Tales Of Arise – Beyond The Dawn Review – Bright Future Ahead

It’s been two years since the release of Tales Of Arise, Bandai Namco Studios’ latest entry to the long-running “Tales Of” series. And seemingly out of nowhere there’s a new expansion.

Beyond The Dawn is a continuation of the base game’s story, set one year after the events that see the Dahnans become free from three centuries of Renan oppression, but the two races must somehow share a planet together a learn to be live together as equal.

It’s also been a year since Alphen, Shionne, Rinwell, Law, Kisara and Dohalim are all together, and now the gang’s back together.

The expansion is a decently sized and offers a lot of good story moments. But the core gameplay remains stagnant.

The Gang’s All Here

The way Tales Of Arise – Beyond The Dawn is structured is that it’s a standalone game. You still need to own the base game, but the Beyond The Dawn campaign is seperate from the base game. So different save slots and no progression carry-overs (aside from specific bonuses for having a save file that has achieved specific milestones like a finishing the story).

You don’t need to have finished Tales Of Arise to access Beyond The Dawn, but expect the game’s story to be spoiled if you do so.

Characters start at level 65 with all their Titles (more or less this game’s skill tree) unlocked. Though only a handful of those skills and artes are acquired. Thankfully, the grind is a fast one- I got to level 90 under 10 hours. And you can expect at least that amount of time needed to finish the story.

There are no new Titles to unlock, so no new skills to mess around with unfortunately. The only new thing in regards to combat is an upgraded Boost Attack gained from completing the new character-specific sub-quests. There’s no new enemy types either. It’s a bit of a letdown that the development team didn’t use this opportunity to refine the combat system in any way. The combat is great. As the series’ first foray into going full real-time combat with free movement it rocks. If you’re only controlling as Alphen that is.

I still don’t see if it’s viable to control the healers still with this system, as I don’t feel confident that the AI party members can dish out enough damage on their own, and player-controlled characters have limited options on how many Artes they can use compared to the AI where are not subjugated by the limitations of how many buttons a controller has. You can change who you control as mid-battle, but why would you?

Still, I appreciate that there are a few sub-quests that requires you to control someone other than Alphen in battle, and I wish the game would incentivise me more to play as other characters. The arena fights in the Training Ground, which returns here with new challenges, isn’t enough.

There are now more of those reinforcement battles where enemies keep spawning into the battle zone as you take them down. But that’s not exactly a new feature, but it’s good to see it’s being used more here.

Tearing Down The Wall

So then, what does Beyond The Dawn offers actually? Mostly, it’s more story. And that includes more party banter, especially now that the gang are properly friends with each other. Shionne stops being a tsundere now that her inner conflicts have been resolved so she’s more expressive and bubbly, everyone’s comfortable with Dohalim’s eccentric behaviour and Rinwell isn’t a racist anymore. So it’s all fun and wholesome.

But the more fascinating aspect of the story is how it portrays the aftermath of the events in Tales Of Arise. We know the party lived happily ever after, but what about the people in Dahna? Expectedly, you can’t expect the Dahnans and Renans just forgive each other after three centuries worth of animosity, the result of which culminated in base game’s climax.

Seeing the game continue to explore the themes of racial tension with careful nuance which allows players to see various sides at play that can cause such circumstance, is enlightening, for me at least, experience worth seeing through. You’ll need the context of the base game’s story, seeing the ending is a must, to comprehend the struggles of the two races. And through the main story and its sub-quests, will see how the party members do their part to mould a better society, and the struggles that comes with reforming society. They still to break down some more walls.

Speaking of story, the main plot revolves around new character Nazamil. As a child of a Renan and a Dahnan, she faced hardships in fitting in in either communities. What supposed to be a short reunion between the six party members became a whole adventure revolving Nazamil, which also somehow involves the fate of the world being at risk. It’s all fun and games in the first few hours, but there are stakes at play. The story is riveting, even if its retreading similar themes in the base game and the writing can feel a bit hokey. Anime games can tell good stories.

You’ll enjoy most of the sub-quests (at least 40 of them available) if you really, really remember the events of Tales Of Arise. Some of them are callbacks to some random character you encounter that one time throughout a 60-hour game. Even with me playing Beyond The Dawn right after I completed my first playthrough of the base game, I still missed some of the deeper cuts being recalled. So for those who cherish this game inside and out, you would enjoy the extra content the expansion has to offer.

The sub-quest design is still rather repetitive (expect a few fetch quests and the “clear zeugles in this area” kinds). Even the new “reconstruction” quests, which supposedly help change the world visually, didn’t leave much of a mark. That, or I am bad at spotting what part of the world has changed when that quest was completed.

On that note, the world has slightly changed in looks, and it definitely feels more richer and beautiful. The radiant sky, the stray astral energy flowing in the wind. Even the hue of the lighting has lighten up, making Dahna feels comfy and inviting. Mahag Saar, the region where you begin the expansion in, is more livelier than in the base game, in particular. Though don’t expect all the dungeons and overworld maps returning. The expansion scales down the amount of traveling so as a result, a lot of areas are cut. Vicint and Niez is just one loading screen away. As such, the enemy density has improved.

But it’s not without its setback. I feel like the draw distance has gotten lower and texture pop-ins more prevalent with the expansion compared to the base game. Maybe it can be improved with post-launch patches, and it’s no deal-breaker, but it’s certainly more noticable.

There’s not much to say about the music other than the new songs are absolute bangers. The new battle theme in particular with the violins popping off is amazing. I can listen to that for hours. I may have in fact had listened to it for that long and still not tired of it.

Closing Thoughts

Tales Of Arise – Beyond The Dawn is a good expansion for an already great game. From a gameplay perspective, this is more of the same. If you expect an improved, refined slice of the base game, you’ll be disappointed.

But if you enjoy what you experience of the world and the characters in Tales Of Arise, Beyond The Dawn is worth the asking price. An easy recommendation for those already in love with Tales Of Arise and looking for any reason to play this game again.

Played on PS5. Review copy provided by the publisher.

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