RPGCast – Episode 469: “DoesHeHaveaScarf.com”
This show marked the beginning of the Donut Wars. Why they began, historians disagree. All that is known is that the destruction left in their wake had long lasting effects on humanity. No fewer than 30 species went extinct in the aftermath of the Wars. It is also widely believed that Strawberry Cream Cheese began his tyrannical rule directly due to the power vacuum the Wars left. Also, Shining Resonance Refrain is kind of not very good.
Question of the Week?
What modern Tales game should Paws play?
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I’m really glad this podcast actually happened. Seemed like nothing was working this morning. 🙂
I’m going to put in another vote for Berseria. I’m in the middle of it and quite enjoying it. I started on Zestiria first and gave up on that pretty early, but Berseria is probably the best modern Tales game I’ve played. It might even unseat Destiny for me, which has remained my favorite Tales game from the start.
I started out liking Shining Resonance’s battle system, I’m growing steadily less fond of it as the game progresses as it doesn’t evolve and the weaknesses of the AI party members become more apparent.
I’m assuming “modern” means Symphonia onwards. My personal order (top first) is Symphonia, Vesperia, Graces f, Xillia, Abyss, Xillia 2, Zestiria, Hearts R — though as its the oldest of the group Paws may find Symphonia a bit clunky so would probably suggest that only after finding out it you like the quicker modern ones. I’ve not played Berseria yet, but all the reaction has been that it was a least a step back up again after Zestiria.
As a big fan of the Tales series, I’ve thought long about what I would suggest, and I think I’ve finally come up with an answer, and it’s simple and complicated at the same time. You’ve made it quite clear that you wanted to avoid the old 2D ones, so I’m going with what I consider the first one in the modern era, which is Tales of Symphonia. That’s what you should play. And from there on, you should play almost all of the ones that have come out, and you should play them in order of release date. Let me elaborate on why I’m suggesting this: each new game in the Tales series has taken the lessons from its predecessors, built upon it, and then made both additions and changes. The additions are almost exclusively good, and the changes are a bit of a wash – with some taking a few steps forward, and some a few steps back. This makes it difficult to recommend any particular game in the franchise as they all have something going for them, and they all have their shortcomings. I was thinking about this and it made me realise why Tales of Symphonia is an excellent starting point: it’s both really good, and has some really big flaws. It has some great characters, and a story that I thoroughly enjoyed despite some overused cliches, and certain twists can be seen from miles away. Its battle system is sort of 2.5D in which the battle field itself is always three dimensional, but your movement is always limited to a linear path between you and your targed enemy. You can develop your abilities in a variety of ways based on certain equipped items, and the best skills are actually spread out over both Skills and Techniques. You can mix and match to get the most out of this, but it takes a lot of effort and the game is almost completely unhelpful in planning this out. In short, lots of good, and some bad. That’s why Tales of Symphonia is the best starting point: penty of good to offset the bad, but plenty of bad to want better. You can play Tales of the Abyss afterwards and appreciate the additions and changes, such as actual full freedom of movement in combat (at the time a first for the series), that much more. Playing the games in a more random order would give you the same games to play, but you wouldn’t have nearly the same meta-experience that playing them in a more chronological order would.
Leaving out a handful of titles (mostly because of poor availability or localization) my full suggestion would be as follows:
1. Tales of Symphonia (originally, for us, for the GameCube. It’s out on a lot of platforms now.)
2. Tales of the Abyss (originally for the PS2, but if you prefer handhelds, the 3DS version of this is a surprisingly excellent port, given the device’s limitations!)
3. Tales of Vesperia (currently only for Xbox360, but a definitive edition of this is coming out soon on a ton of platforms, including Switch)
4. Tales of Graces f (the first time in a while they’ve seriously rescrambled the combat system to give you more freedom of movement, essentially a prototype combat for Xillia)
5. Tales of Xillia (major combat change, combining the best of the previous games in a more open combat arena more reminiscent of Graces f, and faster-paced)
6. Tales of Xillia 2 (it recycles a lot of the assets from Xillia, but the new characters are great, and the story has some very strong points)
7. Tales of Zestiria (the first “next-gen” (read: PS4-era) game, which smooths a lot of elements from Xillia 2, but overdoes it, creating a combat system that’s too sensitive to being able to attain high combo counts, with character and story that are entirely too bland for most people’s likings. It’s worth playing at least a bit, especially to get a feel for the world and its lore, because the next game in the series builds upon that as a prequel. But don’t feel guilty if you don’t finish it. You wouldn’t be the first.)
8. Tales of Berseria (a lore-prequel to Zestiria. they’ve taken everything that worked from Zestiria, but replaced everything that didn’t – especially the bland setting and characters. Instead it features one of the strongest casts of all Tales games, in a much darker story and setting. My personal favourite.)
Skip all recommendations and play Graces f (not really but Graces f is awesome)
Been a huge fan of the Tales series since I played my first introduction to the series, Eternia (localized then as Destiny II when it came to the states). When I gush about the series and people ask me the same question, which Tales game should they play, I always refer back to my Top 5 chart.
Graces F used to be on the list, but got bumped off after Berseria corrected the mistake that was Zestiria. Really, there’s so many good games in the series that the easier question would’ve been which ones to avoid. There’s far fewer of those and the bad ones are so bad that they absolutely need to be avoided. Tempest, Zestiria, and Legendia jump immediately to mind, imo.