In the case of and for Namco’s long-running Tales franchise, familiarity certainly doesn’t breed any contempt at all. Some hands on time recently with the PlayStation 4 version of Tales of Zestiria reveals producer Hideo Baba and the development team at tri-Crescendo in fine form with a game that’s a throwback to Tales of Phantasia and its more epic medieval fantasy approach in terms of character design and settings. There are also some changes to the combat system and even better, battles now play out on maps without those brief transitions from previous games in the series.
Sinking about a half hour into the impressive demo at Bandai Namco’s NYC event was quite thrilling for a few reasons. The story is an interesting melding of JRPG tropes with references to the King Arthur story and other slices of classic literature. Rather than go into too much detail about the story, let’s just say that lead character Sorey goes from eager treasure hunter to Shepherd after he pulls the powerful Sacred Blade sword from its royal home. There’s a lot more having to do with “invisible” allies Lailah (representing The Lady of the Lake) and Mikleo along with enemies only he and then later a few other party members can see, but that’s the fun of playing a Tales game, ladies and gents.
The real-time battles will be familiar to longtime fans of the series, but as noted, things have been tweaked a bit to add even more depth. For a little bit of explanation of what’s new, take a peek at this strategy video, more of which can be had early if one decides to pre-order their PS3, PS4 or Steam copy of the game from GameStop:
While the game is also PS3 bound, the decision to get it on PC and PS4 in the west means Tales fans in the west will be seeing Zestiria on more platforms. From a visual standpoint, the PS4’s power means a larger draw distance, smoother overall frame rate and sharper resolution that shows off the detailed characters and much larger open world maps. Zestiria also marks the first time a Tales game has landed on PC (via Steam), so it should be interesting to see how that version does among those with the hardware to play it. System requirements probably won’t be as high as some AAA shooter at all. But let’s just say that anyone rocking a PC with an older OS (“XP forevah!”) is going to need a bit of an upgrade.
While it seems the PS3 was still the platform of choice for the dev team back in 2011 when Zestira was in production thanks to its still larger user base, it’s actually NOT the final Tales game that will start its life on the old console. The still in development Tales of Beseria is also PS3-bound, but it seems that the PS4 version will be developed using higher quality assets in order to maximize the potential of the gorgeous artwork and animation the series is known for. Both versions should be stellar, but it’s great to know that on the newer hardware Beseria won’t just look like a nicely upscaled PS3 game. Hey, I’m not complaining about Zestiria’s gorgeous looks at all. But you know how some on the internet do with their always wailing about some games not looking as good as what it cost to upgrade their tricked out computers. That’s a generally lousy and unappreciative way to see a game’s visual style, mind you.
Anyway, October 20,2015 is the big day when Zestiria becomes the place where a lot of us spend too much time exploring both the story of Sorey and his party. Stock up on snacks, buy an extra controller (if you always accidentally break one like I do after about a hundred hours of play) and prepare to lose yourself in another in a long line of generally excellent Tales releases.