Part 1: The Man Who DreamsPart I: The Man Who Dreams
Welcome to Tales of Xillia 2, everyone. While we've got a number of options here, for this thread we're going to be starting a New Game+. In long-standing Tales tradition, we've got some Grade Shop options to choose from before we begin this game.
So, the Grade Shop works a bit differently in this game than in other Tales games. In most Tales games, you accumulate Grade over the course of your entire playthrough, and the sum total of that acquired Grade is the number of Grade Points you get to spend in the shop. In this game, instead, by accomplishing various tasks in-game, you get points to spend here. There's a total of 10000 Grade you can acquire by accomplishing everything, and after every playthrough, your points are replenished for you to spend all over again, should you choose. Let's take a look at all the options before we begin.
Ludger's Voice: normally, Ludger is an almost entirely silent protagonist. This option, if chosen, lets you hear his voice when making a choice in-game. It's free, and you can turn it off if you want, so there's no reason not to get this.
Max Item Capacity 30 / 99: self-explanatory. I would highly advise getting 30, at least, because the standard item limit of 15 can be kinda restrictive your first time through the game. Of course, it also means certain fights can be easier, because you can stock up more healing items.
Inherit Consumable Items: these are items like Apple Gels, Life Bottles, Elixirs, etc. etc. everything that you consume in and outside battle to restore health / TP.
Inherit Material Items: much like the first game, this game has a very important crafting system for making powerful late-game items. Useful for saving a lot of time grinding materials in the late-game.
Inherit Fashion Items: everyone's favorite feature in this game and Xillia 1. Fashion items change your character's appearance, making them as goofy or cool-looking as you want. There are also a number of fashion items you can only get from the post-game bonus dungeon that are also carried over with this choice. They're...interesting, is all I will say for now.
Inherit Accessory Items: another self-explanatory choice. Everything that fits in the Accessory category is automatically returned to you at the start of the playthrough.
Inherit Extractor: the Extractor is the game's system for giving characters new skills / abilities / stat increases. Obviously carrying this over means you're going to have a serious leg-up on the competition throughout the vast majority of this game.
Inherit Special Items: special items are kind of a niche category in this game, as most of the items, with the exception of the Winged Sphere (which increases field movement speed), will probably never be used very much be me. Kinda pointless to carry over.
Inherit Skill Items: you'll get various special items in this game that teach Ludger special artes. This options carries all those items into a new game. Not overly useful.
Inherit Special Arms: there are two kinds of "Special Arms" in this game: Alliance and Devil's Arms. Devil's Arms are another Tales tradition, where their power increases depending on the number of enemies that are killed by a specific character. Alliance Arms are weapons whose power increases depending on the number of linked attacks done by a specific character. If you want to make the game REALLY easy, carry over these.
Inherit Special Weapons: various powerful weapons can be acquired by crafting in this game (named after games in the Tales series). While eventually made rather worthless in terms of raw stats compared to Special Arms, these are pretty cool because they also provide passive buffs.
Double Experience / 5x Experience: shouldn't have to describe this one.
HP +1000: free max 1000 HP boost to all allies.
Double Gald / Double Items Drops: both self-explanatory. Double Item Drops in particular is extremely useful.
Unlock Skits: you are free to view any and every skit in the entire game in the Library if you choose this item. Very cool for people who enjoy the skits in this game / Tales games in general (and really, if you don't, there are plenty of other JRPG series you could be playing. They're easily one of the best parts of every Tales game, especially in recent entries.)
Double Gauge Growth: the gauge that lets you launch linked artes with your partner increases twice as fast. Handy.
Maximum AC + 1 / +2: AC is the number that determines the number of actions you can take in a single combo. More AC means you can launch longer combos after recharge.
Inherit Arte Usage: self-explanatory name. Besides the novelty of keeping track of all the times a specific arte has been used, the reason you would carry this over is because the more an arte is used, at certain milestones, the power / effectiveness of that arte increases.
