Part 1: A Short Review Without Spoilers
Part 2: My Thoughts on the Story of Tales of Arise, the Influence of Hideo Baba, and the Franchise at this point
Note: This will contain Major Spoilers for Tales of Arise, Tales of Vesperia, Tales of Graces F, Tales of Symphonia, Tales of the Abyss, Tales of Zestiria, and Tales of Berseria.
My thoughts on the Tales of Series have shifted over the recent years in a tumult from Graces F to the most recent title, Tales of Arise due largely to the changes in story quality. With having spent 60 hours on Tales of Arise, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that I can expect future Tales titles will have good stories and that Tales of Berseria wasn’t a temporary fluke from the miserable PS3 / 360 era trends. I never had the opportunity to play Tales of Vesperia until the Definitive Edition on Steam, but I imagine that I would have loathed going from the phenomenal story of Tales of the Abyss – arguably the best video game story ever written with the most believable main character in video game stories – to the garbage that I endured when playing Vesperia’s sorry excuse of a meandering “plot” of Estelle not getting a question answered for 20 hours. Tales of Vesperia began the cancerous growth of bland main characters with no real personalities along with meandering plots that went nowhere.
My first experience with this cancerous growth was Tales of Graces F. I was so shocked at how awful the story was. I wondered how on earth the same franchise that gave us Tales of Symphonia and Tales of the Abyss could trudge along this trash of a game. I couldn’t believe reviews by people saying to ignore the garbage story and just play for the “fun” gameplay. The gameplay wasn’t fun and I maintain it was the worst Tales of Series gameplay that I’ve ever had the misfortune to experience. After having played Vesperia, I can say that Vesperia’s gameplay at least kept me interested in the game. Graces F was something I had to force myself to finish because it was so bad. The only mildly hilarious part of the entire story was the beginning with kid Asbel having a serious argument with his Lord Father about keeping Sophie as a pet to take care of. For anyone unfamiliar with Tales of Graces F, that actually happened. I didn’t know whether to facepalm or laugh and asked the opinions of friends who had played it too. Most told me they had essentially facepalmed. The only reason I found it mildly funny was because of how asinine the entire conversation between Asbel and his father was. His father should be calling the Knights to help Sophie find her family, not have had an argument with his 10-year old son about the 10-year old taking care of a girl who looks to be slightly older than him. Of course, I had already put more thought into Graces F’s story with that one-line than the writers had throughout the entirety of the “plot” of Graces F. I wondered what on earth happened to this series to change the stories to become so piss poor in quality. I loved the Tales of series, I had even encouraged my brother and sister to get into the franchise and while my sister preferred Mass Effect, my brother really liked Tales of Symphonia and thought highly of it. I had hoped they would become even greater than Symphonia and Abyss, but it was not to be. Frustrating matters further was that during the time, it seemed as if the Tales of series was having a collective drought with Namco Bandai rarely localizing any new titles, especially the handheld ones. I felt a strange sense of guilt for disliking Graces F, because I began wondering if writing any negative review would only hurt the prospect of the series gaining further localizations in the West. I had acquired both Xillia games on PS3, but I never got far with the first Xillia game and I was worried that it would just be another set of disappointments with the storytelling. I just couldn’t bring myself to continue on with it and never got beyond the early part of Maxwell’s portion. I had decided then that I couldn’t justify my dislike for the post-Abyss direction of the storytelling of the series just because I was worried that I would never be able to play a future release that might be good.
