the more vibrant and detailed landscapes of its sequel. But Xenoblade Chronicles 2 also takes a much closer look at a cute anime look, and its music and voice play don’t stick to its predecessor.
The first one is not worse
I don’t like being hard on Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I know it has a lot of fans. And, again, I liked the game when I played it. But Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition really highlights the flaws in the sequels.
If you haven’t played any games and want a big JRPG to play on your Switch, then I would recommend … well, I would recommend Dragon quest xi. But if you insist on a Xenoblade title, opt for this definitive edition of the first game. It is the most serious, the most rhythmic and the most refined experience of the two.