In a nutshell, Tales of Zestiria is more of the same. Well alright, maybe it’s a little bigger. If you’ve been a longtime fan of the Tales of series, this is great news. If previous iterations from the series have never impressed you, there isn’t much Zestiria can do to change your mind at this point.
I got to try out two demos of the game over at the Bandai Namco booth this year. The first was a combat demo that was specially prepared to show off the size of the maps in the game. In this particular demo, my party wandered around a large area filled with various types of enemies that I could fight. Right off the bat, you can tell that the map is at least five times the size of the maps we previously saw in Tales of Xillia and its sequel. In Xillia, the areas were always sectioned off and you’d have to enter a short loading screen before you could progress on to the next part. In Zestiria, however, the entire area is seamless and you’re free to roam anywhere you please.
The towns are also a little larger, as shown in the story demo for Tales of Zestiria. With the latest entry in the series, Bandai Namco has increased the size of the game’s world, allowing players more room for exploration. One of my biggest complaints about the previous games was that there wasn’t much to do in the enemy-infested areas aside from just mindlessly killing things. I’d usually run through the areas as quickly as possible so that I could reach the next town or cutscene. However, Bandai Namco has promised that the large enemy areas will provide you with more optional things to do, and maybe even sidequests for you to complete.
While I did appreciate the size increase in Tales of Zestiria, the combat remains largely the same as that of Xillia‘s. You can link up with your party members, execute attacks with the X and O buttons, and when your EX meter fills up, you can unleash an extremely powerful move with your partner. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it, right? The thing with the Tales of games is that you usually know what you’re getting yourself into.
While I have no doubt that the story will be decent at the very least, Zestiria feels like an extremely safe game. It doesn’t do much that’s new, and it certainly doesn’t deviate from its usual formula of traversing through complicated maps and killing enemies with the same combat system that you’ve grown so used to over the years.
Like I said, fans of the Tales of series will probably be pleased with Tales of Zestiria. It retains that trademark anime charm of the series, and the combat system, though familiar, still works very well. But it certainly isn’t going to dissuade any naysayers.
Tales of Zestiria will be made available on the PS3 and PS4 on 22nd January 2016 in North America.