Tales of Xillia 2 is a rarity for the Tales franchise: a direct sequel, something that has happened only a few times in the history of the series. The sequel doesn't focus on Jude and Milla but a new character, Ludger, who's from the world of Elympios, the alternate dimension first introduced near the end of Tales of Xillia. When Ludger saves a young girl named Elle from a deadly attack, he's obligated to protect her from danger. Unfortunately, the danger she's involved in happens to the dimension- and world-spanning type, thrusting Ludger into a battle for the fate of the world. The heroes of the previous game aren't just going to sit on the sidelines while danger is afoot.
Tales of Xillia 2 retains much of the combat system from the previous game. The core mechanics are almost identical, and it still uses the link system. There are four characters in combat, and any two characters may "link," causing them to be bound together. They gain special bonuses and access to special moves at a small cost to versatility. There have been some minor modifications to the engine, although they may only be significant to Tales fans. The previous game built most of the Link Artes around the protagonists, but now, they are more spread out across the cast members, so you can use a more diverse party.
The biggest change to Tales of Xillia 2 is the introduction of Ludger, the new protagonist. He's mute in the classic JRPG style and intended to be a player-avatar, but that's quite unusual for a franchise that focuses heavily upon named characters. Ludger is a more significant player force than any previous Tales protagonist. He has three available weapons that he can switch between at any time: dual blades, hammer or pistols. Dual blades are fast and great for air combos, and the hammer is … well, a hammer. Pistols are weak but can attack from distance and allow Ludger to dodge, duck and use all kinds of gun-fu. Each weapon has its own Artes, and you can swap between them at the touch of a button.
Ludger also has access to Chromathus mode, which you build up by attacking repeatedly. Once you activate it, Ludger is covered by armor, becomes temporarily invincible, and gains a new weapon. The mode only lasts a short time, and you lose access to all other party members while it's active.
Tales of Xillia 2 is a game made for fans of the first title, and it shows in a lot of ways. The DLC for the original game is fully compatible with Tales of Xillia 2. Any costumes or attachments you purchased for a character in the first game will be available when that character rejoins you in Tales of Xillia 2. This means that all of the original Xillia characters will return as playable party members — in addition to former antagonists Gaius and Muzet. We were told that DLC costumes purchased for Xillia 2 will also be backward-compatible with the original game.
Tales of Xillia 2 is a straightforward sequel. The large cast of returning characters is bolstered by a few new faces, a few upgraded mechanics, and a lot of familiar scenery. Tales fans are likely to be excited at the chance to see their favorite characters again. The combat system seems to be as fast, fun and fluid as it was in the last entry, and the core mechanics have seen some tight polishing. If you're a fan of the Tales titles, this is the game for you. Tales of Xillia 2 is due out Aug. 19, 2014, almost on the one-year anniversary of the last game's release.
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