|Dev: Namco Bandai|
|Pub: Namco Bandai|
|Release: August 19, 2014|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Spikey hair! Melodrama! Real time battle systems with long names! Yep, it’s another JRPG, a direct sequel to Bandai Namco’s best-selling Tales of Xillia. We have been waiting for Tales of Xillia 2 patiently here in the states for some time and now we finally got a chance to see it in action on the E3 2014 show floor. Here’s what we took away from our trip to Elympios.
If that name didn’t sound familiar to you, then here’s the deal. There are two worlds, Elympios and Rieze Maxia. A long time ago, the two worlds were separated. Everyone who had the ability to commune with the spirits and use magic was sent to Rieze Maxia. Everyone else was quarantined on Elyumpios, unable to use the natural powers of mana, and forced instead to develop high technology. These two worlds were kept separate for ages, until your party rammed their collective fist through the barrier in the first Tales of Xillia.
The game follows two protagonists, Ludger Kresnik and Elle Mel Marta, though you won’t be able to control Elle like you did with Milla in Tales of Xillia 1. They both meet up on a train that gets hijacked, crashes, and ends up injuring our protagonists. They receive medical treatment from the Spirius corporation and end up several billion dollars in debt. Now they must search for the hijacker all while attempting to pay down their debt to the Spirius corporation.
The debt, in this game is actually a main gameplay mechanic. The world is “open” in a sense, in that you can travel anywhere, even to the games end, right from the outset. That is, you can if you had the money. Your contract with the Spirius corporation actually prevents you from traveling much at all, for fear of welching on your debt. So to unlock new areas of the world to travel you have to pay down your debt first.
Unfortunately, this means that there are some clear roadblocks in the game. Sometimes the main story will take you to a new part of the world, but if you haven’t paid down your debt enough to access that area of the world, then you will be stuck. You’ll have to either grind for cash or complete side quests to be able to move forward. This is a shame because it means that there is absolutely no mainlining the game. You either have to be an obsessive grinder or an obsessive side quester and nothing in between.
On the upside, side quests are much easier to complete this time around. The mini-map has evolved quite a bit to show you what side quests are available, where you have to go to complete them, and who you have to talk to in order to turn them in. Even if you can’t find any side quests there are a number of plot related quests you can get simply from talking to your party members. This will both shed light on their past and earn you rewards, if you can’t be bothered to go side-quest hunting.
The big theme in Tales of Xillia 2 is choice. Many times Ludger will be given a choice between two important options in conversation. At each choice, the story will branch off and go in different directions. The player eventually realizes that this is splitting off new timelines every time a choice is made. Time travel eventually gets involved and everything gets very, very complicated.
Luckily battle isn’t that complicated. It’s basically the exact same realtime system from Tales of Xillia 1 except this time around the main character, Ludger, can switch between three different weapon sets at the push of a button. He can do this mid combo, and you will need to do so in order to utilize the full potential of the character.
Unfortunately, the link system does make a return, and this bodes ill for anyone who is playing the game in multiplayer. Once again, when you link with another character, that character becomes controlled by the A.I. and you fight as a team. This allows you to eventually build the link gauge, use link artes, and mystic artes. Unfortunately, this means that control over the linked character is taken away if that character was being controlled by another player. So once again Tales of Xillia will be a two player game, at most, disappointing the multiplayer crowd.
Tales of Xillia 2 certainly looks fun. At the very least it will satisfy anybody who liked the original. It’s just a bit disappointing that the developers didn’t fix the glaring errors with the way the link system interacts with multiplayer. Also, the idea that the entire game is governed by a debt system is… questionable. I am already burdened with student debt and medical bills in real life. I don’t need to be reminded of it in my JRPGS. However, your mileage may vary. You might be a person with no friends to play with whose parents paid their way through college. You probably won’t have any problem with the game at all, and to be fair most of the Tales fan-base won’t either.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: June 13, 2014