Part 5: The Man Who TrustsPart V: The Man Who Trusts
So, the crazy cat lady has vanished back into the apartment building (her room is on the first floor), and we've got to locate her feline companions all over the world. We can get started literally right in front of us with this first cat!
Once we have our first cat, we can access the Kitty Dispatch. You can put Ludger and Elle's skills as Kitty Hearders to the test by sending all the cats you've found all over the Tales of Xillia world: trails, dungeons, and towns. Basically, every location in the game has special materials (and even weapons!) that can only be acquired by your feline hordes. More cats = better chance of getting items / rarer items.
In addition to your standard odds of getting items, every day of the week has a special bonus attached to it.
So, everything except Area Bonus should be self-explanatory, and to be honest, I'm not 100% sure what it is, but I think what it means is that your odds of getting more / better items in respective areas is increased depending on the location the cats were sent. So, if the Area Bonus was for Elympios, and I sent my cats to Trigleph, better odds I'd get the rare item from that location. You get the picture.
Now, you can also retrieve cats by sending your cat horde to certain locations in the game (you can also press Square to determine how many cats you've found in a certain location. Trigleph has five, I believe). Cats upon cats. Also, if you find certain items, you can give them to the cats to have them return faster / better odds for rare items, which is what Travel Items are. But, without any modifiers, I think return time is 15 minutes. However, you can recall Kitties on a mission by withdrawing them before that time limit is up, but you won't get any items.
By the way, Ivar's bag there has a host of good items, including a new (better) pair of blades for Ludger. Courtesy of the Spirius Corporation.
Anyhow, moving on from the bizarre collectathon of this game, let's start getting some work in. The commercial district is on the opposite exit from Trigleph park from Ludger's apartment building, and the job board is right in front of you.
So, our target payment for now is 7000 gald, and further in the game, the complaint about this game it's too much work to make debt payments is made nearly trivial by the presence of Elite Monsters. These bad boys give you a TON of gald if you bring them down, and each is worth a significant percentage of your required payment to continue the game.
As it happens, this sucker is right outside Trigleph city limits, so let's take this one. Elite Monsters show up in the world just as soon as their existence is made apparent on the job board, so it doesn't actually count as a job.
On the other hand, a lot of requests throughout the game will basically tell you where Kitty Cats are. In this case, there's one in Duval, Alest Highroad, and Trigleph Station (the job says the cat is in Trigleph, but the description mentions the owner hoping the errant beast isn't bugging station employees). Easy money.
The overgrown scorpion is in the first map area outside Trigleph, so let's see what's so "elite" about him.
So, all elite monsters operate under different rules. Some of them are fairly straight fights, under admittedly gigantic proportions, some of them are extremely gimmicky. This guy is kind of a mix between the two. First of all, he likes to burrow, like, a lot. And the AI doesn't deal with burrowing foes very well. So, more often than not your AI partner will at least take chip damage from them, whereas a human would (hopefully) be smart enough to just run to the opposite side of the field.
Now, it's a good thing it's just a 2 vs. 1 fight, because he has a pretty long reach with his basic attacks, and they quickly add up. If you're in trouble, just back off (the AI will follow you if you've selected Act Together), and use Healer.
Now, the gimmick with this guy is he's very hard to combo. Whenever you stagger him and you think you've got something going, he'll burrow out and break it. Here's how you beat that: target his weak point, indicated by those crosshairs. If you do enough damage to that crosshair area, it'll stun him severely and you'll be able to pound him into dust while he's down.
He'll recover eventually, but then you just pound him again. Since you have no offensive spells or really any moves with range, the only way to effectively target that area with Jude is to use Demon Fist.
If you do it right, you'll get a quick zoom-in, and the scorpion will collapse. After about 15 seconds, he'll get back up, but you gotta knock him right back down.
If you're low on TP, but don't want to waste a recovery item to get some back, you can taunt by pressing L3. Your character will do a short little animation, and you'll get 5% TP . Some skills can get you more back, but that's not for a long time. If an AI character is low on TP, they'll run off and taunt for a bit to get more back.
