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Namco-Bandai have today announced Tales of Zestiria, a new PS3-exclusive title in their long-running jRPG series that serves as a 20th anniversary celebration for the franchise.

The game will be released in 2015, 20 years after the first entry in the series, 1995’s Tales of Phantasia. The logo, as you can see above, contains a dragon which also makes an appearance in the trailer that you can watch below. Whether the dragon will be friend or foe has not been announced (as it would likely be a spoiler) but it’s obviously an important force in the story.

Two characters have so far been introduced. The male lead, Slay, has been designed by Kosuke Fujishima while the female lead Alicia was designed by Daigo Okumura. As more details surface, we’ll also be seeing characters designed by other Tales of series character designers Mutsumi Inomata and Minoru Iwamoto. The battle system is a further-evolved spin on the familiar Linear Motion Battle System, and the development team stated that they want to focus the game around a more fantasy-based setting (hence: dragons) in an effort to return to the series’ roots after a number of games with more technological elements. A few story details have been mentioned so far, with the game taking place on a continent contested over by two great nations, while religion seems to be a core element of the story, with there being a mysterious connection between the faiths of these two countries.

It all sounds quite a bit like Tales of the Abyss to me, which is great as far as I’m concerned as I loved that game. Slay also looks like he could have come straight from Auldrant, with his coat/cloak/thing looking like Luke fon Fabre’s garment and the piece on his chest bearing a strong resemblance to an Order of Lorelei uniform. Anyway, let’s take a look at that trailer.

Did you see that big open field at the 1:35 mark? I really hope that’s what world-traversal will be like in Zestiria – big open areas with (hopefully) plenty to explore. That small clip looks a little Xenoblade-y, so if we’re going to be without a world map again, I’m hoping for less of the field zone areas that we saw in Graces and Xillia and more of a large, relatively open world for us to explore. This is the 20th anniversary title, so I’m hoping the development team go all out to make the absolute best game they can.

The best news is that Namco-Bandai have already announced that Zestiria will be released worldwide, which certainly takes the sting out of waiting to find out if we’d ever get to play it outside of Japan. Hideo Baba, producer of the series, took to the EU PlayStation Blog to deliver the good news himself. “I am very proud to announce that Tales of Zestiria, the newest instalment and 20th Japanese anniversary commemorative title for the Tales Of franchise, will be released throughout North America, South America, and Europe for the PlayStation 3 system! This is a huge moment for Namco Bandai Games and the Tales Of team in particular as it is the first time we have simultaneously announced the game for both Japan and Western countries.” He added that the team has been trying to strengthen their relationship with their fans outside of Japan and have seen success with the most recent release, Tales of Xillia, selling over a million copies worldwide.

Of course, I’m sure there’ll still be a delay between the Japanese and Western releases, but that can’t really be helped when localising such text- and voice-heavy games. That we know it’s coming is enough, especially when we have Tales of Symphonia Chronicles and Tales of Xillia 2 both coming in 2014. My guess for a European release of Tales of Zestiria would be early 2016, so don’t relegate your PS3 to the loft just yet!

Visit the official Tales of Zestiria site here.

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