Tales of Xillia: 4-man Co-op (first impressions)

So, for anyone who doesn’t know, I stream myself playing games pretty much every Saturday night. Usually, I do single-player games with a commentator or two. This time, after talking to a friend, I decided that I would tackle a game from the Tales series of games. These games are known for supporting 4-player combat, although most people just play by themselves or with one other person. Now, each Tales game generally has a gimmick that they can use to enhance combat.

However, Tales of Xillia’s is a little odd. It actually “hampers” 4-man combat. When you link with another character, the one being linked to is automatically taken over by an AI, and only unlinking will restore the ability to control that character. It’s basically a way to make playing by yourself easier and more fun because it makes the AI much smarter.

Now, at first, I didn’t like it. I didn’t think my group would need it. But then I started doing some research after a very painful 1st boss, and after doing some research and really thinking about it, 4-man combat with linking is starting to grow on me.

Let me explain linking really quick. Linking allows characters to beef themselves up, share skills, and use “Link Artes”, more powerful versions of normal Artes. With 4 players, linking isn’t really an option if everyone wants to participate in 100% of the combat. So, you’re basically gimping yourself for bosses, which is the problem (normal battles are completely fine with no linking). How can my group utilize linking effectively while not feeling like we can’t play during boss battles?

The easy way is to have two people allow themselves to be linked from time-to-time. I played a lot of Tales of Symphonia – it was my first ever Tales game! I played it so much I’d go through the whole game just having the CPU’s fight during boss battles and managing them through items. So, really, I’m okay with being linked and just sitting there sometimes, but even I’ll want to play sometimes, so I’m set on finding a way to utilize linking differently than the game intends you to (which is have it up basically all the time).

My strategies going in are not to try and fill the Link Gauge, which is filled through normal attacks while linked and using Artes while linked.

We could link for different things quickly. For example, if one of us is knocked down, we link with Jude, get picked up, and then unlink. We could link to position someone from behind quickly since the AI is programmed to take the best route to the back of an enemy. These are the kinds of small optimizations I think we could use with linking to utilize it while still basically playing the whole time.

We could also link just to spam more powerful artes if the boss is knocked down/stunned, and then unlink. It’d be a quick link to unleash a couple powerful attacks.

Those are all I’ve got right now though. If we wanted to fill the Link Gauge effectively we could go in waves of 2 players being linked and switching off every “tier” (I think there’s 4) of the Link Gauge. Again, I personally am okay with letting myself be linked, but this is a final resort kind of option if the boss is really hard and we need over limit.

I’m actually pretty excited to try and master linking with 4 people. Sure, it’s not the standard Tales 4-player experience, but to be honest it’s kind of refreshing and I think it can be a lot of fun. It’s obviously poorly designed (it feels like the multiplayer for Xillia was shoe’d in), but I’m the kind of guy who tries to make something work, and I think linking could be a really cool way to play this game with 4 people, even if it’s generally seen as bad. I think there’s a lot of strategy to be had with this sort of linking; unfortunately, no one’s really experimented with it and just bash it, so I think there’s a lot of untapped potential here.

There’s got to be a way to make this work. I think people just focus on filling the Link Gauge too much and not on the little optimizations you can make regardless of the Link Gauge.

Just Sayin’.

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A call to Smash Bros. players

I’m writing this because I’m not about that multiple tweets in a row life.

Listen. I’m no community leader in the Super Smash Bros. community; I don’t have crazy insights on the Smash community at large; I don’t own or operate any respected Smash content group like Melee It On Me; I’m not part of any Smash organization; I’m not even a player whose skill has put me into a spot where I’m really noticed; I just play Smash. I don’t compete in Brawl, Melee, or 64, but I play every single Smash game and love every single one.

Which is why it completely baffles me that people not only bash each game in the series, but that some are such awful people that they’ll lodge death and rape threats at others because a game in the series wasn’t included in a tournament.

It was very recently announced by Alex Strife, tournament organizer of one of the bigger international Smash events, Apex, that Project M, a very popular mod of Brawl, wasn’t included in Apex 2015’s lineup, despite being told that it would be, despite it’s insane attendance last year. Every official Smash game is included. While Project M is my main game, and I’m disappointed that Apex isn’t including it even though I thought it was going to be, I’m not angry. I’m definitely not angry enough to hurl insults and threats of rape and death to Alex and his staff.

Whatever the reason that Project M isn’t included, it’s safe to say that the initial reaction by a small minority of the Smash community was wrong. I’m angry now because this outburst reflects on a community I’ve invested a lot of time in, and that community now has to deal with it, me included.

So I’m here to do what I can. I’m writing this small post to try and raise some awareness like Smash community leader Prog did earlier today.

Listen, if you’re part of this community and you were at fault for this, you should be ashamed. I love this series. It’s home to many good memories. I can’t recall ever having a bad tournament experience because I’ve met some incredible people and forged some great friendships through this series. How can you be part of something so awesome, forge awesome memories with new and old friends, and then do something so horrible? It doesn’t make sense to me.

If I knew you, our friendship would stop right there. I don’t want to associate myself personally with those kinds of people, and neither should anyone else in the Smash community. To add on, I don’t want to associate myself with anyone who just hates on one of the entries in the series. I may like PM and Smash 4 over Melee, Brawl, and 64, but it doesn’t take away from my respect for the players of each game.

I see people commenting on how Project M is trash, why is Smash 4 even being considered for a spot at Apex, Brawl should be dead, etc… and it leaves a bad taste after reading. Why would I want to interact with someone like that? Why would any of you want to interact with someone like that? I may dislike something and express that, but I’m not going to just hate on something without a good reason to.

I think everyone who hates on a game in the series or is throwing death and rape threats at others in your own community need to take a step back and think about the damage you’ve done and the damage you’re currently doing.

And then stop it.

Just Sayin’