That was a pretty rough fight, but a win's a win.
By the way, Ludger just got the negative status Guard Break or something. Just means if he tried to block any hit, his guard would get instantly broken. Solution? Don't guard, just run. Elemental attacks, like the damage the scorpion does when it jumps out of the ground (Earth, in this case), have a chance of inflicting a status element on the target. Luckily, we can also do that to the enemy.
You done good work here, boys.
While we're in the neighborhood of a random Sandwich pickup from a bag, this is how cooking works in this game. In Tales games past, the way cooking worked was that you gathered a wide variety of ingredients, and characters could cook meals after battle to restore HP / TP / various benefits, and there were all kinds of variables involved. Much simpler in the Xillia games.
You just use a cooking item, such as this Sandwich, and the effect is automatically applied at the end of the battle. Couldn't be simpler.
But before you head back to Trigleph to collect on your investment, make sure to pick up the kitty cat. Also, while cats are hidden all over the place, you know you're getting close if you hear an occasional meow. Of course, I'll have all cat locations as screenshots, so I guess it don't matter...
Honestly, if the game wasn't telling us where this one was, and cats didn't meow, this would be one of the harder ones to find.
Then again, if the cats didn't meow this sidequest would be hell.
A Simple Question
Skit upon returning to Duval (neither choice matters. I picked L1 to scare Elle). I really like Rollo's "resting" and "angry" portraits. Now where's that cat...
Ah, of course. Up the fire escape near the job board. Hm, that cat, Luke, looks a little familiar...
You can view the appearance of all the cats you've found from the Kitty Dispatch menu. In cases where cats have the same name as a Tales character, they'll usually have said character's colors. In this case, Luke was the protagonist of Tales of the Abyss, had black pants, a white coat, and red hair. Hence, the cat's appearance.
But they can't even commit to that! Suzu was the name of the final party member in Tales of Phantasia (from the PSX version on, but she was a supporting character in the OG Tales of Phantasia for the SNES). The cat Suzu in this game, however, has a pure white coat (she was the cat we found in Trigleph Station). Phantasia Suzu looks like this.
Yeah, no resemblance whatsoever. Incidentally, at 11 years old, Suzu is the youngest party member in Tales history yet, which is kinda impressive for her at least. And anyway, Suzu was one of my favorite party members in Phantasia. I'm not giving any crap to anyone who can summon a giant toad and throw explosive ninja stars. Anyhow, onwards and upwards. After turning in all the requests to put me well over 7000...
So, you have a choice which area to proceed to next, and remember, we were asked to go find out information about Julius in both areas. Now, while it's impossible to know this your first time through unless you've read a guide, if you go to Helioborg first, you'll get an extra scene starring Jude that you can't get if you go to Marksburg first. There is no equivalent scene going Marksburg -> Helioborg, so the latter it is.
Now, just a word of warning, you're gonna have to start taking this game's difficulty much more seriously once you arrive in Helioborg. On the whole, this is not an overly difficult game, but the difficulty spike for Helioborg is just bananas.
Now, since Helioborg is a research facility located on the outskirts of Trigleph, there's no train leading to it, so you're gonna have to hoof it to get there. This is the exit to Torbalan Highroad, which will take you there.
Again, a kind of dreary Elympios locale with soft music and low-level enemies. You'll forgive me if I kinda skip past this part, since it's just more low-level fighting. I will mention, though, the enemies here are considerably more dangerous than the ones in Alest Highroad, and that you should take on some jobs for enemies / items encountered here from the job board before you make the trip. Let's just say it'll be a while before you can turn those in, however.
Oh yeah, since it was pointed out to me in the thread, you CAN check on the status of jobs taken from the Event List tab in the Library, including how much progress you've made toward each one. So, it is there, it's just well-hidden.
So, after more uneventful exploring, here we are. Again, just be aware Helioborg is actually really hard, and you have to start fighting for keeps now. Anyhow, let's see what this Balan feller is up to...
What happened here?
Jude! I-I didn't realize it was you! Well, you see...
