In this game, remember the wise words of Olmec: The choices are yours, and yours alone.
Bandai Namco's next entry in the Tales series offers something not usually seen in this franchise: a sequel. Now, before you fans start gathering your pitchforks, I mean a "sequel" considered in the main line of Tales games, not the “escort” games. The upcoming Tales of Xillia 2 is one such title and only the second direct sequel in the core lineup of games.
Though Tales of Xillia 2 will be released to English-speaking audiences on August 19, 2014, the game has been released in Japan for over a year and a half, and just now is finding its way to Western shores. The game takes place about a year after the first Tales of Xillia, with the two countries of Rieze Maxia and Elympios living under unified rule. While Rieze Maxia was a brighter, more fantasy-like realm, the team at Bandai Namco said they enjoyed the fact that Tales of Xillia 2 took on a darker, more brooding approach, almost in the direction of film noir.
As new protagonist Ludger Kresnick, players can explore Elympios, revealing a grittier, urban landscape as opposed to the first Xillia game. During this, he will stumble upon Elle Mel Marta, a young girl who becomes bonded with Ludger at a nearby train station during an attack. If the names sound familiar, it's because their names that appeared during the first game, though their roles may be not in the same capacity. But rest assured, Bandai Namco says that having played through the first Tales of Xillia may help players grasp the references, it isn't necessary to play or appreciate the game.
Gameplay feels like other Tales titles, with a familiar but tighter battle system, renamed the “Cross Duel Raid Linear Motion Battle System,” but it also makes use of a “Weapon Swap System” for Ludger, who can equip three different types of weapons and swap in battle on the fly. Linking together with your allies will also raise your Affinity with them, which may unlock new moves or secrets down the line.
A critical element new to Tales of Xillia 2 are the moments of choice Ludger is faced with from time to time. Flashed as a “this or that” kind of moment, Ludger's responses will affect the game in some way, be it simply the immediate moment or a moment down the line; it may also affect characters' opinions of him or influence the direction of the game itself. These choices, developers say, are critical to the game and give the player more control of the storyline.
Tales of Xillia 2 goes straight for the heart of JRPG fans, offering anime-style graphics and a deep, absorbing storyline that will keep players locked in. The game releases exclusively on PlayStation 3 in North America on August 19, 2014 and will also offer a collectible edition, including the game, soundtrack, art book, a Ludger Kresnik figure, a replica of Ludger's pocket watch, costume DLC packs, and a charm of Rollo, Ludger's adorable cat. The collector's edition has an MSRP of $129.95 and will launch the same day.