Of course, then Steam became more prominent, Namco Bandai started putting their games on the PC platform with major gains, and Tales of games sales began shooting up to record highs like never before and the next Tales of game, Tales of Zestiria, came to Steam. Tales of Series not coming to the West due to lack of localization seemed to become a distant and fading issue overnight. With some encouragement from my brother, I got Tales of Zestiria on Steam. Sorey just followed a long line of disappointing, bland, and forgettable protagonists started by Asbel of Tales of Graces F (although, in actuality it was Yuri Lowell who started the trend as I would later learn); the plot of Zestiria contradicted itself with the details of Sorey’s origins, the characters were forgettable, and the gameplay felt far too different from the grid system of Tales of the Abyss and Tales of Vesperia without much in the way of a challenge. Sorey was basically immortal since he could armatize with dead allies in combat. It felt like a completely different genre at times and the camera movement was awful. It was clear that they had no real planning for the plot. Alisha just randomly got removed from the story and didn’t return for so long, Rose (as I later realized after playing Vesperia) was just female Yuri Lowell with the same lack of any actual character flaws and self-justifying murder streak, and the narrative tried to build this romance with Rose and Sorey only for it to fall flat. Mikleo was an obviously better fit as Sorey’s romantic partner despite Sorey and him technically being cousins and the “romance” with Rose went nowhere since Sorey is sealed away with Maotelus for hundreds or thousands of years and Rose’s grave is randomly shown in the ending of the game itself. The only redeeming part about the Zestiria ending was Mikleo’s extended archaeological journey where he reunites with the vague figure of Sorey at the very end. Yet, that begs the question, if they were going for Mikleo and Sorey as a couple all along, why the hell was there so many Rose x Sorey skits? The tonal dissonance in Zestiria was irksome. The DLC ending only confused matters since it introduces this pathetic character and it was probably insinuating that he was the next possible Lord of Calamity, but we never get a conclusion to whatever that guy was doing and the ending of the main game flashes so far into the future that we have no context for what impact that pathetic dude had. Heldaff – despite so many interesting segments in the archaeology section – ended-up being a generic stock villain with no personality. This was a double-whammy since Sorey barely had much of a personality and was a slightly improved version of Asbel to me.
Needless to say, Tales of Zestiria is where I had decided that I should just quit the series. I concluded that the Tales games were never going to be the high-quality stories of Tales of Symphonia and Tales of the Abyss, most forum discussions I had on Tales forums simply dismissed story complaints as “JRPGs are always wacky” or “story is meh, it’s the gameplay that matters” and so on, and the only surprise was that a substantially larger amount of people agreed that Zestiria was terrible, but to my surprise they rated Sorey as the worst Tales of protagonist. I would award that title to Asbel of Graces F as I felt Sorey was basically the same stock character, but in a more interesting world and setting. Nevertheless, it was indeed because of how boring Sorey was and how painfully boring the story of Zestiria was that I decided it wasn’t worth getting upset about the worsening quality of these games, to just accept that I had misunderstood the series, and I had deluded views holding onto the “glory years” of Symphonia and Abyss like some loud, angry grandpa talking about the good old days. What was the point of getting upset, when it was clear nothing would change? It was better to stop talking about disagreements in forums, drop the series, and to stop wasting my time. I had internalized the lessons from the pushback towards my criticisms of the newer stories in the series from people whose arguments conveyed they didn’t care about the story anyway and I decided to just quit. I had held out a little hope for Berseria, but the first trailer of a girl no longer smiling struck me as dull and seemed like “Sorey and Asbel, but girl” in my mind. I’m sure many others were comparing Velvet to Lightning from FF13 at the time. The added censorship over some death scene seemed like further reinforcement that Tales stopped having insightful or mature storytelling and was now too cowardly to discuss any complex concepts like in Symphonia and Abyss. Seriously, the story of both games were so good, I found more nuances as I got older, such as Abyss’s references being on point for Kabbalah symbolism. Yet, I could see the series was well past its prime after completing Zestiria. At the time, and ironically enough as life would have it, I felt that the Tales of Series had largely explored all of its possible concepts and the only concept I could think of that would be interesting was a villain protagonist. I really wanted Tales to explore such a concept, but I accepted that it would just be bland main characters and forgettable stories so I just gave-up. The various forums seemed to be comprised of a large group of people that didn’t care for story at all, so there didn’t seem to be any indication the Tales of Series would ever improve if the fanbase was indifferent to storytelling. Thus, I dropped the series from JRPG series to look forward to play.
