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Xenoblade Chronicles New 3DS Review

If like myself you purchased the New 3DS and are waiting for some exciting new games to come out for it you may be in for a long wait, but if it is remakes of classic titles you are after then you cannot fault this new handheld console, offering two massive titles to pick from in Zelda and now Xenoblade Chronicles.

Zelda was one of the high points of the N64 era, a feat the New 3DS handles with ease but what about a Wii title? Released a few years ago, Xenoblade Chronicles was halied as a masterpiece of role playing games; the game looked great and played well on the big screen, so how does it fair on the smaller screen?

Eons ago the world was pure ocean, where in amongst the endless water were two battling Gods, Bionis and Mechonis seemingly caught up in an eternal battle ending when both received fatal wounds, their bodies frozen in place in their death throes. As time passed life grew on their husks, on Bionis organic life appeared, whilst on Mechonis, mechanical beings sprang to life, these inhabitants then continuing the battle, warring between one another. The game focuses on the adventures of Shulk, a young man who gets thrown into a massive world altering quest as he begins to learn the secrets of his home as he wields the Monado, a weapon believed to have been used by the God Bionis itself. 

From the off the production of this New 3DS title is fantastic, with a great supporting cast offering their voices against a thrilling story set across a beautiful world. It is the sheer scale of the land under your characters feet that impresses the most, the remains of two battling titans, the world has been designed in such a way that you always feel aware of your location, finding a hill or cliff and taking in the view whilst also knowing that you have been there or making your way to a new part of the world, the sense of adventure never fades. This huge world is made even more accessible by some choice game design, with quick travel being available straight away and automatic quest completion that stops you from having to backtrack too often.

With a strong and entertaining story as its backbone Xenoblade Chronicles manages to offer an original take on the the RPG formula, the action being a combination of classic RPG elements but built on more action based roots with fighting occurring in real time, enabling you to target enemies and move around them, your character auto attacking which allows you to focus on the Arts that pop up on the screen. These Arts are essentially the special moves, recharged with normal attacks that unleash a variety of offensive and defensive moves that have various effects like healing or guard breaks. The action during fights can get very frantic, the player required to position the character, watching what move is ready and selecting them whilst also keeping a wary eye on your colleagues. 

I have to admit the game really did not gel at first, the frantic pace of the battles feeling like victory was more a button bashing fluke than skill, with only the story really pushing me along. The main problem I found was with the camera being a real struggle to control even with the New 3DS nub, many of my intended targeted enemies ended up fighting from the outskirts of my view which all too quickly becomes a problem when many of the Arts are specific to your position to the target, resulting in many failed attacks and one too many deaths. This issue alone made quite an impact on me early on but thanks to the reputation if the game and the story it really is worth it.

Of course being a New 3DS game there have been graphical updates but this is only really with the 3D effect, something that does not necessarily improve the game as the visuals look beautiful on or off but thanks to the smaller screen it does inadvertently bring attention to some rather ugly areas, with certain camera angles emphasizing very pixellated and dull character creations, possibly a sacrifice for the beautiful open environments.

Though sounding I'm perhaps sounding a bit negative, Xenoblade Chronicles is still a thoroughly enjoyable title and though not exactly an update, but more of a straight port with added 3D which may be a slight disappointment to some, it is a great opportunity for others who may have missed it the first time around and is an amazing example of just what the New 3DS is capable of.

Words by Ash Buchanan.

(Version Tested: New 3DS)


+ A rewarding and enjoyable story 
+ Now with 3D visuals 
+ Great soundtrack


- Small screen not suitable 
- Camera control issues

Edited On 10 Apr, 2015

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