In 2011, role-playing fans banded together to fight for the Western release of three games on Nintendo’s Wii console – The Last Story, Pandora’s Tower and Xenoblade. It was known as Operation Rainfall – and, astonishingly, it worked. All three games got English language releases but it was Xenoblade – renamed Xenoblade Chronicles in the West – that found the greatest success. Sequels followed for both Wii U and Switch, but now the original is back – remastered and updated for Nintendo’s current-gen system. It’s called the Definitive Edition, but just how much of an upgrade do you get?
Perhaps by default, the Definitive Edition delivers the best Xenoblade experience. It’s using more modern rendering techniques, there’s a fully remastered soundtrack, additional content and a revamped user interface. Technologically speaking, it’s built on the same engine that delivered Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for Switch, with some minor graphical tweaks. First impressions are solid, but as it shares the same tech as the sequel, this also means that the game inherits some of its less impressive aspects, principally image quality. The game is rather soft, even compared to a typical Switch release.
It’s sharper than any previous version of Xenoblade, of course, but the leap isn’t hugely significant. Essentially, dynamic resolution delivers between 504p and 720p when docked, dropping to a 540p-378p window in portable mode – a match for Xenoblade Chronicles 2. There is some good news here, however, in that the TAA sharpening that was so off-putting in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has been adjusted, and it’s nowhere near as ugly now, delivering palpable improvement in mobile play. Image quality is the biggest issue, really, and you’ll get an idea of how that shakes out in the video review below – it’s mostly good news beyond that.