For years, Bandai Namco’s Tales games have largely been role-playing games with an action bent. Tales of Arise, out now for PlayStation, Xbox, and PC, is as close to a pure action game as ever, thanks to a streamlined battle system and a switch on the development end to the Unreal engine. It rules. Only problem? The controls don’t exactly hold up.
By default, Tales of Arise’s combat button layout is quite odd. On PlayStation, where I’ve been playing, the basic attack is bound to R1, kinda like last year’s middling Godfall. Dodging is on R2, which: absolutely not. Your three Artes (that’s the game’s lingo for “special attacks”) are mapped to Triangle, Square, and X. Jumping is on Circle.
I know. It’s madness.
The good news is you can shake up the combat controls as you see fit. First, head to the System menu, then click on “settings” and navigate down to “button bindings.”
I put my three Artes on Triangle, R1, and R2. I moved dodge to Circle. I put jump on X (as the gods intended). And I put the basic attack button on Square.
With this setup, Tales of Arise feels far more like the bread-and-butter classic action game it’s trying to be. I’ve personally always felt that tapping Square to launch a combo of attacks feels more natural than a shoulder button. I tend to play as the protagonist Alphen, who has several stabby attacks in his moveset, which I tend to map to Triangle. (Maybe it’s the shape, but Triangle just feels like a thrust attack, y’know?)
But this remap is also a matter of efficiency. Partway through the game, you’ll unlock a high-powered ability that has you hold down two Artes buttons at the same time. For me, I find it far easier to hold down R1 and R2 than two face buttons.
And sure, to be fair, I’ve long railed against control schemes that married attack moves to the shoulder buttons; just last year, two of Ubisoft’s map games — Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and the ridiculously named but genuinely terrific Immortals Fenyx Rising — featured such default button layouts. For both, I messed with the scheme so most actions were married to the face buttons.
So, yeah, maybe this is all just a matter or preference. Maybe I’m too quick to bounce off what’s recently become the bog-standard button layout for action games, too reluctant to give it a chance. Maybe I’m the truly broken one, and you all have reformed to the new ways of the shoulder button, clicking R1-R1-R1-R1-R1 into the dark of the night, not a care in the world. Maybe it’s my thinking that needs to be remapped.
And then I imagine jumping with anything but X.