Damn it. Someone really did a number on the security system. No way I can fix this by my--
Well, if it isn't the honors student. Great timing.
Alvin fills us in on what's going on during a fade to black...
Exodus has hijacked the facility's security system?
Yeah, which trapped a bunch of Rieze Maxian goodwill ambassadors.
Balan was showing 'em around, so he's there, too.
Balan? We have to save him!
You'll give us a hand?
Yes. We have some business with Balan.
Ludger, was it? Y'know this is all more of Exodus' handiwork. I used to count myself among their members. Still wanna trust me?
I'll introduce Alvin a bit more this scene, but let's just say L1 predictably raises his affection, and is the choice I'll be making.
Heh. You really are one of Jude's friends, aren't you?
What about you, Alvin? Aren't you one of Jude's friends?
Tough to say...
Yes he is. And he knows it.
Well, he seems pretty sketchy to me.
Kid's got a good head on her shoulders.
Let's break this down. Where are Balan and the tour group being held captive?
Up on the Development Wing.
So, Alvin's deal is that he was the first guy who Jude and Milla met at the end of the intro to the first game. As I mentioned, he originally appeared to them as a freelance mercenary, showing them the ropes on how to survive when you're on the run, but it quickly became clear he had, let's say, shifting loyalties. Alvin was a member of a prominent Elyimpion family prior to an incident that involved a cruise ship he was on being sent to Rieze Maxia during a dimensional incident that caused it to get trapped here.
He was one of Exodus' agents in Rieze Maxia, but developed something of an affinity for Jude and his do-gooder ways during his time with his group. This was complicated by he and one of the Four Chimeriad (which was a group of four misfits and weirdos who were united solely by their desire to serve King Gaius) being romantically involved with each other, which led Alvin to a severe deficit in trust with everyone he was involved with. Basically, he was playing all sides of the field at one point or another.
After a lot of dramatics, however (involving, but not limited to, a boss fight between him and Jude at a critical point in the first game's story), he decided to renounce ties with Exodus, sever his relationship with the Chimeriad, and fight alongside Jude to the very end. We'll be hearing a lot more about what ol' Alvin's been up to since later this game, so stay tuned.
If the above brief biography reminds anyone of Kratos Aurion from Tales of Symphonia (a self-described mercenary with a complicated relationship to the main party and main bad guy group), Namco was aware of that as well and decided to make Alvin's callback Tales costume none other than Kratos' Judgment threads (ignoring the fact they have similar builds, however).
Actually, there's a funny Tales costume loop going on with Alvin, Kratos / Zelos, and Ludger. Alvin has a Kratos costume, but in the PS3 version of Symphonia, Kratos gets a Ludger costume. Meanwhile, Zelos gets a Xillia 1 Alvin costume (which I personally think is the best Zelos costume), which, again, given Alvin's history, fits Zelos pretty well. I wonder if that was intentional.
Alvin in-combat very much resembles the traditional tank in an RPG party. He's slow, heavy, packs a punch, and has a lot of HP. His special ability is Charging his artes. When Alvin performs a simple arte, let's say Tiger Blade (one of the moves he starts with), as the player, continue holding down Circle. Alvin will charge for like 2-3 seconds, and then his blade will have a blue blow, as indicated by this screenshot.
When Alvin is Charged, the next arte will be powered up or changed in some fashion. For example, Tiger Blade is a Tales staple, which involves a quick slash up, then right back down. Charged, Tiger Blade changes to Tiger Rage, which has the slash up, a slash in mid-air, and then a slash right back down. As you might expect, you're vulnerable during the Charge, and, once you've used a Charged arte, you need to perform a normal one to Charge again. Charge.
When it comes to his sword-based artes, Alvin has a lot of Tales Protagonist classics, like Sonic Thrust, Tiger Blade, Demon Fang, etc. He also this move, Guardian Field, which was introduced in Abyss, I think, in which he creates a field of energy where he restores the HP of allies and hits with Light-elemental damage on any enemies tha wander into it. Charged, this becomes Guardian Grove, which is basically the same thing but better (longer range and more hits, I believe).
