By Robert Ward . April 22, 2014 . 12:31pm
At Bandai Namco’s Global Gamer’s Day event, Siliconera got to speak with staff members at the company that are involved with the Tales of franchise. One of these was Kohei Rokugawa, who serves as the director of the western version of Tales of Xillia 2.
During our brief chat, Rokugawa lent insight as to why Bandai Namco decided to revisit the world of Tales of Xillia, and what’s different about the world in the sequel to the game.
Rokugawa: I’m Kohei Rokugawa of Bandai Namco Studios working as a director for the overseas version of Tales of Xillia 2.
Tales of Xillia 2 has a choice mechanic. The ability to alter the course of events in the story is a convention often seen in Western titles, but it’s a first for the Tales series.
In past Tales titles, there are some choices in the storyline—but not as many as Xillia 2. By implementing this mechanic in Xillia 2, I believe that the users can immersive themselves in the psyche of Ludger. In that way, they can understand what and how he feels about events throughout the story.
Every Tales game has a theme to it. We were wondering how you chose the theme for Tales of Xillia 2, and how it might relate to the first Xillia game.
Everyone on earth has to make decision every day. We sometimes have to make very difficult and troubling decisions in our life, so, we’d like to implement this kind of experience directly into gameplay. In Tales of Xillia 2, users need to make very ultimate decisions in the story line—and Elympios seemed like the kind of world we could implement this sort of structure into.
In terms of these themes in general, do they come together before the game is ultimately designed, or do they come about half way through the process. Basically, when do themes pop up in development?
The theme is outlined at the beginning of a game’s development. So, after deciding the theme for the story, we make a detailed personality of a culture that can fit into the mold of that theme, and implement themes or elements that capture that theme and then take the game from there.
Tales of Xillia 2 has a lot of returning characters. How do they fit into the world of Xillia 2 and which one have you changed the most?
Of the original cast of characters, I think that Muzet is the one that’s changed the most. In Xillia, she’s a huge danger, but in Xillia 2, she’s really interesting and funny. You’ll be able to find out a lot about what’s happened in the year between Tales of Xillia and Tales of Xillia 2 throughout the game, and you’ll be able to see just how much she and the other characters have changed since then.
We got to see Elympios in the previous game, and now it’s the center of Xillia 2; what kinds of enemies can we expect to populate Elympios this time around? Reza Maxia is more oriented towards the natural world, while Elympios is a sort of modern metropolis. Do the enemies reflect this?
Well, Elympios and Reza Maxia aren’t necessarily their own worlds—they’re more like separate kingdoms that inhabit the same larger world. That being said, there won’t be a lot of differences in the kinds of enemies you fight on the outskirts of town versus, say, the cliffs of Reza Maxia.
Wolves and big crabs appear in both areas—but the presentation is what’s different, I think. The urban setting of Elympios versus the natural setting of Reza Maxia, that’s where you should expect to see the primary differences. The atmosphere, the color palettes, please take time to observe and enjoy these differences.
In the last game, Elympios comes into the story fairly late. How can we expect to see Reza Maxia play into the greater story of Xillia 2?
So in Xillia 2, Elympios is the main world. The players can go to Reza Maxia, but it doesn’t have a huge impact on the storyline. In the story, the players move between the fluctual dimension world and Elympios. Though I can’t say much about the fluctual dimension world now, you’ll learn how it comes to play a greater role in the story and world of Xillia 2 when it comes out in the U.S. In some cultural episodes, to describe what’s happened to the remaining cultures, the players will visit Reza Maxia to experience some really interesting episodes.
The main character can use switch between a variety of weapons. Does this ability stretch to other characters as well?
So the ability you’re referring to belongs exclusively to Ludger, and it’s called Weapon Shift. This allows him to switch between dual pistols, dual blades, and a big old sledge hammer. Other characters have different abilities. For example, Jude can quickly approach the enemy rear to attack, and another character can extend the length of her weapons.
Tales of Xillia left off on a fairly open note. Even so, is there a reason you chose to re-visit the world of Xillia specifically?
Tales of Xillia marked the 15th anniversary of the Tales of series, so the development team made a very, very detailed world with its own unique history. In Xillia, much of this history and world was simply told and not shown, so we wanted to create a second one that could expand on some of the unexplored elements of Xillia. After the release of Xillia, the team received so much positive feedback that we really wanted to utilize the richness of that world setting.
Speaking of feedback, how do you feel about the reception of the Tales of series in the U.S.?
I went to Paris’ Japan Gaming Expo not too long ago, and saw that there were a lot of players who were simply fascinated with the culture in the game; in fact, it’s that culture that the game creates which I think is responsible for its positive reception as of late. I believe that the Tales series has been accepted by western fans in the same way it has been accepted by Japanese users. By bringing more and more Tales games to the west, we expect this fan base to grow.