Tales of Xillia 2 fascinates me. It isn’t because I loved the original Tales of Xillia, which I absolutely did. It’s just that, somehow, the sequel is even more appealing and intriguing to me. Xillia 2 has triggered something in such a strange way, and I’m not even sure how it happened.
I’m happy it has, though—primarily because Xillia 2 has restored my faith in Tales sequels. It was shaken after Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, and I feared the damage was irreparable. It isn’t the case at all here.
Part of me wonders if its the characters that made Tales of Xillia 2 so inviting. Though this adventure takes place in Elympios, all of our favorite characters from Xillia appear. Even more so, in fact, as Gaius and Muzet join the roster. The fact that everyone has returned, and joins Ludger in his affairs, makes the game immediately welcoming.
That, and the story is identifiable as well. Ludger Kresnik had an opportunity to join the Spirius Corporation in the introduction, but fails due to his kind heart. Instead, he’s stuck as a railway employee. But fate can be strange, and a premonition of him battling his brother, Julius soon becomes a reality.
On his way to his first day of work, Ludger encounters two important figures. The first is Elle Mel Marta, a young girl who was sent by her father to search for the Land of Canaan, where wishes come true. The other is the very familiar Jude Mathis, the deuteragonist of the original Xillia. Elle claims Ludger is a kidnapper to sneak onboard the train. Which was probably the wrong thing to do, as a group of Exodus terrorists are hijacking said train, mainly because the head of the Spirius Corporation was going to be on it.
In short, Xillia 2 starts with a bang. Ludger ends up being responsible for Elle. Jude is very surprised to hear Ludger has the last name Kresnik. Everyone is amazed to see Julius on the train, unwilling to stop the attack. People become even more shocked to see both Julius and Ludger change into super-charged versions of themselves. The train crashes, and the medical and veterinary fees for Ludger, Elle, and the pudgey-precious cat Rollo come to 20 million gald. Which must be repaid while also continuing the hunt for the Land of Canaan and destroying fractured dimensions so their own can exist.
I initially wondered if it was the Kresnik connection that made Xillia 2 so inviting. After all, the Lance of Kresnik was a very big deal in Xillia. Despite its importance, there were a lot of unanswered questions surrounding it. Knowing that Ludger’s stories would have to provide answers, due to his last name, was quite a draw.
That said, it was probably the decision-making that took priority. Players are constantly being asked what Ludger should say or do. That interaction really helps bring the game to life. You care about the choices and wonder which move is right or wrong. I think what I liked most about them is that there often isn’t a “correct” answer. If someone’s hoping to make all of their decisions in Xillia 2 based on some kind of moral code, good luck. There are many times when both answers could be “right.” I was glad these moments were never timed, because sometimes I truly had to think about what action would be best for that situation. What would my Ludger do?
Even the debt really makes a player feel involved. I’m sure many of the people who will be playing Xillia 2 are of an age where they’re starting to think about college loans or the expenses of daily life. Having Ludger have an obligation makes the game feel more real. Or, at least as real as a JRPG in a world with spirits and dimension-hopping-magic can be. It made it easier to identify with these virtual people, because we’ve been in similar situations.
With all this talking, people are probably wondering about the Tales staples. The active battle system works as wonderfully as it did in Xillia, though I prefer the Link system here. I’m not sure if the tutorials made it easier to understand or if the minor tweaks to refine it really mattered all that much, but it feels much smoother. Ludger is really a powerhouse in battle, thanks to his Chromatus transformations and weapons. In fact, I really didn’t have to think to much about party plans because of him. I guess one could say he’s a bit OP? (At least, on the easy difficult level he was.) Usually, in Tales games, I’m constantly worrying about the party makeup, but here I went with the characters I liked best, because I knew Ludger’s strengths would take care of any situation.
And, while I was sad to see the Final Fantasy X sphere grid-esque Lilium Orb system, I find I prefer the Alium Orbs. It’s more like the skill systems found in both Tales of the Abyss and Vesperia, and it just more true to the series.
It’s just so strange for me, as a fan of Tales for all these years, to suddenly have my feelings shifting for the series. For so long, Tales of the Abyss was just it for me. I’d play and enjoy other installments, but… I suppose it was a bit of the Final Fantasy syndrome at play. Where you enjoy the later titles, but always feel the classics were best. Then Xillia came along and upended things, making me suddenly wonder if the best years of the series were head of us. Now, Xillia 2 has me even more confused, because I never expected a sequel to a main installment would have me consumed with completing every aspect of the game. No sidequest can remain unfinished. A log of whether I pressed L1 or R1 in conversations was kept. Altthough I completed the main adventure, I keep going back to my save file to do other things, and prepare myself for the other endings.
Food for Thought:
1.There are 100 cats to find in Xillia 2. Collecting kittens is a very important incentive and gameplay element (to me).
2. Skits are voiced, and sometimes Ludger can make choices in them.
3. If you want to see all of the main endings, have a save file made at the very beginning of Chapter 15.