Now I have to be completely clear when I say this: Xenoblade Chronicles, as a series, has eclipsed modern Final Fantasy. That is what this article is about. I am not referring to retro Final Fantasy or anything before Final Fantasy XII. As a series though, Xenoblade’s quality has eclipsed Final Fantasy; there is no doubt about that. Nothing is more evident than comparing Final Fantasy XV, which masquerades as an “open world”, with Xenoblade Chronicles X or Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Even the first game, after a game-altering event, offered plenty of exploration and incredibly fun and challenging sidequests. Xenoblade is the new Final Fantasy of this generation.

While X was more character-driven (you could argue the characters weren’t interesting, though I disagree), 1 and 2 are plot-driven with some really awesome characters to boot. Even Noctis’ companions are great characters in Final Fantasy XV and Ardyn is a great villain (ohhh Keiji Fujiwara!), but Noctis himself is so bland. The game is hollow, almost a fraud.

Tetsuya Takahashi’s Beginnings

Xenoblade is the New Final Fantasy

Ironically, Tetsuya Takahashi, the brainchild behind all the Xeno games, originally worked for Squaresoft. His first game, Xenogears, was originally considered to be Final Fantasy VII. That would have altered history quite a bit! The heads of Square thought the game’s themes were too complex though. The religious overtones didn’t help matters. Takahashi and his team were still young though, and contrary belief about budget issues, the development team had trouble meeting the two-year development cycle. That’s why the second disc is gutted, but a cult classic was still born.

Takahashi was still young though. He went on to create Monolith Soft and left Square. He came up with the Xenosaga series, which was meant to span multiple episodes and be a spiritual successor to Xenogears, but in Takahashi’s eyes, the games were a failure.

We released three games in the Xenosaga series, but they weren’t very well received. It was really mortifying. All of the young team members felt that way, not just the leaders. So we all decided, ‘Next time we need to make a game that players will enjoy.’ So that made the atmosphere during the Xenoblade Chronicles development very different compared to other games.

We began Monolith Soft in 1999, with funding from Namco before they became Bandai Namco. The first game we made was Xenosaga, but because we were developing it while we were building the organization, we didn’t have enough people. The programmers and the planners were all rookies. At the time, the director of Xenoblade Chronicles and Xenoblade Chronicles X,  [Koh] Kojima, had just joined the company right after graduating college.”

Xenoblade is the New Final Fantasy

“And, it’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but the graphics engine was only completed six months before the development deadline. That’s the schedule we were on. So—and this is a bit of an excuse—but at the time, I felt that because no one on the team making Xenosaga had any experience, it might be a little too difficult for us to make our ideal game yet.

While the stories of the games were incredible, the execution was lacking and the third game was the only one that was enjoyable from a gameplay-standpoint. Sorya Saga, Takahashi’s wife, also claims that after the story was meddled with in production and Bandai Namco took her off the project in the middle of Xenosaga: Episode II. The saga was changed forever. She was the scenario writer of the series.

Xenosaga was canceled after its third game, which was actually pretty good and was a fitting conclusion to the saga. After this, Nintendo bought Monolith Soft, and a new era was born. Takahashi began work on Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii.

Xenoblade versus Final Fantasy

xenoblade is the new final fantasy

The Xenoblade games are all open-world. They lack the “illusion” Final Fantasy XV has, which claims to be open-world but in reality the world is barren and you spend most of your time in a car driving along a road. Sure, there is some exploration, but it was not as advertised. It pales in comparison to Xenoblade, and while not as linear as its predecessor, it is a rather linear game with few rewarding sidequests. Xenoblade puts Final Fantasy to shame in this respect, and reviewers even agree. While Final Fantasy XV received an 81 score on MetacriticXenoblade Chronicles received a 92. This is despite the fact that the graphics were atrocious (they were below PlayStation 2 standards, probably because of the massive world that was created on an underpowered system).

Xenoblade X and Xenoblade 2 are sitting at an 84 on Metacritic, and there’s a chance Xenoblade Chronicles 2 could still rise, as not all reviews are in. Xenoblade Chronicles X has a user score of an 8.9, which is close to Xenoblade Chronicles’ 9.0. The games are rife with exploration, especially Xenoblade Chronicles X. It’s sad that IGN claims one of the faults of the game is that “Getting from place to place can be confusing” and that the minimap is junk. The last part is debatable, but it’s called exploration I don’t want a game that holds my hand. Xenoblade 2‘s world is incredible. The exploration and secrets about are so rewarding. Also, there was no problem with lack of direction in Breath of the Wild.

Xenoblade is the New Final Fantasy

Takahashi has gone back to a story-driven game with Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but that doesn’t mean the world isn’t massive. There are plenty of secrets and unlockables to discover that are actually fun. The combat in the series is top-class as well. While the combat system in Final Fantasy XIII is enjoyable, the game is so linear that it’s laughable. It stops being fun. It is not an enjoyable game and the story is incredibly pretentious. Takahashi learned from previous mistakes and his religious and philosophical overtones are much more subtle.

