After being announced at E3 2019 and pretty much disappearing until earlier this year, Bandai Namco’s Tales of Arise is finally set to release on September 10th for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5 and PC. Quite a lot has changed since the last title in the series, from the visual quality and scale of the world to the combat and skits. Let’s take a look at 15 things you should know before buying.
Tales of Arise is centered on Dahna and Rena, two worlds that prospered until the latter invaded the former. This led to Rena effectively subjugating Dahna’s people, pillaging their resources and enslaving them for roughly 300 years. In the midst of all this is Alphen, a Dahnan who’s lost his memory and can’t feel pain, and Shionne, a Renan that inflicts pain on those who get too close. The two journey together to “challenge their fates” as it were, whether it’s Alphen’s goal to free his people or Shionne’s desire to be rid of her curse.
Many of the environments revealed thus far take place on Dahna. These include Calaglia, a desert land whose oil is being refined by large machines; Cyslodia, a snowy area which subsists on artificial light; and the green region of Elde Menancia with its luxurious capital Viscint. Each region has its own unique stories and NPCs to encounter, and thanks to the studio’s “Atmospheric Shader”, the environments have a more hand-drawn look and feel that’s more vibrant.
Four other characters join Alphen and Shionne on their journey, starting with Rinwell, a Dahnan mage who can use Astral Artes and requests help to aid the resistance in Cyslodia. Accompanying her is Hootle, her pet owl (remember that name). Law is a close quarters combat specialist who’s part of the police group Snake Eyes in Cyslodia and spies on any dissidents in exchange for making life easier for his fellow Dahnans. Kisara is a Dahnan soldier who fights alongside Renant troops, and is famed for her composure and skill with the hammer and shield. Finally, there’s Dohalim, a Renan noble who treats both races equally and is interested in various art forms. Along with various NPCs, other characters like Zilpha, the leader of Calaglia’s resistance group Crimson Crow, will be encountered and can provide support in battles.
Combat is where Tales of Arise makes some of the biggest changes to the series’ formula, offering a more fast-paced and fluid experience. Battles take place in a 3D arena which the player can freely move about in. Along with a normal attack, you can map Artes to the other face buttons. Each face button can have three Ground Attacks and three Aerial Attacks (with six more techniques capable of being mapped through simultaneous button presses). Some of the newer aspects include evasion where perfectly timing an evade lets you avoid damage completely. Kisara can’t evade but is capable of blocking enemies and counter-attacking with the right timing while also receiving a buff.
Boost Strikes are double team attacks which can be used to finish off low-health enemies and deal large amounts of damage to bosses. You also have Boost Attacks that allow for triggering a character’s special move with different benefits (Shionne’s, for instance, is good at grounding flying enemies). The aforementioned Support characters can also jump in and deal damage when called upon. Characters also have Mystic Artes, super moves with dedicated cutscenes that deal massive amounts of damage.
Another interesting change is how Titles are handled this time around. While still providing various boosts to each character, each title has different nodes that you can unlock freely with Skill Points and which confer new skills and Artes along with stat increases. As the story progresses, new titles with different nodes become available, providing different bonuses and Artes.
Score System and Consecutive Battles Bonus
When completing battles in Tales of Berseria, players would receive Grades based on the difficulty and how well they’d perform. The Grade system won’t be present in Tales of Arise, instead being replaced with Scores. Again, depending on one’s performance and how quickly they defeat enemies, they can earn higher Scores, the difference being that this nets more Skill Points and allows for unlocking Skills more quickly. A bonus is also conferred for Consecutive Battles. Earn enough high Scores in consecutive battles and rare materials will get a drop rate increase (while the encounter rate of rare foes goes up as well).
Skits have been a long-standing tradition for the Tales series. They pop up on the field and often see characters conversing with each other through 2D portraits and dialogue boxes. Tales of Arise ups the production values on these considerably – characters are now portrayed through their in-game 3D models with stylish comic book-style panels. Along with detailed animations and facial expressions, the skits come across as more dynamic overall.
