Tales games can have large casts. There are six people in Tales of Xillia, for example, and eight in Tales of Zestiria. But, you can only have four people in your active party at a time, sending them out to help fight your battles. At E3’s Tales of Berseria demo, the battle system was what was really on display and, in this entry, you really feel like every fight is a group effort.
The brief segment of Tales of Berseria people were able to play took place on a beach. Velvet and her crew were searching for a Malak which looked like a cat in a witch costume. This entailed searching along some cliffs and coves, encountering various enemies along the way.
Tales of Berseria has one of the most active battle systems in the series. Pretty much every attack could be considered similar to an arte, with players able to arrange combos from learned skills before battles begin. Each action button has one arte assigned to it, and a combo can have four artes assigned to it, for a total of 16 that can be used via button presses in a battle. A player can freely run around the battlefield, going up to an enemy and launching into any combo they choose.
A character’s Soul Gauge, represented by diamonds on their status bar, shows how many attacks they can use at a time. It is possible to continually attack, going over limits to defeat enemies and get a soul in return. Or, someone can be more prudent and pause. Waiting until at least three souls have built up in the gauge allows for a special Break Soul attack to be used. It allows for an incredibly supportive party filled with characters capable of powerful attacks at a moment’s notice.
Especially since any non-active party member can be immediately pulled into a battle. It’s easy to shift to another active ally by pushing a left or right button, though it’s also possible to press up or down to call someone who is on the sidelines in. The character status bars on the bottom screen show which characters could also be pulled into a battle. It’s easy to drag someone in or push someone out for an immediate transition.
I found it was a good way to see how different characters play. In most Tales games, I stick with the main hero or heroine as my playable character. At E3, Velvet, Laphicet, Magilou, Rokurou, Eleanor, and Eizen were all in the party. You can see if a mage, like Laphicet or Magiou, suits you, or stick with more traditional damage dealers like Velvet, Eleanor, or Rokurou.
This sense of togetherness extends to the victory screen. While Tales of Berseria maintains some brief segments showing a few characters who participated in that fight interacting, there were a few after-battle moments that showed the entire six character party. It was refreshing to see them all there, because they really were all there!
I liked that sense of camaraderie. We’re always seeing characters coming together and fighting for a common cause in the Tales series. We know we have a full party always with us. It’s good to see Tales of Berseria adjusting its battle system so we can easily pull everyone in at any time and simply switch off between characters to find a proper groove. It feels like a unifying experience.
Tales of Berseria will come to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in Japan on August 18, 2016. It will arrive on the PlayStation 4 and Windows PC in other regions in 2017.