About a year after Tales of Berseria released on consoles and Steam, my brother had decided to try it out, beat it, and asked me of my thoughts on the game because he assumed I had already played it since I was such a long-time fan and got him into the series. I informed him that I hadn’t bothered to buy it, because I had lost interest in the Tales of series after how boring and disappointing Zestiria was. He was quite surprised by my response and suggested that I try it out. I decided to just ask him about the game and he assured me that it was nothing like Zestiria and that the worst character in Berseria among the main cast (to him, it was Rokurou) was still better than the best character in Zestiria (Mikleo, who I agreed was the best character in that game but largely unexplored). I told him I was wary due to the censorship and he assured me that people on forums claiming it ruined some important plot point later were wrong and that it didn’t ruin the story. I generally agree with my siblings’ views on video games, so I decided to try it out. My brother assured me that it was a really good game with an actual villain protagonist, so I was intrigued and decided to buy it on Steam at full price instead of on PS4 for the discount since I believe in supporting companies that provide good, quality products that I enjoy. I played through it and by the time that I got to the first town’s story arc and saw Velvet actually help the lizardman burn down the snow town before kidnapping a magic-user child and threatening him into shooting magic at her enemies to make a successful escape, I think my jaw dropped. From then on, I kept playing and I loved 4/5ths of the story, with the final 5/5ths being either good or decent. However, the positive parts were overwhelmingly positive and I LOVED Velvet’s character growth. Berseria became one of my two all-time favorites Tales of games. The other game being Abyss, of course.
As you may well imagine, my appreciation and love for the series was renewed, but I held a skeptical outlook because Berseria could possibly be an outlier; indeed, possibly the outlier of all Tales of series games. I had suspicions on why Berseria was such a remarkable, well-crafted, and fun as hell story, but I couldn’t really be sure until I saw what Namco Bandai had to offer for their next installment of the series. I very much enjoyed Tales of Crestoria, the mobile Tales of game; I was surprised how amazing the plot and characters of Crestoria was. Yet, I remained skeptical and patiently awaited Tales of Arise’s release. I understood the delay due to COVID-19 and didn’t fault them for it. I was glad they decided to be so honest and upfront about the issues. I eagerly began playing Tales of Arise once it was out; a friend of mine gifted me the money to purchase the Ultimate edition as part of a mutual deal. I had an absolute blast playing Tales of Arise; it’s definitely been my favorite gameplay of the modern Tales of games and while I thought the story was very good, I felt the villains were lacking in depth and it needed just one more nuanced approach that I found lacking. For comparisons sake, the villains in Berseria felt more nuanced; Oscar felt like a dark what-if version of Sorey with a more selfish and conniving sister who mothered him too much as a result of their privileged aristocratic upbringing instead of a more congenial and equal family relationship of Sorey and Mikleo. Velvet and Arthur were clearly at odds in their personal philosophies about human will, even beyond Velvet’s hatred for the massacre of her village and the death of her brother by Arthur in his scheme to create world peace and stop all malevolence. While the other villains were as intriguing and showed core philosophical differences with their respective antagonists, I found the most intriguing aspect of Berseria was that Arthur had at first thought of treating Eleanor as his next student but quickly decided against it after hearing her response to his philosophical question of why birds fly. He expresses what could be akin to admiration towards Velvet’s accomplishments of defeating 3 of the Legates, beating Eleanor, and breaking Eleanor’s dutifulness to avoid emotion in her decision-making. Once Eleanor gives her answer about the practicality of hunting for why birds fly, Arthur holds back his disappointment and dismisses her; indicating Eleanor is unworthy of being a student of his. Yet, from what I recall, Arthur never actually denies that Velvet is his student and since he posed this same question to her right in the beginning of the game and she responds by the end, it is made clear that Velvet has indeed been his only student despite her animosity and desire for revenge. This is made even clearer when observing how – despite all her hatred – Velvet dutifully follows Arthur’s maxims in both combat and her personal philosophy. This indicates that she is indeed his only true student and came to surpass him through opposition to his beliefs in focusing only on Reason. Arthur obviously parallels King Arthur, but I read a rather interesting blog post