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.