Tales of Xillia 2 – Review
Looking back Tales of Xillia 2 is very much in the same world and the same locations as its predecessor. We were a bit irked at having to go through these areas again. Unlike its predecessor though, there was less foreground to explore prior to getting into the meaty parts of the story. In a sense, you’re thrusted in without much backstory, but those of us that played the first game, we were glad for this, especially since “Tales of” games usually tend to be padded with a lot of back story.
You start out in the world of Elympios with familiar characters. Although you interact with the previous group of adventurers whose story was told and who you controlled, you are not as directly involved with their lives now. Instead, you play as Ludger, who comes into contact with a mysterious young girl Elle. In the beginning we didn’t really care about either one of these characters. Ludger who is fairly quiet, beyond a few grunts is reminiscent of the silent hero we played in Final Fantasy 14, which didn’t make sense to us because Ludger wasn’t a customizable character in the same way that you’d assume a silent hero to be. It made the opening hours a bit sluggish as far as caring about the characters’ lives because all we wanted to do was to be back in the driver’s seat of Milla’s side story.
What we do give the developers kudos for is the way they diversified this experience with the previous Tales of Xillia experience via character choice and agency. During some of the story’s focal points, a timer will pop up and it is up to the player to make a decision. It kept the cut scenes from feeling more than just passive popcorn moments, and also forced us into paying attention. The only thing that was a bit irksome about the decisions made was that they didn’t really have any true story changing aspects to them, except for the climactic ones you make at the end. We went back and replayed some of the previous scenes just to see what happens and it was disappointing to see that nothing changed.
The other form of agency comes from the affinity system that comes with each of the previous cast members. You can ally yourself with each of them and gain benefits from it. We loved following the side stories, because this is where you get to find out what everyone has been up to since we last saw them in Xillia. It was sometimes exciting, other times sad, but ultimately satisfying in these aspects, especially if you followed the arches all the way through.
The developers tweaked it in a way that made it feel more fluid. The combat is action oriented, as you’d expect from a “Tales of” game. Ludger comes with a cool variety of weapons, so it never gets dull playing as him. Players can select between blades, guns, and a two handed hammer. What makes it even more fun is that you don’t have to use just one. You can swap them on the fly. This made the constant swap of characters that came and went in your party easier to shift. We personally liked using the hammer the most. It had a nice, satisfying swing and resulting clobber effect. Without spoilers, Ludger also gets a power that transforms him and allows him to freeze time and dish out a lot of damage. This made some of the harder encounters a lot of fun and became our emergency go to mechanic when we found ourselves on death’s door.
We have to say that Xillia 2 is darker than Xillia. By no means is this a bad thing. If anything it’s welcomed. In a lot other games that have sequels, the tone becomes lighter and there isn’t much conflict. Instead with Xillia 2, the story becomes deeper with a sense of “what happens after two warring worlds now know of each other’s existence and are fighting for resources?” The other part is that Ludger and Elle’s stories get surprisingly deep, somewhat dark, and quite thought provoking.
We have to say that Tales of Xillia 2 is definitely worth your time. Can you play it without playing the previous one? You could but you’d be missing out on a lot of the emotions that come with some of revelations. Also, the developers don’t hold your hand and give you ample amounts of backstory. You’re thrown into their world and you have to fight to survive.