Namco Bandai announced European release of Tales of Xillia in 2013.
Tales of Xillia English localization in 2013
Is this game any good? Honestly thought graces f was terrible. I may be over this franchise since it doesn't seem to evolve at all.
Hopefully nobody minds the bump, but I actually just started playing the Japanese version of Xillia last night (I've had a copy lying around since last year) and, by and large, I'm finding it pretty enjoyable so far about seven hours in. Jury's still kind of out for me on the changes to the battle system, if only because it takes a while to adjust to and I'm still figuring out how much an impact they really have on things compared to previous systems, but aside from that, there are a good number of mechanical improvements and additions that make it feel like a pretty refined experienced from at least a gameplay perspective. I can't really compare it to Graces since I barely played any of the original Wii version years ago, but as somebody whose last real run with the series was Vesperia, I'm by and large enjoying it. If you've got anything you'd like to specifically ask about, I'll try to answer any questions you have to the best of my ability. I'll probably end up doing a review of it after it's all said and done, if only to make the most of how much I paid for the thing before the price dropped fiercely in Japan.
@Pepsiman: Thanks Pepsi! I have a couple of questions for ya so here we go. Is the story any good or at least the characters? My main problem with Graces was how unlikable all the characters were and how slow it started up. Is the story annoying or is it bearable? What big changes has the combat had in Xilla? What big changes are there in Xilla? I really liked Vesperia so hopefully I can enjoy another Tales game. My main hopes are that it isn't too slow and that it evolves from previous Tales games. Thanks once again Pepsi for helping me out!
@Phatmac: Happy to be of assistance. As I wrote, I'm only about seven hours into the game so far, so in terms of story, I'm still getting to know the characters and figuring out how I feel about them. Some people apparently find their antics off-putting later on, but where I'm at, they and the overarching plot seem mostly fine so far. It has the requisite talking creature that makes me want to do terrible things to it, but it's gotten minimal screen time thus far, so the damage caused by him is little. If 8-4 (I'm assuming they're the ones doing the localization again since they've been hyping up a "secret project" for some time) have sense like they usually do in their work, then they'll probably at least manage to find a voice actor who can churn in a less grating performance for that character in particular. Everybody else seems interesting enough so far and the dynamics between the party members I've had up until now are pretty amusing and, in a few skits, have managed to make me laugh. The overarching plot thus far has covered a lot of similar ground that's already been seen in stuff like Symphonia, Abyss, and Vesperia, but it being an RPG and all, I'm willing to give it more time for it to show its true colors.
As for the changes, here's the basic gist of the major stuff in bullet points so I don't get carried away with paragraphs upon paragraphs:
- Selectable "protagonist." At the start of the game, you have your choice between Jude, a 15 year-old naive medical student, and Milla, a 20 year-old girl who knows her way around spirit summoning. I put protagonist in quotes because while Namco is happy to market the game as having two distinct storylines, the reality is more like you're selecting which character's story you'll see when the plot branches off on occasion. To my knowledge, this naturally means different introductory sequences and some other scattered sequences here and there, but otherwise they tend to be in the same scenes by and large from the sound of things. That's certainly been the case with my game thus far. Naturally, this doesn't affect who you can actually play as in combat; I picked Jude, but since I'm terrible with with anybody who isn't using something resembling a sword in Tales games, I quickly switched over to Milla so I could be in my happy place.
- The "Link" system. As is the case in Tales games, Xillia features a slightly new spin on its combat system dubbed the Link system. Basically, what it boils down to is the ability for you or the AI to select a partner in battle at any given time. While they'll still largely be governed by whatever you set their AI parameters to do, they'll also do things like flank enemies your targeting to get critical hits, take blows for you, and include you in the effects of healing spells (presumably when they're not already an AOE variety). Naturally, this also means that they'll team up to do special attacks that tie into your Overlimit meter, with the type of combo being dependent on what spell you use in tandem with the character you team up with. Since different characters have different elemental affinities, the game actually provides recommendations on the miniature enemy analysis screen who's good for teaming up. The end result of all this has taken a lot for me to get used to, especially since a lot of the basics of the team-up attacks don't seem so profoundly different from other games despite being executed differently, but it's not inherently bad, either. I'm warming up to it as time goes on.
- Speaking of the Overlimit meter, triggering it this time around results in at least you being able to string combos for as long as you like for a limited amount of time without being affected by the typical in-game limits, which are actually spelled out this time with a number next to your character's HP and TP. I presume your other party members are also affected by the Overlimit meter being activated, too, or at least your partner, but Tales combat being what it is, I'm not paying that much attention to so much chaos. Interestingly enough, the meter actually builds up no matter what you do; it doesn't actually deplete at all when you use team-up attacks prior to activating it, although you are limited to turning those on once per level in the meter itself. You're also able to chain multiple team-up attacks together when you've turned on the Overlimit.