The Bottom Line

Final Fantasy XII had some story problems and many complained about the gameplay. Final Fantasy XIII was a linear mess with an over-pretentious story no one understood with unlikeable characters. Its sequels were not that much better. Final Fantasy XV was better but not nearly as good as advertised. And it was the kind of open-world game that was promised, although it had a great villain in Ardyn.

Xenoblade is the New Final Fantasy

Xenoblade (all three) are superior in every facet: gameplay, exploration, story, combat (XV’s attempt at live-action combat was sad), and the series is filled with endearing characters. Tetsuya Takahashi has crafted some amazing worlds and has finally surpassed the company he left so many years ago. Nintendo is actually incredibly supportive, as opposed to Square and Namco Bandai before them.

Maybe the sales aren’t there yet for the series, but the Xenoblade games are masterpieces. The original had a limited North American release and Xenoblade X came out on a dying system. Both sold over 900,000 (Xenoblade Chronicles sold over one million if you count 3DS sales) copies. The potential is there. It’s not the 6.5 million units that Final Fantasy XV has sold thus far, but Xenoblade is still in its infancy. It doesn’t hurt that this latest game is coming out on the Nintendo Switch, which could eventually eclipse the PlayStation 4 in sales.

Xenoblade is the new Final Fantasy

Tetsuya Takahashi is a genius. As long as Nintendo continues to guide the series, there are no heights that it can’t reach. And that includes surpassing Final Fantasy in quality, which it clearly has from a quality standpoint. The next step is competing with sales numbers, which may be possible on the Nintendo Switch.

  • Nine

    No I don’t think xenoblade is the new final fantasy
    Both games are unique in there own way

    • Zenos71

      It’s obvious that they are two different series. But, you’re missing the point. Xenoblade is a series still in its infancy stage, doing what final fantasy has been falling short on in their most recent games. Giving us large expansive worlds, engaging stories with awesome characters, and lots of content in one package.

      • Morgan

        This. One of the reasons I went into Takahashi’s background was to show how he grew out of the old Square mentality and has now surpassed his former “masters”, so to speak. Although he was with Squaresoft. Square Enix kind of destroyed FF.

      • Nine

        You can have that experience with almost 80% of jrpgs

  • sergel02

    I like Noctis and I really liked the characters in FFXIII too. Xenoblade is good in its own way, but not nearly as good as you make it out Morgan. At least in my opinion of course.

    You kind of sound like a huge fan of Xenoblade which is fine but the article seems to hinge on the negatives you found on the final fantasy games rather than what makes the xenoblade games better. Like why is the story better? Why is the exploration better? What makes the characters more interesting? You don’t really use any of that as the foundation for your positon so it leaves me as a random reader not putting much thought into the point of the article.

    • Morgan

      Noctis IMO was kind of bland and yeah it was about brotherhood, but the overall story was butchered, the combat was not enjoyable, and there was an open-world but it wasnt that fun to explore.

      I actually liked Final Fantasy XIII, but, I also when writing this article looked at it like a critic. The characters, especially Lightning, Snow, Hope, Vanille, etc. were not likeable characters in the least bit, even if I personally did like them. Serah’s my favorite and I personally liked XIII-2 a great deal, but it’s not a fully financed Final Fantasy game.

      Well the story is better not even just because of some amazing plot twists but because it’s ultimately a story about God verus Men. That may seem cliche, but put in Gnosticism and Carl Jung’s philosophy into it and it makes for a fantastic story. There were also toned down hints of this in Chronicles X.

      The exploration is better because you have this massive world right in front of you, not limited by driving in a car. You walk. There is fast travel, and in Chronicles X, as I stated, you get to ride flying Mechs which is incredible. FFXV because incredibly linear, Xenolades exploration isn’t at all and you could spend 200-300 on each game a piece and constantly find something new.

      The characters are more interesting because they are likeable, or sometimes not, but they have a lot more depth. I don’t want to say anything else to possibly spoil stuff, but, especially the first game…it looked worse than a PS2 game (I would know, Xenosaga 3 was one of the last and looks a lot better), yet, the reviews were incredible and there’s a reason Shulk, the protagonist, was in SSB for Wii U and got an amiibo. The characters also have much more interesting and deeper character arcs.

      Now yes I could have mentioned all that, but then the articles turns into probably a 2500 artile which no one will read. I chose to be concise, focus on the strengths of Xenoblade, things that are subjective, like review scores, and numbers; even though xeno’s sales aren’t as strong X sold very well on a dead system. The game could be a real hit, and I have to say it is fantastic.

      but this wasn’t fanboyism, this is was an analysis. Final Fantasy has gone way downhil since FFXII’s development got messed up. X was the last great FF game. It may hold the legacy, but that doesn’t mean it still holds the quality. FFXIII was a poor game and so linear. Final Fantasy XV had the pieces, but it was an unfinished mess and never put them all together, as evidenced of the time jump and how much was actually cut out (read about it).