Inherit Artes and Skills: not the same thing. Artes are combat abilities, skills are various modifications you can make to characters to make them more effective / change their fighting style.
Increase Power Combo Damage: the way you bring down powerful bosses in this game is to initiate Power Combos, where you start a combo off with an enemy's weakness, then multiply that damage by combining different elements into the same combo. There's a multiplier attached depending on how many different elements you use (up to 9), and this option increases that multiplier.
Increase Power Combo Time: once you start a Power Combo, you need to throw a different element at the target to increase the multiplier / reset the timer. If the timer expires, the combo ends. This option gives you more time to do so.
Triple Critical: triples the critical rate for allies AND enemies. Choose this carefully, as you can't disable it once you've started the game with it.
Double Damage: much like Triple Critical, this option doubles the damage done by your buddies and by every enemy. Again, use cautiously. Choosing this option in Tales of Xillia 1 led to an incredibly challenging / fun final boss on my end.
Reduces Arte Cost: *yawn* Just decreases the TP needed to launch artes.
Ludger Chromatus Lv. 2 / Lv. 3 / Max: something pretty cool. While it would be unwise to explain what the Chromatus is right now, Ludger gets the ability to invoke something by that name at a certain point in the story, and its power increases the further you get in the game (at various story-critical moments). Starting off with successive Chromatus levels allows you to harness that power before those moments in the story.
Inherit Affinity Level: carries over the affection levels for every playable character except Ludger (who doesn't have one), as well as the affection level of three NPCs (whose affection levels exist, but are invisible). This can save a lot of time relatively late in the game.
Inherit Merit Points (All) / Merit Points (Half): Merit Points are another gameplay mechanic that would not be wise to get into right now. This option will make more sense a couple updates from now.
Inherit Kitty Dispatch: the big gathering quest of this game involves finding hordes of cats to find special items / material items. Selecting this option carries over most of the cats and the dispatch data. More cats = more chance of finding more / rare items.
Phew, that was exhausting. Let's get on to the actual game once you've made your choices...
A boss fight already?! Nah, this is a little tutorial "fight". The shadowy man will rant at you. Feel free to take this time and practice how Ludger fights / general controls. After attacking for a bit...
Hmph... I see you have a similar combat grip. You and I are definitely brothers... And yet...
I got all the strength! You actually think you'll make it through the Trial like this?! Don't make me laugh, Ludger!
The Trial is cruel. Unbearably cruel. And people are weak. Weak enough to ruin us all. You will come to understand... This is our curse!
The gears of fate that grind the curse bind upon us an armor of death.
It's a Key and a Lance that pierces space and time. Souls encircle the throne of the void. The branches of history reach out to infinity!
You alone must make the decision, brother. Everything rides upon this one choice. Not just your life...but the fate of the entire world.
Do you have what it takes...to destroy...to choose...to pass the Trial?! Answer me! Ludger Kresnik!
The Spirius test
One of the very few lines Ludger has that is always voiced, I believe.
Hm, coulda sworn we've seen this guy before. Not sure where, though.
Cutting it a bit close, don't you think? Need I remind you that this is the Spirius Corporation's entrance exam?
First choice of the game. For the record, anytime you see a check mark next to a choice, that means the last playthrough I did, this is the choice I made. This choice, as well as the next one, is utterly inconsequential.
However, for every choice, I'll post the alternate choice in scene's video.
But you still barely made it on time? You're short on brains...but you've definitely got guts.
Well, we've GOT to go with L1 here.
You dreamt that I killed you? Well, if you keep decimating my supply of tomato cupcakes, perhaps that dream will come true. Kidding. Anyway, time to wake up and smell reality. Let's begin, shall we? You'll be tested here, in the underground training area. These caverns stretch all the way to Trigleph's city limits. You could head straight out of town from here. I wouldn't, though. It's an automatic failure.
Hmph... I see you have a similar combat grip. We're definitely brothers.
