How Tales of Arise restarts the classic RPG series

When Tales of Arise was first unveiled back in 2019, fans wondered if Bandai Namco was creating an open world relaunch of the cult RPG series. It’s certainly a modern move among Japanese games these days, and the legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Elden Ring are just two examples. But while producer Yusuke Tomizawa says the relaunch is “the correct description of this title,” it’s closer to the original game than you might think. The comic sketches are back, the persistent Motoi Sakuraba will deal with the soundtrack again, and the fight will resemble previous games in the franchise. In this sense, it is probably more appropriate to call it “refreshing” than restarting; an opportunity to alleviate the franchise fatigue that has crept in after eight games in nine years, increase the presentation and expand beyond the cult fan base that has been created around the series.

Tales of Arise will mark the series’ debut on the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 (Tomizawa could not comment on the possibility of a Switch release in one way or another), fixing previously squeaky graphics with Unreal Engine 4. It will also feature a fully orchestrated background music, giving Sakuraba the soundtrack a sense of prestige. They will try to bridge the gap between the old and the new, dragging the sometimes formative series into the new age.

“We really wanted to send a message to international players and fans that with this release we will really make progress and push the envelope and the whole concept of the game,” Tomizawa told IGN. “The visuals, the aesthetics and all that stuff are evolving, but we also keep a lot of things that everyone has known and loved over the years. So it’s also a relaunch in the sense that we want former Tales fans to come back to this game, as well. attract new players with this amazing new graphics, visuals, aesthetics and all those good things. “

“Stunning” might be too strong an adjective for the Tales of Arise graphics, but they certainly represent a dramatic improvement over previous games in the series, which have relied on the same graphics engine for years. The impression it gives is that Tales, well, the game of Tales, is full of exaggerated anime flowers that should go well with fans. While we’re not yet fully acquainted with the new game, it’s easily the most watched entry into the series to date.

The Tales series will also benefit if you take a little break. Until recently, Namco Bandai supplanted Tales games on an almost annual basis, making the series sometimes feel outdated. Tales of Arise represents the biggest gap ever between the Tales edition, and the last major edition is the 2016 Tales of Berseria. Even before the pandemic, it was delayed because of what Tomizawa called “a lot of quality issues,” as well as a desire to run on next-generation consoles. The extra work seems to have paid off, giving Tales of Arise a feeling of varnish that the series lacks late.

The same can be said for a fight that had a “major revision,” Tomizawa says. Although it maintains an arena-based combat system from previous games, “it will really improve the players’ input loop and feedback and how the controls feel.” It will include a system of avoidance and suppression similar to that in Tales of Graces, which Tomizawa calls “very highly rated” for his struggle, as well as the ability to actively switch between party members, which has its own “unique, interesting mechanics.”

We still haven’t actually seen the fight in action, but the new Tales of Arise trailer suggests it will put a lot of emphasis on colorful super attacks. One thing they won’t have, however, is multiplayer. With a few exceptions, the ability of multiple players to control the characters was a key feature going back all the way to the original Tales of Destiny, so removing it is a pretty big deal for the series.

Asked about the decision to cut Tales of Arise for multiplayer, Tomizawa says, “So this game is really a standalone game where one person really enjoys the drama and overall story of the game, we don’t have any plans for multiplayer mode at the moment. But with on the other hand, we focused on how the characters work together and how they collaborate in battle and how it’s played in game mechanics. “

It turned out that the struggle comes to the fore when it comes to Tales of Arise. This should probably come as a surprise given Tomizawa’s history with God Eater, a Monster Hunter contestant known for fast fighting. Tomizawa talks a lot about wanting to focus heavily on the intensity of the fight, which is one of the reasons the Tales of Arise will one day switch to battlefields instead of staying on the field. It will also be relatively linear in its progress, although Tomizawa promises to include a “bunch of side quests,” as well as sub-routes and detours.It is interesting to imagine what could have happened. According to Tomizawa, the team did experiment with the open version of Tales of Arise, but eventually decided to stick to a more linear format.

“We were actually debating whether to go with the open world concept or the linear concept. It was something in the early stages that we really had a back-and-forth debate about. We actually ran tests that simulate both situations and eventually came to the conclusion that we, as we mentioned, for the reasons we want players to focus, they went with the linear option, ”Tomizawa explains. “We thought this was the best way for players to really enjoy what Tales of Arise was doing. Again, the story, the character development, all those good things, we thought it was the best way to deliver that way of playing to the player.”

Well, not every RPG needs to be an open world, especially given the comparisons it would inevitably call for the hugely successful Genshin Impact. But if the Tales series really wants to reach an international audience, some form of open research is probably needed. But in the meantime, a focused experience is certainly welcome, especially if Tales of Arise manages to improve the dark dungeon-like corridors from previous games.

If Tales of Arise manages to attract a new audience, it can be thanked for the decision to move to next-generation PCs and consoles, the improved graphics, and the fact that anime is generally in vogue today. Genshin Impact, Persona 5, and even Atelier Ryza have shown how successful anime RPG can be in the five years since the release of Tales of Berseria. It is high time that Tales of Arise lead the honorary series into the future.

We will soon know if it is successful. Tales of Arise launches Sept. 10 on Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4, PS5 and PC.

Kat Bailey is a senior editor at IGN. She is known for worrying too much about RPGs.