When you’re not beating down hapless foes or partaking in quests, there are various other activities to indulge in like fishing. Farming is a new activity and sees you tending to fields and managing livestock to “reap the rewards of the land.” Cooking also makes a return and once again provides benefits on the field and in battles. It also looks way more involved as scenes are showcased with party members actually eating meals as opposed to recovering HP in a menu.
Other side content includes the Coliseum, which makes its return in Arise after being absent in Tales of Berseria. In a recent Q&A, the developer confirmed that there would be cameo characters for players to fight. However, what content the Coliseum will offer and the identities of those characters will remain a secret for the time being. If it’s anything like previous Tales games, expect options for solo and team battles with weapons and armor as rewards.
With everything that Tales of Arise has to offer, just how much playtime can you expect? According to the developer in the Q&A, it will be about the same length as Tales of Berseria. Naturally, there will be some replay value, though whether it will have New Game+ or not is unknown. Tales of Berseria clocks in at about 45 hours for just the story and if you indulge in the side content, that can go up to 68 to 70 hours. Either way, it seems that Arise will offer more than enough to keep the average RPG fan busy. Don’t expect anything by way of follow-ups though – this is a self-contained story that won’t be getting any prequels, sequels or expansions.
Free Demo Planned
Want to try the game out for yourself before launch? In the same Q&A, the developer confirmed that it is looking into releasing a public demo for players. Specific details like content that would be included, when it would be released and so on have yet to be revealed. But if Scarlet Nexus, another action RPG from Bandai Namco, could have a demo just a few weeks before launch, then it certainly seems possible for Tales of Arise.
4K and 60 FPS Modes on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S
There will be two visual modes to choose from on current-gen platforms. The first offers a 4K resolution while the second prioritizes frame rate and offers a 60 FPS experience. Furthermore, those who pick up the game on PS4 or Xbox One can upgrade to the PS5 or Xbox Series X/S versions for free. Whether cross-gen save progression will be supported has yet to be confirmed but at least loading times will be faster.
Meanwhile, PS5 players will also benefit from DualSense support, particularly haptic feedback. The developer confirmed that there would be different feedback based on actions used. So if you’re using electric magic to decimate foes, the vibrations will be different from using fire magic.
Pre-purchase DLC, Deluxe and Ultimate Editions
Tales of Arise will have numerous editions when it launches, including a Standard, Deluxe and Ultimate Edition. The Standard Edition includes the base game for $60 with pre-orders netting a new costume for Alphen and Shionne along with accessories, cooking recipes and ingredients. The Deluxe Edition includes all of that plus a Premium Item Pack with boosts, cooking items and gold; a Premium Costume Pack with 8 outfits and 6 accessories; and a Premium Travel Pack which provides “better” cooking and crafting abilities along with shop discounts, all for $85. As for the Ultimate Edition, it includes all of the Deluxe Edition content along with a School Life Pack, Beach Time Pack and Warring States Pack, each having six costumes for the party. There’s also a mystery collaboration pack that offers three costumes for $110.
But wait, there’s more. A physical Collector’s Edition is also available for €199.99 which includes all of the digital bonuses and costume packs, the physical and digital soundtrack, a steelbook, 64-page artbook and an exclusive figurine of Shionne and Alphen. And if that’s not enough, there’s a special Hootle Edition available in limited quantities exclusively on Bandai Namco Entertainment’s Europe store. It includes ten Hootle-themed accessories, a collector’s box, physical and digital soundtrack, Hootle plush with 4 accessories, metal case, three art prints, the art book and stickers for €119.99.
While a grade above its predecessor, the PC requirements for Tales of Arise thankfully aren’t too heavy. At the minimum, one will need an Intel Core i5-2300 or AMD Ryzen 3 1200, 8 GB of RAM and a GeForce GTX 760 or Radeon HD 7950. Recommended requirements include a Core i5-4590 or AMD FX-8350, 8 GB of RAM and either a GTX 970 or Radeon R9 390. Both configurations require 45 GB of installation space overall.