The exam is live combat. Slay five of the monsters in the training area and return before your time runs out. Spirius is not liable for any injuries sustained during the exam. But just between us, if things go bad, I've got your back. You're my brother. Thank me later. Here they come!
So we finally have our first real battle. Next to Ludger's picture at the bottom, we have the basics of combat. HP is in orange, TP is in blue, and the number of actions Ludger can perform in a single combo is 5 at the moment. The normal Tales battle style is still present here. Unless you're free running (you can't attack while free running), you're stuck on an invisible line with the targeted enemy (the triangle above the enemy's head indicates I'm currently focusing on that foe, as well as their remaining HP).
Square guards against enemy attacks. Of course, blocking is critical against tougher enemies. Note, however, you cannot block every attack. If a red exclamation mark appears above an enemy's head, you can't block that attack and you will need to actually dodge to avoid considerable damage.
You can also quick-step back and forth by hitting the control stick left or right twice in fast succession. Unless you have the skill that increases quickstep range, not terribly useful for dodging enemy attacks.
X launches normal attacks, and circle activates artes. You can tilt the control stick in three directions (toward the enemy, up, and down) to use different basic attacks.
Artes are governed by the same principle. Ludger is using Azure Edge right now, but at the moment, he also has Time Disintegration, which is a fast melee combo. Unlike many other Tales games, you can combo the same arte over and over again in the same combo (so I could do a three hit combo of just Azure Edge.) Time Disintegration ends with a kick that knocks the target down, so you can't combo that. You can also, of course, combine regular attacks and artes in the same combo, but always keep in mind artes require TP, which can be restored with items or regular hits (regular hits restore 1 TP per hit).
Anyway, these enemies are as basic as they get, so feel free to take them apart with artes or regular hits. Just remember to ration TP a bit at this point.
And this is the usual post-battle screen. Everything should be pretty self-explanatory, but the victory screens can many times be the most entertaining part of a fight, as amusing post-battle conversations is one of the selling points for this game.
For now, this is your rather limited main menu. 276 hours? Damn I'm put a lot of time into this game. I'm going to put quite a bit more in it, I think.
Poking around in the item menu, you can find stuff like this. Any downloaded costumes can be found here, but only can be equipped on the characters they're assigned to. These include downloaded costumes for the first game (which are carried over into this game). I got Milla, Alvin, and Elize's DLC outfits for the last game, but they're all pretty good, especially Milla's Dhaos costume.
And this is the considerable arsenal of weapons I'm carrying over. I only carried them over to maintain their stats I worked so hard to get my last couple playthroughs. We won't be seeing a lot of these items in regular gameplay for a looooong time, so just forget you saw this for now.
Anyhow, for our primary goal, it's pretty easy to find all the enemies, so just go and waste them. You can also look around for four treasure chests, which all have basic consumables or money in them. Once you've taken out all the enemies...
Just return to where we talked to Julius at the start of the test.
Random employee and monster!
Choosing L1 leads to Julius taking care of the situation, R1 is a bit more interesting...
This fight is basically impossible under these circumstances. Especially since you can't equip anything to give you super-powered weapons before the game really begins. When you almost certainly get KO'd...
Valor and skill are two very different things, Ludger. True professionals know the difference...and their limits. Just now, we were testing your ability to analyze the situation. Ludger Kresnik. You failed.
Gears in motion
Elle, wait right there!
He went downstairs. After him!
Elle, you know how to read a clock, right? You need to get on the ten o'clock train leaving from Trigleph Central Station. From there, head to the Land of Canaan.
It's a place where any wish can be granted. It's where you and I can finally live in peace.
A place that grants wishes?
You must go there, no matter how frightening it may be.
Okay. I promise I'll go.
Get to the train and then to Canaan!
Shoot him now!
What about you?!
I'll meet you there. I promise!
Damn it, she got away.
It doesn't matter. He's the Key.