Tales of Arise producer and “Tales of” series IP general producer Tomizawa Yusuke discussed Tales of Arise in an interview in the 13-20 May 2021 issue of Weekly Famitsu.
Tales of Arise was first announced for a 2020 release at E3 2019 for the Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC (Steam), with Playstation 5, and Xbox Series X/S versions announced later in 2021. The game is to be the latest in Bandai Namco’s long-running “Tales of” series of RPGs, which are known for anime-style aesthetics and action-based combat.
Part 1 of this article is available here: Tales of Arise Producer Discusses Next-Gen and Graphics (Interview Part 1/2)
The interviewer points out that with the graphics improved this much (as discussed in the previous part of this article), they should be able to depict everything they want with just 3D graphics, but Tales of Arise still has anime cutscenes.
To this, Tomizawa says that while they could have done the whole game in 3D, they think fans would probably not have been pleased with that. With the advances in 3D, 2D animation’s place in the game was unclear, but with it being handled by ufotable, whom Tomizawa says are the best at what they do, they figured to simply have both 3D and 2D aim for the top.
Tomizawa also says that the amount of anime cutscenes in Tales of Arise is the greatest in the series. He says he thinks that they made things more difficult for ufotable as well this time by having more detailed, realistic character designs, and has nothing but gratitude for them for depicting them adequately in the 2D parts.
The interviewer next brings up the recently-announced characters Rinwell, Law and Hootle, asking what role they play in the story. Tomizawa says that as people of Dahna, Rinwell and Law are people who are oppressed by Rena. He cannot yet go into detail, but both of them have backgrounds that highlight the complex relationship between Dahna and Rena. Rinwell and Law are also younger than Alphen and Shionne, making them closer to the characters traditionally appearing in the “Tales of” series.
As for Hootle, Tomizawa refers to it as a mascot for the game. He thinks that some fans might be uneasy about the serious-looking atmosphere of Arise and worry about it losing part of the “Tales of” series’ feel, but he would like to assure them that the “fun” parts are still there.
The interviewer points out that currently, Shionne is the only party member from Rena, with everyone else from Dahna, and asks if there are more party members. Tomizawa says that there are, including one(s) from Rena. The themes of the game, about division and friction between races, is depicted through the party members interacting with each other, and how they find their own answers.
The enemy character Balseph, who was also recently revealed, is discussed next. Tomizawa says that Balseph is the sort of character he looks like: Big, strong, and heavy-handed, and is an easy way to see the relationship between Rena and Dahna: A tyrant who does not think of Dahnans as people. He is also tough on his own Renan subordinates. He is a lord who governs his own domain, using Dahnans as slaves to collect fire astral energy, and feels pressed to achieve better results than other lords. A single blow from his giant axe can be fatal, and more will be revealed in the future about how the party stands up to him.
The interview moves on to discuss the battle system, with the interviewer asking about how the newly-revealed Boost Attack and Boost Strike systems work.
Tomizawa says that working with allies is crucial in Arise’s battle system, and Boost Attack is a special support action that can always be used as long as certain conditions are fulfilled in battle. Each character has a role, and their Boost Attack has an effect based on it. Thus, while controlling one character, the player can aim to have other party members use their boost attacks to continue their character’s combo.
Boost Strikes, on the other hand, are finishing moves, which allow the player to finish off enemies in a satisfying manner after lowering their health. Every single grouping of two characters has a Boost Strike, with its own different animation. These let the player finish off enemies with impressive Mystic Artes-like moves.
Mystic Artes do also exist on their own aside from this, in addition to other traditional series elements such as Artes and Techs. The way Mystic Artes are activated in Arise is also different.
Another big characteristic of battles in Arise is how the main focus of the action is dodging attacks: Rather than defending, the player is encouraged to dodge attacks and counterattack, making battles speedier than usual, and Tomizawa thinks that people who like action games should enjoy it.
Tomizawa also brings up how some might find the new battle system to be too difficult due to it being faster-paced than usual. They did not want to make it so that fans up to this point would not be able to play it, and so took care to ensure than anyone can enjoy the game, and also added features such as difficulty modes and an auto-battle function. As such, people who do not like action games should be able to enjoy the battles as well.
Battles are designed so that the players will be able to see when enemies are about to attack, and thus dodge accordingly: This results in battles revolving around the fun of dodging and counterattacking throughout. That being said, some attacks may have tells that are subtle or short, making them hard to dodge.
Previous games in the series revolved more around defending to build up a gauge, and Tomizawa says that gauge-based systems do return. However, while previous games required the player to wait at times to fully use the gauge systems, Arise is made so that gauges are built up by attacking proactively. The system is made so that the player will ultimately come up with an ideal combo that fills up the gauge, making it so that attacking allows them to continue attacking.
The interviewer asks about the series’ traditional victory conversations, and Tomizawa says that while there is no victory screen in Arise, with the player returning immediately to the field upon winning a battle, post-battle conversations do happen on the field after battles.
Tomizawa says that they did their best to ensure a smooth experience with the game, fitting of an RPG of this age. Sending the player back to the field immediately after battles was done in this vein, in order to balance the fun of battles and exploration. Elements that would otherwise make the flow of the game worse were changed while also retaining “Tales of”-likeness, and Tomizawa says that he thinks players will be surprised by how many different post-battle conversations there are. While he cannot reveal them yet, Skits also return in another form. They have also made it so that exploring the field feels more like an action game, with the player being able to freely jump around and swim.
The interviewer asks if there any plans for a demo, and Tomizawa says that they are still considering what to do, but that they do want to give players a chance to try the game out. With the game coming out it only four months, they also plan to continue releasing new information about the game as well.
Finally, the interviewer points out how, in Japan, previous games in the series were given unique genre names, such as “an RPG to learn the meaning of your birth” for Tales of the Abyss, or “an RPG for you to live like yourself” for Tales of Berseria, and asks if Tales of Arise has one as well. Tomizawa says that Tales of Arise’s is “an RPG to speak of the dawn of the heart”. In addition to “standing up”, “Arise” in the title of the game also carries the meaning of “dawn”, and “dawn of the heart” is a reference to this. He realizes that it may sound more abstract than previous titles’, but it is supposed to refer not just to the events within the game, but also to the dawns in all of the players’ hearts. He says that it is a theme for a difficult age, and he hopes that players see it through to the end, and feel it.
Tales of Arise will be released worldwide for the Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S on 9 September 2021, and on the PC via Steam on 10 September 2021