The fourteenth core game in the Tales series, Tales of Xillia 2 follows the success of the original game, taking place only a year after the events that transpired in Tales of Xillia. If you’ve played Xillia, you’ll easily recognize some of the included locations and characters. Bandai Namco continues to make improvements to the battle system, which along with the narrative are the strongest aspects of the Tales series.
The narrative for Xillia 2 is much more fulfilling than the original, as you’ll be exploring alternate timelines and building upon character relationships. Although the two main characters Ludger and Elle are new, you’ll interact with returning faces and even the main protagonists (Jude & Millia) from Xillia. Only briefly playing the original, I didn’t feel particularly attached to these characters, but due to the interaction, you may want to play through the original to see how the characters evolve.
Xillia 2 continues the real-time action battles the series is known for, allowing you to either run in a 2D plane or in full 3D by holding down one of the buttons. The battles rarely feel dragged out, and keep the fast-paced action motif through the entire game. Ludger is capable of switching weapon types on the fly, which comes in handy as you learn what weapons work best to take down the different enemy types. From the outset, you’ll only be able to wield bladed weapons, but once you progress through Ludger’s chapters, you’ll unlock the ability to yield powerful war hammers and ranged pistols.
Gone is the grid based Illium Orb upgrade system from the original, allowing you to spend points earned by leveling up. Instead you’ll be equipping special items that will teach you new Artes maneuvers and skills over time, as long as the item remains equipped. Thankfully you find new items that you’ll want to equip that may overlap with current ones, so you won’t have to abandon learning something just because you found a new item. Although you no longer have control over the development of the characters stats, the new system fees more convoluted, forcing you to spend more time managing items.
Attempting to add meaning and reason to the monotony of side quests, Xillia 2 takes a new approach to how they are handled. Instead of interacting with random townsfolk, you’ll be grabbing quests from job boards. In order to pay off the debt acquired at the start of the game, you’ll be taking on massive bosses, collecting resources and hunting a set number of enemies. They aren’t really optional, as you’ll be required to pay off the debt before moving on. I won’t spoil the narrative reasons for the debt, so you’ll have to experience it first hand.
Xillia 2 feels more like an extension of the original than a full blown sequel, sharing many aspects from the original such as locations, visual assets, music and characters. You’ll also be exploring the same places multiple times, but thanks to a great battle system and interaction between the characters, Xillia 2 will please fans of the series.
Note: The Tales of Xillia 2 review was written based on a retail PlayStation 3 version of the game.