that suggested Velvet is the equivalent of Mordred in the story since she’s reborn from sin. This neatly fits Berseria since it would make Seres into the equivalent of Morgan Le Fay and may suggest that both Velvet and Laphicet are different interpretations of a “Mordred-esque” character with Velvet representing the black-hearted vengeance and Laphicet representing the one who deposed Arthur’s rule to takeover in his place. By contrast, Tales of Arise seemed more like a return to old concepts, but I didn’t mind that as much. I actually enjoyed the narrative focusing on realistic impacts of colonialism and human exploitation, although it never went into a more intimately dark story like its predecessor, Berseria, which was a personal revenge story involving pirates and massacring the innocent. Nevertheless, for the reasons stated in my spoiler-free review, Tales of Arise is a great game.
The Influence of Hideo Baba
The release of Tales of Arise and the strong quality of its story gives credence to something I had long suspected. I had heard Hideo Baba kept pushing for blank slate characters in Tales of games and I noticed that it truly began with him taking the helm of these projects. However, with all the praise Vesperia constantly got from the fanbase, I assumed it had a decent story; I’d been told that it was “generic” but that didn’t quite prepare me for what I experienced. You can imagine my shock and disgust for Tales of Vesperia’s so-called “plot” as it wasn’t generic . . . it frankly didn’t exist. It comprised of Estelle needing a question answered, some stupid forced plot event preventing Estelle from having a simple question answered, the party breaking up in a town, Yuri asking Estelle what she wants to do, the party reforming together, and leaving for the next pointless failure of getting a simple question answered in what really was mostly just going to the same towns repeatedly. This is the “plot” of Vesperia up until Yuri Lowell randomly exclaims some guy you hardly know is “behind everything!” since all the story has you do is go to the same towns in order to fail to get a simple question answered and then move on to the next town. Imagine my shock at the so-called “character” of Yuri Lowell, a guild vagabond who kills a bunch of boring one-note villainous rich people from a country that he firmly decided to leave in order to move on for a better life, only to use the guild as a cover to commit serial murders. I expected a decent character, instead all I got was a male version of Rose from Tales of Zestiria. Rose and Yuri Lowell are exactly the same character; vagabonds faking being part of an organization in order to commit serial murder sprees on one-note villainous nobles. How the Tales of Series fanbase blasts Rose for being a “mary-sue” but unironically fails to see that she’s literally just a female Yuri Lowell while Yuri Lowell always tops character polls is beyond me. Fear not, I’m not insinuating sexism for this difference in treatment of these two characters, I do not believe that fellow fans are being sexist, but I’m insinuating a complete lack of critical thinking skills. That seems to be what this is. Perhaps it is because Sorey really is one of the worst protagonists in the Tales of series, the fact Alisha was swapped for Rose when Alisha clearly had an actual character unlike Rose yet was relegated to a DLC side-story, and the bad gameplay design all compounding into loathing for the entire game. Whatever hate was thrown Rose’s way, Sorey got an even worse brunt of for being totally boring, so sexism was not part of the equation. Yuri Lowell seems exempt despite the story of Vesperia being far worse than the story of Zestiria. For all the complaints on Zestiria’s plot holes, Vesperia’s has far worse and it’s for even more simplistic issues than Zestiria. For example, the Schwann Brigade appears to help form scaffolding to help the party infiltrate the super-warship and stop it after it shot at the Capitol of the Empire and then later when Yuri goes to save the lower-income people that he used to live with in the Capitol, he discovers that the shot didn’t kill them because the Schwann Brigade had evacuated them to safety. Do you see why the story of Vesperia is absolutely fucking stupid to the point I can’t even be nice about it? How could the Schwann brigade have built the scaffolding after the warship shot at the Capitol while also being in the Capitol hundreds of miles away and getting the poorer citizens to safety before the shot hit them . . . at the exact same time? I could never get over how absolutely stupid that was. And here’s the dumbest part: if they had put any thought into the story of Vesperia, they could have simply had the only two members of the Schwann brigade split up to have one make the scaffolding and the other get the citizens to safety. Why didn’t they put in place that completely simple change in Vesperia’s story so the events made sense? Why was using logic so hard for Hideo Baba? This was a Japanese game studio lowering the quality of their storytelling to Western levels of garbage.
