In an interview with Famitsu, Monolith Soft’s President Takahashi Tetsuya opens up about the development process of Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, as well as revealing some more information about the new Future Connected story.
Definitive Edition began planning at the end of 2017, right after the release of Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s DLC was still in progress at that time, so development for Definitive Edition did not begin until August 2018, after the completion of the DLC. According to Takahashi, Monolith Soft’s staff was divided between those working on Definitive Edition, those working on a new project, and those working on both.
The team settled on the name “Definitive Edition” after talking to Nintendo. Takahashi says that because the game does not add a lot of new content, they did not want to call it a “Deluxe Edition”. He says that “Definitive Edition” was decided on to imply the “final version which respects the original”.
Takahashi said the main things that they wanted to change from the original game was not the amount of content, but rather focus on the game’s UI and appearance. He says that the game has also gotten easier to play—for example, if a player gets stuck on a particular boss battle, there will be a pop-up tutorial to show the player the best strategy, as well as helpful boosts, like a full party gauge the next time you attempt the fight. For the UI, the team tried to clarify the menus and make them easier to navigate, with emphasis on clarifying how to navigate throughout the game’s many menus.
One other part of the game’s appearance the team wanted to improve was the character graphics. Since the original title released for the Wii, in order to have the depth of the content and environments, the quality of the graphics for the characters had to be sacrificed, which Takahashi claims was “one of [the team’s] regrets in the original game.
While the character model remastering was the main focus of the team, they couldn’t completely remake everything for the game due to the budget restrictions. Some assets, like the weapons and enemies, were only given texture updates, while focusing the budget for completely redoing facial animations, among other parts of cutscenes. The music was treated in a similar way—while not all of the music could be rerecorded, they remixed some tracks digitally and fixed the sound compression for the entire game.
Despite the mentioned changes to the character models, UI, and music, Takahashi emphasizes that not much of the game’s content and battles were changed to remain true to the original, but the game does have new mechanics, including autosave, casual mode, event theater, and new fashion equipment.
While not altering the original content, Takahashi said that the reason for the additional “Future Connected” story was to appeal to prior fans as well as a way to implement the Bionis’ Shoulder maps, which were originally created for the Wii game but scrapped due to space. He says the DLC should take about 10 or 12 hours for players to complete the story, but more like 20 if they choose to do all the side quests and extra content. Future Connected can be played without playing the main story, but since it serves as an epilogue, Takahashi recommends newcomers to the series start with the original game.
Takahashi ended the interview with a message to all the game players, both newcomers, and returning players, stating “Xenoblade was the starting point of new growth for Monolith Soft. This work is the culmination of the staff’s determination and hope at the time and those same feelings of the staff today. It shows the future of Monolith Soft. We hope old fans will feel the effort of our staff while new players will get a sense of our future.”
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition will release on May 29 for the Nintendo Switch.