It’s impressive to think of how far the Tales of series has come in the West. There was a time when a copy of Tales of Vesperia would cost you a pretty penny, due to the initial limited print run because of low sale expectations. These days this franchise is so widely known that it is possible for Bandai Namco to make enough copies to satisfy the ever growing demand for new titles.
The latest entry in the series is attempting to inject some new life into the series by making this the first Tales of title with a sole female lead character – Tales of Xillia had a lead female and male character. This character, Velvet, is on a quest for revenge like most JRPG characters seem to be – it’s a good motivational tool to go on a quest. Three years ago Velvet’s life changed forever after she obtained a special power on her left arm under the gaze of a scarlet moon night – this was also most likely the moment that she obtained the reason for her thirst for revenge.
During her quest Velvet will certainly make use of the mysterious power that makes her left arm look like a claw. A disease called Daemonblight is turning people into monsters and this ties in with what happened to Velvet three years back.
Interestingly enough, the continent where this story takes place in is called Glenwood. This could mean that it’s set in the same land and reality that the previous Tales of title, Zestiria, took place in. It would be interesting to find out if the events in Berseria affected the story for Zestiria or vice versa. It’s clear that Bandai Namco has been trying to experiment with connecting Tales of titles after working on direct sequels to titles such as Xillia.
As for the theme for the game, it is one that pits reason against emotion. The logic behind this is that Velvet allows herself to be emotionally compromised in order to fulfil her quench for revenge. Whereas other characters that she meets on her journey will most likely serve as her voice of reason.
There are dynamic weather changes and these are bound to play a part on how the game is played. Velvet and her crew have a ship at their disposal to move about. The areas of this land seen so far consist of lush open environments filled with greenery and other bright scenery.
It’s not a Tales of game if the lead character isn’t accompanied by a group of eccentric characters. First up there is the shy Laphicet who initially is going through depression when Velvet meets him. It’s mentioned that this boy will grow up as the story progresses, both physically and emotionally. Rokurou Rangetsu is a samurai with a debt and just happens to be cursed with the Daemonblight disease. There is potential for some drama if it turns out that Velvet’s current condition has anything to do with the appearance of Daemonblight.
Magilou is a perky witch that enjoys observing the world and those around her. She certainly seems similar to Rita from Tales of Vesperia. Eleanor Hume is a female exorcist and the complete opposite of Velvet. She is classy and yet manages to also find herself in awkward situations due to her clumsy nature. She is a typical good person in the same vein as Estelle from Vesperia and her beliefs will most likely conflict with Velvet’s objective. The final character revealed is the reaper Eizen that prefers to live a solitary existence. There is no doubt that this cast of characters will find themselves clashing on various occasions during the journey in surprising ways. Not to mention the fact that there are many other characters yet to meet.
The game makes uses of the Liberation Linear Motion Battle System (Liberation-LMB) which is an enhanced version of the Zestiria battle system. The main change here is the use of different buttons to assign favourite arts and create all kinds of combos. The goal being that it gives players the freedom to experiment with different combos by having more buttons to use. There is also the promise of an improved camera that makes use of 1 of the analog sticks. But the main focus is to make the battle system as accessible as possible to a wider audience, without sacrificing the depth that experienced gamers will expect from such a prestigious JRPG franchise.
There is a new special “Break Soul” art/move that is activated after earning three or more orbs that appear next to the character icon. As with Zestiria the title benefits from a seamless transition between the world/dungeon and the battle arena. In fact, it literally takes two/three seconds for the transition to take place. There is also a chance that the colour on the PlayStation 4 pad changes depending on the character being used.
Whilst Tales of Berseria is currently scheduled to launch in Japan this August 2016, the West has a tentative release date set for early 2017. Still, it’s a major improvement over previous titles that took years after their original Japanese release to see a Western release. Although only a brief glimpse, there is certainly plenty to think about and just the concept of finally introducing a sole female lead shows that Bandai Namco isn’t afraid of change in order to breath some life into the Tales of series.
Tales of Berseria is scheduled to be released on PlayStation 4 and PC early 2017.