It’s not really a spoiler to tell you that in Tales of Zestiria, Sorey becomes the Shepherd of legend, the one who can resonate with the seraphim and will quell the lord of calamity’s malevolence over the human world. However, Zestiria lets you take an active role in managing Sorey’s role as the Shepherd, helping to bring humans and seraphim together again.
Sorey is reminded of the Shepherd’s burden multiple times during his journey. That he will likely be shunned by others, who don’t understand or believe in the seraphim’s role in human society. Moments arise in Sorey’s journey where the decision making falls on your own shoulders. One of the earliest decision has Sorey decide as to whether he wants to make a public display of his powers to build foundations for a new bridge. Sorey is naive and gungho about his newfound abilities and he often has to suppress his overwhelming instincts to help people following advice from his partnered seraphim. They explain the role of a shepherd requires him to be a neutral party in human matters. He’s also warned that if people think negatively of the shepherd, or if Sorey becomes hateful towards humans, this could lead to breeding malevolence which can affect the seraphim party members.
So when Sorey wants to build the bridge foundations straight away so the new bridge can be built as soon as possible, the seraphim in his party warn him to consider his actions carefully. If Sorey goes ahead and builds the bridge right away, the nearby onlookers cower in fear from his abilities, leaving Sorey dejected but work on the bridge begins straight away. If you choose not to build it straight away, Sorey and company return at midnight to build the foundations while no one is around, avoiding panicking anyone. The decisions provide a good insight into the attitudes Sorey deals with. Usually heroes in games are generally respected for what they’re doing whereas in this case, while some do show respect to Sorey, these seem to be in the minority or at least want Sorey to prove himself before trusting him.
Another way you help out as a Shepherd is restoring a seraph’s blessing to a town. Sometimes this happens as part of the story and other times they’re part of sub missions. The town’s seraph will have become corrupted by malevolence and it’s up to Sorey to defeat the seraph in their hellion form to restore them to their normal self. Once restored, you’ll have access to the Lord of the Land menu. Here, you can start to reap the benefits of having the seraph’s blessing.
You’ll now be able to access certain boons such as being able to travel between save points you’ve already accessed and letting chests replenish their items after a certain amount of time has passed. As you earn grade in battle, the area’s blessing level will increase, increasing the amount of boons available to you and how many you can set at once. If you don’t fancy earning grade through battles, you always have the option to trade in items for grade. This is also where you benefit from the Normin you find scattered around the map. Each Normin is named after a equipment skill in the game and by assigning one to a Lord of the Land will increase the likelihood of enemies dropping equipment with that effect. Doing so however, will increase the level of the enemies in the area so make you can handle the higher levels before doing so. The encounter rate in Tales of Zestiria seems a little high for my personal liking so this provides an extra bonus and motivation for getting involved in battles on the field. While it is possible to avoid battles on the field, enemies are relentless in following you and don’t give up the chase easily.