Please bring the two Tales of Xillias to PS4!

Or why I didn’t like Tales of Zestiria — at all

I’m a huge Tales of fan. I played all the Tales of games I could get my hands on.

It all started with Tales of Symphonia on the GameCube. It was love at first sight. I was overjoyed when they made the PS3 port. 
Tales of the Abyss remains my all-time favorite, with Symphonia and the two Tales of Xillia and Tales of Graces f in tow. Bamco has my deepest gratitude for making a Nintendo 3DS port of Abyss. 
I bought an XBox360 just so I could play Tales of Vesperia — the one Tales of with the best graphics of all time, in my opinion. And the coolest badass main character in all of the Tales of games history {yes, Yuri Lowell, I’m thinking of you}.

Characters from Abyss, Graces, Vesperia and Xillia ❤️

Tales of Eternia on PSP was a difficult game to play and I actually never cleared it, but it was a good game, it had a nice story and a cast of interesting characters. On PSP I enjoyed Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology too.

Tales of Phantasia has a special place in my heart. I played it on a SNES emulator on my laptop in my early twenties and later when it came out I bought the GBA version, but that first playthrough on the emulator created a permanent memory. It was the first Tales of game and it was such a good game.
Heck, I even played Tales of Legendia, as flawed as that game was.
I have yet to play Tales of Hearts R, it’s on my PSVita hard drive and I’ll play sometimes when I find the time to finish the Hyperdimension Neptunia games and Bravely Second End Layer.
So if I had to make a list of my favorite Tales of games it would look like this:

  • Tales of the Abyss
  • Tales of Xillia
  • Tales of Xillia 2
  • Tales of Graces f
  • Tales of Vesperia
  • Tales of Symphonia

Not necessarily in that order. I mean, there is not first/second/third place. They all stay at the top for me.

You notice Tales of Zestiria isn’t mentioned, yes? That’s because as much as I love the two Tales of Xillia, I strongly dislike Tales of Zestiria. Zestiria came out for both Ps3 and Ps4 and there was much commercial fanfare all around it. Now it’s hard for a Tales of game not to meet my expectations, but Zestiria failed big time.
Tales of Xillia and its sequel had all that I would expect from a Tales of game: an interesting story, nice characters I could form a bond with, a beautifully crafted world {though not as beautiful as Vesperia’s}, an innovative yet traditional battle and gameplay system and lots of replay value. I’ll talk about it in more depth in a review later on.

Tales of Xillia

I’m much disappointed that such beautiful games aren’t getting a Ps4 makeover, since it really is a shame they would die together with the Ps3 {I kept my Ps3 and it’s still functional so I can play them whenever I want but it still upsets me that they weren’t ported over to Ps4 like Zestiria did}.

So why did Zestiria make such a bad impression on me? And mind, I have played through the story at least once; couldn’t bear to play it again though. As much as I am trying to get through the game again, I just can’t seem to enjoy it enough to bother.
At first glance, there’s nothing wrong with how Zestiria looks and feels. The visuals are gorgeous as expected from a Tales of game, the controls feel nice and slick, the combat system is an improvement on the Evolved Flex Range Linear Motion Battle System (EFR-LMBS) first introduced in Tales of Vesperia and then adapted with few tweaks and original mechanics through Graces f and Xillia, navigating the menus is intuitive even for a non-RPG/non-Tales of fan. It has all the basic elements to make it a great Tales of game. Safe for the most crucial: story and characters.

Evolved Flex Range Linear Motion Battle System (EFR-LMBS) in action

In Tales of games — well in RPGs in general, story and characters are the most important elements, they are what makes the game; even a game with the worst mechanics can be a good game with the right story and characters.

At first glance Zestiria looks good.

Tales of Zestiria completely fails to deliver when it comes to story and characters. It has the most uninteresting story in the history of the Tales of games {as far as it goes for the games I have actually played; I’m still missing some} and the most obnoxious, insufferable characters ever, except for Edna. 14 hours into the game I still fail to make any kind of connection with them.

Playing through the story feels like a chore. It doesn’t really seem to pick up pace: it’s just go there, do this and repeat. And all the while, I have to endure through a wealth of cutscenes, dialogues and skits that put my patience to the test. Second time around I’m tempted to just skip through. Especially Lailah with her bad puns and unbearable sing-songs — she drives me up the wall.

Most of Lailah’s dialogue are written… like this one 😰

So, yeah, with Zestiria, Namco screwed up big time. At least that’s what I think. Of course this is my humble, personal opinion so feel free to disagree.

But I’d play the two Xillias and other Tales of titles I loved ten times over rather than suffering through Zestiria.

I hope Tales of Berseria will be an enjoyable game — though the title makes me wonder how did they come up with it.