Xillia 2 has an inverted structure from the first, set mostly in the less magical Olympios one year after the first game. It's centered around the badly dressed 20 year old Ludger Kresnik and the 8 year old Elle who, in a bit of reverse The Last of Us, saw her father gunned down in front of her.
This is all reflective of what is meant to be a darker story focusing on player choice. The point of view is always Ludger's and throughout the story you'll be tasked with making binary choices (mapped to L1 and R1) that affect how certain scenes play out, Ludger's relationship with party characters, and the end of the game.
We were treated to a cutscene where Ludger's brother, Julius, who works for a spurious company, tries to kill you and you have to choose between forcefully stopping him or reasoning with him. The some weird stuff went down where Elle's amulet started glowing and drilled itself into Ludger's head and he got weird face tattoos and monster hands. What is it with anime and face tattoos? It also follows the gaming-wide conflation of grittiness and maturity.
"We changed the atmosphere to be a bit darker compared to the previous Tales of Xillia. In [the first game], the target audience is teenagers, 15-18, but for Tales of Xillia 2 our target audience is those who are older than 20 years old so we wanted to make a bit more mature and darker atmosphere."
Ludger's crazy transformation is eventually represented in Xillia 2's "Cross Dual Raid Linear Motion Battle System," as he can transform and wreck house in his powerful monster form. There's also a real-time weapon swap system allowing for Ludger to swap between dual blades, a sledgehammer and dual pistols. Linking to characters allows for support attacks -- linked artes -- which are dependent on character affinity, which can change based on choices made during cutscenes.
It took Xillia two and half years to release in the west after its Japanese release. Xillia 2 has a 15 month difference. Next year's Tales of Zestiria should be ready three to six months after its Japanese release. Congratualtions, Tales fans. Namco realized you want to play its games and will be working harder to get them to you in a timely manner.
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