- While characters still naturally level up, you actually decide their stat, skill, and tech progression via a grid system not unlike something you'd find in the Digital Devil Saga games. This process can be as automatic or as manual as you like; I personally do the manual progression for Jude so that he's specced the way I want him to be when the plot demands I control him and leave the other characters to the AI, which seem to do a good enough job. The main twist on this system is that the grid is set up such that skill unlocks and whatnot are triggered when you've completed all the nodes to fill up a given rectangle on the grid; beyond how it's implemented visually, this is something that's obviously been done in other games, although it is set up such that you can end up unlocking a lot relatively quickly if you plan things right.
- The game now has a quick save option that you can use at any time. I actually haven't needed to load one, so I can't be entirely certain that it works "as advertised," but I've heard enough anecdotal evidence to believe that it works exactly how you'd expect it. You're only limited to one actual quick save, although you obviously can have more than one regular save.
- Not all skits halt the on-screen action now. While there are still plenty of those that provide more intricate details on characters' and their backstories, you'll fairly often have them start talking amongst themselves automatically while you walk around town. They usually don't say anything particular profound, but they're not irrelevant either.
- Maps have been enhanced to include quick travel to any major locations you've already previously visited. I'm not entirely certain whether or not this has been in other Tales games since I've only played a few of them to completion, but I figured I'd mention it anyway. This was probably implemented because the travelling is no longer done on a large overworld map anymore like a lot of the other games, but through actual roads and whatnot. In practice they're not that much different than what's been seen before, but they're also large enough that the quick travel option is understandable and nice to have. Detailed maps can also be brought up in-city, but again, I'm not entirely sure if this is a new feature per se or if they've just given it extra polish.
- You can get a reminder of your main objective on-screen with the press of a button at any time. The game's tutorials actually try to market this in Japanese as almost a Dead Space-style hit the button and a guide will point you the way sort of deal, but in reality, as far as I can tell, it's just a text prompt that says "go here and do this." It's not an inherently bad thing, obviously, but given that the story log is still very alive and well, it also doesn't otherwise accomplish much, although it is handy for remembering which location you specifically need to go to without pawing through a bunch of menus, I suppose. You can also actually change which objective it displays, too, if you have any active side-quests, but again, it's just a text prompt you can bring up at any given time.
- Shops and their available wares can be leveled up, either by purchasing items naturally or by giving them your various knick-knacks that you'll pick up during your travels. The latter is by far the quicker way to level them up, since the shops will apply multipliers to the values for different types of miscellaneous items that will make their level-up process occur significantly faster. By and large, levelling up shops simply means that you unlock new things to buy, but it also often results in items getting discounted if you level up the shops far enough past the initial point where the items in question unlocked. The levels apply to all shops in the world, although they are broken down into different shop types that have to be leveled up individually (ie: you can have more stuff in your weapon shop, but be lacking in your accessory or food shops).
- Grade points are tied into what's basically an in-game achievement system that's separate from the trophies. Unlike previous Tales games where this was tied to your battle performance in seemingly vague ways, the game actually has a menu that lists the things you need to do to unlock a given achievement and the Grade points that come with it, which is something I greatly appreciate personally. As always, I presume that this all ties into New Game Plus perks.
Okay, so I still got way carried away with paragraphs, but I think that covers the major stuff I've encountered thus far. There's still a chance that there's more new mechanical stuff I haven't uncovered yet since the game is a bit slow with making them all apparent (although not FFXIII slow, by any stretch), but at this point, I doubt I've missed anything too major. I hope all of this is useful information for you!
@Pepsiman: Wooooooooow huge wall of text! Super cool Pepsi thanks! The best thing out of all of this is a quick save option which would evolve the dumb save point that is apparent in all of the Tales games. I like the new level up system which sounds great. The combat also sounds interesting, I should probably see some videos on the combat, but I want to surprise myself if I end up picking it up. Are the skits just in-engine now or at they still the same? What I mean is if they talk in the game or is it still the same skit cutscene stuff? I'm also interested in the two protagonists and perhaps that can persuade me to do 2 playthroughs? I have some other questions which hopefully won't create another huge wall of text. :P How does it look? Is it still in med evil times or what? Also graphically does it look good or what? Also what is the story set up? Does it still have dungeons and is it formatted like other Tales games or is there more of a focus on a bigger open world?
