It's no secret we're big fans of the Tales of series at Everybody Plays - and with good reason. With their light-hearted, colourful worlds, entertaining characters and epic stories of love, loss and world-saving, they're everything we could want from a role-playing adventure, and worlds we can lose ourselves in for hours on end. With that in mind, it should go without saying that we're looking forward to the next big instalment in the tales series, the somewhat awkwardly named Tales of Berseria - and even more so, now we've seen the game in action thanks to publisher Bandai Namco. Following the series' first female protagonist Velvet as she embarks on an emotional quest for revenge, it also signals the start of the next generation of Tales of games (and Japanese role playing games in general) - which means we can't really put off that inevitable Playstation 4 purchase for much longer.
Set in Glenwood - the same world as last year's Tales of Zestiria, only many years in the past - it follows the aforementioned Velvet on her globe-trotting quest for revenge. Story details are a little scant at the moment, but it appears that Velvet is hunting for a guy named Artorius, a saviour that bought order to a world ravaged by daemons, as a result of undisclosed events that happened some three years ago by the light of a scarlet moon. He also happens to be the leader of main antagonist organisation, the Abbey, so we're guessing he's seriously bad news.
Since their meeting that fateful night, Velvet has spent her time locked up on the prison island of Titania, until she takes her chance to escape via that most traditional of means - aboard a pirate ship. Now back in the outside world, it turns out the scourge of the daemons is still very much at the forefront of people's minds, due to the mysterious disease, the Daemonblight, that came alongside it, which plunged the world into turmoil. In fact, Velvet is a survivor of the plague herself, but managed to get off lightly - rather than being killed, she was just left with a daemonised left hand - a giant claw-like arm that, of course, becomes her weapon of choice in the game.
Before we go any further, if you really want to get a feel for the game and its atmosphere, it's probably best to check out the game's E3 trailer, in all its awesome glory. That music! The colours! The characters! Everything!
The somewhat abstract theme of this Tales of game is 'emotion vs reason', with Velvet being strongly in the emotion camp - an honorary pirate with a slightly warped sense of justice, all that matters to her is getting her job done. So, for maximum friction and hilarity, she finds herself joining up with a once-enemy-now-friend - a member of the military arm of the Abbey, Eleanor Hume, who, unlike Velvet has a very strong moral sense of what's right and wrong, is a stickler for the rules, and prefers to approach a problem logically, leading to plenty of party fireworks during the story. There's also fellow pirate Eizen, who's on a quest of his own to find his missing captain, the legendary Aifread (who's cropped up in a number of the previous Tales of games). Eizen is kind of a big deal too, going by the nickname of 'the Reaper' for following his own brand of vigilante justice, before joining up with Velvet to take down their common enemy, the Abbey.
Other members of Velvet's band of misfits include the easy-going and somewhat reckless witch, Magilou, who enjoys playing pranks on the other party members, and what appears to be her little friend in tow, a little bat/bear creature known as Bienfu, who hides his face behind a snazzy top hat. Last but by no means least, is the guy-who-looks-like-a-girl, Laphicet, a massive emo who had apparently lost the will to live before he met Velvet - and as the story progresses, it becomes a bit of a 'coming of age' tale for him too.
Of course, there's more than just story to these games, and with another instalment comes another rehash of the traditional Tales of battle system, and another non-sensical name for it - this time, it's known as the Liberation Linear Motion Battle System, which is basically a fancy way of saying you can 'liberate' yourself from the old days of only having two different types of attack, and combine all of your favourite 'artes' (read: attacks) in any which way you choose. By assigning different moves to each of the four face buttons (triangle, square, circle and x), you can branch off into different attack combos depending on number of times and the order in which you press them - so, for example, if you have Demon Fang on x, while pressing it twice in quick succession triggers Havoc Strike, pressing x, followed by circle unleashes Tiger Blade instead. It sounds a lot more complex in words than it really is, we promise, and hopefully the new system will reduce the amount of time we spend tying our fingers in knots when trying to trigger a specific attack.
Tied to the new battles is the new 'Soul' system, where each character in battle has a finite amount of 'soul' used to power his or her 'artes' - and once used up, the power of your attacks will be reduced somewhat. 'Break Soul' meanwhile, is a special state you can activate when you have three or more souls stored in your soul gauge (presumably gained by defeating enemies), and, once triggered, you'll have access to a variety of effects which differ from character to character - some get special attacks, some extend the lengths of your combos, and new Break Soul abilities are learnt as you progress through the game. For example, Laphicet's ability reduces damage to the whole party, healing everyone when it ends, Magilou's stops enemies from casting spells, countering with a spell of her own, and Eizen's unleashes a torrent of flames from the air, consuming all the enemies that get in the way.
As well as being set on the same continent as Tales of Zestiria, we can't help noticing a fair few parallels between the two games. For starters, this Daemonblight, which turns people into daemons, seems very similar to the problems Zestiria faced with it's Hellions, which arose from people being possessed by the Lord of Calamity's malevolence. Likewise, the Malaks, with their ability to control nature sound a lot like the spiritual Seraphims of the previous game, who could each wield a different elemental power in battle. Finally, the eagle-eyed among you may recognise the name Artorius from the name of an optional dungeon in - you guessed it - Tales of Zestiria, where it was never explained who the Artorius of "Artorius' Throne" fame is...
Tales of Berseria will be hitting the PlayStation 4 and PC early next year, in 2017. In the meantime, why not check out the latest non-E3 trailer (unfortunately, entirely in Japanese) below: