Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition may already be out, but we recently had the opportunity
to interview the developers behind its development including Mr. Yuki Sakamoto and Genki Yokota,
Director and Co-Producer of the game at Nintendo, as well as Tetsuya Takahashi and Shigekazu
Yamada, the Executive Director and Producer at Monolith Soft.
They were kind enough to answer some of our questions about the development and creation
of Definitive Edition, which we’ll be covering here.
However, we’ll also be posting their full responses as a transcript on our Patreon at
the $10 Behind the Scenes level.
And as a reminder, everything we make on Patreon for the month of June will be donated to the
Black Lives Matter Global Network Charity.
With that said, let’s see what we learned about Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition!
For our first question, we asked: When the project started, did you have any specific
goal for the Definitive Edition?
Was there something specific you felt could be improved?
Executive Director Takahashi said that although the game itself holds up rather well to modern
standards, they wanted to focus on making it more playable, easier to understand, and
For example, there are certain bosses where if a certain amount of time passes or the
player loses a certain number of times, a pop-up with tips and tutorials can be accessed
to learn the relevant strategies and upon returning to the game, the player will have
extra help in the form a refilled Party Gauge or something similar.
To make the gamer easier to understand, they focused on the UI and thoroughly reviewed
all the information seen and how it’s navigated in an effort to make everything clearer.
To make it better looking, they focused on the graphical look of the characters, which
was something of a lingering regret for them.
While they still had limitations due to production costs and time, they wanted to make sure to
upgrade the characters and certain features as much as possible within those limitations.
They had overall direction from the producer, Yamada, and the director, Inaba, that drew
a clear line between what was okay to change and what wasn’t.
He remembers making careful decisions about each aspect of the game without anyone feeling
overprotective of anything.
As a follow-up, Co-Producer Yokota stated that when starting this project, they knew
they wanted to target everyone who played Xenoblade Chronicles 2 on Switch and knew
of Shulk from Super Smash Bros., but had never played the original game.
Of course, they wanted to interest people who had never heard of Xenoblade Chronicles
before to try it while pulling in the long-time fans who wanted to play again.
He’d love to see people who never played it before to approach Xenoblade Chronicles
as a brand-new RPG that will look excellent on modern TVs.
And as for the returning fans, they made sure to add additional story content and new gear.
He hopes that people will see this game as the definitive version.
For our second question, we asked: How similar is the Bionis' Shoulder layout to what you
previously envisioned for the original game?
In response, Producer Yamada said that the Bionis’ Shoulder was actually a test map
during the initial development.
Even though it was a rough draft, it did offer some rather panoramic views so they ended
up basing the layout in Definitive Edition almost identically to that rough draft.
However, there are some new caverns and the level design is pretty sophisticated, which
should make it enjoyable to explore.
The biggest change overall was to the town found on the Shoulder.
Next we asked: What was it like revisiting the game after so many years?
Were you surprised about anything in particular?
Executive Director Takahashi responded first, saying that some of the staff who worked on
this game had a hand in creating the Xenoblade series from the beginning, while others joined
during this production or in the latter portion of Xenoblade 2 development.
Despite that, everyone who worked on it felt the same desire to get Xenoblade Chronicles
to as many people as possible.
He wasn’t necessarily surprised by this, but was still very happy to see it.
Co-Producer Yokota felt that it was like being welcomed home again after 10 years.
Whether working on it or playing it again, he’s really happy to feel this excitement
of running around in this world.
He was surprised it had already been 10 years since the Wii version and 5 years since the
3DS, but he believes that’s because he worked on developing Xenoblade X and 2 over that
time so it’s always been with him.
He even got Shulk and some other characters to appear as DLC in Xenoblade 2!
For our fourth question, we asked: On the topic of Definitive Edition, what inspired
the shift in art direction for the character models?
Producer Yamada responded saying that they wanted to make the most out of what they had
built for Xenoblade 2.
The rendering engine is based on the one from that game, which allowed the artists to produce
high-quality visuals as efficiently as possible in a style they’re used to.
But he also wanted the style to have a sense of continuity for players who were introduced
to the series with 2.
The overall policy was to place a high value on the impression created by the original
while maintaining the artstyle’s evolution.
He’d be pleased if people bonded with the new looks as they played.
We then asked: Did the Bionis' Shoulder have a defined role in the original game's story
before it was cut?
The unused version of it had a town, which in a game with only five towns, seems pretty
Executive Director Takahashi reiterated that it was a test map to check how movement distances
felt and what jumping and falling was like, so it wasn’t an important place for the
In fact, at the time, they didn’t have the leeway to create more maps for the Bionis
so the test map was repurposed for a flashback.
That said, it was a really fun map to move around in from a level design perspective
so they brought it back for the epilogue.
Next we posed the question of: What led to the decision to give Xenoblade Chronicles
Executive Director Takahashi pointed to the fact that a lot of people felt bad for Melia.
He may only be half-joking but they wanted something that would be a clear draw to existing
players while also connecting to the future of the series.
Plus, the Shoulder map was already partially completed and just right for the setting.
Director Sakamoto added to this saying that when they were in the early days of development,
their goal was to make it easier for the game to reach the people who got into the series
So they put some ideas into creating an HD version of that original with an overhauled
UI, but they still weren’t sure if that would be enough given a previous port on the
The epilogue was decided upon to make the Switch version more appealing as it would
offer a new area and a new story.
Finally, we asked: Why did you choose Melia to ostensibly be the central character of
And what led to the decision to have only her and Shulk star?
Producer Yamada responded that many people empathized with Melia’s situation.
She lost a lot which left plenty of room for her story to continue.
In addition, that complicated underpinning made her a character that would be fascinating
to delve into.
Another significant factor was that they had already modeled the Shoulder and felt it would
go better if geographically they focused on the High Entia.
Finally, an increase in the number of characters would make the overall volume of Future Connected
too large as each person would need an active role to play.
They consciously minimized that number to flesh out the ones within the story and make
their discussions more in-depth.
Director Sakamoto felt that there was room to envision how Melia would move forward after
the events of the main story.
It also allowed them to show a clearer version of the future in this area.
The characters chosen would focus on Melia’s growth rather than going on a new adventure
with the original cast.
He hopes everyone enjoys how Melia and her family will move forward and grow in the epilogue.
And that’s all the questions we were able to ask of the Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive
Edition development team.
We think it’s a pretty insightful look into the making of this game and Future Connected,
but what about you?
Did this change your perspective at all?
Let us know in the comments and be sure to subscribe to GameXplain for more on Xenoblade
and other things gaming.