The Tales series has been around for a while now and has seen varying degrees of success, with Tales of Symphonia back on the GameCube arguably being the most successful of the bunch. There was, however, a long wait for fans between Tales of Berseria in 2016 and Tales of Arise in 2021. I personally saw this as a useful wait, as the Tales series had grown a bit stale in their frequent releases.
So, when Tales of Arise arrived in 2021, it felt like a breath of fresh air for the series, with a gorgeous art style to boot. While not without its issues, (the convoluted final act being chief among them), the release was seen as a success for Bandai Namco and the sales seemed to back that idea up. Then, once again, a wait followed, with only a remaster to Tales of Symphonia to show for it. That is until now, with the release of an expansion to Tales of Arise: Beyond the Dawn.
This is not the first time Bandai Namco has done a follow-up to a mainline title, the aforementioned Tales of Symphonia received a sequel that was massively different from its predecessor, and Tales of Destiny saw a Japan-only sequel on the PlayStation 2 that was received well. Beyond the Dawn, however, marks a change in direction. While it’s still a sequel to the events of Tales of Arise, it’s delivered as a DLC expansion instead. What makes this interesting is that it was released just over two years after the release of the original adventure, and the time between the two titles that forms most of my issues with this release.
The story has a rather simple setup. Following the events of Tales of Arise, the two planets of Rena and Dahna have joined together to return the planet to the state it was always supposed to be. With that comes its own series of issues, as society attempts to adjust to the new world order of Dahnans and Renans coexisting on the same planet. Fans of the Tales series may notice this as a familiar plot point, as the series often tells stories of racism and discrimination, and this is also the main theme of Beyond the Dawn.
The story is a direct continuation from the events at the end of Tales of Arise.
Not long after the intro, you’re introduced to a new character, Nazamil, who forms the second main theme of this expansion. As half Dahnan, half Renan, she finds herself caught between two worlds, with neither accepting of her. It’s not until she meets up with Alphen and the gang that she begins to find her place in the world. With a storyline that will take most players around 12-15 hours to complete, 75% of it is spent tending to the worries of the inhabitants of this new world.
It’s a rather low-key affair, one that sees the heroes from the original adventure traveling from city to city playing peacemaker between the two races. It’s an interesting subject but seeing the same people from the same cities (there are no new areas here) performing odd jobs such as delivering correspondence or taking care of the local threat of Zeugles doesn’t make for a particularly interesting story, taking far too long to get going. This argument can be levied against Beyond the Dawn throughout the entire expansion.
A lengthy portion of the main quest doesn’t make for a particularly interesting story, taking far too long to get going.
Tales of Arise gameplay remains as absorbing as ever and I did enjoy the Skits. I loved my time with these characters in the original adventure, and getting more of that is always a good time. The problem is that after a two-year wait for a follow-up, you expect new skills, new areas, and an interesting story throughout in a short runtime.
You'll be able to carry over bonuses based on what you did in Tales of Arise. (left), Unfortunately there are no new skills or artes here. (right)
Despite Dahna and Rena converging into a single planet, the world remains relatively unchanged. Aside from three new story-related dungeons (one of which is the final dungeon, which I felt was much improved over the final dungeon from Tales of Arise), the world has changed very little. Beyond the Dawn introduces Reconstruction quests a short while into the DLC and, despite being told this will change the way the world looks, the end result is maybe a new house is built somewhere, or a few new stalls in the city square.
Tales of Arise has an excellent skill system, I was a big fan of the “Title” system that was introduced, how you could learn new skills and artes from them, so I was hoping for the addition of a few new abilities to work toward in Beyond the Dawn, unfortunately, that wasn’t to be the case.
As soon as you start a new game, you’re given bonuses based on your current Tales of Arise save file, receiving SP, weapons, and more based on if you beat Tales of Arise, hit Level 100, and complete all of the sub-events. The game does let you access the DLC without first beating the original Tales of Arise campaign, but there’s no reason why you should do this. The DLC is a direct sequel – one year on from the events of the ending – so the chances of you carrying over a lot of existing bonuses is high.
A lot of the story centers around Nazamil (left), As half Dahnan, half Renan, she struggles to find her place in the new world. (right)
As soon as you open up your menu, you’ll notice that there are no new artes or skills to learn, and even if you previously completed everything there was to do in Tales of Arise, for the most part your skills, and artes will be reset and you’ll need to purchase them again. Not only is it disappointing that there’s nothing new here, but it’s also jarring as you need to reacquire your skills and artes from your first trek around Dahna and Rena. Add to the fact that many players may not have played Tales of Arise in around two years and the opening section becomes even more of a slog.