@Phatmac: More bullet points because who needs proper formatting!?
- The skits themselves are still just character portraits talking to each other. When they start talking without you triggering a skit, it's still just your character on the screen and the portraits talking among themselves at the bottom. That's kind of a disappointment since the models are certainly expressive enough within cutscenes that they'd certain have enough emotive room to do skits in-engine, but alas. Don't fix what ain't broken, I suppose, although considering how much else they touched up, I guess one could stand to reason that skits could have maybe been expected to be changed up, too.
- The whole two protagonist thing is definitely designed such that you do two runs through the game, one vanilla and then another with the typical Tales-style New Game Plus perks, which I presume are once again unlocked with the Grade points you accrue in your initial run.
- Xillia employs a cel-shaded graphics engine again, but with a bit more an ornate, hard-edged visual style in comparison to Vesperia's softness and relatively simple texture colorations. It's one of those games where it's relatively easy to nitpick things here and there when everything isn't moving a million miles per hour, especially with regards to the texture quality on certain elements outside of the main cast, but it's otherwise generally really pleasing to look at while you're running around and just taking in the cutscenes. On the plus side, it does lead to a mostly smooth framerate experience both in and out of battle; I've only had it bog down once or twice and it wasn't anything major by any stretch. Internet research tells me that the battles run at 60 and the exploration mode runs at 30 and while I can't quite verify that myself, I'm under the impression those numbers are correct.
- The game's got another one of those sorts of Tales-esque settings where you occasionally see things like computers and whatnot in the world, but the world is still largely driven by magic and otherwise lacks a lot of modern amenities. As for the basic story setup yourself, the game takes place in a world where spirits and humans coexist; so long as the humans pay proper reverence to and take care of the spirits, they're able to tap into mana and utilize magic for whatever purposes they need. Xillia, though, starts off with this balance going out of whack bit by bit. Milla, wanting to prevent things from going dire, tracks down the source of the disturbance to Jude's town and basically to make a (not that) long story short, the two happen to meet up by chance and team up for mutually beneficial reasons, but when the former fails in her mission and loses the ability to summon her spirits, the two are deemed heinous criminals having discovered a major conspiracy and are forced to flee the country. They happen to come upon a delightful mercenary who helps them out and together they basically go off on a search to find a way for Milla to get her spirits back and ultimately go back to finish the initial job. Once again, it's a Tales game that focuses a lot more on interesting character dynamics rather than a ground-breaking plot, but for what it is, it's gotten the job done so far up until where I'm at.
- The overarching structure is actually kind of a mixture of both dungeon crawling and exploring an overworld. The dungeons so far for me have been a bit less blatant about when they start and stop compared to other Tales games; they're definitely there, but the environments transition into them well enough that I at least don't really notice it for a while. When you're travelling, you're doing it basically through segmented zones instead of a map. In practice, it basically works the same as before in terms of how enemy encounters are structured and whatnot, but there are slight environmental traversal elements in place that give you a little more variety than just explicitly moving from point A to B. The big thing that's changed is the scaling, since you're actually walking around at ground level this time. As I mentioned earlier, though, you do have access to a proper fast travel menu for any and all places you've already visited, so you don't have to trudge all the way back and forth.
I think that covers all of your questions. I did test quick saving today and it basically works as suspected. You have to load it manually from the title screen if you want to access that data, but it'll otherwise save your position and status anywhere in the game world from the looks of it. If you've got more questions, I'll keep answering them. As I get more and more into the game, I'm warming up to it a lot more on a mechanical level (I just got a character a few hours ago who really does a good job of teaching how useful the Link system actually is), so I'm looking forward to how it unfolds.
The last anime styled JRPG i played was Star Ocean: The last Hope and it was atrocious, how does the character/story development compare? (Star Ocean was entirely non-sensical)
Is this game entirely story based or are you spending 80% of the game grinding out filler content till you hit a story related event? Ive experienced enough of that from the Atelier games to last me a lifetime.
@Questionable: SO4 was atrocious. The gameplay was great but everything else was just... terrible. Tales, in my eyes, is kind of like a more high-end Star Ocean. There are a lot of tropes and typical JRPG stuff and there is some filler to them. BUT they're better than SO4 and there is not as much filler. The stories and characters are all usually interesting. I found that, out of the 3 Tales games I've played, Vesperia had the best characters, Graces had the best gameplay, Symphonia had the best story. But they're all better than SO4.
Basically, don't let SO4 bog you down from these games. Symphonia, Vesperia, and Graces are all great games. More so Graces. And apparently Xillia is even better than Graces so put this one on your radar.
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