A look at the development of the story of Vesperia sheds light on the problem; the story evidently got passed around from four different story writers including Hideo Baba:
By contrast, Tales of the Abyss and Tales of Symphonia were largely just written by Takumi Miyajima, whose work is absolutely brilliant. Abyss is probably one of the greatest plots in all of gaming and Symphonia’s refreshing twists on an old stock formula 7 hours into the game (among many other positives) is one of the reasons it is so beloved. I may not have been as much a fan of her latest work of Scarlet Nexus as I am of Symphonia and Abyss, but I really enjoyed Kasane’s route in Scarlet Nexus and I do intend to go back and play through Yuito’s at a later time and if Scarlet Nexus ever has a sequel with her at the help of writing it, then I’m definitely going to purchase and play it. I cannot say that I’ll ever do the same for Hideo Baba because the games that he contributes as director or writes stories for are utterly boring from my experience. From my experience having played some of the games that he’s been writer or producer of; I’ve played some of Tales of Hearts, all of Tales of Graces F, nearly all of Tales of Vesperia, and all of Tales of Zestiria; all he provides are: A bland main character with no real personality (Yuri, Asbel, Sorey), a painfully unexplored world and setting (Vesperia especially because I was hoping the Guilds would be explored further), boring party members (everyone in Vesperia and Graces F. Everyone but Mikleo in Zestiria), terrible villains (all the games he’s been part of except certain characters in Symphonia Dawn due to Takumi Miyajima being a competent storyteller despite her ideas apparently being shot down by Hideo Baba when development for Symphonia Dawn was underway), and plot hole upon plot hole upon plot hole (Vesperia and Zestiria). All that said, it is clear that Hideo Baba was the Masato Kato of the Tales of series; he was ruining the franchise just like Masato Kato ruined the Chrono series. Now that the cancer of the series has finally retired and moved onto Square Enix before his development team was closed down under unknown circumstances, we get an honest 100% Villain Protagonist with Tales of Berseria and a very good story with Tales of Arise.
It may also be worth noting: criticism of sexism within Tales of Berseria seemed to be taken to heart by the Tales of Series team and they made Arise more Western oriented with none of the arguably sexist parts of Berseria. I personally don’t think there’s really any issue with most controversial material in fiction and Berseria’s wasn’t excessive; from a worldbuilding standpoint, it also made sense to me that Berseria’s social views were more antiquated since this is centuries prior to Zestiria which doesn’t have the sexist attitudes of centuries prior (i.e. Berseria). I would argue it was possibly part of the worldbuilding since these people are suppose to be centuries behind, yet Velvet is clearly written as a bisexual from the opening scenes with her off-handedly commenting on her attraction to men and women. It may have been that they wanted to provide implications of actual social developments over the centuries and they had already decided LGBT people were accepted both in the past and the future. Zestiria certainly didn’t have any misogynistic attitudes towards women and it is the same world in the far future, so it is possible they had specifically written Berseria’s cast in a less flattering light because they are all criminals and they actually should have more antiquated beliefs than those of Zestiria from a worldbuilding standpoint. Otherwise, we would have to believe no social attitudes changed for centuries in this world, which makes the world less believable. Moreover, Velvet really was the main character and felt quite believable in the trajectory of her character arc and so did Eleanor in hers.
