If there is one thing I love to do in JRPGs (apart from playing the stories, of course), it’s completing the various side quests throughout the world. It’s a good way to get EXP, get some good gear, stock up on money, and potentially come across secret or rare items. Many people will rely on grinding and rushing through the game to complete it as quickly as possible, but I prefer to do as much and sink as many hours into the game as I can.
Enter Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition, a re-release of a game that initially came out in Japan on Wii in 2010 and later on 3DS in 2015, and one that I have never played.
The game puts you in control of Shulk, the typical JRPG hero that finds himself orphaned at an early age and is the only person in the world able to wield the one weapon that can save humanity from destruction.
The JRPG uses a unique combat style similar to what you might see in Final Fantasy VII Remake, where you constantly need to move around, attack, and use abilities that are charged up over time to get EXP to level up so you can move onto the next area.
The story is a pretty simple one, too. A story of revenge as you and a group of six try to take on armies of enemies who are destroying the last remnants of humanity for reasons unknown.
Even though I have played and very much enjoyed the “sequel” Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which had some of the best and most thrilling side missions in RPG history, I went into Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition with little to ow knowledge of what I was getting myself into. So I was well up to doing everything and anything the game asked of me.
Then I got to Colony 9.
Straight away my map was bombarded with about half a dozen “!” icons, each asking me to complete a mundane task like killing a monster, finding an item, or delivering an item to some other NPCs. Cut forward and time passed on the map, and more NPCs and more quests appeared, without end in sight. To top it off, I had no idea that some quests were time-based—woe is me.
Before even getting my first party member, I had already obtained a ridiculous amount of subquests to complete. More than I could handle or figure out what to do with.
Being the completionist I am, though, the one thing I know for sure is that I have to complete these before I can leave the area. By now I have spent five hours in the game, and I’ve only just got my second party member and advanced the story briefly. I am still yet to leave Colony 9. I am level 20, and I don’t think I should be that over-leveled, yet here I am.
It feels like there is no end, and I fear I won’t be able to actually progress through the story unless I give up on my stubborn ways and leave many of the side quests behind. They say that too many options aren’t a bad thing, but I can only take so many NPCs who offer me one quest, then instantly offer me another three afterward.
At this point, I’d kill for a bit of variety. Something memorable, like in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 when certain side quests would leave lasting memories of well-designed characters and subplots with great rewards that help you to complete and conquer the game far better than how things might have gone if you hadn’t found them.
Even without that, though, I am still here, grinding away at quest after quest until I can finally say I’ve completed them all. Then, I need to head to the next place the story is sending me… and I’m already worried about how many more of the same subquests await me when I get there.
Something’s telling me that, unless I ditch my subquest completionist policy, I won’t be finishing the game anytime soon.