To continue with this theme of having to reacquire your former power, you’ll have a new weapon as you start from Beyond the Dawn, but the available weapons to craft are all the final batch of weapons the characters had from the closing stages of the previous adventure, which was disappointing. There are two new weapons for each of the characters: A new ultimate weapon, that can be obtained with materials from the final dungeon, along with the returning Fell Arms from previous Tales entries - weapons that are always more fun to use on a New Game+ playthrough.
Beyond the Dawn does, however, make it a little easier to acquire older weapons. Visiting any item shop, you’ll find available all the materials that are needed to craft them, (save for Alphen’s original ultimate weapon). They’re expensive, but if you’re completing the numerous quests on offer, you’ll be able to easily purchase them rather than hunting them down. The world, despite being the same, does offer new loot, including the materials needed for these weapons, so it won’t take too long to acquire them. There are also new Training Ground bouts you can undertake, featuring matches that will reward you with all the materials you need for each weapon, so you’re not without options.
Outside of the final two weapons that unlock late in the game, the rest are carry overs from the original campaign.
A large part of your playtime with Beyond the Dawn will be based on whether you decide to engage with all the new quests on offer here. There are 40 quests to undertake, with a further four Ex Quests available to download. If you’ve played Tales of Arise, you’ll know what to expect from these quests, and many of them are just odd jobs. Beyond the Dawn does change it up a little, with each quest having two different members of the main cast interacting with the quest giver. This injects a bit more characterization into our heroes.
The tasks, however, remains as mundane as they were in Tales of Arise. Perhaps more so, given you can fast travel around the world at will. These often devolve into accepting a quest, fast traveling to the Zeugle or person in question, and then simply returning to complete it. Still, if you wish to reacquire most of your power in the form of your skills and artes, then you’re going to need to engage with these for the SP reward that they offer.
There are three types of quests on offer (not taking into account the Ex Quests), your standard quests, reconstruction, and character sub-events. As mentioned above, the reconstruction quests give the illusion of the world changing, but it changes very little and the main boon from them is the reward at the end of the questline along with the addition of a few new items to the shops. Character sub-events are more engaging, as they focus on each hero’s inner struggles, creating an ending for their character arc. These events will also upgrade each hero’s Boost Attack but, again, it changes very little of the attack that it’s hard to notice unless you go looking for it.
The main exception to the various quests were the Ex Quests, which were enjoyable and helped explain a large part of how we got to the final ending scene in Tales of Arise. Alphen, clueless as he is, is looking for information on weddings, with each party member taking turns to help him track down that information and learn more about it. Seeing as that final scene, and the romance between Alphen and Shionne, was one of my favorite aspects of Tales of Arise, it was great to play a part in it.
Technically, Beyond the Dawn maintains the smooth performance of Tales of Arise, and I was pleased to get through my entire playthrough without any crashes or major technical issues. The expansion also offers an abundance of voice acting throughout, with only the side quests missing out on voiced scenes. The game also looks as beautiful as ever, and the final dungeon is a spectacle, especially the lead-up to the final boss.
You'll only find three dungeons in terms of new areas to explore.
The additional story dungeons are similar to those found in Tales of Arise, but you will come across a new type of Zeugle that can appear. These special Zeugles lurk on the ceiling of areas and will drop down once you’ve made a pass through a room. They’re Level 99, but don’t have much in the way of HP, so you can whittle them down for large gains of SP which help toward reacquiring your skills. Beyond this, expect to run into a bunch of new Gigant monsters throughout the world that need to be killed to expand your CP total.
If you’re a fan of Tales of Arise and simply wanted more of the same, this is what you’re getting here.
So, with all this in mind, where does that leave Beyond the Dawn? If you’re a fan of Tales of Arise and simply want more of the same, then this is what you’re getting here. There are more quests to undertake, a new story thread that starts off slow, but does get interesting in the final third, and the new final dungeon - which is arguably my favorite in the entire game.
But, if like me, you were looking for a little more, given the two-year wait, then you may be left a little disappointed. There are no new areas to explore outside of the three aforementioned dungeons, no new skills or artes to learn, and you have to do a lot of busy work just to reacquire your heroes’ previous power status. Still, the ending is a fitting one for one of my favorite casts in recent times, even if the central conflict of saving the world once more feels a little unearned.
Beyond the Dawn is a great time for those wanting more Tales of Arise, and the same great gameplay systems are all there, but it feels like a missed opportunity to expand upon what was an already great game given the time between release and DLC.