The New Tales Game Plays Differently Than You'd Expect 

The New Tales Game Plays Differently Than You'd Expect

Since Tales of Symphonia, combat in the console Tales games has been largely the same (though with a few admittedly unique features in each one). But the newest game, Tales of Zestiria, has several changes that, while small, alter how the battles work on a fundamental level.

The most major change is the abandonment of a traditional RPG magic system. In past games, your special attacks used TP (Technical Points). TP was restored by consumable items, special equipment, food, or visiting an inn. In Tales of Zestiria, however, your characters recover their TP naturally. By standing still or defending, characters can fully replenish their TP in under 10 seconds.

The trade-off to this is that now even normal attacks in Tales of Zestiria use TP -- and many have elemental properties as well. Because of this, the flow of battle has changed drastically. Before (if you were like me), you would often use only a special attack or two per battle (so as to conserve TP) and largely make due with an endless stream of normal attacks. With the new system you are encouraged to go all out, using the most effective special attacks you have against the enemies. Then, when you run out of TP, you switch to the defensive -- blocking and dodging until you are ready to go again.

The other major change is the camera placement. In battle, the camera has always been placed somewhat at side view -- reflecting the original Tales of Phantasia battle system. This means that pressing left or right would bring you closer to or further away from an enemy while up and down would make a character jump and duck. In Tales of Zestiria, the camera is now placed behind the character you are controlling. Pressing up brings you closer and pushing down takes you further away -- as, confusingly, so does pressing left or right respectively. Jumping and ducking are no longer part of battle (outside of special attack animations, anyway).

Of course, there are a few more superficial additions to Tales of Zestiria's battle gameplay as well. You are able to swap characters mid-battle with just a press of a button -- something more than a little handy when attacking elemental weaknesses is key to victory; and the characters in your party are able to merge with one another to create super powerful combinations as well.

Personally, I have found these changes enjoyable for the most part in the twenty hours I have spent with the game so far. The game has less downtime between battles (as in-battle healing should sustain your party easily); and battles always require a bit of strategy as to when to attack and when to focus on regaining your TP -- as well as on how best to utilise the fusion forms. Here's hoping it continues to work this well in the latter half of the game.

Tales of Zestiria was released for the PlayStation 3 in Japan on January 22, 2015. It is scheduled for a Western release later this year.


Comments

    It only plays differently if you haven't played any Tales games recently. Chain Capacity was first introduced in the PS2 remake of Tales of Destiny and then re-introduced in Tales of Graces (And ToG F). Actually, a lot of what's mentioned in the article as "new" has existed since at least Tales of Graces.

    Last edited 28/02/15 9:15 pm

      Yeah, ever since the Tales studio split into two groups, they've had these two opposed combat systems. Traditionally it used to be all the games with Fujishima character designs that used TP, and the ones with Inomata's designs had CC. Hearts R uses both in a slightly awkward way.

      CC is a vastly superior system IMO. Suits these games much more than TP.

    gee, either monster hunter has spoiled me or the tales series just got annoying.
    I'm talking about the battle sounds, from the video all I can hear is annoying repetition of the character's shouts and the monster's scream... can't even tell if anyone's doing any special move or not.

    The Zesteria system combines TP and CC to make SC... I'm surprised the writer called it TP because the game never calls it that. It acts more like a stamina gauge than it does anything else, and does act differently from the TP and CC system, because you really can't extend your attacks past 4 hits. Another notable thing is dodging (stepping/evading) also use up SC, but you can still dodge when your SC is 0; you just can't link attacks to it.

    Also, the writer forgot two other things, and one of them was major. The first minor point was only two of your party members can merge with the other four, I won't go into any more in case of spoilers.

    The second point is that battles happen on the spot where you encounter the enemy, not in a separate instance that you magically transport to to give you a nice battle to roam in, but within the battle circle we still know and love, right there, right then. This means that objects like trees, bushes and terrain can no get in the way in battle, for both better or worse. Better, because you can now retreat to a more tactically advantageous area of the map to try and funnel the enemies into a point, and for worse, because it works both ways. I once had a battle in one side of a 4 way junction, and most of the map was down one path with a fair bit of the second path accessible. I pushed an enemy down the small path, blocking off its escape and took care of it easily, but the AI of my allies told them to take care of the others down the main path and they soon needed help. The cliff separating the pathways were still there in the fight, and I couldn't get back in time. The grade for that fight was near negative.

    I've heard people say that because of the changes to the battle system, this is the worst Tales game yet. I strongly disagree. I loved it. It felt more natural to me, because to me, jumping in battle is one of the most stupid things you can do; once you're airborne, your fate is sealed as everyone knows where your going and when you'll get there. And now that battles take place exactly where you encountered the enemy, I felt the flow was all the better for it. Although I admit, it did make for some awkward battle victory moments when I fought pinned up against a wall.

    Last edited 01/03/15 8:55 am

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