Extra costumes in this game will frequently change the in-battle music. While color variations on their normal outfits won't change the music (like Ludger here is using), Jude is currently using a color variation on his Xillia 1 duds (which changes the battle music to Xillia 1's generic battle music), but Alvin's is a bit more interesting. It changes it to a remix of The End of a Thought, which was the music that played over the final battle with Kratos in Symphonia. There are a few special cases, however.
Oh, and if you multiple characters in-battle have music-changing costumes, then the precedence is determined by that character's position on the party roster. First character to have a a music-altering costume in the party list gets their music.
After the battle...
Looks like I'm bailing you guys out in the nick of time!
That guy again?!
You call that a hero's welcome? I even brought you guys these wonderful toys.
Gah! I thought the safeties were on!
Look who's talking.
Now for some target practice. Shoot first and ask questions later!
So, we're now introduced to a hugely important mechanic for Ludger, and part of the reason which makes him the best (gameplay-wise, at least), party member, Weapons Switching. Now, it says to use L1 + R2 to change, but that's a pretty awkward button combo to press to switch weapons, so just ignore the game and use L1 + R1. Much simpler. To switch back to the twin blades, just press L1 + R1 again.
Now, while Ivar is weak to Gun damage, it would make for a pretty boring fight if I were to just sit in a single spot and pelt him with gunfire until he dies. Instead, I'm going to introduce Weapon Switching combos (the video is much more instructive as to how I'm making this work).
So, first of all, start with just an unaltered gun hit to start the Power Combo. Ludger also has different basic attacks with his guns, just like with his swords, but simple is good in this case. Once the Power Combo starts, quickly switch to the blades. The game will pause for a split second while Ludger switches, whereupon you want to hit him with a standard sword hit (to add Slash damage), then Azure Edge to add Wind.
Then, switch back to the Guns, and add Bubble Blast to the mix to get a full (for now) combo on poor Ivar here. You'll run out of AC by this point, but them's the breaks.
Finally, switch back to the blades. The reason you want to do this is because while you have the guns out, Ludger moves very slowly. I think maybe half as fast as with the blades, and that would be a generous estimate. Ivar can throw out some VERY quick moves on you, and combo damage can quickly add up. The blades will allow you to get out of the way very fast and recharge AC for another combo.
And no, switching weapons does not use AC. Also, weapon switching will eventually allow Ludger to be one of only...three, I think, party members who can hit all 9 elements by themselves. One is Ludger, the other we won't be seeing for quite some time, and the third is *I think* Alvin, but don't quote me on his ability to do that.
On the plus side, however, when you have the guns out, your sidestep is replaced by a rolling dodge (doesn't that screenshot look cool?), and the arte Rolling Thunder also involves a quick combat roll into a few bullets, so you have to make use of dodging effectively to avoid damage if you use the guns a lot.
Ivar's Phantom Surge can be thrown out nearly-instantly and hit from a long range, so you need to be super careful of him, even at range.
Ivar, quite honestly, is a pretty bullshit boss, just because he has so much health, is quite dangerous, and you have too little HP, but if he were the worst of the boss fights in Helioborg, it would be a vastly superior world.
Also, despite the fact this is a tutorial, you can retry straight into this fight if you lose, so that means he kills you if you lose. I'm gonna chalk this up to Ivar being a dumbass and going over the line in terms of what he should be doing. Remember, we're helping out Bisley and the Spirius Corporation, so for what reason at all would he want to kill us?
Anyone else'd be dead by now.
You okay there, Ivar?
Hmph... Better than some phony who keeps sticking his nose into everyone's business. ....
Ivar limps off...
Mr. Handmaid's as charming as ever.
The way you approach an enemy pre-battle can determine certain things about the battle. If you get behind an enemy and touch them from behind, every enemy will lose a certain amount of HP. On the other hand, if an enemy touches you from behind, your party will start off surrounded by the enemy. Not actually a huge problem.
Ludger's guns are going to be pretty mandatory for this part of the game in starting Power Combos. The robots and Exodus goons are all weak to gunfire, and that's where you get started.
