Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition First Impressions

My first impressions of Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition are largely positive, it’s a fresh RPG brimming with character.


I know I’m late to the party, but I finally convinced myself to get Monolith Soft’s remake of its titular classic, Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. This Nintendo Switch title is essentially a remaster of the original Xenoblade Chronicles released for the Nintendo Wii back in 2010.

Featuring updated graphics and character models, this Definitive Edition feels right at home on Switch, and honestly, it’s hard to believe a game this epic and on a scale like this was released on the Wii so long ago. After seeing images and a few videos of the game, I was initially reticent to pick it up. I’m in an ongoing second play-through of its sequel, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and for whatever reason I think the look of the interface in the sequel looks more professional and polished compared to DE (Definitive Edition). In hindsight, I’m starting to feel as though the polish of its menus and the battle palette in the sequel, came at the expense of complexity and the confusing mess that is Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I’ll compare the two more later, for now let’s dig into the meat of the game.

Xenoblade Chronicles:DE begins with you in a flashback as Dunban, one of the series’ heroes locked in a battle with the Mechon, a race of machines bent on destroying the Homs, or humankind. The two have been locked in an eternal fight ever since the gods, the Bionis and the Mechonis perished eons ago as they were locked in battle. The two gods fell into a stalemate and both died where they stood. The gigantic beings, so large that their bodies essentially formed continents; Homs and organic life flourished on the Bionis and mechanical life spawned on the Mechonis. Eventually the two factions began to attack each other and wage war and that’s where we start.

Dunban happens to wield the Monado, an enchanted sword that is also one of very few weapons that can actually harm the Mechons. Its power takes a toll on his body paralyzing him as he is carried away from battle, still alive. Back in town, one year later, you play as Shulk, a young villager who studies technology. Shulk, who studies the Monado, eventually is offered the chance to use it and to everyone’s surprise, Shulk not only is unharmed by it, but gains visions of the future when he wields it. This results in him seeing premonitions when an ally is about to die, which he is sometimes able to change.

From a story standpoint, DE’s premise is far more digestible and organic than its sequels. Humans hate machines, they’ve been locked in eternal war, now we’re going to kill all those damned machines. Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s problem is it tries to do too many things at once. The story starts off slow and boring about a salvager who salvages treasures in a “sea of clouds” that is somehow also like an ocean which he needs a suit for. Shortly after he is killed, reborn and must save the world with the help of Blades, human and anthropomorphic animal-like beings that serve as weapons and low-key slaves to their Drivers. In comparison, it really is a convoluted mess.

The DE has some of the core elements of its sequel, but without Blades you fight enemies directly, you don’t need Blades to attack. The world is vast with large plains, mountains, streams, rivers, plateaus and more all with large swaths of creatures that roam around just like they would in an MMORPG or a modern open-world RPG game (think Borderlands or The Division without shooting). Towns are full of life with residents going about their day and many able to offer conversation, trade items with you or give an almost endless amount of quests. There’s a lot to do here and sometimes it seems overwhelming, but it’s a focused overwhelming, compared to this game’s sequel.

I find myself more easily enjoying my time with this game, even at the beginning, which I can’t say wasn’t true of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but I spent much more time in that game feeling lost, feeling like I could never finish everything the sequel was asking me to do. I guess I will find out as I delve deeper into this role-playing gem.

[Game Review:] Pokemon Sword & Shield are a breathtaking return to the core of an iconic series

Pokemon Sword & Shield bring the 7th generation to life in ways never before seen and are solid games all fans of the series should check out.


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Pokémon Sword & Shield bring the 7th generation to life in a never before seen way.

Pokémon Sword & Shield

Rating: 4/5

It’s time to once again journey into the world of Pokemon as Pokémon Sword & Pokémon Shield released for the Nintendo Switch. Game Freak’s 7th generation of pocket monster games is charming, engaging and best of all, a fully fleshed out console Pokémon experience, great for newcomers and veterans alike.

Sword & Shield deliver a solid experience, that while not without some flaws and hangups, still make for the best games in the series thus far, and two excellent Switch titles. Picking up where the Let’s Go! series left off, the games are essentially an upgrade to the previous console titles, fully formed and true to the mainline series.

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The Britain inspired locales of Galar are very beautiful and pleasant to the eye.

The latest iteration of the famous series has you traversing the world of Galar. This British-inspired landscape is an exotic world filled with green pastures, farms, industrial cities, icy landscapes, deserts and human-sized mushroom forests. The scenery of the game is largely breathtaking. Nearing the end of the game some of the environments start to seem to repeat and the gyms somewhat look alike, but the vast scale of the environments is amazing.

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Gym battles probably feel the closer than ever to Ash’s epic fights in the original anime.

The world of Pokemon is realized in a way that would have been unfathomable to the 11 year old me playing Pokemon Red.

The world of Pokemon is realized in a way that would have been unfathomable to the 11-year-old me playing Pokemon Red. When battling gym leaders, a crowd of animated fans go wild when you knock out your enemy’s Pokemon. Train stations, high rises and hotels all capture the feel of the UK and modern urban locales. It truly feels stunning to go from the tiny small town you begin at to the televised Pokemon League battles in packed stadiums and a final battle atop a skyscraper with some of the story’s antagonists.

The tunes you’ll hear along your journey are thoughtfully composed and of the high quality you’d expect from a Nintendo original game. The “Gym Leader Battle Theme” straight up sounds like a modern rave track (at least in the intro).

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The Wild Area is the most interesting feature of Sword & Shield. Sadly, it could have been better utilized.

The Wild Area itself could’ve been bigger…

Early on, you reach an area called the Wild Area. This, essentially, is an open world part of the map very reminiscent to Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s large open areas, or Monster Hunter’s instances, where not only hundreds of Pokemon roam, but other trainers across the world, too, if you are connected online. To me, this is probably one of the most interesting novel features in the games, but sadly, its potential isn’t fully realized.

The Wild Area itself could’ve been bigger. Players can take part in “Max Pokemon Raids” where you team up with other players online, or AI controlled trainers offline to take down giant “Dynamax” Pokemon. The concept is the closest we’ve ever gotten to a Pokemon MMORPG, but falls short as Raids are not updated quickly in the online list and are hard to join or find other players to complete with. Worse still, once you beat the game you are limited to only doing high level raids which already are hard enough to find players to complete with. In the future, I would love to see a Pokemon game that explores this area even further, maybe even a side game that branches off into a Pokemon MMORPG based off the Wild Area.

Pokemon Sword & Shield are not perfect. There are graphical frame-rate dips, sadly, no voice acting, mediocre antagonists and plot points, and a relatively short journey and online mode. Many aspects of the game feel slightly superficial, as if a small delay in release could’ve resulted in a much greater game experience.

However, the quality of life changes and streamlining of the core Pokemon game are welcome additions and as a whole, Sword & Shield bring the Pokemon world into modern times as a fully fleshed out version of Pokemon Let’s Go! Pikachu & Eevee. Any fans of the Pokemon games are RPGs should check this one out.

Rating: 4/5