As you might have guessed, Tales of Xillia 2 is the direct sequel to last year’s Tales of Xillia by Namco Bandai. Overall an enjoyable game, without a doubt, the game’s largest appeal comes from just how similar it is to its predecessor. By and large, however, this is a good thing.
One of the most prevailing sentiments about Tales of Xillia 2 is that it is essentially a love letter to fans of the original Tales of Xillia that essentially takes all the good parts of the original and put them into a sequel. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Sometimes, this sort of decision–taking a game and adding it almost untouched to its sequel–comes across as lazy, but not here. Tales of Xillia provided a largely enjoyable experience, one that left fans wanting more, but also one that barely needed any tweaks or adjustments. Ultimately, creating a largely similar experience in Tales of Xillia 2 provides players with more of a good thing without spoiling it.
Of course, that isn’t to say that no changes were made. The most obvious of the changes comes from the addition of Ludger, Tales of Xillia 2‘s mostly silent protagonist. In a rare take for the Tales series, your protagonist barely speaks. All he utters are simple lines like “Yeah,” “Yup,” or “Okay.” Ludger’s character comes essentially from the choices you make for him. During dialogue, you will occasionally be presented with two options for Ludger to express his (unvoiced) sentiments, allowing for some neat branches in dialogue and narrative. At first, this comes across as a bit boring, but over time, players will find that Ludger, despite his tacitness, has a character he knows how to express without words.
Though Ludger and Elle (the mysterious little girl with the utmost importance to the narrative) are the game’s primary characters, the full playable cast of the original Tales of Xillia makes its return in Tales of Xillia 2. A year has passed since the events of Tales of Xillia, and in that one year, all six of those characters (along with some non-playable ones) have gone through some changes. Indeed, each character has grown–some literally, some figuratively. Every character has a new outfit to accompany their growth and maturity. Leia is now a reporter, Elize is in school, has grown taller, and is no longer a shy little girl. Alvin is actually trustworthy (and has a beard!), Rowen is the Prime Minister of Rieze Maxia and right-hand to King Gaius. Jude is no longer a student and is much more mature and responsible as a professional (though still as loving and caring as always), and Milla, well, you’ll see.
What is most well-done regarding this cast of characters is that, while they were the main characters in the previous game, in Tales of Xillia 2, they have all taken a backseat to the story of Ludger, the Kresnik family, and Elle. Still, that isn’t to say that they have been forgotten. Each of them still has their own individual plotline players may pursue, and they are still as animated as ever. But rightfully so, they have stepped back so that Ludger and Elle may have their fifteen minutes of fame. It is certainly a well-struck between new characters and old.
Combat remains largely unchanged from the original entry, but there are a few tweaks. The biggest changes come by way of Ludger. Whereas all other characters are capable of wielding only one type of weapon, Ludger can wield three different kinds and can change between them at any time. He can utilize all of Dual Blades, Sledgehammers, and Pistols. Each of them features either a Slash, a Strike, or Shot attribute that can be exploited much in the same way as say, a Fire weakness. This allows Ludger to tackle a variety of enemies at a moment’s notice, each weapon coming with its own unique set of artes (Tales‘s form of “special attacks”). Ludger can also enter a special state in battle where he is unaffected by such trivialties as HP, AP, or TP and can go mad in assault. Think of it as something of an overdrive state where his powers become essentially limitless. Of course, this is only a temporary state that has limited uses.