Tales of Berseria marks a lot of firsts for the series. It stars the franchise’s first solo female protagonist, and is the first entry built with the PS4 in mind. I recently went hands-on with the game at a Bandai Namco Event and spoke to its producer, Yasuhiro Fukaya, to get more insight into what this entry offers. Here are my biggest takeaways.
The Revamped Combat Introduces More Options
Gone are the days of regular attacks and artes being separate in this action/RPG. Now you can assign artes to each face button and depending on where you are in your combo each will do a different move. In my hands-on time, the combat felt smooth and responsive, but it’s not as button-mashy as the other recent entries, like the Xillia games. Now you only have a certain amount of moves you can do before you need to pull back and recover stamina. You can still attack if you’re low on stamina, but these hits will not be as powerful, as you need to take a few moments to catch your breath. Stamina increases by not attacking, so you can still dodge the enemy onslaught while recovering, as you can freely move on the battlefield.
This is the first entry to have 60 FPS in the battle system, and it shows in the smoother combos. You fill a “Soul gauge,” by stealing enemy souls on the battlefield, but enemies can also steal yours. Once you fill it completely, you can trigger a special, powerful attack; each character has a different ability and attack to execute and these form some of the biggest combos in the game. For instance, Velvet’s allows her arm to possess different elemental attacks to weaken the enemy.
Velvet’s Journey Is Much More Personal
Most protagonists are good-doers by nature; Velvet is by no means evil, but she’s out for revenge. After a tragic accident happens that affects her family, she discovers powerful emotions that can’t stay hidden. Most Tales games start off lighthearted, but Fukaya says, “The story is rather dark,” and gets there quickly. The game delves into the emotions quite a bit, as the antagonist, Abbey, wants to remove all emotional things. With Velvet teeming with strong feelings due to her past, we can only guess that this isn’t going to go over well.
The Reworked Visuals And Scope Shows
When I spoke to Fukaya, he said he wanted Berseria to ring in a new era for the Tales series. “We put everything we had not done yet in previous titles into the Berseria,” he says. This included Velvet as the first female character to lead a game, innovating the battle system, and having a darker story than previous titles. Skits have been revamped, with better animations to show more facial expressions and allow characters to have a variety of actions to some of your choices during them.
Exploring the beach area my hands-on time, the landscapes already seemed much larger and looked better than they have in previous entries with more detail and depth. They’re still littered with plenty of treasure and enemies to fight, but I also just enjoy how vibrant and fun they are to explore. Fukaya emphasized that developing with the PS4 in mind allowed them to create a much bigger world, and you will visit multiple territories throughout your trek, whereas Zestiria focused on one. The world is so vast that you even get access to a pirate ship, but don’t expect to control it. It’s mainly for you to select different ports to send it to as a way to get around easier. In addition, plenty of side content is available throughout. “There are so many side quests that show different sides to the characters,” Fukaya says. “Actually, in Japan, those who have played the game really love [the side content].”
Tales of Berseria comes out early next year on PlayStation 4 and PC.