Tales of Arise hands-on preview: Carving a new fate

Bandai Namco is looking to push the Tales franchise forward with Tales of Arise.

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The Tales series is one of the longest-running in gaming, with 16 mainline entries released since 1995. Developer Bandai Namco is set to deliver the latest journey in the franchise with the launch of Tales of Arise this year. Ahead of its release, I had the chance to play an early preview of Tales of Arise.

Forge a new path

The Tales series is rich with beloved characters and interconnected stories. It’s a bit refreshing to know that Bandai Namco is introducing a new cast of characters in Tales of Arise. Players take on the role of Alphen, a man from the planet Dahna. The story also heavily features Shionne, a girl on the run from Rena.

The section of the demo I played was from roughly 10-20 hours into the game and was set in Elde Menancia, once the full party of characters has already come together. Jumping into the game, I was immediately taken by the vibrant locations and lively areas. Bandai Namco is looking to make this world feel alive.

Stories of battle

Just as its predecessors, Tales of Arise is an action-RPG. That said, Bandai Namco made it a priority to revitalize the combat system in Tales of Arise, while also staying true to what fans have come to expect from the series. I was able to select from six different characters to play as, with the option to switch between them whenever, including during combat.

The dynamic battles in Tales of Arise are really exciting. Once combat is initiated, players have a large field that they can freely roam. You can then chain together attacks and focus on whatever enemies you choose in a real-time battle format. Your other party members will attack as well, using their moves to help dispatch foes.

Dynamic fighting

It’s really neat how the game encourages teamwork between party members. Using commands, you can order your teammates to unleash their abilities on enemies. Boost Strikes allow you to coordinate your own special ability with an ally’s in order to pull off a devastating blow. It made battles feel energetic and fresh, as the NPC party members were just as important to success as I was.

Every character also has their own unique set of moves and abilities. Some characters use magic from a distance, while others wield melee weapons and deal damage up close. This also played into the strategy of combat, as I felt the need to keep my healer safe and prioritize their wellbeing. Once they go down, it’s usually not long until the party gets wiped out.

I also really liked how positioning played such a big role during battles. With so many characters and creatures on the field at once, it’s important that you're in a spot that will allow you to be most useful, such as dialing on weak spots, for example. Half of the time, I was leaping into the air and dodging around, just trying to get myself into prime positioning.

A legend will arise

Tales of Arise is looking really fresh to be the 17th entry in a franchise. The world environments and characters all seem interesting, but it’s the combat system that has me excited to play more. Tales of Arise launches on September 10, 2021 for Xbox, PlayStation, and PC.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

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