You only have a few days to play the most underrated RPG on Xbox Game Pass
Long before Xbox vs Sony, or Sega vs Nintendo, there was the rivalry of the East against the West. Western empires and cultures sought trade and influence with their Eastern counterparts, leading to all kinds of spicy historical events like genocides and slavery and also, in a way, the five-second rule.
You had Silk Roads and Spice Roads that spanned Earth’s largest contiguous landmass, so after thousands of years and billions of interactions, humanity could finally Google hentai. And it was in the spirit of this noble tradition that a little American upstart known as Microsoft decided to seek his fortune in the East when he released the Xbox 360 in 2005.
Microsoft was certainly above its weight in trying to go pin-to-thumb with legendary Japanese heavyweights Sony and Nintendo. Sure, the Seattle-based giant did well in the US, but it wanted more (shareholder value). The Japanese market had enormous potential. Millions of enthusiastic gamers who spent billions every year on Microsoft’s competitors. But how could Microsoft take its attention away from Sony’s impeccable PlayStation library? What could he do that Nintendo didn’t? What if they released a console exclusive? Not a new IP but something from a beloved franchise. Could they withdraw it?
They did it.
Tales of Vesperia is the tenth (!) entry in the series from developer Bandai Namco and was originally released as a 360 exclusive in the US and Japan in 2008. A Definitive Edition, featuring remastered graphics and content once exclusive to Japan, has been released. discontinued in 2018. This version is now available on Game Pass, but will not be very long. Tales of Vesperia is scheduled to leave service on October 16, probably because a new episode in the series, Tales of the Ascension, is now available. So why should you play this as soon as possible?
The series is very popular for a reason. On the surface, the aesthetic is a perfect JRPG design (especially in the remaster). Lovable characters like Yuri and Repede, his pipe-smoking dog, on-screen pop, and gorgeous voice acting propel a deep (maybe too deep) and engaging story. High drama, humor, rivalries, it’s all there.
Fans of the series also love its unique combat system. Most JRPGs have standard turn-based mechanics, but Tales of Vesperia utilizes a “Flex-Range Evolved Linear Motion Combat System”. Say what? It’s actually quite simple. Instead of turn-based attacks, players are immersed in battle and can run freely around enemies and crush different attacks. The complexity is in how you combine certain attacks and time them to form long chains of attacks from you and your AI-controlled companions.
It works both ways, and the lack of a parry skill (and a not-so-great blocking skill) means it’s possible to gang up as well. Spellcasters are at a bit of a disadvantage as their attacks use longer animations which are more easily interrupted, but most players are able to navigate these bumps and find a playstyle that works. You can really get into the weeds with your gear and the skills that different weapons offer. If you are generally put off by the pace of the fighting in these games, you will really appreciate this system. It’s fast and / or furious.
Tales of Vesperia is a meaty game with a 50 hour story campaign and an additional 10 to 20 hours of further exploration. It had some success in Japan for Microsoft, but was largely ignored by the American public because, if you liked JRPG-style games, you probably spent most of your time on PlayStation. This makes it a nice hidden gem among the Game Pass library which, unfortunately, will be gone very soon. All the more reason to play it as soon as possible.
Tales of Vesperia: definitive edition is available on Game Pass and for sale on PlayStation, Switch, and PC.