So Helioborg is kind of a maze, just because everything looks basically the same. Once you exit into the paths that look like these, head right and fuss your way around through enemies and the occasional locked door. If you see this area, you're on the right track. Alternatively, if you get lost, you can always press Square to bring up a map of the current area and get yourself on the right track.
The magical girl
Phew... That's the last of them.
Little buddy's here, too!
Wait. So those goodwill ambassadors were actually...
Yeah. My classmates and I were picked to represent Rieze Maxia.
Meet Elize and Teepo.
She is a cute kid, if I do say so myself. Predictably raises her affection level.
By the way, Elle gets mad at us for that, but I'm just stating facts here!
Ludger is one smooth talker. So, Jude... Are these friends of yours?
Hey there! How ya doing?!
Aw, Teepo's not going to hurt you. Play nice, okay?
Elize, what happened to your friends from school?
We all got attacked real sudden-like!
Elize was so brave. She got all her classmates into a room that was safe.
What about Balan?
He got all the bad guys to chase after him so the rest of us could run and hide.
I betcha he's still on top of the Development Wing. Yeah.
Yeah. So I came down here to call for help.
Can you lead us?
A lightning crash...
What's the matter, Elle? Are you afraid of thunder?
No! As if!
Oh great! Now what did we do?!
Did you feel that?
There's no need to be afraid... I mean...because...
I'm not afraid! Thunder is just the Great Spirits going bowling!
Um, that's the wrong way.
I-I knew that!
Oh brother. Looks like we need to help her out before she wanders into a robot or something. Anyway, moving on.
We're just plowing through the Xillia 1 recruits, eh? Although she may not look like it, Elize is the weirdest member of the first game's party, and that's all because of Teepo, that doll that can fly around and talk.
Except, while Teepo IS a doll, he's what's referred to as a Booster. Teepo is something that boosts Elize's latent abilities, while Elize's mind generates what Teepo needs to function. Essentially what that means is that Teepo is not a separate existence from Elize. Everything that comes out of Teepo's mouth is what Elize is currently thinking. So, all of Teepo's smartass comments are coming from Elize's mind. But, at the same time, Elize will talk to Teepo as if he's sentient (and she and everyone else in the party knows the truth, as revealed by one of her subplots in the first game). It's...a little disconcerting if you think about it, but not to worry: this game barely acknowledges that and essentially treats Elize and Teepo as two separate characters. But, that is how it works.
Battle-wise, Elize is a strange beast. At first glance, she's basically a white / black mage, with a large number of healing / support spells, and a large number of Dark-elemental spells at her disposal.
However, by taunting with Elize, you can switch to have the doll either on Elize's shoulder (to support her spirit artes), or floating around her (to execute physical artes). That's formally called Teepo Switching, and it counts as Elize's special ability. The problem with a lot of Elize's artes, however, is they're pretty slow / not particularly powerful. So, I'd advise keeping Teepo on her shoulder for now, because her primary healing spell, Healing Circle, is invaluable at this point in the game.
Elize's support ability is Teepo Drain, which, as you might expect, is a vampiric skill that steals HP / TP from an enemy every...let's say 20 or so seconds and gives them to Elize's partner.
Speaking of support abilities, Alvin's is Breaker. Basically, if you and Alvin are attacking an enemy, and said foe is blocking, Alvin will smash right through their guard and stun them, giving you a chance to launch a combo. Thanks to his mix of gun / swordplay, Alvin can also break guards at range if his AI decides on it. It's *really* useful, especially against bosses.
I wandered off for a bit and ended up back in the Development wing, where I entered Helioborg from. The target is the Research wing, and we're currently headed.
Unfortunately, electrical problems all over the place, so the elevator will only take us to the 10th floor. You'll have to head up to the roof from there by foot. That's alright, though, since various siderooms have goodies for us, and trust me, we're going to need every advantage for the boss.
The block puzzles are not exactly brain drains, but there are some good skits on the way: Alvin and Elize (L1 increases Alvie's affection), and The Terror Group, Exodus.