    • Morgan

      what this article is getting across that quality-wise, of this generation, Xenoblade is the next FF (pre XII) because of again quality and nothing else. FF doesn’t rule the RPG genre anymore and hasn’t for quite a numbe of years. As a fan of the series it has been a reallyl sad decline.

      • pmcollectorboy

        Personally I think the new king of jrpgs is the Persona franchise, but that’s because the modern settings and the themes of socializing and doing ordinary teen things, after fighting monsters, resonate more with me.

        • Morgan

          have you played SMT IV? God the 3DS had so many incredible RPGs…but SMT V for the Switch may be right up your alley, if you have one or eventually plan to get one.

      • LightningFarron19

        Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XV are better than FF1, FF2, FF3, FF5, FF8, FF11, FF12, FF14. I would not be suggesting that anything pre-12 was automatically good,

        FF12 in of itself is an incomplete offline MMO that had to be overhauled in the IZJS then took 10 years to get to the west. In other words, it took 3 tried in FF12 to get something competent where it took FF13 and FF15 one try.

  • dsDoan

    This article is misleading, without mentioning Final Fantasy XV’s development history, which explains why the game turned out the way it did, and why it should not be used as an example to represent the series: FFXV is a rehash of another game. It was a mistake to title FFXV as a main-series game, which it was not developed to be, in the first place, rather than a spinoff, and it does not indicate SE’s efforts on the main series.

    While I am not defending FFXV (I view it as a lackluster disappointment, and my least favorite of the main series), I am hopeful it remains a one-time blemish on an otherwise amazing series. Final Fantasy is in a transitional phase. FFXVI, whenever the hell that releases, will indicate whether or not Final Fantasy deserves to be included among modern, revered RPGs. Meanwhile, I’m going to pretend FFXV never happened.

    • Morgan

      No. I’m sorry but that’s not the way it works. It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t meant to be FFXV at first, that’s what it was. After the XIII saga, honestly, and it WAS developed to be a mainstream game. Development like stopped on the game for a while as far as I know and when they started back up and changed a LOT, it became FFXV.

      I mean That’s great you’re choosing to forget it happened, I perosnally wish we got FFXIII Versus because that would have been wayyy better if Nomura didn’t leave and the story would have actually made sense, but it’s all said and done now and Square Enix spoke. I really hope they go back to the drawing board for 16, if thats their next mainstream game. But with the “success” of XV, I fear they’re just going to want more of that. Which worries me.

      Square is more of a cash cow now, aside from a few games, rather than a game developer/publisher. I mean the best FF games to come out in recent memories are all the remasters they’ve put out of X, XII, VII on the way, there was III on the DS…probably some more…the original II was fun but not deep on the DS (we never got it originally.)

      Honestly it’s sad. I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s. I love classic FF. Enix destroyed Square IMO.

      • David Pletcher

        The problem is everyone has opinions id prefer final fantasy over xenoblade chronicles why one not everyone can afford a shiny new switch to play xenoblade chronicles 2 second square enix has other series beside final fantasy one which has a cult following and that’s star ocean hell Valkyrie profiles was good two and three you downgrade 15 xenoblade compares nothing to the story of ff14 which is going head to head with wow at the moment technically ff14 a realm reborn is a modern final fantasy game

        • Morgan

          Star Ocean is horrible. It’s not about being ale to have a switch to play; that has nothing to do with anything. FFXIV is an MMO therefore in my mind it does not count. Most, including myself, play single-player RPGs.

  • pmcollectorboy

    I didn’t give two craps about the Saga era, but Gears defined my post-FFVII teen years. It hit all the standard, emotion affecting RPG beats in daring ways few other games tried. I should know, because I played its total opposite, Thousand Arms.
    I just got started with XCX. Even though it’s no Xenogears, it’s still bonkers fun and more than makes up for Saga.

    • Morgan

      I view Saga as like, a great story which is poorly told (the last two) with a really shitty second game. A lot of this was Bandai Namco’s fault though with their meddling.

      Regardless Takahashi has made some of the greatest RPGs, in my opinion, of all time. I actually posted my old review of X (got that from Nintendo) at a start-up outlet I basically shaped. IMO it was one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played.

      I liked how Xenoblade is so varied. The first game actually greatly resembled Xenosaga, but without spaceships or like Jesus or the Zohar,. but thematically and even with two of the main characters and their crazy abilities. But then to go to a game like Xeno X, and now Xenoblade 2…Takahashi’s a genius, that’s all I’ll say. I’m not saying this as a blind fanboy, Takahashi has grown into this incredible developer when Square Enix is taking 10 years to release a game that became FFXV which ended up being much less than setallar.