With the newest Nintendo Direct Mini last week, which shadow dropped and took us all by surprise, we finally have a more definitive (pun coincidental) look at the much awaited remaster for 2010-12’s Xenoblade Chronicles. As a brief catchup for those unaware, Xenoblade Chronicles is a Wii game from Xenosaga/Baten Kaitos developer Monolith Soft that gained a major fan following after its regionally convoluted release in western territories, initially being localised for Europe only and eventually seeing a US release. Now it’s been remastered for the Switch in glorious high definition. The remaster/remake was revealed as the surprise “one more thing” in September 2019’s Nintendo Direct. So now that you’re caught up a little, let’s get to business with what we know so far!
Heads up! This article will be going into deep spoiler territory for Xenoblade Chronicles, as well as discussing late story elements from Xenoblade Chronicles 2. You have been warned.
First and foremost, I feel its best to cover the quality of life changes made as well as aspects that have been left as-is. It’s important to stress that it does not look as though anything has been simplified in terms of mechanics at play. Affinities are intact, all armour slots are present as well as gem slots, so nothing akin to Xenoblade 2’s simplified accessory system. However, the HUD and UI have been drastically overhauled for the better. The original game’s HUD was frankly massive, taking up a lot of screen space where it wasn’t necessary. The new HUD still displays the same information, but takes up much less space. Taking advantage of the higher resolution for starters (the HUD is 1080p for certain, though the game rendering seems to scale resolution depending on scene density), adopting transparencies for the character bars and just being overall easier to digest. There is still a lot of information being presented though, which may be off putting to newcomers.
The menus see a very large redesign. Originally, there was a popup menu with multiple different submenus which each had to load into a unique menu, meaning you had to back out of each to enter another. Now we have a single all-encompassing menu with those same options present, meaning we no longer have to load up each sub-menu separately. They all seem quick and snappy, likely as a benefit of not having to load off a disc anymore. There are still things that have yet to be shown though. We don’t know if the quest menu is any easier to navigate than before, as they originally just got dumped into one long list, so sorting options would be appreciated. One thing in particular that I’ve been hoping for is the means to carry over equipped gems to new pieces of armour you put on, slot limits applying of course. It was always cumbersome to have to re-equip your preferred gems every time.
So now we get into the speculation side of things, and to the spoilers. It has often been theorised that we could see another playable character added to the roster. In the party menu, it’s evident that when all seven playable characters are accounted for, there is still room for an eighth party member. Late into the game, a Machina called Vanea joins the group, but only as a supporting character who isn’t involved in combat, or even appears in the overworld once she joins you. People suspect she may actually join as a playable party member this time, supported by concept art depicting her with a whip which she could use as her weapons. This does complicate her quest lines revolving around creating replica Monados, but she could be swapped out for another Machina NPC.
The next side to the speculation comes from the Future Connected postgame story, where there is quite a bit to digest. First off is what we all suspected from the September Direct, it takes place in the unfinished area of the first game, Bionis’ Shoulder. This area was still present on the disc of the original, accessible through hacking but with very little progress towards making it a proper map like every other region in the game. This alone is exciting news, as it was still featured in a cutscene in the original, suggesting we were meant to go there as part of the main story anyway, but got cut before being fully fleshed out.
We see that Bionis’ Shoulder is now the location of the capital of Alcamoth in the postgame, with Melia taking a prominent role in this story now. It should be noted that Melia has a staff that bears resemblance to the Monado, while Shulk now wields a new Monado-like weapon. Considering he likely no longer has the original Monado, after relinquishing the powers of a god in the original ending, this one has likely been made by Vanea much like the replica Monados were before. The capital itself now seems overrun with what appear to be portals, capable of firing lasers at anything drawing near. It is not remotely known what these portals are as of yet though. Fans have been pondering the idea of a crossover with Xenoblade 2, much like how it had Shulk and Fiora as cameos. This may be a way to bring the likes of Rex, Pyra and Mythra over, but that’s still just wishful thinking. There is also the possibility of this leading into a potential Xenoblade 3, but that’s even more wishful thinking.
One last thing to note from this showing; Alvis’ key necklace has now been replaced with a Zohar styled crystal that looks suspiciously like a core crystal from Xenoblade 2, in particular an Aegis core. Considering it was speculated that Alvis is Ontos, the missing third piece of the Trinity Processor (the other two being Pneuma and Logos), this further adds fuel to the fire for further theorising. It should be noted that Ontos’ core crystal is never shown in Xenoblade 2, having disappeared before we ever could see it, so while Pneuma has a green crystal and Logos a purple one, we do not know if Ontos has a red crystal like Alvis’ new necklace.
So as a final word, this is all very exciting stuff. This may be a remake or remaster of a game we’ve already played but it continues to add new mysteries to the ever growing web of Xenoblade lore. For all we know, the Future Connected storyline might even connect to Xenoblade X, an otherwise unconnected universe. The answers to these questions, and many more that have likely not been raised, should all be answered on May 29th.
I look forward to seeing you there, Shulk.
Long time fan of Nintendo and games in general, I always lean on the quirkier and unique sides of things in particular. It all started when I was lucky enough to get a Gameboy Color and Pokemon Yellow for my tenth birthday and it’s been going strong ever since. I’ve always had a need to get my voice heard and share anything I find interesting with the world.