E3 2013: Hands-on: Tales of Xillia

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

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Tales of Xillia logo

On August 6th, 2013, Dragon’s Crown will be released into the wild. This is definitely a game that has a huge following at oprainfall, one sure to pique the curiosity of many. But…there’s another game coming out the exact same day. Many of us awaited news of this game’s localization for months after it was released in Japan. Today, I got a chance to sit down and play Tales of Xillia for longer than I could have expected. To my surprise, the line to play the game wasn’t very long at all during the final day of E3, and no one came to claim the controls from me until I’d sunk about forty-five minutes into the game. I’m confident you’ll like what I’m about to say.

At a glace: Tales of Xillia isn’t just a “pretty” game. To call it eye candy is to compare a simple candy store to the freaking Hershey factory in Pennsylvania. As I was playing, I thought, “This belongs on a PS4 or the Xbox One.” The graphical brilliance behind this game isn’t something a few images or a trailer can do justice. When you play it for yourselves, ladies and gentlemen, I’m sure you’ll take it all in just as I did. Everything about this game in terms of its aesthetic qualities (music, graphics, etc.) pushes the PS3 to its limits.

Tales of Xillia screenshot

Here’s the lowdown: I played as Jude, Millia, Alvin, and Leia. I’m going to assume you know who all these characters are so I won’t have to describe how they looked or acted in battle. What I will say, however, is that each character had his or her own unique Artes I used at length. I’d be able to tell you more if I took extra time to familiarize myself with each character, but I really only used them at a glace to test the limits of the battle system.

Regarding the battle system itself: It’s free-range on the battlefield. Certain enemies could only be hit after moving behind them. There were various button dynamics associated with being knocked back or delivering an extra-strong blow. Unique to Xillia is the fact that characters link up in battle, sometimes able to perform strategic combat moves or watching each other’s back. The links between characters are visibly shown by a connecting line between them.

I played Graces f to completion. It’s been a long while, but…I think I can safely say that Xillia’s battle system is an improvement over Graces f’s. Everything has been fine-tuned, and the more restrictive aspects of the battle system in Tales games have been nixed in favor of more freedom of movement.

I used some of my “free time” with the game to explore the various sub-menus and skill sets. Each character was around Lv45 or so, so I got a good look at how each character grows and the skills they could potentially learn. I say “potentially” because the node system in Xillia seems to indicate a large degree of customization, including what Artes any given character can learn at what point. I could be wrong about that, but I was almost overwhelmed by what I saw when snooping around the menus.

Tales of Xillia screenshot

The majority of my time wasn’t spent in battle, really. I just explored. The three areas I visited were the Barnauer Highroad, the city (?) of Fermont, and a road just outside the city. The two areas outside the city were vast, lush, expansive, and filled to the brim with monsters and treasures (both in the wall and on the ground). But…the city is what truly shined in my eyes. I’m not saying this because Fermont was filled with lights, either. It was huge, filled with a bustling crowd of people to interact with. I quite enjoyed the care and attention put into the city. I think it far surpasses anything in Graces f, which…should make a lot of you happy, I think.

Odds are good that Tales fans will get this day one regardless. All these impressions do is serve to make you more excited for a few months from now. Those of you on the fence—give Xillia a chance. This game takes what’s been great about previous games in the franchise and bumps it up to 11.

  • Clinton Nix

    I’m very excited for this game. The strength of Graces f’s battle system alone was enough for me to be excited for Xillia, but I’m really looking forward to the improvements in visuals, sound, and story. Graces f wasn’t built for an HD system; Xillia was. This game is at the top of my to-get list at the moment.
    Definitely day one.

  • Tim

    No dual-audio so I must skip it being good doesn’t say anything to me, my action target straight to devs & publishers who cant understand that JRPG fans demand to have the option to play JRPGs with the original Japanese voice overs, & until they understand that a few thousands (& be certain about that I’m not the only one who skip JRPGs who don’t have dual-audio) r going to boycott those games.

    • David Rawlings

      Y’know, you could always learn Japanese, mute the T.V, then do your own voiceover.

    • Eriq-Christian Deshaun Beard

      so you are going to completely miss everything else about the game simple because of voice acting? that is why the more tales games arent being released like they should

    • LovelyAngelAyase

      Nah, Some people just can’t get into the game because the voice acting in English isn’t all too great and they prefer the original Japanese voices. I prefer Japanese over English so I can hear my favorite Seiyuu (Japanese voice actors) But I will get the game regardless. Those who refuse to buy the game because there is no dual audio aren’t in the wrong. Everyone is different and have their own preferences

    • Eriq-Christian Deshaun Beard

      i guess, the only time i really hate dubs is when i am watching an actual live action movie (they are just plan horrible) i dont mind it so much in a game because i rather be able to hear, understand, and relate to what the characters are saying then to just read and not get any emotional impact (not just the sad stuff) but everyone has there preferences.

    • Bec66

      Yes but here’s the thing the Tales series was barley getting any releases and after long and hard campaigning we finally got more games and now you’re telling me you’re going to boycott an entire game because one small feature isn’t in the game? Yes you have your opinion’s but really it seems rude to the voice actor’s that tried to make an effort to dub the game and ungrateful to a company that’s finally giving fans what they want.

    • then import the damn game if you are that unsatisfied over the fact that there is no Japanese voice overs in the international version. and if you don’t know Japanese, well you better start learning.

    • Clinton Nix

      I love subs, but damn it’d be a mistake to skip entirely just because of the lack of the option.

  • tyrants rave

    There is no way possible id skip this title over language options. I myself always prefer subs over dubs. What you are saying is ignorance and laziness on their part yes, and I feel you have every right to voice your opinion about it, but do not skip the title over that fact, even if buy the JP version(love PS3s none region locking). Who knows how long these genres will be around, and from what i’ve seen, Xillia has some of the BEST acting ive ever seen in an english port, just watch trailer 2. Sad to say there is no japanese audio, but look around at the multi language E3 games ( FFXIV for example) had HORRID english VAs.

  • tyrants rave

    On a side note, Xillia is everything ive wanted in a tales game. Combat is an upgrade from Graces F, and the story seems to have a grander serious tone then the last two recent tales games. It almost is picking up off of what Abyss tried and almost succeeded with, and I like that.