Image source: Bandai Namco Entertainment America on YouTube

We sat down with the game’s producer, Yasuhiro Fukaya, to answer all our spoiler-tastic questions about how and why Tales of Berseria connects to Tales of Zestiria.

[Disclosure: Anime Consortium Japan (ACJ), the owner of Anime Now!, is an investor in Tales of Zestiria the X. Moreover, Bandai Namco Holdings, the parent company of the creators of the original Tales of Zestiria and Tales of Berseria games, is a major shareholder in ACJ.]

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[This article contains major spoilers for both Tales of Zestiria and Tales of Berseria.]

Sitting in the Bandai Namco building in Tokyo, Japan, Fukaya explained a bit about how Tales of Berseria came to be and why it took place in the same world as Tales of Zestiria. “Usually each Tales of game has a new world, characters, and story. Each is built from nothing,” he began. “But every so often, games are connected, like Zestiria and Berseria.”

Now, there have been direct sequels to several Tales of games in the past. However, outside of those, each exists in its own separate world–except in the case of Tales of Phantasia and Tales of Symphonia. While the games themselves were made eight years apart, Symphonia is actually a prequel taking place thousands of years before Phantasia. “So the basic origin of the idea was that we’d like to build a linked story between [Zestiria and Berseria] in the same kind of way,” Fukaya told us.

However, Fukaya and his team wanted to one-up what was done with Phantasia and Symphonia. “In the case of those games, players likely wouldn’t notice the connection midgame. It’s only after you beat Symphonia that you see the big hint hidden there,” Fukaya explained. Instead of being a vital part of the story, the connection between the games was more like a present hidden in the game for fans of the franchise. But when making Berseria, they wanted hints and connections everywhere.

But despite being set 1,000 years beforehand, Berseria doesn’t spend its time simply revisiting all the locations in Zestiria. Zestiria is about the Shepherd Sorey trying to stop a war between two nations on the same continent. He travels back and forth between the two kingdoms more than once. “Location-wise,” Fukaya added, “I don’t think those areas have changed very much.”

But Berseria is a different kind of story. “The adventure–the scale–is so much bigger. […] For the plot, in order to get her revenge, Velvet has to run all about the world and so we’re able to show off many different maps. There’s a snow-covered country, a hot place like Hawaii–there’s a lot a variation.”

Even with all things the two games share, they do stand alone perfectly well. “There’s a lot of connections, but Berseria was made so that you could understand the basics–the characters, the story–and be okay playing it [without Zestiria].” It is the sub events that spend the most time making connections between the two.

Image Copyright © MUTSUMI INOMATA © KOSUKE FUJISHIMA Tales of Berseria™ & © BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.

Of course, the world and story events aren’t the only connections to Zestiria–especially when it comes to the characters. Main party member Eizen is the brother of Zestiria’s Edna. But more than that, he is a main character that players of Zestiria have met before.

The game shows the end of Eizen’s long life. Corrupted by the negative emotions of humans, the powerful Malak has become a raging dragon. Since, once the transformation into a dragon has occurred, there is no way to return a Malak to humanoid form, Sorey, Edna, and the rest of the party are forced to put Eizen down. It is one of the story’s most depressing moments–even more so once you have spent dozens of hours with him in Berseria.

Tales of Zestiria the X Makes Playing Berseria an Emotionally Crushing Experience

The reason for Eizen’s inclusion as a main character in Berseria comes from a simple origin: We never saw his human form in Zestiria. Or as Fukaya put it: “During Zestiria, there are any number of episodes where Edna and Zaveid, mainly, tell stories about Eizen before he became a dragon. Because of this, it was fun to imagine what kind of character Eizen would have been as a Malak (Seraph) and many players wanted to know more about him.”

Because the player already knows Eizen’s fate, everything he does has an undertone of sadness brought on by the knowledge that he will eventually fall and become a dragon–and even be killed by his own sister.

However, to Fukaya, his ending isn’t a sad one: “It’s a bit of a spoiler, but Eizen knows he will turn into a dragon [even in Berseria]. He’s doing what he can to avoid turning into one but by staying close to his companions in Aifread’s pirate gang he is turning dark. Yet, by the end of Berseria, after the game is cleared, humans become unable to see Malak any longer.”

“So that means the members of Aifread’s pirates are no longer able to see him either. Even if he is with them, he can’t be seen by them, talk with them–they can’t even tell if he is there or not–and there’s nothing he can do about it. Furthermore, little by little, the foulness of humanity will turn him into a dragon–and he knows this.”

“But even so,” Fukaya continued. “Eizen chooses to be separated from his companions [for the sake of the world]. He’s that kind of strong-willed person. Yes, the result of this is that, in Zestiria, he fights Sorey [to the death], but even then, before he changed, he was able to be with the people he treasured. […] For some people, his fate leaves them sad and with a bad taste in their mouths–and that’s one way of viewing it. But we feel that that’s not all that there is to it–and I’d like players to know that, at the end of Berseria, he knowingly chose his own fate.”

Image source: Bandai Namco Entertainment America on YouTube

Perhaps the most intriguing connection between Berseria and Zestiria is how the two games mirror each other. In Zestiria, you play as the latest in a long line of noble Shepherds against the newest Lord of Calamity–a once-human creature that harnesses and spreads the dark side of human emotions. In Berseria, however, the roles are switched with you taking up the role of the very first Lord of Calamity seeking revenge against the first Shepherd.

According to Fukaya, the reason for the mirror structure of the games ties directly into the overarching theme of the Tales of franchise as a whole: “coexistence.” No matter the people that live in the world, their birthplaces, how they look, or even if they are enemies, they should be able to coexist. So if there is conflict, it’s important to see both sides’ point of view.

“In Zestiria, the protagonist is the Shepherd and on the other side is the Lord of Calamity,” Fukaya told us. “Following the theme of coexistence, the “enemy” side must have a reason [for what they do].”

So Berseria explores this reason by showing how the first Shepherd and Lord of Calamity came to be through the Lord of Calamity’s point of view. This way, we know not only how these roles become defined in the future, but also how and for what reason they were originally conceived.

Image Copyright © MUTSUMI INOMATA © KOSUKE FUJISHIMA Tales of Berseria™ & © BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.

“There has never been a completely evil villain in the Tales of series.” Fukaya stated simply.

He feels that this is true, especially for Berseria’s main villain Artorius. “Artorius saves his country and becomes a hero. And he is what the world thinks he is. While he does have power, it’s not like he wants to dominate the world. He does deceive the people […], but everything he does, including sacrificing his brother-in-law, is to save the world. […] And the world does become better due to his actions.” Even Artorius’ final goal, a world without emotions, would be saving the world in his mind.

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In closing, Fukaya had this to say to fans about Berseria: “Including the new characters, story, and battle gameplay, there are plenty of new, amazing things not seen before in the 20+ years of Tales games, so I hope you enjoy playing it.”

Tales of Berseria was released for PlayStation 4 in North America on January 24, 2017 and in Europe on January 27, 2017. It was released for Windows worldwide on January 27, 2017.

Comments (1)
  1. Thanks for this interview! I’m very much enjoying the universe of Berseria/Zestiria! It would be so amazing if they made a third game in the same universe (preferably in Zestiria’s future with some returning characters).

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