One of the biggest games in September also has one of the longest histories. It’s Tales of Arise, the 17th adventure in the JRPG series and the first to make its debut on PC and next-gen consoles concurrently.
Tales of Arise was originally due to launch in 2020, but COVID-related delays meant it was pushed back to 2021. And with the mammoth JRPG almost in everyone’s hands, it’s worth wrapping everything we know so we’re all clear about what Bandai has in store.
Tales of Arise: Story and characters
Arise is set in a country of Dahna. 300 years ago, the country was invaded by the technologically superior Renan, which began enslaving the Danhan people to work as miners and harvesters.
The story’s mostly centred on Alphen, a native Dahnan who has lost his memory and can’t feel pain, and a Renan native called Shionne. From everything revealed prior to launch, Alphen (voiced by Ray Chase, who voiced Noctis in Final Fantasy 15) is trying to save his people. Less is known about the motivations of Shionne (Erica Lindbeck, who voiced Jesse in Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Futaba from Persona 5) beyond the fact that she has a curse that harms anyone else who touches her.
The Tales of Arise demo also revealed some other characters
- Rinwell, a Dahnan mage — which is supposed to be impossible, as only Renans are able to use astral artes (Arise‘s term for magic, basically)
- Law, a Dahnan who works for the Renan Snake Eyes spy organisation
- Kisara, one of the strongest Dahnan warriors who was assigned as a bodyguard to a Renan nobleman (Dohalim) for her skill
- Dohalim Il Qaras, Kisara’s nobleman and a former resident of Elde Menancia, the only land where Dahnans and Renans live peacefully together
Do I need to have played the other Tales games to understand Arise?
No. It’s a new story unconnected to the existing Tales universe. Most Tales games are standalone anyway — with the exception of Tales of Phantasia and Tales of Symphonia which are in the same world, so to speak, and Dawn of the New World which is a direct sequel to Symphonia — and you can play them without pre-existing Tales knowledge.
There will be little references and throwbacks for long-term fans, but if you’re just looking for a good big, high fantasy adventure to jump into, you’ll be fine.
How does combat work in Tales of Arise?
Arise‘s combat works similar to more recent Tales games, where you’re in a 3D environment fighting in real-time. In a manner not too dissimilar from Final Fantasy 15 or the recent Final Fantasy 7 Remake, you control one member of your party at a time but can switch to any party member at any point during the fight.
Characters will have three “artes” attacks bound to the face buttons (X/Y/A or square/triangle/circle on controllers). Basic attacks are done with the right bumper or R1, and you can dodge by hitting the left stick and right trigger, with bonuses for a perfect dodge. Your artes gauge will restore slowly during combat, while CP functions as a separate mana pool for healing. You can restore this through consumables, or by resting at campsites, but it doesn’t recharge otherwise.
You’ll gain access to extra artes when you’re in the air, and you can also manually trigger your party’s artes via the D-Pad using “Boost Attacks”. These can apply status effects or debuffs on enemies, or apply larger buffs to your team. Arise will also let you customise strategies for your party members so they preference, or avoid, using particular artes.
Each character has a distinct playstyle, roughly broken down into these archetypes:
- Alphen: fights with a single longsword, mostly close quarters combat artes and attacks
- Shionne: uses a rifle for ranged combat, functions mostly like a gunslinger
- Rinwell: ranged mage, slower attacks and spells that channel to do larger damage. Can be customised to focus on artes that do larger single target damage or AOE damage
- Law: martial artist that focuses on fast melee hits
- Captain Kisara: your classic sword/board option, the only character with a reliable blocking ability
- Dohalim: mostly melee attacker with a small amount of range and some spellcasting
There’s a lot of nuance in how each of the characters fight. Rinwell, for instance, can store magic charges by holding down RB, or she can fire small-scale attacks by pressing the button. She can also store charges of her artes, which can then be combined with the same arte — or a different one — to unleash higher tier spells.
As a basic example, during the E3 demo I played, Rinwell could use an arte called Thunder Blade that costs 2 mana. If charged and then re-cast, it fires out the 3-mana attack Holy Lance instead. But if you customise Rinwell’s attacks so that Holy Lance becomes the basic attack, you can charge Holy Lance and then recast that to fire Divine Saber, a slower charged attack that uses more mana — and does more damage.
You’ll also be able to unleash a powerful finishing attack with each character once enemies’ health drops to a certain point.
Tales of Arise: Cooking, Fishing and Skits
— Tales of Arise (@TalesofU) August 13, 2021
Like other Tales games, you’ll also have a bunch of activities and things you can do in between the fights.
When your characters go to rest at a campfire, or you take refuge at an inn somewhere, you’ll be able to cook meals that provide various status buffs for a certain period of time. You’ll require a certain amount of ingredients for whatever recipe you want to make. The buffs are listed in a manner that’ll be familiar to Monster Hunter fans: Attack Up M, Elemental Defense Up, and so on.
One difference in Arise, however, is you have to select the party character who will cook the meal. Some characters are better at cooking particular recipes, while others — like Shionne — can double the duration of the buff of some recipes by using twice the amount of ingredients. Buffs typically last for about 8 minutes or so, based on what was included in the E3 build.
As you journey through the world, you’ll also get a prompt on the screen for particular characters. By hitting the right bumper/R1, this will trigger a “skit”, which is basically a little story sequence between the characters that reveals more about their backstory, the current situation and their relationship with the party. Some of these skits will pan out in a comic-book type fashion, not too dissimilar from some of the non-animated cutscenes in Scarlet Nexus.
You’ll also be able to go fishing in Tales of Arise. It’s a little rhythm game where you select a spot in the water and then slowly hit the button in time to attract fish to the bait. Once hooked, you then have a single quicktime event to catch the fish.
Tales of Arise: Release Date
After a few delays, Tales of Arise will launch on PC, PS4, Xbox, Xbox Series S/X and PS5 on September 10 in Australia.
Tales of Arise: Australian Price
How much you’ll pay for Tales of Arise can vary wildly depending on platform.
If you’re playing on PS5, the cheapest price right now is through Gorilla Gaming and Mighty Ape, which are both charging $74.90 with shipping included. Both shops, however, currently have new orders suspended due to the ongoing issues with Australia Post. The next best option is through Amazon Australia, which is charging $79 with free delivery. JB Hi-Fi has Arise for just under $81 with shipping included.
Most of the prices are the same for the Xbox Series S/X optimised versions too. Again, Mighty Ape and Gorilla Gaming have the best deals at $69 pre-shipping, while JB, and Amazon are charging $79 a piece.
If you’re after Tales on PC, you can get the game for a little cheaper. The best deal right now is via Gamersgate, who are charging $67.97 — but you can get that price down to $54.38 with the ISTHEREANYDEAL checkout code. Like Xbox and PlayStation, the third-party marketplaces are your best option for PC. Steam is charging $89.95 for the base PC version — not an awful deal, but not the best you can get either.
Tales of Arise: PC Options
Based off a build of the game around E3, there’s a fairly decent range of options for those playing on PCs.
While there’s no real-time ray tracing, DLSS or FSR support that we know of right now, here’s some of the options that were available:
- Bloom toggle
- Resolution scaler
- Anti-aliasing settings
- Shadow quality settings
- Screen space reflections
- Anistropic filtering
- Global illumination
- Depth of field
- Volumetric lighting
- Screen space shadows
- Ambient occlusion
You can also set frame rate limits and the game supported windowed mode, exclusive fullscreen and borderless fullscreen. Tales of Arise is also built using the Unreal Engine, so hopefully it might get access to Nvidia’s DLSS technology down the road via the DLSS Unreal Engine plugin.