Tales of Arise: Everything we know

Tales of Arise is the latest action-RPG in the long-running "Tales of" JRPG series. It's the 17th game in the main series, but only the last few, starting with Tales of Zestiria, have been on PC. Producer Yusuke Tomizawa has been giving out interviews and divulging more about the game since its announcement trailer at E3, and the common theme that Tomizawa has repeated so far is "inheritance and evolution," both for Arise's own plot and its place within the Tales series. The end of the trailer above puts it in pretty plain language: "Now is the time for change."

Tomizawa has stressed that Arise, as he hopes it will become known rather than ToA (already taken by Tales of the Abyss), will show long-time fans of the series that Bandai Namco understands which series staples are important to players, while still innovating and appealing to a more global audience.

We've gathered all the trailers, gameplay information, and translated interviews in one place to take a look at which parts of Tales of Arise are inherited, and which are evolved.

What is Tales of Arise's release date?

We don't have a specific release date yet, but Tales of Arise's trailer says it will be releasing in 2020.

Who is the hero in Tales of Arise?

We've gotten a good look at Tales of Arise's two main protagonists so far: the fella in the iron mask named Alphen and the pink-haired woman with garter bandoliers (practical and fashionable! You go, girl) named Shionne.

Alphen is the playable character for the game, though it looks like the two characters' stories are pretty intertwined so we'll likely have both in our party for the majority of the game (and if past Tales are any indication, we may be able to control anyone in the party).

Alphen is a slave from the technologically stunted planet Dahna, invaded 300 years ago by Shionne's nearby homeworld Rena. According to the Tales of blog, Alphen has lost his memory (thank goodness for RPG traditions) while Shionne is cursed by something called "thorns" that causes pain to anyone who touches her. 

Obviously, they don't start out as friends and their relationship is a bit contentious at first. We don't know yet what circumstances bring Alphen and Shionne into their unlikely partnership.

What will combat be like in Tales of Arise?

Tomizawa says that players shouldn't expect major changes to the Linear Motion Battle System that the Tales series is known for, according to a conversation with Game Informer. That said, the same conversation mentions "plans to do exciting new things with it in Arise." Tomizawa hasn't elaborated on specifics of the battle system yet but based on his claim that its "core formula" would remain similar, here are the things you can likely expect from it.

If you aren't familiar with the standard Tales battle system, the gist is that battles take place in a 3D space but characters run in a straight line towards a target. Tales of the Abyss introduced a free run element to the LMBS system that allowed a character to move in all directions while a certain button is pressed and return to linear motion after. Based on the brief glimpse of combat we got in the Arise trailer, it looks like there will be a free running element to its version of the LMBS system. We also spotted at least one dodge roll in the trailer.

Other common features in LMBS are combo meters, special attacks, and control modes ranging from manual (where the player has full control of the character) to automatic (where an AI controls all movement and abilities). 

Did that guy just pull a sword out of her chest? 

Tales of Arise

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Yes. We're sure there's a very rational explanation for that. Possibly.

Seriously though, it may have something to do with that thorns curse that Shionne has? Or maybe all the Renan people can summon weaponry from their chests.

What is the setting for Tales of Arise?

So far we've heard about the two planets Dahna and Rena in Tales of Arise. Dahna, where the masked hero was born, is a less advanced planet with approximately medieval levels of technology. That's a pretty wide swath of human history but we suspect this really just means that on Dahna people use swords, wear heavy plate armor, and don't have electricity. We'll pass along more details on that as we have them.

In the sky above Dahna is another planet called Rena, more advanced in technology and magic. For instance, the protagonist Shionne is shown wielding some kind of rifle, a technology likely not seen on Dahna. Rena invaded Dahna 300 years ago and enslaved its people. We're showing up on Dahna (or at least we assume that's where it makes sense for this story to start) hundreds of years into Dahna's history of enslavement. They've had stories of Rena handed down for generations "as a land of the righteous and divine," likely adding to rationalization of their own subjugation. Based on the character trailer, it almost sounds like the Dahna people believe Rena is a sort of heaven where the dead and gods live together. 

It seems a safe guess that Tales of Arise will visit both planets over the course of its story, meaning we'll likely start out our adventure doing standard medieval chores like killing wolves and making potions before transitioning to the more advanced planet of Rena partway through the story. 

Tales of Arise

(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Who are your party members in Tales of Arise?

"Bandai Namco was not willing to talk about other party members yet," according to Game Informer, "but did say you could expect a size similar to other games in the series." It's probably safe to expect more than five but less than ten playable party members.

What's all this "inheritance and evolution" business?

The Tales series is over 20 years old at this point, starting with Tales of Phantasia in 1995. Although changes and improvements have been made over time, it seems that Bandai Namco feels it's time to really shake things up. Tales of Arise is meant to pay homage to the Tales roots while innovating in important areas and giving the series more global appeal. 

We've heard mention of how enemies are more intimidating in Arise, but there will still be some sort of cute mascot character. Tomizawa has also mentioned animated character skits and chats, another common Tales element. The developers are looking at exactly why they're popular and how they can be enhanced.

One big change so far is that Tales of Arise isn't built using Bandai Namco's inhouse engine used for previous Tales games. Instead, Arise is built in Unreal Engine 4 and the studio is developing its own custom shaders to give characters a familiar Tales visual style. 

Tomizawa also goes into a discussion of the Tales of Arise logo on the official Tales blog where he explains yet another "inheritance and evolution" element. While Arise's logo is pretty recognizable as a Tales series mark (yes, partly because it literally includes the words "Tales of") it does away with some older elements like gradients and outlined text common in a Tales logo. Discussions on logo design may be more than most people are in to read about, but you can get the gist of it by checking out the blog post and letting Google Translate do the work for you.

Lauren loves long books and even longer RPGs. She got a game design degree and then, stupidly, refused to move to California. She plays indie games you haven't heard of and will never pass on a story about players breaking games or playing them wrong.