While that may seem unflattering towards Berseria, the reason such controversies spring up in games like Berseria . . . is because the story is really good. People really love the narrative. Hideo Baba’s stories don’t have controversy because he doesn’t know how to write a story. He has nothing of value to say, no examination of either a philosophical point or human rights issue to explore, and his stories are cookie-cutter and dull. None of the protagonists in the games I played ever really deal with harsh challenges that make them question their motives, their philosophies on life, or their personal worth. Lloyd was arguably a bland MC, but the villain was part of a discriminated group who chose a more violent path after doing so much to help others and reform the world for the better only to lose everything for choosing the right path in their past. Tales of the Abyss explores the effects of cloning in society, the personal identity of a clone and their struggles to feel any sense of worth as a person after being used by a trusted father-figure to kill millions of innocent people, and the use of genocide of a discriminated race in order to save the rest of the human species. Fictional concepts and scenarios that really push the boundaries and explore how to think of solving issues meaningfully or in ways that the protagonists of these stories failed to. One doesn’t need as deep and complex a story as either Abyss or Symphonia, but it helps a lot and one does need an engaging conflict to keep the story fun at the very least. One of the reasons I love the Dragon Quest series and the more simplistic stories like Dragon Quest 11 is because the narratives do so well in providing stories of how the “Dark” forces are people who suffered greatly, let that suffering define who they were, gave-up on their goals and on living happy while the “Light” side worked out their problems after suffering greatly and took another opportunity at resolving them. Hideo Baba doesn’t ever bother to provide even that much in these story “conflicts” of the Tales games that I’ve played, which are accredited to his influence. It’s just blank-slate characters with no growth or personality to speak of. Flynn never really challenges Yuri and the narrative portrays anything Yuri does as absolutely right with no consequence, Asbel stays the same stock character throughout, and the same can be said of Sorey and Rose. Abyss has the most intriguing conflict of Luke being challenged and then needing to work with the person whom he is a clone of to stop his former Sword Master from a plot to manipulate the way the end of the world will come to be, Symphonia has Lloyd being challenged by his own estranged father who is on the opposite side of the conflict with opposing views, and I’ve already mentioned how well Berseria manages relational conflicts between the protagonists and antagonists. Despite Tales of Arise’s lack of quality villains, the questions asked and the challenges of colonialism as a whole provide ample enough depth to explore between the protagonists themselves and their relations to the societies that they help. The only narrative pitfall I noticed in Tales of Arise was Alphen speaking of how forgiveness makes people stronger, suddenly deciding that he forgives Vholran when Vholran hasn’t actually done anything to deserve it, and then Vholran destroying the Renas Alma and killing himself right in front of Alphen to prevent Alphen from using it to save Shionne. I honestly burst out laughing since it unintentionally showed how worthless forgiveness was as a moral to uphold. The ending also seemed too perfect. Still, despite its shortcomings, Tales of Arise was miles better than anything Hideo Baba had ever done to contribute to Tales of game stories from my experience. I’m hesitant to even touch either Xillia game because I know I won’t enjoy it because he had influence over the project. If these last two games are what we can expect of the future of the series, then I genuinely hope Hideo Baba never comes back. He’s just been a cancer on the Tales of Series. His PR campaigns to raise awareness to push for more Tales of Series games overseas wouldn’t have been needed if he knew how to make a good story for these games, because Berseria and Arise certainly didn’t need it unlike all the Tales games under his belt including Vesperia which initially did so poorly even for a JRPG on the Xbox 360. If I ever hear this man is part of any video game project, I will be sure to avoid that video game like I avoid COVID-19. And if you think that is harsh, please explain why is it that the Tales of Series games both prior to and after his influence were all phenomenally well-received and yet the Tales of games under his influence are utter shit in terms of story? In my honest opinion, he was a cancer on the Tales of Series.