One really cool thing about Tales costumes is that the characters will frequently use memorable lines from the characters they're cosplaying as for win quotes. In this case, Alvin is using Kratos' famous "Feel the pain...of those inferior beings...as you burn in hell!", but he also has a couple other famous Kratos lines.
Once you've made it to the 13th floor, one of the siderooms will look like this and the door to Ludger's right will lead to the roof. Final heads up: BE PREPARED. This upcoming fight is, in my opinion, the hardest fight in the entire game. I would say, don't try to fight this boss before you hit level 11, at the minimum.
What the heck is that?
It's the spyrite Volt!
I remember that tingly feeling!
So they recreated it?!
We can't even control it!
Volt Volt Volt.......
How should I say this... I'm not a fun of Gun Ivar, but this is the grand champion of bullshit Tales bosses. I can't imagine a worse series of design decisions that ended up going into an otherwise VERY good game.
First, a little backstory. Volt was one of the very last bosses in Xillia 1, and thus, his strength made sense at that point of the game. You had plenty of everything to help fight him, even without the Power Combo system. Here, instead, Power Combos are all you got.
First of all, since Volt just isn't powerful enough, he has two buddies with him at the start of battle. Take them out with Mortar Fire (use Bubble Blast when linked with Alvin for this puppy). Don't even think about controlling anyone other than Ludger this fight.
So, what makes Volt so bad? Well, aside from the mountain of HP (about 250% more than Ivar, adding up to 39k on Normal), he also can't be staggered very easily (but there is a trick that I discovered), and he has THIS. GODDAMN. MOVE. On very short notice, he'll jump up out of sight, then very quickly slam back down, up to three times. If you get hit by that first bounce, or the second, say goodnight to the character(s) that got hit. Volt will knock them on the ground, then hit you again before you can recover and get out of the way. Oh, and forget about blocking. If you try it, he WILL break your guard and trap you like a rat.
If you're lucky, you CAN knock him out of this move, or one of your AI allies can get a lucky shot, but I would not exactly count on that happening.
He'll also do this move, Vertical Shock, which is unblockable. But it's downright merciful compared for the previous move, and easily dodgeable just by running away from him. Of course, you kinda have to make a wide arc in retreat just so your braindead comrade doesn't run right into him. But, even then, it doesn't damage you that much.
Electric Whip, in spite of the name, is not an attack. It merely summons one of those robots from the start of the start, which are no stronger now than they were then. Again, just take it out ASAP, since the last thing you need is one more gun shooting at you.
Alright, so what's my trick to stagger Volt that I've had at least some consistant success with? Well, hitting him with Breaker. A good chance to attack the big boy here is to shoot him when he's casting a spell. There's a good chance he'll break off the spell to block, and there's where Alvin comes in. He smacks or shoots (as he's doing from off-screen in this shot) Volt and drops his guard, whereupon your guns will stagger him on the next hit. Then you can pull another Ivar combo and get some good damage in on him. Bonus points if Alvin is around and uses Guardian Field to add Light elemental damage and more to the multiplier. Rinse and repeat.
To be honest, though, even though it sounds very simple, Volt is just so unpredictable and your allies so poorly able to deal with Volt's myriad attacks, that it's a crapshoot. I saw one poor bastard on GameFAQs say Volt KO'd his entire party in five seconds. I had wanted to beat this entire game on no less than Hard, and by some friggin' miracle I managed to beat Volt on Hard on my first playthrough, and how I did that, I have no idea. If you wanted to drop the difficulty to Moderate just for this one fight, well, I'm the last person in the universe who would criticize you for that call (seeing as I did just that for the sake of this LP).
To be honest, I *could* probably still beat him on Hard if I really threw myself at the attempt, but it just requires way too much luck and good playing to be truly worth it, and after about a cumulative hour trying to do just that, I just said to hell with it. What have I got to prove by beating Volt on Hard? Nothing in the slightest.
Anyhow, that's quite enough talk of terrible RPG bosses.
Error... Error... Soul... Contamination... Spreading.
Wait, souls spreading contamination?
Update 5 alternate choices compilation
Update 5 victory selection