RPG fans might remember a little ol’ RPG miracle called Xenoblade Chronicles. We almost didn’t get to see it in the West, but even then, it wasn’t always easily available on the Wii and iffy on the New Nintendo 3DS. That’s a shame because it was a genre-buster for its time, with a fantastic soundtrack, MMO-style combat, and memorable characters. Fortunately, Switch owners are getting yet another chance to experience the acclaimed game with Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. There’s a number of enhancements and alterations big and small, and we’re here to dig through them all. Here’s everything we know so far about Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition.
We know Xenoblade Chronicles‘ core story basically remains unchanged, barring some unforeseen shenanigans on Nintendo’s part that we haven’t seen yet. But even if it does remain the same, that’s no bad thing. There’s a lot going on in Xenoblade Chronicles‘ story, way more than the trailers hint at. We won’t go into spoiler territory in case this is your first time playing it (but if you absolutely must be spoiled, there’s one cutscene in particular that stands out).
The bottom line for Xenoblade Chronicles‘ story is two giants are locked in eternal battle. When we say “giant,” we aren’t talking 12-foot-tall fantasy critters either. The Bionis and Mechonis are so massive that they support entire ecosystems and civilizations — civilizations that just so happen to be at war with each other. Humans and machines are locked in a pattern of combat, with the mysterious Monado sword offering the humans’ only hope for salvation. One day, however, things change — and not for the better. That’s all we’ll say, but you can get an idea of the situation from the recent Nintendo Direct trailer above.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition has the power of the Switch, which is a dramatic step up from that of the Wii and a wide leap over what New Nintendo 3DS could produce.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition received a complete graphical overhaul, lovingly rendering all of the models and environments with the fresh and sparkly coat of paint they deserve. Characters have no distortions, and gone are the original’s muted and muddy textures as well. We much prefer the detail and vibrancy of the Bionis and Mechonis now. The Mechon even have a metallic shine!
Don’t just take us at face value here, though. Check out this excellent Xenoblade Chronicles comparison video showcasing the differences in all three versions, or check out the myriad screenshots released by Nintendo.
Partly thanks to the graphics facelift, menus and the overall user interface are much easier to read and more accessible. Other menus, like the customization menus, are just better designed overall this time around. That’s especially easy to see with the menu screen above, contrasted with the somewhat jumbled menu below. It’s not just a matter of high-definition upgrades either. The Definitive Edition makes better use of space, and notably, it’s less garish with how it lists equipment benefits. No neon green skills and attributes, and no blurry gray text either. That goes for combat menus too, thankfully.
Speaking of combat, one of the standout things about Xenoblade Chronicles is how informative it was. Status effects were consistently described and updated, among other things, but it was pretty difficult to read. One of the big Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition differences is in smoothing all this out. Aside from the menu text, the, er, switch to Switch helps make everything more distinct. Numbers won’t blend into characters, who won’t blend into enemies.
Stat bars pop more too. The original and New 3DS port used a dull orange, and the icons sometimes got in the way. Now, character icons are well removed from the center of the display, and each vital piece of information is easy to distinguish from everything else. It might not sound like much, but the battle screen gets hectic and crowded really fast in Xenoblade Chronicles. These changes are very welcome indeed.
The redesigned soundtrack
One other thing we got a delicious taste of during the last Nintendo Direct was the Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition soundtrack. The presentation mentioned certain tracks have been completely redone, and it shows. Oh, how it shows. Take the classic “Gaur Plain” track, for instance. The original track certainly sets a tone and stands out. However, the tentative Definitive Edition version fleshes out each instrument and adds a much fuller sound overall, and we’d even go so far to say the arrangement is superior to that of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 in quality.
Another noteworthy change is actually a new addition. Definitive Edition adds a brand new battle theme. It’s likely this is the epilogue’s theme, just because it’s so completely different from the original. However, it offers a sample of what makes the remastered soundtrack special. It’s full-bodied, conveys more feeling, and overall just feels more dynamic, as befits a game of this magnitude.
And just recently, we got an all-too-brief but oh-so-delicious sampling of the Colony 9 track. It’s the same as the original in essence, but the remaster adds a countermelody that makes the main tune stand out even more. The soaring strings are better than ever as well, thanks to not sounding compressed like the original.
The epilogue — Future Connected
All the enhancements are great, but the most exciting of the Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition differences is the all new epilogue, “Future Connected.” It takes place one year after the close of the original game, where Shulk and Melia reportedly adventure to the Bionis’ Shoulder with two new, previously unseen Nopon characters. The purpose of their journey has not been revealed, but there’s a number of rumors swirling around Future Connected. One of them is that the Shoulder was an area cut from the original game, while another prominent rumor connects to the title. Some believe this might be a tie-in either to Xenoblade Chronicles 2 or to an as-yet unannounced Xenoblade Chronicles 3.
Best of all, the epilogue will be accessible at any time, even if you haven’t completed the main story. This is a major benefit for players who have already been through the game previously on other platforms. Though the graphical upgrade and quality-of-life improvements will make most players want to take the journey again, it’s definitely a boon that we can access the new content right away.
Xenoblade Chronicles release date and preorders
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is out May 29, and preorders are already open. The base edition is $60 and does not have any announced bonuses at this time. It’s just the game, and you can get it from all the usual retailers.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the United Kingdom, you can get the Collector’s Set, which has everything above plus the soundtrack on vinyl (!!) and a limited edition poster. Just know that you can only get it from the Nintendo UK store, which doesn’t ship overseas.
So far, that’s everything we know about Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition‘s differences and what stays the same. It’s unlikely we’ll see additional surprises moving forward; the biggest changes are probably waiting for us in Future Connected. However, there’s still a lot to look forward to for new and old fans alike. Thanks to revamped graphics, menus, interfaces, and even the rearranged soundtrack, this is one remake that looks like it’ll live up to its Definitive Edition name. Stick with Nintendo Enthusiast for more about Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition as we get closer to launch.