Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World First Look

We take our first look at the sequel to Tales of Symphonia and get the scoop on the new monster-capture system.

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It's been 10 years since the first game in the Tales series, Tales of Destiny, landed on North American shores, and to commemorate this event, Namco Bandai is releasing the first Tales game for the Wii, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. This sequel to Tales of Symphonia picks up two years after the original left off, featuring two new protagonists and a brand new adventure. The signature gameplay and structure will make Dawn of the New World familiar to Tales fans, but a few new elements aim to spice things up.

The world of Sylvarant has been spruced up for this sequel.
The world of Sylvarant has been spruced up for this sequel.

Dawn of the New World follows the story of Emil and Marta, but it will feature characters from Tales of Symphonia as well. At a young age, Emil saw Lloyd--the protagonist from the first game--murder his parents, and Emil later teams up with Marta on a quest whose goals will apparently conflict with Lloyd along the way. Players will traverse much of the same territory as in the first game, but all the textures and models have been redone to give everything a fresh look. The near-final build we saw looked like a moderate graphical improvement over its GameCube predecessor.

For the most part, Dawn of the New World sticks to the venerable Tales gameplay traditions. You run around the map as a single character and monsters are visible, so you can choose to engage or evade them. Your party consists of up to 10 characters, only four of which can enter into battle at any given time. Battles are fought in real time, and your party members can be controlled by a customizable AI or by up to three other players. The Sorcerer's Ring puzzles are back, some of which now incorporate the Wii Remote's motion sensitivity. Judging from the trailer we saw, the game will have both rendered and animated cutscenes to help with exposition in your undoubtedly lengthy quest.

New to Dawn of the New World is the ability to capture monsters and have them join your party. You capture monsters during battle by aligning the field element with the five minor elements properly. These elements are displayed in the lower-left corner of the screen. Every human character and monster has an element associated with it at any given time; different attacks also have different elements. The attacks you and your foes use in battle govern the five minor elements. If three or more of the minor elements are the same, the field element will change correspondingly. If you manage to get the field element and four minor elements to match up with the element of the monster you want to acquire, you'll get a chance to capture it. You then choose which character to attempt capture with, lining up the elements once more to increase your odds of a successful capture. Then, you'll either capture it or it will bug out and run away.

Emil is poised to capture that bipedal lizard monster, but will he pull it off?
Emil is poised to capture that bipedal lizard monster, but will he pull it off?

Once in your party, monsters can fight in battle like any other character. To level them up, you'll need to cook them up a nice meal and feed it to them. Recipes can be learned from one of the many wonder chefs in the land of Sylvarant, just like in the original Tales of Symphonia. Feeding your monster food it likes will increase the stat bonuses it receives and the speed with which it levels up. Players tempted to, ahem, catch them all will find it quite difficult because there are more than 200 monsters in the world. As an aid to capture-philes, there is a place in Katz Village where you can store your monsters should you exceed the maximum party size of 10. Additionally, some monsters cannot be captured, but rather must be leveled up from weaker versions. A well-leveled monster can be as powerful as your human party members, so proper monster management will actually be a worthwhile endeavor.

Given the success of Tales of Symphonia, odds are good that Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World will be a solid contender on the Wii role-playing game scene. The new monster-capture system looks to add new depth to time-tested gameplay, giving Tales fans something new to look forward to when the game is released this fall.

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