Xenoblade Chronicles: Future Connected – Expectations Managed

Xenoblade Chronicles: Future Connected is an epilogue story campaign set after the events of Xenoblade Chronicles’s main story. It is included for free in Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition. For my review of Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition’s main story, click here.

So like in Torna: The Golden Country, Monolithsoft went through the process of making yet another DLC campaign for their main game that’s about as long as a normal video game. I can’t believe it with these guys. How do they make so much content and keep their sanity?

Without spoiling the events of the main story, big changes happen to Bionis and the old party members are left with rebuilding their world. During this development, Shulk and Melia discover Melia’s old hometown, Alcamoth, on the Bionis’s shoulder. Unfortunately, they become stranded on the shoulder, where they learn about a new threat that could undo all their work from the previous game. Shulk and Melia play just like they did in the main story, with the same attacks and movements, though you cannot carry over whatever levels you gained previously.

Along for the ride are Riki’s children, Kino and Nene, who stowaway on your ship before becoming stranded with you. Kino and Nene join your party and become Nopon versions of Reyn and Sharla, becoming your Tank and Healer characters, respectively. Their arts are essentially the same, they just have different names. They’re definitely cute and they have their tender moments, but they are overall flat characters that don’t add much to the experience.

In fact, almost no characters develop at all, save for Melia. As she returns to Alcamoth, she has to relive the trauma of the main campaign, and most of the journey is her finding closure with that. It’s good writing for Melia, but not so much for everyone else. For people who probably shipped Melia with Shulk, I’m sad to say that they are back to being platonic friends, with no reference to any possible romantic involvement whatsoever. But even though I shipped them on my first playthrough, I thought the two main party members still had a genuine friendship. Whatever went on between them beforehand, they’re both over it now.

The plot of the story is a self-contained event that, at the moment, doesn’t seem to tie into the events of any of the other Xenoblade games. If you thought that Future Connected meant that it was connecting to future games like Xenoblade Chronicles 2, I’m sorry to say that “future” in this case was more like the characters figuring out how to move on in their own personal futures. I feel like if you’re a big Xenoblade fan, you need to know that going into the game, in order to keep your expectations in check.

So what does Future Connected give you instead? Well, you have a massive open area on the Bionis’s shoulder. This area was actually cut from the original game, and Monolithsoft decided to use it as the template for this story. As usual there are several beautiful vistas to discover, as well as lore-ridden ruins that reveals some of the obscure details of the world’s history. Like the original game, everything I feel about this campaign still stands — the world design is beautiful, the quest design is flaccid, and the combat is incredibly fun, with a few wrinkles that I think perfectly suit a DLC story.

The first big change is the Nopon Prospectors. They are Nopon dressed in Boy Scout uniforms that, upon fulfilling their quests, actually join your party and offer a small boost to your combat capabilities. Chain Attacks are replaced with All-Out Attacks where the Nopon Prospectors assist you and you decide what additional effect they give — increased damage, status effects, or party healing. The more Nopon Prospectors you convince to join you, the better off you will be in battle. I liked finding these little guys and having this long-running sidequest throughout the campaign, similar to the Colony 6 Reconstruction in the main game.

Several other systems have been streamlined from the main game — ether gems can be directly mined, for example, and there’s no affinity system. Heart-to-Hearts are instead Quiet Moments that don’t offer any other benefit outside of just watching cute moments between characters. The combat is largely unchanged, though there is a new enemy type that adds a satisfying challenge.

Overall this is my least favorite campaign in the Xenoblade series, but my least favorite Xenoblade is still leagues above many, many other games that I’ve played. It’s a welcome addition to Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition; as long as you keep your expectations in check, you’re going to enjoy yourself.

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