The Franchise Moving Forward
Moving forward, I’m excited to see what future games will be in store as major titles. Assuming there won’t be PS4 versions of future titles, I’ll probably be playing them on PC via Steam. Tales of the Abyss remains one of my favorite games of all-time and Tales of Berseria certainly did amazing for itself with catering to my personal wish fulfillment of playing a villain protagonist. Tales of Arise’s story was very good and I loved the new direction of the combat. The only real dismal part of it all is that Hideo Baba’s influence likely contributed to the decision to scrap any third installment in the Zestiria-Berseria world. It’s such a shame how Hideo Baba ruined it and how half of the Tales fans didn’t want a return to that world due to Zestiria. I suspect that Alphen’s story was repurposed from what was probably going to be the conclusion of the Zestiria-Berseria storyline. One aspect of Tales of Arise’s story that seems like a major plothole when you think about it is that Alphen’s ship kept him from aging and he essentially was in a hibernation state for 300 years, so why didn’t any of the Noble Houses on Lenegis or the Helganquil on the planet Rena ever use such technology to create an army for itself? While there may have been problems since Alphen only had a 10 percent chance to survive without brain damage, the fact is they could have used the sedative mask mixed with the medical healing pod to keep super-soldiers in stasis for use later on at the behest of the final boss. We know that the Planet Rena had the Helganquil do exactly that on its own population and upon the previous winners of the Crown Contest; there’s millions – if not billions – of pods in one room which were all of preserved dead bodies. They could have done it. So why did Alphen’s story have that when it leads to such a clear plot hole?
I suspect Alphen’s story was a repurposed version of the final part of the Tales of Zestiria-Berseria storyline. The flashback scene of Lenegis as Alphen was likely repurposed from the ancient heavenly abode of the Malakhim / Seraph of Berseria / Zestiria’s world. Alphen was likely the story of Siegfried that the plot of both Zestiria and Berseria had been building-up with the mystery of Siegfried’s gun which could armatize Seraphs. Alphen rescuing Shionne from her curse parallels Siegfried rescuing Brunhild although they probably would have died tragically at the end. Alphen being asleep for 300-years was likely repurposed of either Siegfried or Brunhild being asleep for thousands of years prior to Berseria with a tragedy probably similar to what transpired in Arise’s past and waking up after the events of Zestiria as a Seraph / Malakhim possibly to fix the problems related to the dragons or to overthrow the Seraph Gods of Zestiria / Berseria similar to Alphen and Shionne taking down the Lords in the Crown Contest. This would neatly fit into the main characters all being different; Sorey as Shepherd, Velvet as Lord of Calamity, and the final protagonist being a Seraph / Malakhim who probably ascended to “sovereign” within the heavenly realm with the possible addition of Sorey, Mikleo, Velvet, and possibly both Laphicets’ as party members. Even the gameplay of Arise suggests this is likely: Shionne’s gun skills would have likely been Siegfried’s skillset. Kisara’s giant shield combat fits the mythology of Brunhild who is known for carrying a giant shield as her weapon of choice. There seems to be very good circumstantial evidence to support this. Sadly, due to Hideo Baba ruining Tales of Zestiria and his cancerous influence on the Tales of Series, fans got tired of the world and they wanted a completely new story, so it was not to be.
I don’t know what the future will hold for the series and I can’t really even speculate at this point. What I wanted most from the series has already been fulfilled. I’m very happy that Tales of Berseria exists and the Tales games prior to the menace of Hideo Baba were great experiences. I’m very happy that the direction of Tales of Arise has shown, its story is very good, and the gameplay has become my favorite among the PS4 Tales of titles. As of now, I’m very happy with the series direction and I look forward to the next installment of the main Tales of series.